Freedman Fellows Program

For many years, the Freedman Fellows Program has been generously funded by the Freedman Fellows Endowment, established by Samuel B. and Marian K. Freedman, and managed by the Kelvin Smith Library. This endowment continues to support this important effort. In addition, through a collaborative initiative of the University’s libraries to support campus-wide digital scholarship, beginning in 2020, the fellowship program will benefit from additional funding provided by the Cleveland Health Sciences Library, the Judge Ben C. Green Law Library, and the MSASS Lillian and Milford Harris Library.

About the program

The Freedman Fellows Program supports and funds all current CWRU faculty, researchers, and instructors from all campus departments with planning and developing digital scholarship projects and instruction. Freedman Fellows partner with the Digital Scholarship Team and/or other library experts to advance their projects throughout the year. These liaisons advise recipients on project design, technological needs, and adjacent issues such as copyright, privacy, and data ethics. The funding model is flexible, providing a pool of funds that can be used to support projects of varying size.

Applications for the 2024-2025 Faculty Freedman Fellowship are now open! Apply here.

For more information or to schedule a consultation, please contact


Past Recipients


George Blake
A lecturer with the Department of English, Blake studies music and urban life. He has published articles in Popular Music, Ethnomusicology, and Journal of the Society for American Music. His current research explores how musical genres intersect with ideas about place. He also hosts a podcast highlighting local performers and teaches musical histories of Cleveland neighborhoods. Blake has received funding for his work from the Freedman Center for Digital Scholarship and the UCSB Center for Black Studies Research. He writes community journalism at The Land.
Blake’s project seeks to inventory and examine the different ways that lead poisoning in Cleveland has been covered by the news media, with particular attention to the rhetorical and visual strategies used in public writing about such a complex and elusive issue. The damage caused by lead occurs over a long period of time, requires testing, and does not easily conform to the 5 W's structure of typical journalism. However, recent innovations in mapping technologies and data-driven strategies are providing journalists with new tools to convey the problem of lead. Journalists at online publications like Reuters and Vox have created national lead maps, while researchers at Columbia University's The American Lead Map Collaboratory have created a crowd-sourced open-online map. Similarly, CWRU's own center on Urban Poverty and community Development has explored the possibilities of mapping lead locally in ways that have impacted recent lead legislation. Likewise, Cleveland Lead Advocates for Safe Housing are providing tools for Citizen Science Research around lead poisoning. By analyzing new approaches alongside old ones in covering lead poisoning in Cleveland, this project seeks to clarify persistent issues of missing data, gaps between research and public awareness, and the challenge of connecting different silos working on the same problem.

Jacqueline Curtis
Dr. Jacqueline Curtis is an Associate Professor in the Department of Population and Quantitative Health Sciences in the School of Medicine at Case Western Reserve University. She is a spatial epidemiologist, utilizing geospatial technologies to discover geographic patterns that shape our health. She specializes in collaboration with partners in clinical medicine and public health to translate this research into improved patient-centered care for all people. Currently, Dr. Curtis is focused on a variety of commonly stigmatized conditions that impact the health of girls and women. Throughout her research, teaching, and service, Dr. Curtis is passionate about improving healthcare for people with dyslexia and across the spectrum of neurodiversity.
Dr. Curtis’ project has been titled SEEN Kids: Spatial Epidemiology for Excellence in Neurodiverse Kids. SEEN Kids is an interactive webmapping engine that raises awareness and enables research into the geographic patterns of dyslexia prevalence, outcomes, and access to supportive resources across the United States. While dyslexia is the starting point for this project, it will be built to expand into the many dimensions of neurodiversity that shape the health of children and their families.

Scott Moore
Scott Emory Moore, PhD, MSN, RN, AGPCNP-BC, FAAN is an Assistant Professor in the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing at Case Western Reserve University. Moore’s program of research examines dynamics among sex, gender, and biological, psychosocial, and systems factors and their influences on health outcomes among marginalized populations including those living with HIV. Dr. Moore incorporates multi-level and integrative analytic approaches to improve our understanding of the impacts that systems, community, interpersonal, and individual-level factors have on aging, health outcomes, and well-being among marginalized adults. Dr. Moore has research expertise in quantitative and mixed methods, decision-making, ethics, and clinical and interventional experience working with a range of underserved populations: people living with HIV, sexual and gender minorities, rural and urban populations.
Our community-partnered participatory project will support the co-adaptation and co-development of an established digital health story co-development protocol to support the creation of healthcare provider training resources to address a major need for improved preparedness of healthcare workers to provide high-quality, inclusive care for sexual and gender diverse (SGD; e.g. lesbian, gay, transgender) individuals. The project will also begin evaluating feasibility and acceptability of the protocol for use within the SGD community.

Yukiko Onitsuka
Yukiko N. Onitsuka (EdD, University of Cincinnati) has taught on Japanese language and culture, manga (Japanese graphic novels), and SAGES writing, and led a study abroad program in Kyoto, Japan. She has a B.A. in English with Concentration in Language Studies from San Francisco State University and a M.A and Ed.D. in Literacy and Second Language Studies/ TESOL from University of Cincinnati. She wrote her Doctoral dissertation on Teachers’ Language Choices and Functions in Japanese as a Foreign Language Classroom Instruction. Dr. Onitsuka’s research interests are foreign language acquisition, sociolinguistics, and teacher education and EFL (English as a Foreign Language) education in Japan. More recently, she has been working on manga studies and its use in foreign language education.
Dr. Onitsuka’s project explores the readability of manga (a.k.a., Japanese graphic novels). Much like American comic books, they have a reputation for being of little social or educational value, specifically as functional reading material. However, nowadays in Japan, we can find more commercial advertisement, instructional texts, textbooks, and educational books accompanied by manga-type visual cues and/or published in a manga style. Though we can speculate several reasons as to why they actively incorporate manga-style visual aids, one of the plausible factors is its accessibility to mass audience due to its readability, the quality of being legible or decipherable. The field of Japanese language learning is not an exception. Many teachers and proficient speakers recommend manga reading as an authentic, functional, and effective learning tool. Although their recommendations seem to have some tendency as to which books are good for beginners and which ones are more for advanced learners, that is solely based on their learning and teaching experience, not supported by rigid data assessment. In this study, therefore, I would like to assess the randomly chosen 5 volumes of 20 manga titles in terms of text readability and visual/art literacy.

Alp Sehirlioglu
Dr. Alp Sehirlioglu is currently an Associate Professor at Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Case Western Reserve University. He is an active member of the American Ceramic Society (ACerS) and a senior member Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) - Ultrasonic, Ferroelectrics, Frequency Modulation (UFFC). He was a founding member of the newly-formed Young Professionals Network at ACerS and served as the co-chair for 2012-14. He is currently serving as the chair of the ACerS Northern Ohio section, secretary of the Electronic Division and is an associate editor at Journal of the American Ceramic Society. He has also been serving in the Ferroelectrics Committee at IEEE since 2011, as the publications chair since 2016 and UFFC AdCom member since 2018. His research focus is on energy conversion materials with emphasis on extreme environments. He is currently working on high temperature piezoelectrics, 2D materials and hetero-intefaces and structural batteries.
Our project focuses on the concept of symmetry, which spans from the subatomic level to the fundamental principles of mechanics. We have developed an app designed to facilitate simultaneous usage by multiple human participants who support and collaborate with one another in building their understanding of the role of symmetry in physics. The app is already in place, as is the underlying theory. This project seeks to gather pilot data on the individual and interactive gestures produced by undergraduate students while utilizing a HoloLens app to learn the concept of 3D symmetry. Understanding 3D symmetry is essential for engineers, as it enables them to predict the material properties that often display anisotropic behavior, meaning they depend on the crystal structure's direction and atomic arrangements. Incorporating 3D teaching through mixed reality (MR) stimulates the use of gestures, as learners attempt to externalize mental processes into physical space and direct each other's attention. In this study, we aim to explore the individual gestures produced by students as they interact with the HoloLens app, as well as the interactive gestures they employ towards their peers to direct attention and facilitate learning. Our primary objective in this pilot study is to develop coding systems that allow us to comprehend individual and interactive gestures in the context of symmetry and their correlation with the learning process.

Xia Wu
Dr. Xia Wu is a lecturer at the English Department. She has earned her Master's Degree in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) and Ph.D in Teaching and Curriculum at University of Rochester. Her primary research interest is international students' academic socialization experience in U.S. higher education. Recently, Dr. Wu's research interests have expanded to exploring the role of instructional talk in first-year writing class, and writing program curriculum reform.
As the leading source of international students in the U.S, Chinese international students are portrayed negatively. These stereotypes homogenize Chinese international students and inhibit the possibility of learning and understanding between cultures. These stereotypes often lead to tensions between Chinese international students and the local community, which could be detrimental to students’ learning experience in general. To stop perpetuating these stereotypes and create a healthy, inclusive campus climate, we need to create opportunities to help Chinese international students and the local community develop mutual understanding. This project aims to facilitate the mutual understanding between Chinese international students and the local community at Case Western Reserve University. In this project, we will interview some Chinese international students, their peers (both Native-English-Speakers and international students from other countries), and some faculty members, asking them to share their responses/reactions to the stereotypes of Chinese students mentioned in the literature. We will record these interviews on video and edit them into a one-hour-long documentary.


The Freedman Center is located in the Kelvin Smith Library. Established in 2005, with over 2,700 square feet of highly functional workspace and state-of-the-art equipment, the Freedman Center harnesses the power of modern technology and combines it with the driver of academic creativity.

Please see our mission, vision and values statement.

The Freedman Center consists primarily of three service areas:

  • Digital project consultation by appointment.
  • Multimedia Services and Research Technology
  • Instruction/Special Programming

The Freedman Center is evidence of the College of Arts and Sciences’ commitment to the evolution of education and the integration of information technologies in its curriculum and research practices. For the Kelvin Smith Library, the Freedman Center is the culmination of a 10-year vision for a center that provides faculty, students, and staff with the ability to use analog and digital information sources for research.

Members of the Digital Scholarship Team can guide you through your project and teach you how to use the latest technology, whether you are creating a PowerPoint presentation or creating a corpus of data for text mining. You will walk away with a completed project and the skills to do it again.

The Freedman Fellows Program supports the planning and execution of digital scholarship projects. In 2007, the Freedman family provided the Freedman Center and Case Western Reserve University with an endowed fund of $250,000 to support future Freedman Fellows programs. The gift included support for collaborative programming with the Baker Nord Center for the Humanities to explore how the Freedman Fellows Program can also encourage providing immersive instruction in the tools that would benefit their scholarly pursuits.

The call for proposals and award decisions occur during the Spring semester. The program features related events scheduled throughout the following academic year culminating in a final presentation in spring. 


All current CWRU faculty, researchers, and instructors from all campus departments may apply. Former Freedman Fellows can apply, but special consideration is given to first-time applicants.

Yes. We highly encourage you to reach out for a consultation with the Digital Scholarship Team. You can email to schedule a consultation.

The funding model is flexible and the program provides a pool of funds that can be used to support projects of varying size.

This depends on the number of applicants, the quality of their proposals, and the amount of the funds requested.

Digital scholarship is a broad and interdisciplinary field. Accepted Freedman Fellowship projects are often highly varied and come from multiple disciplines, but frequently projects have a strong data component at the heart of their research or teaching question.

Some general examples of topics and applications might include: qualitative and quantitative text analysis, geospatial mapping, ethical and copyright issues in technology, new media in the classroom, data cleaning and management, methods of digital scholarly communication, and applications of machine learning in the humanities or social sciences. For examples of projects, please see our examples of previous Fellows.

Awards are made to support the expenses arising from innovative scholarly or creative projects that meet the Freedman Fellows criteria. The required budget should clearly state how you will use funds to carry out the the project and reach its goals. The Digital Scholarship Team will work with you to create a project budget.

Funds may not be used for a teaching release, equipment, or travel.

Fellows collaborate with the Freedman Center for Digital Scholarship Team and receive year-long expertise and guidance to advance their projects. The team can also coordinate technological aspects of the project and advise on issues, such as copyright, privacy, and data ethics.