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Clay Receives National Research Fellowship

Clay Receives National Research Fellowship

Lauren Clay PhD, assistant professor of Health Services Administration, has been named as an Early-Career Research Fellow in the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine’s Gulf Research Program for 2018.

Clay is one of only 20 researchers nation-wide to receive the fellowship which recognizes professionals at the critical pre-tenure phase of their careers who show exceptional leadership, performance, and potential for future contributions to improving offshore energy system safety, human health and well-being, or environmental stewardship. Each fellow receives a two-year grant for research expenses and professional development. 

“We are incredibly proud of Dr. Clay for her selection as a National Academies Gulf Research Fellow,” said D’Youville President Lorrie Clemo. “It is a testament to the promise of her research so early in her career. Dr. Clay has already demonstrated that she is a talented researcher as well as a dedicated mentor and role model here at D’Youville and across Western New York, but this prestigious fellowship is a widespread acknowledgement that her work in disaster recovery and in improving the health of communities is impactful nationally and, in fact, globally. Her innovations, especially in interdisciplinary team settings, are working to keep the U.S. on the cutting edge and we look forward to following her achievements in the years to come.”

Specifically, for this fellowship, Clay will be researching post-disaster food environment and food insecurity. Food insecurity is a critical lever for improving health, well-being, and quality of life for families because of its effects on supply chains, environmental health, local economies, agriculture, and social programs.

“I am very excited about the fellowship,” said Clay. “Growing up in South Louisiana with a large family that lives, works, and plays along the coast, disaster risk was part of life. The multiple hazard exposures paired with the deep connection between families and the environment led me to focus my research on understanding the impact of social, economic, and political forces of family health and well-being.”

Clay’s research is largely gulf-based including on households recovering from Hurricane Katrina, the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, and Hurricane Harvey. “Participating in a fellowship and contributing towards this mission with a group of interdisciplinary scientists was a natural fit for improving the health and well-being of communities where my family lives and the loved ones of so many others,” she added.

“My goal from this line of inquiry is to make recommendations for more effective food-related post-disaster response operations, including those that best meet family needs, the duration of service for improved health outcomes, the best mode of delivery of food related services, and strategies to ensure access and availability for everyone,” said Clay. “These recommendations could lead to improvements in how food needs are met but also contribute to broader positive outcomes such as increased social support on the community level and additional forms of assisted coping.”

Clay’s fellowship will not only have a profound impact on her career, but on D’Youville as well. “Her award exemplifies the talent of D’Youville’s junior faculty and the high level of research that takes place at this teaching-focused institution,” said Mimi Steadman EdD, vice president for academic affairs. “It’s so impressive and she’ll be able to do more incredible work with the support of this award.”

Part of that incredible work includes the involvement of students. “I am excited to be able to expand my work and include more students. I have one student working on a Hurricane Harvey project including participating in fieldwork last year and I’ve already hired an undergrad research assistant from the Health Analytics program to work with me during my fellowship.”

Students in Clay’s classroom will also have a direct benefit from her research too. “I tell stories and use examples from my research when teaching Health Behavior, Global Health, and Research Methods,” added Clay. “I look forward to discussing the challenges and successes in real time as we grapple with study design, data collection plans, and research ethics in the classroom.”

Clay and her team are traveling to North Carolina to conduct rapid research following Hurricane Florence.


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