Research News

UW's Charleston to receive emerging scholarship award from AERA multicultural group

March 15, 2016

UW-Madison’s LaVar J. Charleston will be receiving the Dr. Carlos J. Vallejo Memorial Award for Emerging Scholarship from the Multicultural/Multiethnic Education special interest group (SIG) of the American Educational Research Association (AERA).

“It is truly an honor to be recognized by my peers in the field of education,” says Charleston. “My role in the School of Education at UW-Madison has afforded me an awesome opportunity to not only marry my research interests in broadening STEM and enhancing the academic development of underrepresented students, including student athletes, but I also have been given the unique opportunity to turn my research into practice right here at my home institution.” 

This award is given annually to a scholar or practitioner who best illustrates effort in producing scholarship which advances multicultural and multiethnic education (broadly defined), within all educational, cultural, societal and social settings, contexts, levels and locations. The honor is also given to a person who has demonstrated commitment to underserved communities beyond scholarship, with evidence of improving the practical conditions experienced by multicultural/multiethnic communities.

LaVar Charleston
Charleston is the assistant director and senior research associate for Wisconsin’s Equity and Inclusion Laboratory (Wei LAB), which is housed in the Wisconsin Center for Education Research within UW-Madison’s School of Education.

In his role with the Wei LAB, Charleston oversees the lab’s research operations while managing a team of junior research associates. He has also taught in the School of Education’s Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis, and is an alumnus of that department, earning his master’s in 2007 and a Ph.D. in 2010.

Charleston will receive his award at the Multicultural/Multiethnic Education SIG’s annual business meeting on April 11 at the AERA Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C.

Charleston is credited with having made a profound impact in his field of higher education with regard to pedagogy, research and best practices related to the educational and career trajectories of underrepresented populations. His efforts have focused on advanced degree completion among underutilized groups and their navigation through higher education systems. Charleston also has worked on efforts to broaden participation for underrepresented groups in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) in higher education and the scientific workforce.

As one example of this work, Charleston has collaborated with the Materials Research Science and Engineering Group (MRSEC) at UW-Madison to help this unit strategize around meeting its diversity aspirations. Similarly, the Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching, and Learning (CIRTL) featured Charleston in a national webcast to discuss cultivating African American undergraduate and graduate student STEM career choices and aspirations.

Charleston also serves as a practitioner and community advocate for improving the status of males of color on a national level. He collaborates with experts at other leading national centers and recently helped co-author a policy brief titled, “Advancing the Success of Boys and Men of Color in Education,” which was presented to policy makers on Capitol Hill in 2015, and is now utilized in several K-12 school districts around the country.

“I have and will continue to dedicate my life to helping to move the needle forward in creating equitable and inclusive learning and working environments for all,” says Charleston.