Claire Connolly Knox
What is your current job title and responsibilities (please make sure we know your College, Department, etc.)?
Assistant Professor and Emergency Management & Homeland Security Program Director; School of Public Administration; College of Health and Public Affairs
What is your history at UCF and before UCF? (past job titles, responsibilities)
While completing my graduate studies, I was a Research Assistant at the Florida Center for Disaster Risk Policy, Editorial Assistant for Public Integrity Journal, Administrative Assistant with the Florida Division of Emergency Management, and an adjunct faculty at Florida International University. Prior to graduate school, I was an Interpretative Specialist at the USGS National Wetlands Research Center and a Planning Assistant with the Lafayette Parish Traffic and Transportation Department. Besides jobs, I was heavily involved in the environmental nonprofit community in coastal Louisiana.
What is your academic background?
Two undergraduate degrees in English and Renewable & Sustainable Resources from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Master’s in Public Administration with a Certificate in Emergency Management and a Doctorate in Public Administration and Policy from Florida State University.
What is your favorite UCF memory?
I have two and both involve students. Each semester I take my environmental students to the Orlando Wetlands Park for a guided tour with the park manager. For some, this is their first time in nature. To see their faces light up at an alligator sighting or at the sunset reaffirms the love I have for my career. The capstone experience for my Disaster Response and Recovery course has students completing a functional exercise at Seminole County’s Emergency Operations Center. Students rave about the opportunity to engage in hands-on learning and apply the concepts covered throughout the semester. Lucky for me, I relive my favorite UCF memory each semester.
If you could change one thing at UCF, what would it be? ($ and time no object)
To retrofit each building with sustainable best practices, especially changing every water fountain with water bottle filling stations to reduce bottled water usage on campus. Florida will continue to face water issues. As UCF is near the headwaters of the Everglades, it should lead the effort on this important issue.
What is one piece of advice you would like to share with your colleagues?
Get up from your desk and engage in the UCF community. I am constantly impressed with the dedication and commitment from faculty in every college to create cutting edge research, engage with students, and serve their community. I have found new friends and mentors through multiple events by the Center for the Success of Women Faculty, Office of Graduate Studies, and Faculty Center for Teaching and Learning.
If UCF was going to name something in your honor, what would you like it to be and why?
I would love every water bottle filling station to be named in my honor. These stations are a simple but long-lasting effect on reducing the amount of plastic water bottles entering our waste system.
If you could have lunch with anyone at UCF (who you do not normally eat lunch with), who would you choose and why?
Dr. Cynthia Young. I have long been impressed with her work ethic and pointed advice for faculty. As the Vice Provost for Faculty Excellence and International Affairs and Global Strategies, I would be interested in her vision for this Office of Faculty Excellence. As a Pegasus Professor, I am interested in her career path and lessons learned. As a mother, I would like to hear about her work-life balance skills.
Who at UCF would you like to thank for your success?
I have been very lucky to have found so many mentors at UCF that they are too many to name.
Name and describe a teacher or researcher from your past who truly inspired you and why.
Dr. Griff Blakewood from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette greatly influenced my environmental paradigm, encouraged me to pursue graduate school, and shaped how I structure my courses and mentor students. He was my environmental professor, the advisor to the environmental student group I led for a few years, and supporter of my initiatives (including campus-wide recycling and bike lanes in our city).
What undergraduate or graduate class/program/experience inspired you the most and why?
Dr. Lance deHaven-Smith’s Policy Theory course in graduate school. I entered graduate school after years of working directly with wetland scientists and policy makers. I quickly realized the policy theory courses were not adequately capturing the various components of creating science policy that I witnessed. His course approached policy development and theory from an alternative, or post-positivist, paradigm. It was an “ah ha” moment for me. Social Constructionism, Critical Theory, and Post-Modernism allowed me to ask questions based on my experiences, study the shifting and dynamic language of science policy, and shaped my research agenda. By applying Habermas’ Critical Theory to the narratives underlying science policy and plans, I provide alternative explanations for policy change and implementation outcomes.
What is your favorite restaurant or food?
Besides Cajun food (the best is from my kitchen – I make a mean gumbo, crawfish etouffee, and shrimp creole), I love Thai and Vietnamese food.
What is your favorite movie, book or music?
I am a child of the 80s. Pretty in Pink, Some Kind of Wonderful, and Dirty Dancing are my favorite movies. For music, it is a tie between Guns N Roses and New Kids on the Block. For books, I am a fan of John Grisham, Patricia Cornwell, and Sue Grafton.
What is your favorite vacation destination?
Camping and hiking in the woods. Visiting the redwood forest in northern California was breathtaking and I cannot wait to go back. If I can rock climb on a camping trip…even better!