The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) values diversity in its people and programs and strives to foster a diverse, fair, and respectful community. The Shirley O'Brien Diversity Award was created in honor of Shirley O'Brien for her exemplary work in promoting diversity and an inclusive environment within CALS and across campus. We believe that her efforts, in keeping with the college's emphasis on diversity in its student body, faculty and programs, deserve recognition. The award will be given annually and will include a plaque and monetary gift of $1,000. We encourage members of the faculty, staff, appointed personnel, and student body to nominate individuals who have contributed significantly to the advancement of diversity within the college.
About Dr. Melissa Barnett
"My research is motivated by my experiences as an elementary school teacher in an economically disadvantaged community in New Orleans. My students and their families inspired me to conduct research focused on informing the development of interventions and policies to support positive child development in high-risk, low-income communities. In particular, I was struck by the resilient outcomes of some students who thrived despite the odds, and by the extensive involvement of multiple family members in the lives of young children. My goal is to understand how to leverage these strengths to conduct research to inform policy and program development that ultimately improves the life chances of young children from economically disadvantaged communities. In addition, I am interested in understanding how culture shapes parenting, family relationships, and child development"