Emily Stone, MPH

10/25/2021 12:00:00 PM

Emily Stone connects researchers with community collaborators

Emily Stone, MPH
Emily Stone

Emily Stone, MPH, is the Director of Public Engagement with the College of Education and co-lead of the IHSI Community-Academic Partnerships core. We asked Emily to share more about her unique role and offer advice for researchers seeking broader impact for their work. 

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background.
I joined the University of Illinois in September 2017 as a Research Development Manager with the Interdisciplinary Health Sciences Institute. My work initially focused broadly on addressing health disparities until we identified a specific need for supporting community-academic partnerships. Since 2018 my position has been based in the College of Education, in partnership with IHSI, and has focused on identifying community needs and developing programs to support community-academic teams in meeting those needs.

Before joining the University of Illinois, I was the Scientific Manager for the public health institute of the University of Zurich in Zurich, Switzerland. I was responsible for our institute-wide strategic plan focused on translational research. Our institute of 200 researchers and practitioners was uniquely positioned to apply and translate research findings because the public health department and researchers both worked in the same institute, under one roof. In Champaign-Urbana, I aim to create programs and supports that recreate that feeling of researchers and community partners being “under one roof” and able to work together to improve the health of our local communities.

In August 2021 I began a new role as Director of Public Engagement for the College of Education. I will continue with my IHSI affiliation, co-leading the Community-Academic Partnerships core with Kelsey Hassevoort.

What are some examples of your contributions to grant proposal development on campus? 
I developed an NIH submissions accountability group in the College of Education in collaboration with our bigger research development team at IHSI. A group of five education faculty came together weekly to work on their submissions, problem solve, and hold each other accountable to the deadlines they set. Three of those faculty members submitted proposals to the NIH, and one was funded!

What other research development efforts are you involved in? 
My primary role on the IHSI Research Development team is to support researchers is making connections to community partners. Ideally, this happens at an early stage, so that the proposal concept can be based on shared needs. I help facilitate meetings between researchers and community partners, identify those shared needs, and ensure reciprocity and open communication.

Tell us about your passions or any projects or activities that you are particularly excited about right now.
I am excited about working with community partners and researchers to address needs at the intersection of health and education. Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve seen how interconnected public health is with our schools and educational system. In the coming years, our campus is changing Communication 9 and the tenure process to recognize and reward faculty public engagement. I’m really looking forward to supporting faculty in these efforts, while at the same time maintaining my existing connections with community partners in the health space, growing new connections with educational partners, and helping to foster a culture of public engagement on campus.

We have two events coming up that I am excited about: Building effective Extension partnerships on Nov. 11 and Funding for engaged research on Nov. 16. 

What’s your favorite kind of work? 
I enjoy identifying needs and gaps and building programs to meet those needs. In the process, I get to work with such smart and passionate people leading local organizations and working in different kinds of roles across campus. Through conversations with campus and community-based leaders, we identified a need for more student support for local community-based projects. We’ve developed two programs to meet that need. One is the Community-Academic Scholars Initiative, which supports undergraduate students on community-engaged research projects during the summer, working closely with a faculty mentor and community leader as mentor. Another program is the We CU Community Engaged Scholars Program, which expands the matchmaking framework of the Community Learning Lab in the School of Social Work to match community projects with students from disciplines all across campus. We CU also honors students for their community-engagement and provides training and mini grants.

What advice do you have for beginning, mid-career, and/or established health sciences researchers?
Spend time getting to know our local community outside of campus! If you’d like help getting started with connections to community partners in our local community or across Illinois, please reach out to our team. We would love to help you think about how to deepen your connections and broaden the impact of your work.

You can contact Emily Stone at ers@illinois.edu.