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Professor Silvia Mazzula Receives Prestigious Grants to Diversify Academia

Professor Silvia Mazzula in the Department of Psychology, who is committed to increasing diversity in academia particularly for Latino women, is the recipient of prestigious grants from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, and the American Psychological Association’s Commission on Ethnic Minority Recruitment, Retention, and Training in Psychology to further advance opportunities and community for underrepresented scholars and researchers. “For me, as an underrepresented scholar, access and inclusion are important,” said Mazzula. “The Latina Researchers Network provides a community of scholars, professors, and allies who care about issues of diversity in the academy.”

The award from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation will allow Mazzula and her colleagues to diversify research capital and foster inter-disciplinary collaborations across the United States. The grant supports overall efforts of the Latina Researchers Network, which aims to “increase exposure of advanced research careers in the academy to the next generation of investigators; provide examples of excellence in scholarship; and build a supportive community of diverse scholars and allies to advance research and community-based solutions.”

The Annie E. Casey Foundation supports the Network’s main program: the Latina Researchers Conference, “an inter-disciplinary and nationwide research and professional development conference for underrepresented investigators.” The grant helped expand the Conference, scheduled for April 3-5 at John Jay College, and incorporate additional networking programs to increase collaborations with academic and community leaders nationwide. The grant will also help to identify how to better connect underrepresented scholars across the country.

The American Psychological Association’s (APA) Commission on Ethnic Minority Recruitment, Retention, and Training in Psychology (CEMRRAT) Implementation Grant, with colleague Dr. Cynthia Guzman, will support additional training during a pre-conference event of the Latina Researchers Conference.

The first Latina Researchers Conference took place in 2012, and was also funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The first conference brought together scholars and investigators to discuss the general state of the field regarding under-represented scholars and faculty members. The Network was established after the conference to provide a space and structure to continue the conversation, while providing a community and establishing resources.

“Last year we discussed a broad state of the field. Our purpose was to bring leading scholars and researchers from across the country to discuss issues facing under-represented scholars and researchers, particularly Latinas.” This year we are continuing this important conversation and addressing sub-fields where we are underrepresented and providing more hands-on training, at and following the conference. To me, these are much more than grants or awards; this is a commitment to support under-represented scholars and to diversify academia. As a first generation college student, it is a privilege to be a part of it.”

Mazzula is originally from Uruguay in South America and the first in her family to earn a college degree. Before joining the academy, she worked as clinical therapist in underserved communities. She realized much of psychological theory did not answer the kinds of questions that her clients were asking. “I pursued a research career to help answer these questions. When I entered academia, being underrepresented became much more pronounced; I wanted to be part of the solution. We need to bring more diverse perspectives to solve the country’s problems.”

Visit www.LatinaResearchers.com for more information and to submit applications.