National Science Foundation awards University Faculty James Huff $575k grant to launch career-long research

April 5, 2021 | Honors College | Department of Engineering |

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded James Huff, associate professor of engineering and Honors College faculty fellow, a $575,000 grant for his research titled CAREER: Advancing academic cultures of well-being by understanding professional experiences of engineering faculty. This NSF CAREER grant is the most prestigious individual award given to an early-career faculty member at Harding. It is the 59th CAREER grant awarded in the state of Arkansas and only the sixth at an institution other than the University of Arkansas since NSF’s inception in 1994.

The grant awards Dr. Huff for advancing his psychological research on shame, identity and well-being in engineering education settings. The $575,000 grant will be used to implement a nationwide qualitative investigation of engineering faculty, and also facilitate in-depth training on coping with professional experiences of shame.

“In this project, I will closely be examining the ways that engineering faculty experience powerful emotional experiences of professional shame when they fail to achieve what they feel is expected of them,” said Huff. “In prior research, engineering faculty are rarely studied as whole individuals but rather seen as static, supportive fixtures of student outcomes. Through this study, I will develop a holistic understanding of how faculty regulate emotion in moments of shame that are often hidden from view. The findings will inform us how we can better equip faculty with informed strategies to live out of a mindset of care — both toward themselves and their students — and thus advance well-being in academic settings.”

Prior to receiving this award, Huff worked as a principal investigator of an NSF grant studying the lived experience of shame in engineering students.

Huff’s work has been published in the Journal for Engineering of Education introducing his theory of professional shame. This work is the foundation of his NSF CAREER proposal.

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