SOAR Seeks Scientists to Partner with Community Project Advisory Councils

Drs. Rebecca S. Allen, Pamela Payne-Foster, JoAnn Oliver and Mr. Chris Spencer are leading an interdisciplinary team of University of Alabama investigators in a PCORI-funded Engagement Award. The project (Contract #1097), entitled “Sharing Opinions and Advice about Research (SOAR) in the Deep South”, will last for two years. These investigators and graduate students in psychology have recruited and trained 15 community advisors, 7 in the rural Alabama Black Belt city of York in Sumter County and 8 in Holt. These community advisors provide researchers (faculty and students) with advice and opinions about research and act as an advisory and networking body. Researchers bring recruitment materials, surveys or an intervention module or app to a 90-minute meeting held in either community and receive feedback from the community advisors. This is important for cultural competency in partnering with and meeting the needs of the local community, as “what works in New York may not work in York.” – Sumter County Project Advisory Council (PAC) member.

To date, research partners from the Capstone College of Nursing, Department of Psychology, Department of American Studies, and School of Social Work have met with or signed up to work with the Project SOAR PACs. If you are interested in partnering with the community advisors to receive advice on your research materials, please contact 1) Kaleb Murry at or 2) Keisha Carden at

The SOAR project and the other projects approved for funding by the PCORI Engagement Award Program were selected through a highly competitive review process in which applications were assessed for their ability to meet PCORI’s engagement goals and objectives, as well as program criteria. PCORI has awarded over 70 projects to date through this program. For more information about PCORI’s funding to support engagement efforts, visit