Faculty Fellows

Student leading discussion talks with fellow students during the SERVE meeting, Feb, 4. 2017.

Intentional, learning-focused community engagement

The Faculty Fellows Program is an opportunity for new and experienced service-learning practitioners to participate in the collaborative design of intentional, learning-focused community engagement opportunities.

The program includes support for instructional faculty who are developing or significantly revising courses or curricular programs utilizing a community-based service learning pedagogy. During the two-year program, VT Engage supports the design of high quality service-learning and community engagement experiences.

 Faculty Fellows collaborates with community organizations to create or enhance mutually beneficial partnerships, build assessment strategies for student learning and community outcomes, and serve as community engagement ambassadors to the Virginia Tech community.

Fellows present their work products to peers and engage with broader scholarly and practitioner audiences. The current Faculty Fellows program period is May 2017 to May 2019.

Questions? Contact Gary Kirk, faculty director of community engagement at garykirk@vt.edu.


  • The VT Engage Faculty Fellows Program is open to any full-time, qualified instructional faculty member at Virginia Tech. Proposed courses may be at the undergraduate or graduate level. 
  • Applications will be accepted from individual faculty members or faculty teams. Interdisciplinary teams and teams from single departments are encouraged to apply. Teams proposals should create community-based learning experiences across course sequences or curricula.
  • Graduate students may not apply to be part of the fellows program. Previous VT Engage Faculty Fellows are ineligible for this cycle of awards.
  • Focused Investment: Individual faculty or faculty teams may receive up to $12,500 per new course or $8,000 per existing course in support of the development process.
  • Partnership Development: Fellows will have designated time to invest in local, regional, or global partnerships to create mutually beneficial service-learning programs. Fellows will have access to VT Engage’s networks of community collaborators and can develop or enhance existing relationships with government and nonprofit partners.
  • Learning Community: Fellows will have opportunities to seek feedback and support from a growing body of faculty with expertise in all aspects of experiential learning, community engagement, and service programs. This diverse community can provide assistance as fellows strengthen courses, test innovative pedagogies, and collaborate on projects to advance the scholarship of engagement, teaching, and learning. 
  • Increased Visibility: VT Engage will showcase the community-based work of each fellow or team at key points during the project lifecycle.

Meet the 2017-19 Faculty Fellows

Dr. Elizabeth Austin

Elisabeth L. Austin, Ph.D.

Dr. Austin is an associate professor of Spanish in the Department of ForeignLanguages and Literatures. Her research centers on 19th-century Spanish American literature and culture, with a focus on authority, gender, and scientific discourse. Her teaching includes subjects such as 19th- to 21st-century literature, history and culture, South America and the Hispanic Caribbean, and U.S. Latino communities. In her research and teaching, Dr. Austin addresses diversity, cultural multiplicity, and social justice issues throughout the Hemisphere.

As a Faculty Fellow with VT Engage, Dr. Austin is in the process of developing a new service-learning course in Spanish, called Community through Service: Latino NRV, where students will learn about the Hispanic communities in the U.S. through volunteering to increase literacy within that community. Dr. Austin holds a Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania.

Dr. C. L. Bohannon

C.L. Bohannon, Ph.D.

Dr. Bohannon is an assistant professor of landscape architecture in the School of Architecture and Design. His research focuses on the relationship between community engagement and design education and building methodological approaches that can enhance community-university relationships in the design process. Through his research, Dr. Bohannon works in the landscape context of community history and identity, environmental (in)justice, and community learning.

As a Faculty Fellow with VT Engage, Dr. Bohannon is working to develop a new course, titled Landscapes of Social & Environmental [In]Justice: Engaging for Progressive Change, in which students will explore the history of social and environmental justice movements and their relationship to both the historical and contemporary forces that impact marginalized communities. He holds a Ph.D. in Architecture and Design Research: Landscape Architecture from Virginia Tech. 

Kimberly Carlson, Interim Center Director/Instructor, Management. Pamplin.

Dr. Kimberly Carlson

Kimberly A. Carlson, Ph.D.

Dr. Carlson is an assistant professor of practice in management and the director of the Business Leadership Center in the management department of the Pamplin College of Business. Her teaching and research experiences include leadership and organizational and workforce development in national and local organizations, governments, and universities.

As a Faculty Fellow with VT Engage, Dr. Carlson is working to establish a course called Leadership for Managers and Entrepreneurs, which is an introductory leadership course that serves as a foundation for a new Pathways Minor in Organizational Leadership. This course explores a broad range of concepts and theories important for a basic understanding of leadership skills for managers and entrepreneurs. She holds a Ph.D. in Public Administration and Policy from Virginia Tech. 

Dr. Matthew Eick

Matthew J. Eick, Ph.D.

Dr. Eick is a professor in the Department of Crop and Soil Environmental Sciences. His teaching and research experiences include environmental soil chemistry, and service learning courses which focus on the impact of human activities and climate change on ecosystems.

As a Faculty Fellow with VT Engage, Dr. Eick is currently helping to create the Ecosystems, Health, and Culture Alternative Pathway, which is a 9-credit program in the College Agricultural and Life Sciences that examines the connection between ecosystems and the services they provide to communities, cultural impact on the environment, and the pathways associated with human and animal health risks. He holds a Ph.D. in Environmental Soil Chemistry from the University of Delaware.

Jacob Richard Grohs, Instructor, BEAM/ESM, Engineering Education Department.

Dr. Jacob Grohs

Jacob Grohs, Ph.D.

Jacob Grohs is an assistant professor of Engineering Education with Affiliate Faculty status in Learning Sciences and Technologies and Biomedical Engineering and Mechanics (BEAM). Prior to beginning as tenure-track faculty in 2015, he served as an instructor in BEAM, and before that as the Associate Director of Engaged Learning and Scholarship with VT Engage. His research primarily focuses on understanding and designing educational environments that foster the problem-solving skills, complex reasoning capacities, and socio-ethical competencies necessary to address the significant interdisciplinary challenges in the professional world.

As a Faculty Fellow with VT Engage, Dr. Grohs is working to restructure various aspects of the course Foundations of Engineering II, in order to provide students with an integrated community engagement experience by incorporating real community needs and working with organizations in major course assignments.  He holds a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction from Virginia Tech. 

  • Sarah Misyak
    Dr. Misyak is a postdoctoral scholar in the Department of Human Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. She supported a summer internship program by creating two courses that “prepared nutrition students for entering community settings and working with diverse populations”. Dr. Misyak holds bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in human nutrition, foods, and exercise from Virginia Tech. She is a management team member for the Appalachian Foodshed Project and a board member of Friends of the Farmers Market.
  • Takumi Sato
    Dr. Sato is a clinical assistant professor in the School of Education. He revamped his course Dynamics of the 21st Century Classroom, which prepares students for the challenges facing today’s teachers. Dr. Sato planned to increase the number of service hours to 20 per semester and incorporate more robust reflection activities. He holds a doctorate in curriculum, instruction and teacher education with a focus in science education from Michigan State University and a bachelor’s degree in biology from Washington University. Dr. Sato previously served as a graduate assistant for the Journal of Research in Science Teaching.
  • Brett Shadle
    Dr. Shadle is an associate professor in the Department of History in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences. He offered a new course in fall 2014 called Development and Humanitarianism in Africa, which “ traced the history of western involvement in Africa”. The course offered an opportunity for students to work with resettled refugees in Roanoke via the student-led Coalition for Refugee Resettlement. Dr. Shadle holds a doctorate in African history from Northwestern University and bachelor’s degree in philosophy and political science from Northern Illinois University. He is the Director of Service-Learning Kakuma, an experiential learning program at the Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya.