Dr. Jennifer Carrera receives 2023 Impact Award for community engaged research

April 10, 2023

Sociology Assistant Professor Jennifer Carrera has been awarded Campus Compact's Ernest A. Lynton Award for the Scholarship of Engagement. This award is presented in partnership with Brown University's Swearer Center and recognizes "early career faculty who practice exemplary engaged scholarship through teaching and research. Recipients are selected on the basis of their collaboration with communities, institutional impact, and high-quality academic work."

Carrera is recognized for her deep commitment to environmental justice and for supporting and uplifting the voices of marginalized communities that are impacted by environmental crises. Her research, which focuses on water access and water quality for low-income communities in the United States, centers the expertise of residents in experiencing and responding to public health crises. She undertakes this work through a racial equity lens, exploring how structural and historical systems perpetuate disparities in environmental health. Through her work, Carrera aims to arm community members with the tools they need to promote their vision of health and well-being and to hold those entrusted with ensuring public health accountable. For the past seven years, Carrera has worked with the residents of Flint, Michigan across multiple projects, supporting their efforts to find answers to ongoing questions about local public health.

“Far too often university (and government) programs and initiatives meant to serve the public good underserve (at best) or ignore (at worst) those communities that are most victimized historically & most marginalized currently,” said MSU Sociology Chair Dr. Aaron M. McCright, in a letter nominating Carrera for the award. “In the wake of the Flint water crisis—an epic institutional failure by any measure—Dr. Carrera’s [community-based participatory research] project provides a valuable corrective to help a victimized community reaffirm its dignity, empower itself to recover, and strengthen its capacity for future resilience. I expect that her continued work will serve as a model across academia for how to establish & maintain mutually beneficial community-university partnerships.” 

Carrera, who is also faculty at MSU Environmental Science and Policy Program, shares this award with her community partners and Flint team members, including:

  • Kent Key, PhD, Community Based Organization Partners, Flint, MI
  • Rev. Sarah Bailey, PhD, MA, Bridges into the Future, Flint, MI
  • Pastor Cynthia Watkins, Well Church International Ministries, Flint, MI
  • Pastor Ronnie Wiggins, HQLM Vision Center, Flint, MI
  • Laura Sullivan, PhD, Kettering University, Flint, MI
  • Melissa Mays, Water You Fighting For, Flint, MI

    "Collectively, we are working to understand and support pathways for true community leadership of research and interventions towards environmental justice and health equity," Carrera said.