Vasko Named AAAS Community Engagement Fellow

Stephanie E. Vasko was selected to the first cohort of Fellows for the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Community Engagement Fellows Program. Dr. Vasko is currently a Research Associate and the Program Manager for the Toolbox Dialogue Initiative (TDI), a research effort housed in the Department of Philosophy at Michigan State University.

portrait of a woman with brown hair and glassesIn its pilot year, the AAAS Community Engagement Fellows Program, funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, provides year-long professional development opportunities to individuals who cultivate member engagement and collaborative relationships within scientific associations and research collaborations. The initial cohort of 17 Sloan Fellows and two AAAS Staff Fellows will receive training and peer support and benefit from a shared knowledge base.

“I’m deeply honored for the opportunity to learn from and with the other members of the cohort,” Vasko said, “and extremely excited to build new skills for my future in management and engagement.”

Originally trained as a chemist, Vasko brings with her nearly a decade of experience in interdisciplinary research and collaboration. Within the the Toolbox Dialogue Initiative, she focuses on helping teams and groups improve their collaborative capacity and internal communication. Her specialties include strategic and institutional planning, education, community building, project management, and program management.

The greatest parts about working with Toolbox are getting to work with a wide variety of people from different backgrounds and helping them to achieve their goals or to understand one another better.

The Toolbox Dialogue Initiative, sponsored by the National Science Foundation, studies and facilitates communication in collaborative, cross-disciplinary research and practice. TDI facilitates workshops where team members have the opportunity to explore their individual and group values, assumptions, and views through group dialogue. During the workshop, teams participate in a brainstorming activity focused on using what the dialogue has uncovered to create next steps toward team goals. TDI works nationally and internationally with teams from different backgrounds, including academic researchers, nonprofit and non-governmental employees, and members of the public.

“The greatest parts about working with Toolbox,” Vasko said, “are getting to work with a wide variety of people from different backgrounds and helping them to achieve their goals or to understand one another better.”

Over her fellowship year, Vasko is working on strengthening communication and collaboration with the TDI community, developing new approaches for TDI workshop offerings, and expanding the client base for TDI through increased social media presence and TDI-focused content.