Two Virginia Tech faculty members received accolades during the 2023 Housing Education and Research Association Conference — taking home two of eight top prizes.

The October conference, titled “Housing for Everyone,” was held in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Gregory Galford, an assistant professor of residential environments and design in Virginia Tech’s Apparel, Housing, and Resource Management program, won the Kenneth Tremblay Early Career Housing Award. Meanwhile, Michael Gawrys, a visiting assistant professor of housing and property management, won the Tessie Agan Award.

The Kenneth Tremblay Early Housing Career Award was created to encourage professionals in their career path. It is granted to a housing professional who has demonstrated “outstanding efforts” in the field of housing through their research, teaching, or outreach.

Galford is entering his fifth year of his professorship. Gawry began his position in July.

“I was honored to win the award,” Galford said. “I know the quality of work of past winners.”

The Tessie Agan Award is given to a graduate and an undergraduate student whose research demonstrates appropriate methodology in its contributions to the field of housing.

“I found that when I was a young graduate student, the task of producing research and publishing work was overwhelming to think about,” Gawrys said. “When I found out I was awarded this honor, it not only brought me great joy, but a recognition of efforts that I had not yet stopped to appreciate.”

Lisa Tucker, department head for Apparel, Housing, and Resource Management, said the two received “well-deserved” acknowledgment for their work.

“I am thrilled to have them as colleagues and was happy to see them recognized in this way,” she said.

Eunju Hwang, an associate professor in residential environments and design, has regularly attended the conference since 2012. She has served in various roles, including director, chair of the awards committee, and president. As a colleague of Galford and Gawrys, she expressed her pride in them and their research.

“The awards reflect the program and department’s mission regarding research very well,” said Hwang. “Both of their research has critical implications on affordable and sustainable housing in local rural communities. These topics are important in both residential environments and design, property management, and other areas in the department.”

Gawrys has been a member of the association for four years. His first conference was during the pandemic.

“Even staring at the computer screen, I was hooked,” Gawrys said. “It was a group of academics, researchers, and extension agents that wanted to discuss all aspects of housing. I found them to be the most supportive and thoughtful group I’ve ever been a part of.”

Gawrys’s research focused on the behaviors and attitudes of adolescents in housing.

“Adolescents are some of the most intense users of home environments, and the research sought to capture the influence of this population” Gawrys said. “Understanding how adolescents between 12 and 18 become aware of their housing and what contributed to their future preferences becomes critically important to addressing housing outcomes. After all, it is likely that today’s housing conditions will persist unless we understand how to approach tomorrow’s housing differently.”

Galford has been a member of the association for 11 years, with his first conference taking place in Roanoke in 2012.

“There is tremendous value in studying issues of housing from different perspectives,” Galford said. “Whether it’s design, policy, or management, we need to continue to focus on how to make housing decisions that benefit everyone.”

Galford’s research investigated the environmental and behavioral connections in housing, specifically in non-traditional populations. It had subtopics in the issues of culture and sustainability.

The association was created in 1966 to embody and emphasize the people, places, and geographical topics that are created by housing.

“The association has a history of over 50 years where they discuss housing from various aspects,” said Hwang. “This includes residential environments and design, residential property management, housing policies and theories, affordable and accessible housing, sustainability, housing mobility and quality of life, and higher education.”

Written by Gabby Brown