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K-State Today

June 13, 2022

Madan and Olsen recipients of the 2022 Davids-Dunham Awards

Submitted by Malorie Sougey

The College of Arts and Sciences Diversity Committee has selected the recipients of the 2022 Davids-Dunham Awards: Anuja Madan, associate professor of English, and Katie Olsen, assistant professor in the A.Q. Miller School of Media and Communication.

The Davids-Dunham Awards celebrate faculty members who identify with underrepresented groups for their excellence in scholarship and faculty members who, through their scholastic efforts, support diversity at Kansas State University and in the College of Arts and Sciences. The awards support research, writing, teaching and professional development.

Madan teaches a range of courses including world literatures — with a focus on Africa and South Asia — and multiethnic young adult literature. Her primary research investigates post-millennial Indian graphic narratives and animations which draw on Hindu mythology, paying special attention to cross-cultural influences and processes of nation-building within these texts. She was nominated for her scholarship in postcolonial literature, among many other accolades.

According to nominators, Madan offers "our students (who are predominantly white) tools for thinking about the political, economic, linguistic and other forces that impact colonized individuals," and for exploring in her teaching "a range of issues, including colonization, assimilation, internalized racism, and the identity crises these experiences might induce."

Madan's recent articles have appeared in the Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics; Graphic Narratives about South Asia and South Asian America: Aesthetics and Politics; The Routledge Companion to International Children's Literature; and Graphic Novels for Children and Young Adults: A Collection of Critical Essays.

Olsen teaches courses in advertising and public relations since 2010. She previously worked as a marketing account manager and strategist in the Kansas City area. Olsen teaches MC 612 Diversity in Media, a course that helps prepare students for careers that are increasingly requiring a high level of awareness and knowledge of DEIB topics.

Her research explores how diverse groups of early-career professionals establish a successful foundation for career advancement, ultimately providing increased representation at the leadership level. She also studies underrepresented groups, like first-generation college students, as critical Gen Z subsets that the ad/PR industry should be focusing on to improve diversity at all levels. By producing research and connecting it to her students in the classroom and the industry, she hopes to provide tools that can result in increased DEIB efforts and remove professional barriers for underrepresented groups.

She was nominated for, among many other accolades, "understanding early-career females as well as first-generation college students" and "advocating for the underrepresented groups in research and subsequently mentoring students identifying with those groups."

Olsen's research has been published in Advertising & Society Quarterly, Feminist Media Studies, Journalism and Mass Communication Editor and Public Relations Journal. Together with Danielle LaGree, Olsen created The Trajectory Project as a method of disseminating insights and strategies to key stakeholders. Follow The Trajectory Project on Instagram @trajectory_project and LinkedIn.

The Davids-Dunham Award is named for Sharice Davids and Ann Dunham. These individuals represent Kansas, have contributed to a discipline included in the College of Arts and Sciences, and have made tremendous contributions to our society. Their work embodies the spirit of the candidates who win this award.