Community Engagement Lecture Series

Community Engagement is becoming a key component of health research studies.  To assist researchers in learning more about this topic, the ICTS and the Research Development Office will be sponsoring a Spring Lecture Series.

The goal of this series is to foster greater campus awareness of how and why community engagement can improve research.

Spring 2019 schedule

Organic Engagement: Planting the Seeds to Engage Iowa Veterans in Health Services Research

Stakeholder engagement has gained traction in quality improvement and research circles in recent years, particularly in the Department of Veterans Affairs Health Services Research & Development (VA HSR&D). In 2015, the Center for Access and Delivery Research and Evaluation (CADRE), convened our first attempt to engage Veterans in the research process as collaborators rather than research subjects. What exactly does it mean to engage Veterans in research? This talk explores the ongoing development of CADRE’S Veteran Engagement Panel in the context of the broader movement to include patients as partners in medical research. 


  • Stephen Drop, US Army Veteran
  • Kenda Stewart Steffensmeier, PhD
  • Aaron Scherer, PhD

Each will share their respective insights as panelist, liaison, and researcher.

Event details

Wednesday, February 6 from 12 to 1 pm in C44-A GH (Elevator BW, Level 4)

Community Engaged Research

What is community engaged research and why should you consider community engagement as you design and carry out your research? Why are national funding agencies encouraging—and sometimes requiring—community engagement plans in research studies?


A nationally recognized expert on Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR), Dr. Parker’s work centers on engaging community members in the design, implementation, and evaluation of research interventions, and translating and disseminating research findings for program and policy change.

Event details

Monday, March 11 from 3 to 4 pm in C44-A GH (Elevator BW, Level 4)

Engaging Community Organizations as Research Partners: Lessons from Engaged Research

This talk discusses the challenges and rewards of recruiting and engaging community organizations as partners in research, drawing on research collaborations involving cognitive training interventions for improving mood in assisted living settings, and palliative care and pain management in hospice settings.


Dr. Smith, Associate Professor in Nursing, is the Director of the Csomay Center for Gerontological Excellence and PD/PI of the Geriatric Workforce Enhancement Program that funds the Iowa Geriatric Education Center. Throughout her career, Dr. Smith has conducted community-based nursing research and training projects that focus on innovative and pragmatic ways to reduce risk of disability and promote function among older adults.

Dr. Herr is Kelting Professor in Nursing and Associate Dean for Faculty in the College of Nursing and Co-Director of the Csomay Center for Gerontological Excellence. For more than 30 years, Dr. Herr has engaged in a program of research, scholarly, and professional activities focused on the problem of pain in older adults, with emphases in assessment strategies, improving practices through translation research and end-of-life care.

Event details

Monday, April 8 from 3 to 4 pm in C44-A GH (Elevator BW, Level 4)

Community Partnership for Prevention Research: Active Ottumwa 

This talk discusses Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR) strategies used in Active Ottumwa, a community-academic partnership between the University of Iowa Prevention Research Center for Rural Health and a Community Advisory Board of 12 local leaders in Ottumwa, Iowa. Active Ottumwa has adapted, implemented and evaluated an evidence-based Lay Health Advisor intervention to promote physical activity among adult Ottumwa residents. The speakers will address the opportunities and challenges that arise while implementing community-engaged research for health in a rural setting.


  • Brian Dunn MS MBA, Executive Director, SIEDA Community Action; Community Advisory Board member, Active Ottumwa

Mr. Dunn is the Executive Director of the Southern Iowa Development Association and a member of the Community Advisory Board for the Active Ottumwa research project. He is dedicated to community action at local and state levels.

  • Nicole Novak PhD MSc, Prevention Research Center, College of Public Health

Dr. Novak is a social epidemiologist and community health researcher with a focus on health equity in the United States. She uses epidemiologic and community-engaged research methods to evaluate structural influences on health for immigrants, Latinos, and rural residents.

Event details

Wednesday, May 1 from 12 to 1 pm in CPHB-S162 (College of Public Health, first floor, Dean’s Suite)

Developing and Sustaining Community Partnerships: Lessons from the Field

This talk explores a range of strategies to engage communities and build enduring relationships, drawing on experiences in aligning activities with community-identified needs as well as approaches that facilitate communication and engagement with the community.


Dr. Gilbert, Assistant Professor in the Department of Community and Behavioral Health, focuses on understanding and addressing alcohol-related health disparities. He is currently completing an NIH-funded study to test an explanatory model of alcohol treatment disparities. He also works to improve the health of Latino communities through action-oriented research.

Dr. Just, Associate Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering, has a broad and long-standing experience in engagement. He serves as Core Leader for the Community Engagement core for the Iowa Superfund Research Program, working to address environmental concerns through measurements of airborne PCBs in affected communities, among other activities. 

Dr. Laroche is Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine and Pediatrics and Director of the Weight Management Clinic. Her research focuses on obesity prevention and treatment at a family and community level.

Event details

Monday, May 6 from 3 to 4 pm in C44-A GH (Elevator BW, Level 4)