Julie Gerdes, an assistant professor in the Department of English, is leading “Analyzing and Improving Vaccine Uptake among Latinx Populations in Southwest Virginia,” one of five projects dealing with challenges across the Commonwealth that were approved by the Virginia Tech Council on Vibrant Virginia for 2021. Gerdes’ grant is co-funded by the Institute for Society, Culture, and Environment and the Virginia Cooperative Extension. The project partners with Casa Latina, a nonprofit organization that serves the Spanish-speaking community in the Roanoke Valley, to conduct participatory action research on communication about COVID-19 and vaccination in local Latinx communities. By working alongside community members and framing vaccination as part of participants’ everyday experience, the project aims to address fears and misinformation with a combination of small-group listening sessions, stakeholder workshops, and a larger health promotion event. Additional information about this project and Gerdes’ other research can be found here.