Meet a Social Scientist: Dr. Wong from Geography

What is your name?
Dr. Sandy Wong

What kind of work do you do for the College?
I am an assistant professor in the geography department at Florida State University. I teach, do research and engage in service in the department, profession and community.

Why did you decide to become an academic? 
I became an academic because I was encouraged to do so by my mentors during my undergraduate and graduate studies. As a first-generation student, I never would have considered becoming an academic on my own. My mentors were the ones who planted the idea in my head and provided me with support along the way. 

I also became an academic for my own reasons. I enjoy having the ability and freedom to conduct research on important social issues, and to share my findings with others. Plus, it’s inspiring to be in a workplace with really smart colleagues who are passionate about their research and to learn from them.

What do you find most fulfilling about your job? 
What I find most fulfilling is disseminating what I know about disability, whether it be in the classroom, at a conference, or through my research publications. Ableism is pervasive in academia and elsewhere, and disability continues to be a stigmatized axis of difference, so it remains important to destabilize how people perceive disability in order to be able to envision and enact liberatory futures. I constantly grapple with my own internalized ableism and take care to not perpetuate stereotypes in my teaching and research. 

I also enjoy advising students, both directly and indirectly. It is very rewarding to help students meet their career goals and to help educate future generations of leaders and thinkers. 

What are you working on or teaching right now that has your excited professionally? 
I am working on a project on playground access for children with disabilities. This is in collaboration with Dr. Michelle Therrien in the School of Communication Science and Disorders. We are looking to understand which playground spaces and equipment facilitate or impede children’s social interactions and physical activity so that we can provide recommendations for making playgrounds accessible to all children. COVID-19 has made fieldwork for this project challenging, but it also presents us with an opportunity to investigate playground behaviors during a pandemic.

Dr. Wong is an assistant professor in Florida State University’s geography department where she studies disability, mobility, and environmental influences on well-being. You can find more from Dr. Wong here.

The feature image is from Pexels.

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