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Welcome to the inaugural issue of SPARK !

A spark is a small and powerful force of energy created when different elements strike against one another. Sparks are mobile. They move and jump freely from one place to another. A single spark can disappear in a moment. Yet, when it lands in the right place, that same spark can ignite big ideas and be a catalyst for lasting impact.

SPARK amplifies the research, experiences, and voices of COSP Scholars. The editorial board is proud to launch the digital publication, SPARK, as a way to generate conversations about the scholarship of domestic graduate researchers who identify as Black, Indigenous, and/or people of color (BIPOC). Each of the research stories, shared in this issue, stimulates new ways of making academic scholarship relevant to our communities and beyond. Collectively, these research stories are animated by the multifaceted ways COSP Scholars are transforming what scholarship looks like, how knowledge is produced, and for whom scholarship is directed. 

In This Issue

Building Better Cities, But for Whom?

Searching for the Realization of Our Fullest Potential: I envision a world where environmental sustainability, environmental justice, and social justice go hand in hand. In this world, green infrastructure projects directly benefit the people of a community instead of displacing them with rising costs of living and amenities that cater to wealthy outsiders. The deep and powerful sense of longing…

(Dis)Covering Routes

Podcast: An Inside Look at the Exodus of Some Black Teachers and Why They Choose to Leave the United States – It’s December 12, 2020 and I’m leaving Dubai to return home to Alton, Illinois. “I’m glad it wasn’t me this time.” I said to myself as I giggled about the intoxicated man asked to leave the plane. That’s when I…

two persons holding drinking glasses filled with beer

From Happy Hour to Co-Author: How I Found an Academic Home

A Tale of Three Cities – 2003: Chicago, IL It was 5 p.m., happy hour time in Chicago. We had just gotten out of school and were at Omega Cafe, the local coffee shop for teens and college students. “What do you have on your mind?” I heard my friend ask. I was staring at a lamp affixed to the wall…

The Heist

The first time I realized I was being underpaid, my shoulders crumpled as a trusted co-worker spoke softly with a grimace. I had just shared with her how excited I felt receiving my first raise at the medical equipment company I worked at since my freshman year of college. My co-worker’s face was distressed as she described how a new…

The Immortal Human Cell

Is it possible for a human cell to be immortal? The answer is yes. Unfortunately, the immortality of cells is intertwined with one of the leading causes of death: cancer. Cancer cells are functionally immortal via uncontrolled and uninhibited replication. Cancer is also the second leading cause of death, with approximately 600,000 deaths per year in the United States [1].…

Into the Depths: Microbial Menagerie

Have you ever wondered about that green layer of “slime” we see sometimes on lakes? Well, it’s not always algae. It can be a layer of cyanobacteria! We can study ancient metabolic processes without time travel by studying microbes in lakes that are analogs for a point in Earth’s history when where was no oxygen.