ScholarWorks Spotlight: Celebrating the Human Side of Research - Dr. Carrie Dolan

By Candice Benjes-Small - Head of Research

In this series, we are spotlighting researchers who have contributed to W&M ScholarWorks, our institutional repository. We asked each researcher to identify a scholarly work and share the “human story” behind it. Who are the people behind the data and theory, and how were they affected by the scholarship?   

We hope you will enjoy learning more about what happens “behind the scenes” of research, and that it encourages you to explore the collections in W&M ScholarWorks. 

If you are interested in being part of the series or contributing to ScholarWorks, please contact your librarian liaison.

An interview with Dr. Carrie Dolan:

Sasman, M.; Dolan, C.B.; Villegas, D.; Eyob, E.; Barrett, C. The Influence of Marginalization on Cultural Attitudes and Trash Disposal Practices in Esfuerzo de Paraíso of the Dominican Republic: A Qualitative Interview Study. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18, 2872. https:// ijerph18062872 

Explain your publication in a tweet:

Inaccessible or inadequate waste management services pose a major threat to public health outcomes. SOMOS students take the lead with Ignite Director, Carrie Dolan, to explore how perceptions of marginalization relate to views on this issue.  

What inspired this piece? 

This research project was led by SOMOS, an undergraduate research initiative focused on conducting community-based public health research with the community of Esfuerzo del Paraiso in the Dominican Republic. Their research model emphasizes partnership with the community to make progress towards the shared goal of improving health outcomes at the community level. The inadequate management of municipal solid waste (MSW) in fast-developing nations is a major public health problem. Trash collection is often inconsistent, leaving residents to use unsafe disposal methods such as incineration or unregulated dumping. The community members of Esfuerzo del Paraiso identified trash collection as a felt need, which is a need perceived by the community that needs to be addressed in order to improve the overall health of Esfuerzo del Paraiso. Through this study, we aimed to deepen our understanding of the conditions that result in a gap between the community’s preferred waste management methods and the actual practices that are utilized. 

Share a ‘human story’ related to this chapter: 

The student researchers conducted on-site interviews in Esfuerzo de Paraíso, Santo Domingo Norte, Dominican Republic, in January 2020. As the faculty mentor on this project, my role was to navigate a path for students to develop their research in partnership with the community. This data collection concluded right before the start of the pandemic. As a faculty member, one of the most interesting aspects of this work was the way that the students were willing to adjust their schedules, workflow, and location to continue doing their work. The students quickly transitioned into a new way of working in order to follow up on their commitment to the community to provide research that would identify how the community preferred to take action on the issue of waste disposal.  

How does your article connect to your research interests? 

The type of research that most interests me is work with organizations and communities who are facing the increasingly difficult challenge of targeting limited global health resources where they are needed the most. This research was a grassroots-driven process that forms a collaborative partnership between students, a community, and faculty. This foundation is critical in narrowing the evidence gap between what we know and what gets done. This research also had spatial and network components, meaning we utilized geographic location and the relationship of community members to better understand the conditions that contributed to the management of waste in the community. These methods help leverage health gains by focusing efforts that impact population-level health where they are most needed. 

Articles and book chapters archived in ScholarWorks are findable through Google and can reach a larger audience. Find out how to add your works to the institutional repository by talking to your liaison librarian.