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Two Professors Receive Naclerio Awards for Research

Grants will forward knowledge of dual-language program effectiveness and suicide prevention in colleges

From left are Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Rupendra Paliwal, Barbara and Richard Naclerio, Professors Robin Danzak and Jessica Samuolis and Trustee James T. Morley.

Sacred Heart University professors Robin L. Danzak and Jessica Samuolis recently received the 2016 Naclerio Faculty Scholars Program Awards for upcoming research projects.

Richard and Barbara Naclerio share a common vision with the University of cultivating academic excellence through innovative research projects. They created the award to support the efforts of up-and-coming SHU faculty leaders, bestowing two grants of $12,500 each year.

Danzak is an assistant professor of speech-language pathology in SHU’s College of Health Professions. She has a doctorate in communication sciences and disorders, a master’s in linguistics (Spanish) and a bachelor’s degree in art history/Spanish. Her teaching responsibilities include research methods, speech-language pathologist practice in schools and language development. Her research has covered bilingual language and literacy, identity of bilingual adolescents and adults and college students’ intercultural development.

Danzak said she was honored and “very grateful to be given this award. It’s a vote of confidence that my research is moving in the right direction, and I am so happy to have the support.”

For the Naclerio study, Danzak will be working with children attending dual-language (Spanish-English) programs in local public schools. “I want to find out how their writing (e.g., stories) in both languages develops over time,” she said. “This will help us learn more about the language strengths and challenges of students learning in two languages.”

Samuolis is an assistant professor of psychology in SHU’s College of Arts & Sciences. She has a doctorate in applied developmental psychology, a master’s in community counseling and bachelor’s degrees in both psychology and Spanish. Her teaching responsibilities include advanced psychological research, program development and evaluation, research design and analysis and prevention and health promotion. Her research interests encompass adolescent and young adult identity development, prevention of adolescent and young adult risky behavior and mental health issues, and program development and evaluation.

Samuolis said she felt humbled and honored to receive the award. “I also feel proud to be among such qualified applicants,” she added. “I am grateful to the Naclerios for their generosity and support of faculty research here at Sacred Heart University.”

Samuolis’ research project is “Evaluation of a Peer-Led Implementation of a Suicide Prevention Gatekeeper Training Program for College Students.” She explained that her aim is to establish direct and observational support for such a program, which she believes will “greatly increase the capacity for widespread dissemination of suicide prevention on college campuses.”

William A. Reidy, vice president for University Advancement, said the Naclerios’ generosity provides funding for faculty to pursue research that otherwise might not be possible. He also noted that the provost’s office does a great job of encouraging faculty to apply for the grant.

Another donor participated in this effort this year as well, said Reidy. Jim Morley, chair emeritus of SHU’s board of trustees, “is incredibly active and supportive of the University,” he said.

To be considered for the annual Naclerio awards, faculty members submit an application that includes details about their proposed research projects and the potential benefits to the academic community. The program is open to all current junior, tenure-track faculty who have been with the University at least three years and have shown their interest and capability in conducting scholarly research.