Carla A. Pfeffer selected in the MSU Community Engaged Research Fellows Program

May 30, 2023 - Brandon Drain

Carla PfefferMSU School of Social Work Associate Professor, Carla A. Pfeffer, has been chosen for participation in the 2023-24 Community Engaged Research Fellows Program -- a landmark achievement reflecting her commitment to advancing community-engaged research.

Carla strives to "make sure all my research is centrally focused on diversity, equity, inclusion, and social justice." As the director of the Consortium for Sexual and Gender Minority (SGM) Health at MSU, her work centers around marginalized communities, particularly the LGBTQ+ population -- shedding light on challenges they meet -- such as health and healthcare access, family relationships, and experiences of stigma and discrimination.

Carla is looking forward to a project she will undertake in the program, aiming to better understand trans health and healthcare practices. To ensure the project's relevance and impact, Carla plans to create a community advisory board, a team designed to foreground the interests of trans, nonbinary and gender non-conforming communities. This project emphasizes Carla's philosophy that research should not be limited to "questions that only researchers care about," but rather, should address the needs and concerns of the communities being studied.

In her journey through the program, Carla will receive mentorship from Robin Miller, a professor and researcher in the MSU Department of Psychology and fellow member of the Consortium for SGM Health. "She’s done tremendous work with the community including during the peak of the HIV and AIDS crisis,” said Pfeffer. “I want to learn from someone who went through those struggles and did so successfully to contribute in meaningful ways to research and learn from those experiences."

A significant aspect of Carla's involvement in the program is the potential to "scale up" her research -- moving from smaller-scale qualitative studies to larger and more nationally-representative ones. She hopes that the program will supply the necessary support to manage the intricate dynamics that appear as projects expand, always remaining faithful to her ethically-grounded approach.

For Carla, taking part in this program is not only a chance for personal development but also an opportunity to inspire other scholars in their mid-career and senior stages. Her advice to them: "Be willing to give it a shot... it's never too late to take on new challenges and get started doing the sort of work that feels right for you at that time."