Monika Stodolska, Director

Headshot of Monika Stodolska

Email: stodolsk@illinois.edu
Office phone: 217-244-5644
Curriculum Vitae: Monika Stodolska

Research and Professional Interests
Monika Stodolska, Ph.D. is a Professor in the Department of Recreation, Sport and Tourism at the University of Illinois. Professor Stodolska’s research focuses on the roles of leisure, recreation, and sport in improving health and well-being among ethnic and racial minorities. Her studies have explored the development of ethnic identities among Latinos and African Americans, as well as cultural change and adaptation among immigrant populations. Other subjects that are prominent in her research include constraints on leisure, ethnic and racial discrimination in leisure settings, recreation behavior of minority populations in urban natural environments, physical activity among minority groups, and the roles of new technologies in leisure. Dr. Stodolska’s research has been funded by the USDA Forest Service, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the National Recreation and Park Association, and The National Research Foundation of Korea. She has co-edited books on Race, Ethnicity and Leisure with Drs. Shinew, Floyd and Walker and Leisure Matters: The State and Future of Leisure Studies with Drs. Walker and Scott. Her research has also been published in Journal of Leisure Research, Leisure Sciences, Leisure/Loisir, Annals of Behavioral Medicine, Social Science Quarterly, Journal of Immigrant and Refugee Studies and other outlets.

Liza Berdychevsky

Headshot of Liza Berdychevsky

Email: lizabk@illinois.edu
Office phone: 217-244-2971
Curriculum Vita: Lisa Berdychevsky

Research and Professional Interests
Liza Berdychevsky, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor in the Department of Recreation, Sport and Tourism at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her research revolves at the nexus of sexual health and wellbeing in leisure and tourism contexts, adopting a gender-sensitive and a life course-grounded approach. Specifically, Dr. Berdychevsky examines two interrelated aspects of health and risk behaviors. First, she investigates sexual behavior, risk taking, and sexual education needs among young and older adults in various leisure and tourism contexts. Second, Dr. Berdychevsky studies people’s experiences of violence-related behaviors and other delinquent leisure practices. She uses a variety of methodologies in her projects, including quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods. Overall, Dr. Berdychevsky’s research contributes to a deeper understanding of the issues associated with sexual health and violence and offers directions for health education programs and prevention and intervention methods. She published in several leading academic leisure, tourism, sexuality, and gerontology journals and presented her work at numerous national and international congresses. She serves as an associate editor in Leisure Sciences, a consulting editor in The Journal of Sex Research, and an editorial board member in Tourism ManagementAnnals of Tourism Research Empirical Insights, and Annals of Leisure Research. Her research has garnered substantial media attention in various global and regional news outlets and popular magazines.

Mariela Fernandez

Email: mfrnndz2@illinois.edu
Office phone: 217-333-7084

Research and Professional Interests

Dr. Mariela Fernandez is an Associate Professor in the Department of Recreation, Sport & Tourism at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Dr. Fernandez’s research examines the multifaceted dimensions of environmental injustices experienced by Latinx communities. She employs an interdisciplinary approach, integrating geography, sociology, leisure, and urban studies. Her early work examined why injustices occurred, and her recent work has centered on investigating the structural policies and practices that can be used to address environmental injustices. Dr. Fernandez also pushes the boundaries of environmental justice research by integrating creative methods such as storytelling into her work. She aims to use her work as a catalyst for policy change to alleviate disparities and enhance resilience in Latinx communities. 

Yannick Kluch

Email: ykluch@illinois.edu
Office phone: 217-300-7907

Dr. Yannick Kluch serves as Assistant Professor of Sport Management in the Department of Recreation, Sport and Tourism at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Dr. Kluch’s research agenda is centered on why and how individuals and organizations utilize sport as a platform to advance equity, inclusion, and social justice. Drawing from interpretive-humanistic and critical epistemological frameworks and using qualitative and critical methods, he looks at the individual factors (e.g., identity, sense of belonging), cultural institutions (e.g., media), and systemic forces (e.g., racism, exclusion) that either prevent or empower individuals and organizations to engage in social justice efforts. Dr. Kluch’s specific areas of research include (1) activism, sport, and social change, (2) inclusive sport policy, governance, and human rights, (3) experiences of minoritized groups in sport, and (4) strategic diversity/equity/inclusion efforts in sport. In addition to his research, Dr. Kluch frequently serves as a consultant on equity, diversity, and inclusion issues in sport, most recently for the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), USA Diving, and the Women’s Collegiate Gymnastics Association. In 2020, Dr. Kluch was one of only four U.S. thought leaders appointed to the inaugural Team USA Council on Racial & Social Justice by the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC), where he aided a steering committee on athlete protests and demonstrations – work that has led the USOPC to no longer sanction U.S. athletes demonstrating in support of racial and social justice. For more information, visit his website at www.yannickkluch.com.