Dr. Vanessa Cruz Nichols was recently awarded an Emerging Scholar Award through the Latino Faculty and Staff Council (LFASC) on campus. The emerging scholar award honors early-career individuals regardless of academic discipline whose work exemplifies outstanding scholarship, teaching, or service in Latine or Latin American and Caribbean Studies. The award will be presented in the end of year reception on April 28, 2023.
The Latino Faculty and Staff Council (LFASC) Latine Awards recognize important contributions by Indiana University undergraduate students, graduate students, faculty, and staff. The Emerging Scholar Award honors early-career individuals regardless of academic discipline whose work exemplifies outstanding scholarship, teaching, or service in Latine or Latin American and Caribbean Studies. LFASC wishes to distinguish and empower individuals or groups whose efforts have contributed to a positive campus environment in tandem with helping support retention of Latine faculty, staff, and students at Indiana University. It is also meant to highlight exemplary academic and professional work. The following awards will be presented to those who have participated in service, mentoring, or promoting diversity initiatives that enhance and support Latine students, faculty, and staff on campus. It also recognizes individuals, groups or events that have developed awareness/programs in the areas of culture, arts, health, economy, language, or education.
Dr. Cruz Nichols is a political scientist focused on the civic engagement and political behavior of Latinx communities in the U.S. She situates her research within the broader political participation, public opinion, public health, immigration politics and race and ethnicity politics literature within American politics. Her book project re-assesses the hypothesis that threat is a sufficient mobilizing catalyst for political activism, with a particular focus on mobilizing messages surrounding immigration issue activism. Her book manuscript, Catalyzing Political Action Beyond Threats: Latinxs Rising to the Challenge with Messages of Peril and Promise, will be her primary focus this upcoming year during her Ford Postdoctoral Fellowship (2023-2024). In addition to her book project, her existing research projects also involve the extent to which elite messaging strategies impact citizen engagement within civic and political domains. Some of her publications have focused on: 1.) the effects of threatening immigration policy environments and their spillover effects into political, civic engagement, and public health domains among Latinxs, 2.) the racialized campaign cues minority candidates use to minimize the perceived outsider threat they pose to more conservative electorates, 3.) the concept of cautious citizenship as Latinx immigrant families and communities of color navigate their political landscapes, 4.) the extent to which emotions and anxiety about COVID-19, religious freedoms and the economy explain the voting patterns of the Latinx electorate in 2020 and 2022, and 5.) the ways underrepresented communities manage the risk appraisal process of multiple crises environments in their everyday lives, including bureaucratic interactions and public health domains.
Dr. Cruz Nichols’ commitment to diversity and inclusion goes beyond her academic research interests on immigration political incorporation and race/ethnicity politics. As the daughter of Latinx immigrants, granddaughter of a Michigan bracero farmworker, and mother of two young children, she is personally committed to creating opportunities for women and marginalized communities in academia. In her courses and research lab meetings, her students deeply analyze the designs behind U.S. democratic institutions and the shifts in political discourse that have shaped ongoing disparities and pathways of inclusion in both policy outcomes and political participation along race and gender lines. As a race and ethnicity politics scholar, her syllabi and publications include works by scholars who center the experience of communities of color.
As an alumna of Ronald E. McNair Scholar and Ford Foundation, Dr. Cruz Nichols values the importance of impactful scholarship and diversity in mentorship. At IU, she is a faculty affiliate with the Center for Research on Race and Ethnicity in Society and an active faculty member of the La Casa Cultural Center. To create more socialization and mentorship opportunities for students, she also co-founded the Latinx Politics Research Lab group for her team of graduate and undergraduate research assistants.
Congratulations, Dr. Cruz Nichols!