New Faculty in Social Justice Bring Diverse Voices to UConn

The new faculty will teach and perform research on health disparities, diversity science, and Native American and Indigenous studies.

Five new faculty specializing in social justice research join the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Sandy Grande (top left), Haile Cole (bottom left), Jolaade Kalinowski (center), Ryan Talbert (top right), and Kimberly Chaney (bottom right) join CLAS this year as part of interdisciplinary cluster hires.

New faculty are joining the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS) this fall as part of three groups launched by Dean Juli Wade to increase interdisciplinary scholarship in diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Over the past year, centers, institutes, and departments within the College collaborated to propose research topic areas, and three were selected: health disparities, diversity science, and Native American and Indigenous studies. The areas were chosen because they build on existing strengths in research and teaching and will advance the College’s commitment to social justice and community.

“Enhancing diversity, equity, and inclusion is critical,” Wade said. “I wanted to advance this priority for CLAS as I began my first year at UConn.”

The health disparities cluster brings three tenure-line faculty in the Departments of Human Development and Family Sciences, Anthropology, and Sociology to the College. Their research will focus on health disparities within minority communities, and consider health; social and economic disadvantage; health equity; social and environmental determinants of disease; population-specific interventions; and policy related to prevention and treatment services.

Faculty in the Department of Psychological Sciences make up the diversity science cluster, which will focus on group identity and prejudice against understudied populations, including racial and ethnic minorities, sexual minorities, persons with disabilities, and individuals from diverse socio-economic classes. Their research will help push the boundaries of current psychological theory and create new discoveries about the unique psychological processes relevant to the experiences of diverse populations.

The Native American and Indigenous studies cluster will emphasize Indigenous cultures, histories, and knowledge, and will include faculty in the Departments of Anthropology, History, Political Science, and Literatures, Cultures, and Languages.

The following are five of the faculty hired in the three groups who are starting at the College this August. The College will add more than 30 tenured and tenure-track faculty in the coming year.

Assistant Professor Haile Cole.
Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Africana Studies Haile Cole.

Haile Cole joins the College as an assistant professor with a joint appointment in anthropology and Africana studies through the health disparities cluster. With both an MA and Ph.D. in cultural anthropology from the University of Texas at AustinCole’s research focuses on alternatives to incarceration for mothers and their children, and maternal and infant mortality for Black women. Her most recent research project considered how rates of maternal and infant mortality are impacted by processes of racism and structural inequality. Cole strives to create opportunities for students to engage with the larger community, such as ethnographic research or community service projects.  In the classroom, she strives to create an inclusive space by asking whose experiences are being prioritized in the context of the course and who or what is being left out. 



Assistant Professor Kimberly Chaney.
Assistant Professor of Psychological Sciences Kimberly Chaney.

Kimberly Chaney is an incoming assistant professor of psychological sciences in the diversity science cluster. Prior to joining CLAS, Chaney received her MS and Ph.D. in social psychology from Rutgers University, where she instructed courses such as Psychology of Prejudice and Conflict and Psychology of Sex and Gender. Her research focuses on lay theories of prejudice—theories everyday people have about the ways prejudice operates in society—prejudice confrontations, and group boundaries, and has been published in high-impact journals. By examining basic and applied questions about how people perceive, experience, and combat prejudice in their day to day lives, her research aims to broaden our understanding of prejudice and stigma, especially as it relates to cognitive, health, and behavioral outcomes. 


Professor Sandy Grande
Professor of Political Science Sandy Grande.

Sandy Grande will be a professor in the political science department with an affiliate appointment in the philosophy department. She identifies as a Quechua national and comes to UConn as part of the Native American and Indigenous studies cluster hire. Previously, Grande was a professor of education and director of the Center for the Critical Study of Race and Ethnicity at Connecticut College. Her research works across the fields of Native American and Indigenous studies, contemporary political theory, education, and comparative ethnic studies.  

Grande was recently awarded the Ford Foundation Senior Fellowship to complete a new book tentatively titled, Indigenous Elders and the Decolonial Elsewhere of Aging, which presupposes that there is something to be learned, politically and pedagogically, about the colonial present through the study of Elders and older adults. She is also a founding member of New York Stands for Standing Rock, a group of scholars and activists that works to forward the aims of Native American and Indigenous sovereignty and resurgence.  

Assistant Professor Jolaade Kalinowski.
Assistant Professor of Human Development and Family Sciences Jolaade Kalinowski.

Jolaade Kalinowski is an incoming assistant professor of human development and family sciences in the health disparities cluster. Kalinowski researches the role of chronic stress in cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk reduction in Black women, who face disproportionate levels of CVD morbidity and mortality. She is interested in advancing the understanding of the complex interactions between psychosocial, behavioral, and community-level factors contributing to CVD disparities and developing innovative interventions to mitigate the adverse health effects of stress in Black women.   

For the past three years, Kalinowski received extensive training in behavioral cardiovascular health and cardiovascular epidemiology as a postdoctoral fellow for the Minorities in Behavioral and Cardiovascular Health at New York University School of Medicine program. During her fellowship, she was awarded a grant from the American Heart Association titled Stress Management for Black Women with High Blood Pressure: Evaluating Effects of Mindfulness Training on CVD Risk, which tests novel approaches on stress management among black women with elevated risk for CVD.   

Assistant Professor Ryan Talbert.
Assistant Professor of Sociology Ryan Talbert.

Ryan Talbert joins the College as an assistant professor of sociology through the health disparities cluster.  

Talbert is a medical sociologist who studies the effects of white supremacy on the creation and maintenance of racial health disparities. His dissertation at Vanderbilt University examined the impacts of Ku Klux Klan organizing, the presence of Confederate monuments, and exposure to deadly police encounters on racial inequities in infant mortality, mental health, and cardiovascular health.  

Talbert looks forward to continuing his health disparities research at UConn because of the University’s focus on interdisciplinary scholarship. One of his primary goals in the classroom is to assist students in developing the intellectual tools they need to understand the social world. With his teaching, Ryan aims to create inclusive classrooms, structure engaging discussions, and deconstruct concepts to promote critical thinking in an environment in which students are comfortable exploring complex sociological issues. 

 To learn more about diversity efforts in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at UConn, visit the College’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion webpage