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Research

“Buzz Words” Diversity, International/Intercultural Issues, Critical Multiculturalism, Community Informatics, Social Justice in the Information Professions

       Awarded a SARIF Summer Research Assistantship award (Summer 2006) for Ms. Sarah Belisle, a masters student enrolled in the SIS, from UTK’s Office of Research to conduct research about use and evaluation of the DRP. Awarded a SARIF Summer Research Assistantship award (Summer 2005) for Ms. Katherine Elizabeth Stepp, a masters student enrolled in the SIS, from UTK’s Office of Research to conduct research about use and evaluation of the DRP.

         IN PROGRESS Efforts to develop an Institutional Diversity Policy for the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning (GLBTQ) Community at the University of Tennessee: A Campus Climate Survey towards Institutional Change (With Donna Braquet, Assistant Professor at the Reference & Instructional Services, Hodges Library, University of Tennessee at Knoxville (UTK).

  ***NEW*** The Diversity Resources Page (DRP) is an online place where users find information and communication resources on diversity issues. DRP is a newly developing virtual community that provides collections and services to meet the needs of diverse local and global under-served populations. Here users find web-based and offline materials on international dimensions in education, multiculturalism, race, ethnicity, sex, gender, sexual orientation, age, income, geography, disability, skill, and other variables that shape inequity in our global networked community.

         Research to explore the information-seeking behaviors of minority and marginalized groups and bridging the digital divide via empowerment of disadvantaged user communities:

         Afya (Swahili for "health") Project: We used participatory action research in the context of health information needs of African American women in the community for evaluating online and offline health information and service resources. Highlights: I worked on The Afya Project website and was also a part of a team effort to create a distributed Inquiry-SisterNet website. In spring 2002, I was the webmaster for the Social Justice Group, a cluster of faculty, students and staff from the Graduate School of Library and Information Science and other disciplines across the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign who share a common vision to create awareness, build understanding, and directly address social justice issues in the information professions.

         My activities have also involved conducting training workshops for Prairienet (the local community network) and building online resources for low income and disadvantaged populations (for example, the Small Business Information Exchange for the Community Collaboration for Economic Development).

         Research on minority populations has involved documentation of the history of community networks, bibliometric analysis of race and gender issues for Black women's health in Pubmed Medline, and exploration of the information-seeking behaviors of disadvantaged groups as diverse as sexual minorities and international teaching assistants.

         Socio-technical research involved in creation of Biological Information Browsing Environments (BIBE): My work in the project involved documenting social dynamics of adult volunteers and high schools students participating in biodiversity surveys in order to study their social interactions and processes, map their behavior, track their identification practices and skills, as well as document their correct and incorrect identifications. The purpose of these activities was to provide suggestions for improvement in identification procedures and protocols with a focus on changes that could be made via telecommunications and visualized technology use. I was also involved in use of socially grounded methods to gather feedback from participants, conducting software evaluation user-centered workshops, and designing user-friendly visualized interfaces.

 

Evaluation of visualized environments and documentation of social dynamics surrounding technology use in the GK-12 EdGrid Graduate Teaching Fellowship Program at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications: The GK-12 EdGrid Graduate Teaching Fellowship Program is a three-year National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded project to support University of Illinois graduate students in the sciences, mathematics, engineering, and technology (SMET) disciplines. Selected graduate students collaborate with campus faculty and participating K-12 teachers to integrate the use of computer-based modeling, scientific visualization, and informatics in science and mathematics education. I was involved in the project for a year (fall 2001 - fall 2002) as an evaluator, documenting the social dynamics associated with integration of technology within educational settings.  

 

The use of GIS and associated technologies for 'mapping' ecological/biological space representations and thereby contributing towards community planning information support, as well as building of educational-organizational infrastructure in EcoWatch programs.

 

         A Visual Odyssey Through Forests in Illinois: Use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) for 'Mapping' ForestWatch Sites : A poster presentation at the Environmental Horizons 2001 Conference (March 26-27, 2001) at the University of Illinois at Urban-Champaign on the use of Geographic Information Systems to present environmental data in a format usable by the general public.

 

         Geographic Information Systems (GIS) for Environmental Mapping of      ForestWatch Sites: This demonstration at the GIS in Illinois 2001 Spring Conference (April 10-11, 2001) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign presented visualizations and analysis of forest wealth and natural vegetation surveyed under the auspices of the ForestWatch program in the state of Illinois. Illinois ForestWatch was established in 1996 as a volunteer forest monitoring component of the Illinois EcoWatch Network, the statewide association of ecosystem monitoring programs that is presently coordinated by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR). This GIS presentation addressed environmental information management issues for representing forest data collected by ForestWatch volunteers in biodiversity surveys to monitor Illinois forests across the state.

 

         Community development and information exchange in the East St. Louis Action Research Project (ESLARP): During 1995-1996, my participation in ESLARP, an on-going team effort, for undertaking cross-disciplinary action research entailed working closely with neighborhood organizations and community members, understanding their expectations, and analyzing their needs, in order to make recommendations for re-building the physical and cultural landscape based on positive community participation in the design process (See "Olivette Park Neighborhood as a People's District).

 

         A Website Analysis of the University of Tennessee’s Peer Institutions to Assess their Support of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender People. Submitted by the Research Committee, Commission for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) People, University of Tennessee, May 2007. (Compiled by Bharat Mehra and Donna Braquet). Research Committee Members: Bharat Mehra (bmehra@utk.edu), Chair; Donna Braquet (dbraquet@utk.edu); Ed White (rew@utk.edu); Roger Weaver (jweaver2@utk.edu); Chris Hodge (chodge5@utk.edu).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Contact Bharat Mehra

 

Location:

449 Communications Building, 1345 Circle Park Drive, Knoxville, TN 37996-0341

Phone: 865-974-5917
Fax: 865-974-4967
Email: bmehra@utk.edu

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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