Starting a Grant-Funded Community or Campus-Based Initiative
SREB-State Doctoral Scholars Program Webinar Series

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In this webinar, SREB-State Doctoral Scholars Program alumna and Bob Belle Service Grant recipients Drs. Myrtede Alfred, Karin Block-Cora and Cheryl Swanier shared their expertise on several topics, including steps to conceptualizing an initiative, organizing an initiative from an existing practice, how to leverage funding and build relationships with similar programs, and the connection between service and the tenure-track.


Myrtede Alfred, Ph.D., is an assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical & Industrial Engineering at the University of Toronto. She previously served as a research assistant professor at the Medical University of South Carolina where she spent three years applying her expertise as a human factors engineer to improve the delivery of care through both research and practice.

Dr. Alfred obtained her Ph.D. in industrial engineering from Clemson University in 2017. During her tenure at Clemson, she held the SREB Dissertation Fellowship and Janine Bowen Graduate Fellowship and earned multiple awards for teaching and outreach including the College of Engineering, Computing, and Applied Science’s Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant and MLK Jr. Excellence in Service Award.

Dr. Alfred’s research examines the role of sociotechnical systems factors in supporting or hindering safety in clinical systems, with specific interests in surgical instrument reprocessing, robotic-assisted surgery, anesthesia medication delivery, and retained foreign objects. Complementing the social determinants of health framework, her research also leverage human factors and systems engineering to examine clinical systems contributions to healthcare disparities. More about Dr. Alfred >

Karin A. Block-Cora, Ph.D. (pronouns: she/her), is an associate professor of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the City College of New York (CCNY) and a member of the doctoral faculty of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the CUNY Graduate Center. She also collaborates and is affiliated with the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University (LDEO) as an adjunct associate research scientist.

Dr. Block is a geochemist and petrologist who investigates the role and evolution of minerals in magmatic systems and in terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. Her current research focuses on how feedbacks between clay minerals and microbes affect carbon cycle dynamics in soils. 

Dr. Block was born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico. She received an A.B. in Literature, Science and Arts at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. She completed her Ph.D. in Earth and Environmental Sciences from the CUNY Graduate Center and a postdoctoral research appointment at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University. Dr. Block is a Sloan Scholar and an advocate on issues affecting women and underrepresented minorities in higher education. She serves on the Advisory Board to the Sloan Scholars Mentoring Network and is a member of the CCNY College-Wide Working Group on Diversity and Inclusion. She is a 2006 SREB program graduate. More about Dr. Block-Cora >

Cheryl A. Swanier, Ph.D., holds the position of Senior Teaching Faculty at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She was the former department chair of Mathematics and Computer Science at Claflin University, where she was named the Henry N. and Alice Carson Tisdale Endowed Professor.

Dr. Swanier is the founder and CEO of Swanier Consulting, LLC. Among her many awards and honors, she was selected as a visiting research scientist at Google in Mountain View, California and received the 2016-17 Google igniteCS Award. 

Dr. Swanier conducts research in Human Computer Interaction with an emphasis in visual programming of educational simulations with end user programming and educational gaming technologies. She works with many programs focused on increasing the computing pipeline by getting
students interested in STEM disciplines and future technology careers through her non-profit, the SIS Foundation, Inc., that implements the Kewl Girlz Kode project and is dedicated to increasing the number of underrepresented minorities in computing through engagement,
inspiration, and empowerment. She is a 2015 SREB program graduate. More about Dr. Swanier >

Recorded on February 1, 2022