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UK's Amanda Fickey Earns CAIRD Research Fellowship

by Carl Nathe

University of Kentucky doctoral candidate and Letcher County native Amanda Fickey is the recipient of a research fellowship from the Central Appalachian Institute in Research and Development (CAIRD).  CAIRD is a nonprofit, public policy organization, which provides long-term educational and economic developmental strategies in order to establish vibrant and sustainable communities that will improve the quality of life for citizens of central Appalachia.  Fickey will serve as a fellow-in-residence for a year-long appointment in 2013.  CAIRD is located in the heart of the Central Appalachian region in Pikeville.

"We are delighted to have a person of Amanda's talent and proven research background helping us in the coming year," said Jason Belcher, CEO of CAIRD.  "Her combination of scholarly achievement and work experience in Appalachia is ideally suited to furthering our efforts."

Fickey graduated from Letcher High School in 2000 and is currently an instructor in the Department of Geography at UK where she is nearing completion of her doctoral studies, as well as serving as an instructor in the Appalachian Studies Program.

Prior to pursuing her Ph.D. at UK, Fickey served as the arts and cultural outreach coordinator for The Center for Rural Development in Somerset.  She holds a bachelor’s degree in history from UK and a master’s in folk studies from Western Kentucky University, where she received the Outstanding Graduate Student Award in the Department of Folk Studies and Anthropology, as well as the Outstanding Graduate Student Award in Potter College of Arts and Sciences.

Fickey’s research interests include alternative economic practices and regional economic development; she has authored papers in these areas for the Journal of Appalachian Studies, PRISM: A journal of regional engagement, ACME: An International E-Journal for Critical Geographies, Geography Compass, and disClosure: A Journal of Social Theory.  Her research examines conventional economic development strategies and alternative economic practices within the context of eastern Kentucky’s handicraft industry.  

She has received the James Brown Research Award for Graduate Research in Appalachia from UK, the Edith Schwab Memorial Scholarship, a UK Dissertation Enhancement Award, and two Kentucky Oral History Commission Project Grants. Her paper, "Rendering Regional Development Technical: An Examination of 'Appalachia: A Report by the President’s Appalachian Regional Commission, 1964,'” which blossomed from dissertation research, received the 2011 Carl A. Ross Graduate/Undergraduate Research Award from the Appalachian Studies Association.  In addition, Fickey has also received a 2011 Certificate for Outstanding Teaching from the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Kentucky and the 2010 Women in Geography Education Award from the National Council for Geographic Education.

In June 2012, Fickey attended the 6th Annual Summer Institute in Economic Geography, held at the University of Zurich, Switzerland. Only 40 individuals were selected to attend the institute out of some 180 applicants representing 36 countries.

A former student vice president of the UK chapter of the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi, Fickey is looking forward to serving as a fellow at CAIRD.  "This fellowship provides me with an opportunity to expand my research on fostering economic diversity, and to explore possibilities for new regional economic development strategies," she said.

Fickey's parents are Jim and Mona of Red Star, Kentucky.  Her younger sister, Alex, is a senior at Letcher County Central High School.