Julie Lucero has been an assistant professor of health sciences with the School of Community Health Sciences since 2015. She recently added an additional title to her role on campus as the new director of the Latino Research Center. Lucero said she knew she always wanted to be involved with the Latino Research Center since she began working at the University of Nevada, Reno, but when the director position became available, she knew the role was right for her.
Her biggest priority for the center is to build inclusivity.
"We really want to make sure we're building solid bridges between us and the academic and the local communities," Lucero said.
Part of that will entail reestablishing the reputation of the center in the community. She said there was a hiatus where resources disappeared and the center is now focused on restoring those resources.
Lucero said the terms Latino and Latino-serving are very broad. Language issues, immigration status, religion and sexual orientation set aside, Lucero wants to make sure anyone who identifies as Latino or Hispanic knows they have a place on campus where they belong. But the center isn't just for those who identify as Latinx - Lucero said for those who don't identify as Latinx, those individuals are still welcome in the center and the center has resources to help prepare them to work with Hispanic and Latino communities.
One of her short-term goals as director is to actively provide undergraduate research opportunities. Lucero said there are a lot of opportunities for students to engage in research, they just don't know where to go. She wants to make sure students are aware they can come to the center to participate in a research project.
"We know that's part of the pipeline is to get students experience in research so they will then go onto graduate school," she said.
One of Lucero's collaborative research projects is working with Hispanic youth to engage them in careers in STEM. This is part of the Community of Bilingual English-Spanish Speakers Exploring Issues in Science and Health (CBESS) program, which Lucero and her team just finished its first residential program. Their focus is building a pipeline of bilingual students and getting them prepared for workforce development.
Lucero also researches and works with indigenous populations. She is currently developing a toolkit for American Indian populations to strengthen academic partnerships. She believes this could also be adapted to Latino communities as well.
The Latino Research Center is located in the Edmund J. Cain Hall building, room 100 and is open during regular business hours Monday - Friday. For more information about the center, call (775) 784-4010 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.