Lori Guerrero Awarded Elo and Olga Urbanovsky Fellowship for work with OLE!
Environmental Design Ph.D. student Lori Guerrero has been awarded the Elo and Olga Urbanovsky Fellowship for her work with the Outdoor Learning Environments (OLE!) initiative. OLE! Texas is a multidisciplinary intervention that seeks to combat childhood obesity through the development of early childhood health promotion strategies.
The Urbanovsky endowment was established in 1979 by former Texas Tech Horn Professor Elo Urbanovsky to provide annual awards for new and continuing doctoral students attending Texas Tech University who are majoring in Land-Use, Planning, Management or Environmental Design.
"I was overwhelmed with gratitude and humbled by the opportunity to represent a fellowship named after a man as influential as Elo Urbanovsky. My family and I celebrated with a picnic at Urbanovsky Park, as that seemed an excellent way to honor the fellowship and its namesake."
Lori is working alongside her mentor, Associate Dean for Student Affairs for the Graduate School and Associate Professor in the Department of Design, Kristi Gaines, Ph.D., from whom she was offered a position as Research Assistant at the beginning of her doctoral studies.
"It has been such a positive experience," Lori said. "My goal is to support Dr. Gaines in a way that allows her to focus on her important role in research and education. More than anything, the mentoring she has offered me has been invaluable. It has helped me develop the qualities I desire to have as a researcher and professor after I receive my doctoral degree."
Recently Dr. Gaines and Human Development and Family Studies' Malinda Colwell, Ph.D., along with Charles Klein, Ph.D. from Texas Tech's Landscape Architecture program were awarded federal funding from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for their OLE! project. The project also received external funding from the Texas Department of State Health Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"Lori has been instrumental in working with various stages of our OLE! Texas project," Kristi said. "She completed the certified training program and has assisted in developing a local coalition of professionals. She is working with our multidisciplinary team to help Texas Tech University become the state's training hub for OLE! Texas."
Lori explains that with the news of her fellowship being fairly recent, she is still in the beginning stages of understanding the future impact of the Urbanovsky Fellowship for OLE!, but she is looking forward to seeing how an interdisciplinary collaboration of research will shape the understanding of how land use may influence public health, particularly concerning childhood obesity.
"Natural learning environments and childhood health are topics of interest for my dissertation, so I was eager to support OLE! and learn from the experience," Lori said. "I was very pleased to learn that the Urbanovsky Fellowship shared our desire to improve childhood health through active outdoor learning environments."
Lori's fellowship is effective though May 2021, which will support her studies and research until the completion of her degree.
Dr. Gaines describes her confidence in Lori as a student in the Department of Design and as a dedicated Research Assistant.
"I have seen first-hand the devotion Lori brings to her research," Kristi said. "Lori is very hard working and detail oriented. She always has a positive attitude and can be trusted to complete any task assigned to her. She genuinely cares about helping people and improving the built environment for underrepresented populations."