Two Faculty Members Receive 2017 Baylor Centennial Professor Awards

May 5, 2017

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Media contact: Terry Goodrich, (254) 710-3321

WACO, Texas (May 5, 2017) – Sara Alexander, Ph.D., associate professor of anthropology in the College of Arts & Sciences, and Jungjun Park, Ph.D., graduate program director and associate professor of communication sciences and disorders in the Robbins College of Health and Human Sciences, have been selected as the 2017 Baylor Centennial Professors by the Centennial Faculty Development Review Committee.

Created by the Baylor Centennial Class of 1945, the award provides tenured professors with $5,000 for research projects to aid with more in-depth study in his or her field.

Alexander’s project involves traveling to Guatemala City and Merida to review archival documents, including personal diaries, journals and other miscellaneous texts, kept by colonials and local farmers that provide historical insight into the understanding of weather and climate from various perspectives.

“Roughly 10 years ago, I initiated a new research trajectory for myself, i.e., examining different sub-populations in Central America whose livelihoods are climate-dependent, and investigating their understanding and perceptions of risk around climate change,” Alexander said. “On this particular topic, it has been difficult to find historical information that would inform contemporary worldviews of these populations. These archival documents will help to provide corresponding data through a historical lens approximately one century previous.”

After Alexander completes this research, she will be teaching a freshman seminar, “Weather, Culture and Climate,” and an upper-division anthropology course, “Climate Anthropology.” She plans to introduce students to these data sets to further students’ understanding of how people thought about and responded to the weather.

“I am honored to receive this award with its long history at Baylor, and I am grateful for the support it affords my research and teaching,” Alexander said.

Park’s project is focused on constructing a bilingual database of language samples to serve school-based speech-language pathologists and graduate educators nationwide for their professional clinical training activities.

“With this great seed grant, I will be able to visit five universities in Texas and California and their speech-language clinics and lead multiple meetings with collaborators for data collection and in-depth analysis of the data,” Park said. “The ultimate goals are to generate a pilot-scale language database and a Baylor-centered website; disseminate the resources to speech-language pathologists, clinical educators and graduate students nationwide; and construct a team of global clinical researchers for a follow-up full-scale data collections and an NIH grant proposal.”

The database will include video recordings of bilingual public school children from multiple states, particularly English language learners speaking Cantonese, Mandarin, Tagalog, Korean and Vietnamese as their primary language.

“It is a great honor for me to receive this award as a part of the Baylor family as this study is all about serving our young students and their families with various forms of language learning difficulties,” Park said. “I am deeply grateful for the Baylor Centennial Class of 1945 and the review committee’s recognition of the substantial impact of this research project.”

by Kalli Damschen, student newswriter, (254) 710-6805

Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 16,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.

The College of Arts & Sciences is Baylor University’s oldest and largest academic division, consisting of 25 academic departments and 13 academic centers and institutes. The more than 5,000 courses taught in the College span topics from art and theatre to religion, philosophy, sociology and the natural sciences. Faculty conduct research around the world, and research on the undergraduate and graduate level is prevalent throughout all disciplines. Visit

After more than three years of evaluation and input from Baylor regents, deans, faculty and staff, and external entities, the Baylor Board of Regents approved the creation of the Robbins College of Health and Human Sciences on May 16, 2014. This was also a direct result of identified priorities for strengthening the health sciences through Baylor’s strategic vision, Pro Futuris, which serves as a compass for the University’s future. The anchor academic units that form the new College – Communication Sciences and Disorders, Family and Consumer Sciences and Health, Human Performance and Recreation – share a common purpose: improving health and the quality of life. The new College is working to create curricula that will promote a team-based approach to patient care and will establish interdisciplinary research collaborations to advance solutions for improving the quality of life for individuals, families, and communities. For more information visit