Chancellor's Award for Research Excellence

The Chancellor’s Award for Research Excellence is given annually to a WSU Vancouver faculty member whose research quality and quantity are exemplary, and whose work has had a positive influence on the broader community. It is the university’s highest research honor.

Marcelo Diversi

Interim Academic Director and Professor of Human Development

Marcelo Diversi’s second book, “Betweener Autoethnographies: A Path Toward Social Justice,” was timely when published in 2018—and was even ahead of its time. It is a study of the tribal, “us vs. them” mentality that is growing increasingly prevalent worldwide. The book proposes bridging the divide through deep understanding of who we are, realization of how our subjectivity colors our views, and embrace of the spaces “in-between” individuals. That is the first step on the path toward inclusive social justice.

Diversi knows firsthand what it’s like to be treated as both “us” and “them.” In his native Brazil, he is a “white” person. In the Pacific Northwest, where he has lived for years, he is a “brown” person, an immigrant. At bus stops in this country, strangers often speak slowly to him, expecting that Diversi—who has a Ph.D. from the University of Illinois—will have trouble understanding English.

That experience gives him a unique approach to social justice. “I’m male and privileged socially,” he said, “but I have my own ways in which I experience being on the wrong side of the tracks. Even the most privileged person experiences that once in a while, and in that moment we have the opportunity to identify with others. We call for people to find those places where they themselves have been in that other situation.”

Diversi’s research interests are big, divisive political issues: immigration, refugees, decolonization, and inclusion versus exclusion. He has written two books with co-author Claudio Moreira, a fellow Brazilian who teaches at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. The first was “Betweener Talk” (2009), followed by “Betweener Autoethnographies.” Both received best book awards from the National Communication Association Division of Ethnography. A highly respected scholar who has taught at WSU Vancouver since 2006, Diversi has some 27 articles in well regarded journals and more than 20 keynote presentations.

Autoethnography is a qualitative research methodology that places the self in the center of cultural analysis and interpretation. Diversi’s ultimate goal, “which is so timely in the current social climate, is to reduce the human tendency toward ‘othering’ and expand inclusivity,” a colleague wrote in nominating him.

“It’s impossible to remove the personal from knowledge creation and production,” Diversi said. “So we have nothing to lose by having a both/and approach instead of either/or.”

If everyone bought into the idea of betweeners, the world would be more harmonious. Is Diversi optimistic? Sometimes, he said. Citing theologian Theodore Parker, he added: “We have a long history, and the arc of history bends toward justice. I live and work with the hope that we can prove that idea true.”

Past award recipients

2018 – 2019
Bala Krishnamoorthy, Mathematics

2017 – 2018
Cheryl Schultz, Biological Sciences

2016 – 2017
Candice Goucher, History

2015 – 2016
John Harrison, School of the Environment

2014 – 2015
Tahira Probst, Psychology

2013 – 2014
Thomas Tripp, Business

2012 – 2013
Jane Lanigan, Human Development

2011 – 2012
Christine Portfors, Neuroscience

2010 – 2011
Stephen Kucer, Education

2009 – 2010
WenZhan Song, Engineering

2008 – 2009
Joe Cote, Business

2007 – 2008
Tamara Holmund Nelson, Education

2006 – 2007
Amy Wharton, Sociology

2005 – 2006
Barry Hewlett, Anthropology

2004 – 2005
Clayton Mosher, Sociology

2003 – 2004
Michael Morgan, Psychology

2002 – 2003
John Bishop, Biology

2001 – 2002
Susan Finley, Education

2000 – 2001
Hakan Gurocak, Engineering

1999 – 2000
Sally Hacker, Biology

1998 – 1999
Ed Brook, Geology

1997 – 1998
Meridith Newman, Public Affairs

1996 – 1997
Sue Peabody, History

1995 – 1996
Charles ‘Cap’ Peck, Education

1994 – 1995
Carol Siegel, English

1993 – 1994
Jerry Goodstein, Business