From left: Cheri Levinson, Brandon McCormack and Kaila Story, who are the inaugural class of UofL Ascending Star Fellows.
From left: Cheri Levinson, Brandon McCormack and Kaila Story, who are the inaugural class of UofL Ascending Star Fellows.

A new University of Louisville program meant to help ascending star researchers shine a little brighter has named its inaugural class. 

The new Ascending Star Fellowship provides mentorship, funding and other support to high-performing associate professors. The goal is to boost the national impact of the fellows’ scholarship, with a heavy focus on work in diversity, inclusion and community empowerment.

The UofL Office of Research and Innovation launched the program this year and partnered with the College of Arts & Sciences to select the inaugural class, which includes:

  • Cheri Levinson, director of the Eating Anxiety Treatment (EAT) Laboratory within the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences and founder of the Louisville Center for Eating Disorders; 
  • Brandon McCormack, director of undergraduate studies in the Department of Pan-African Studies with a joint appointment in Comparative Humanities; and
  • Kaila Story, Audre Lorde endowed chair in race, gender, class and sexuality studies with joint faculty appointments in Departments of Pan-African Studies and Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies. 

Levinson’s work focuses on diagnosing, understanding and treating eating disorders and anxiety disorders. McCormack’s focus is on the intersections of Black religion and cultural studies, including the hip-hop generation. And lastly, Story’s work focuses on the intersections of race and sexuality, with special attention to Black feminism, Black lesbians and Black queer identity.

“These fellows are already stars — their outstanding work speaks for itself,” said M. Cynthia Logsdon, the Office of Research and Innovation’s director of research academic programs, who leads the fellowship program. “With this support, we want to help them shine even brighter, advancing their scholarship, magnifying their national recognition and extending the impact of their work.”

In addition to other supports, the Office of Diversity and Equity and UofL’s ATHENA program, aimed at improving equity for female STEM faculty, will provide educational and enrichment activities geared toward advancement of diverse communities and populations.  

To be considered for the program, faculty must be associate professor rank, must be nominated by their unit and must show a “consistent record of scholarship with the passion and desire to achieve greater national recognition.”