Three UMKC Faculty Named Presidential Engagement Fellows

Selections based on demonstrated research excellence and ability to communicate

Three members of the University of Missouri-Kansas City faculty were among the 15 2020-21 Presidential Engagement Fellows introduced today by University of Missouri System President Mun Choi.

The announcement came at the University of Missouri Board of Curators meeting. Presidential Engagement Fellows represent the UM System and share their research discoveries and expert knowledge with Missouri citizens in every county. 

This year’s UMKC Fellows are:

Jamila Jefferson-Jones, associate professor, School of Law

Jefferson-Jones teaches courses in Property, Real Estate Transactions and Professional Responsibility. Her scholarship reflects her intellectual interest in theories of property and ownership as well as in property and wealth attainment by communities and groups on the margins of society. Her recent work has three strands: the interplay between and among sex, race, status and property; the intersection of property and criminal justice theory; and the regulation of the housing sector of the sharing economy. She is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School, where she was an executive editor of the Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review and delivered the graduate English oration at the university’s 346th commencement.

Joey Lightner, assistant professor, School of Nursing and Health Studies

Lightner is director of the Bachelor of Science in Public Health Program at the school. The program combines urban-focused coursework in health policy, health and wellness, health program development and population health outcomes, to prepare students for a wide variety of careers in public health. His research is focused on increasing physical activity for large populations. His current projects attempt to understand how to improve social relationships that may lead to improvements in physical activity behavior.

Joan McDowd, professor and chair of Psychology, College of Arts and Sciences.

McDowd serves as director and advisor for Gerontology programs. Her research interests are in cognitive aging, particularly in attention and memory processes. Although primarily interested in healthy aging, she also applies methods from cognitive psychology to understanding cognition in stroke, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease as well as in severe mental illness. She was awarded the 2017 President’s Award for Community Engagement, which recognizes faculty who are involved in exemplary engagement activities such as volunteerism, service-learning, educational programming and outreach.

“The Presidential Engagement Fellows are among our best scholars and are widely respected by their peers," Choi said. "This group also demonstrates the breadth and depth of the expertise among our faculty. I’m excited as we welcome them. This is yet another example of our commitment to serving the state of Missouri and improving the lives of our fellow citizens.” 

Faculty members were selected based on their demonstrated excellence and their ability to communicate their research to the public.

Bookings for the new class of speakers will begin in August. For more information, please visit:

Published: Jun 17, 2020

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