Center for Engaged Learning

Community Research & Evaluation


We promote positive social change through community research and program evaluation. Our work informs public policy, improves organizational effectiveness, fosters innovation and data-driven decision-making, and expands community knowledge. Our research and evaluation advance opportunities in the community.



Food Security Survey of Higher Education Students in Utah (PDF)

Food Security Survey Utah (PDF)

Food Security Survey of Higher Education Students in Utah WSU(PDF)

Food Security Survey WSU (PDF)

Food Security Survey of Higher Education Students in Utah (PDF)

East Central Ogden Food Ethnography (PDF)


WSU Covid Infographic (PDF)

Focus Group

Government Shutdown Focus Group (PDF)

Food Security Survey of Higher Education Students in Utah (PDF)

Community Food Assessment (PDF)

Furlough Findings (PDF)

Furlough Survey Report Findings (PDF)

Community renewable energy program (PDF)

Community Renewable Energy Program Survey (PDF)

Benefit Cliffs and Other Challenges in the Utah Public Benefit System (PDF)

Benefit Cliffs Project (PDF)


Community Partners


The mission, values, and activities of the Community Research & Evaluation (CRE) help Weber State University fulfill its strategic goals.

  1. The CRE utilizes an equity lens in our work that focuses on reducing disparities in the community. (Goal 1:EDI)
  2. We guide our students through high-impact educational experiences that directly benefit our community partners. (Goal 3: Personal Connections and Academic Excellence)
  3. The trust we cultivate with the community has enabled us to develop robust partnerships with community organizations to build community prosperity. (Goals 3 and 4: Community Anchor Mission)
  4. We engage faculty fellows and support them through the breadth of the community research process. (Goals 3 and 4)
  5. Through the sum of our work, the CRE helps the community build capacity and promote systemic local change for a thriving community. (Goal 4)




Laura Hill, PhD

Laura Hill is the Director of Community Research and Evaluation for the Center for Community Engaged Learning at Weber State University. She has spent a significant portion of her career in higher education, providing community services to youth with type 1 diabetes (T1D) and their families. In addition, Laura has taught and mentored
undergraduate and graduate students to determine evidence-based practices for healthy lifestyles. Laura has worked on several externally funded projects serving underrepresented youth and communities to improve quality of life. 

Laura received her M.S.Ed. in Exercise Science and Wellness from Old Dominion University, and a Ph.D. in Exercise and Sport Science, from the University of Utah. She previously was the Undergraduate Program Director for the Exercise Science Program at Old Dominion University. She is also a member of the ASCM and is a certified exercise physiologist.


Yesenia Quintana

Yesenia Quintana, MEd

Yesenia Quintana is the Evaluation and Community Research Supervisor for the Center for Community Engaged Learning at Weber State University. She has nearly a decade of experience working with local nonprofits, school districts, and anchor institutions around community research and program evaluation. She has worked extensively with place-based initiatives such as Ogden United Promise Neighborhood and Ogden Civic Action Network. She previously worked with State GEAR UP as a college access advisor and data specialist.

She has received awards and recognition for her evaluation and research work with the Ogden United Promise Neighborhood Research Team and a college-prep STEM summer program. She is dedicated to helping organizations and people embrace evaluation as a learning experience from which they can better understand their efforts and their program’s impact.

Yesenia holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Weber State University and a Master of Education in Measurement, Evaluation, Statistics, and Assessment from the University of Illinois at Chicago.


Cassandra Backman

Cassandra Backman, PSM

Cassandra joined the Community Research Extension in August 2019 after working for non-profits as an informal STEM educator, evaluator, and behavioral researcher. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Zoology in 2016 from North Carolina State University and her Professional Science Masters focused in education, evaluation, and not-for-profits from Colorado State University in 2018. Her focus is in grant evaluation, program evaluation, and food security research. She currently oversees two state-level grants focused on K-12 education and community partnerships and acts as research support for food insecurity initiatives in Ogden.

801-626-7870 Ext. 7870 



Andrea Martinez

Andrea Garavito-Martinez, PhD
Current Research Fellow

Dr.  Andrea Garavito Martinez earned her bachelor's degree in Sociology and Chicana/o Studies from UC Santa Barbara and went on to earn her master's degree and ph.d in Education, Culture, and Society from the University of Utah. She joined Weber State as a faculty member in the Department of Teacher Education, Moyes College of Education in the Spring of 2020 and, if you ask many of her students, quickly became a rising star and one of their favorite faculty members due to how deeply she cares about seeing her students succeed. This year she was the recipient of the Weber State University Presidential Award for Teaching Excellence. She is also the recipient of the 2023 Hemingway Excellent Grant Award which will fund community-based research to create a WSU/Ogden Grow Your Own Educator initiative. This project seeks to increase the number of students from diverse backgrounds entering the teaching profession. Dr. Martinez is the incoming Co-Chair of the Faculty Senate EDI Standing Committee and the Co-Chair of the President's Council for EDI. She sits on numerous campus and community committees, including being a board member of the Salt Lake County Clark Planetarium. She describes herself as a "Citizen Scientist." She is the mother of two future scientists.



  • Jenny Gnagey, Phd, Instructor of Quantitative Methods
  • Ryan Cain, PhD, Assistant Professor of Teacher Education  
  • Nicola Corbin, PhD, Associate Professor of Communication 
  • Lisa Meerts, PhD, Assistant Professor of Outdoor & Community Recreation
  • Blanca Yagüe, PhD candidate of Anthropology at the University of Utah


  • Joshua Wooton, Psychology


The Community Research Extension is located on the garden level of the United Way building across the street from Ogden High School. 

2955 Harrison Blvd, Suite 100
Ogden, UT 84403

Mail code: 4610