Ongoing Projects

Sense of community and (third) place among young adults in permanent supportive housing: A mixed-methods inquiry

My dissertation research partners with young adults in permanent supportive housing in Western Colorado through longitudinal mixed methods, qualitative geographic methods, and game-based inquiry to explore:

  • (a) how does psychological sense of community shift before and after moving into permanent supportive housing?

  • (b) how do residents experience the physical space within the permanent supportive housing setting, with particular attention to third places (common areas)?

  • (c) how would young adults reimagine third places to meet their future support and wellbeing needs?

Through this research, I hope to impact future permanent supportive housing settings for young people, as well a third place settings more broadly, to better meet young people's self-determined needs.

These photos were taken during "playtesting" and "pilot" sessions in my development process for the Future of Third Places Game, a game which asks players to reimagine third places (community settings) which center young people's support, affirmation, and wellbeing. As a part of my dissertation, I was able to play this game with 23 young people in permanent supportive housing. Moving forward, I hope to partner with community organizations and architects/planners who want to use this game as an engagement tool for (re)designing youth-centered third places.

This photo was taken when sharing my dissertation findings (on how residents experience the physical environment of the permanent supportive housing setting) with the Denver-based architecture firm, Shopworks Architecture, which designed the permanent supportive housing setting with which I've partnered for my dissertation work. These findings will inform future Shopworks designs, offering an incredible dissemination opportunity for direct impact.

COVID & connection: Collective care through mutual aid

I am a Co-PI (Co-PI: Dr. Kimberly Bender) on a study examining the rapid proliferation of mutual aid amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Recognizing that mutual aid as a practice has existed for centuries - but proliferated into the mainstream in Summer 2020 - our team interviewed 25 individuals engaged in mutual aid in Colorado in Summer/Fall 2020 to understand the unique role of mutual aid in our social ecosystem during this time. We have published on the values and beliefs underlying mutual aid during this time, and the role of digital mutual aid organizing early on in the pandemic. Forthcoming articles (under review) highlight the varying conceptualizations of mutual aid (which varied by social location), social bonding mechanisms experienced by mutual aid organizers, and the use of foresight frameworks as a method of understanding mutual aid praxis.

Affirming Ground Project: Peer support for young people experiencing homelessness

I am a participatory action research (PAR) team member on a study entitled "Mutual aid among youth experiencing homelessness," a federally-funded project (Corporation for National Community service) exploring formalized peer support programming for young people experiencing homelessness. Our PAR team has published on how peer support specialists uniquely initiate and build connection with young people experiencing homelessness and how peer support workers value self-directed growth over conventional change goals when working with young people experiencing homelessness. Our team has also studied power dynamics on PAR teams (beginning by studying our own experiences) - and has published on how values and power mapping may guide power-diverse PAR teams in navigating power dynamics and created a power mapping tool. Find out more about our collective work at

DU Prison Arts Initiative: Evaluating prison arts program outcomes

Throughout my doctoral program, I have worked with Dr. Shannon Sliva to evaluate the outcomes of the DU Prison Arts Initiative, which offers arts programming across the Colorado Department of Corrections and performances (often in prisons) for the general public. In addition to conducting ongoing program evaluation and writing public-facing reports for DU PAI, I have led a scoping review on prison arts program outcomes, a manuscript describing our findings that participating in DU PAI programming was associated with promising socio-emotional outcomes and liberatory experiences amidst incarceration, and a theoretically-grounded manuscript describing how virtual prison arts programming may begin to build psychological proximity between incarcerated folks and the general population.