AUSTIN, Texas – The Hogg Foundation for Mental Health has awarded $20,000 fellowships to Christopher Johnson and Christopher Ulack, both doctoral students in the College of Liberal Arts who are studying the human experience in times of crisis.
Johnson, a doctoral student in the anthropology department, is examining STAND with Dignity, a grassroots housing organization in post-Katrina New Orleans. He hopes to understand how communities regroup in the wake of disaster and specifically, how the experience of this low-income black community relates to the larger African diaspora.
“This is a study about community, about the ways in which people work together to create both a physical and psychic environment to call home,” said Johnson. “How do they cope with the stress and trauma of having lost everything except the memory of what was?”
Johnson will begin his research in July, including observations and interviews from a year and a half’s work with STAND.
Ulack, a doctoral student in the department of geography and the environment, will focus on the experiences of Iraqi refugees resettling in Austin. Ulack hopes to raise awareness of refugee issues in the local community and develop a better understanding of how state and federal policies can be adjusted to mitigate inequalities and to ease the challenges of integration that are common during the resettlement process.
“Refugee populations are unfortunately forced to face stress and adversity for years after initially fleeing their homes,” said Ulack. “Refugees are a prime example of the human experience in crisis.”
Ulack plans to conduct interviews with Iraqi refugees and gather research through 15 months of work at a refugee resettlement agency in Austin.
The Harry E. and Bernice M. Moore Fellowship was established in 1995 in memory of Dr. Harry E. Moore, a professor and sociologist who specialized in disaster studies, including tornadoes and hurricanes in Texas. The fellowship is awarded annually to doctoral students completing dissertations on the human experience in crises caused by natural or other major disasters or, in a broader sense, stress and adversity.