Ashton believes that science is only as effective as its ability to spur true social change. She cares deeply about how evidence is created, and she sees equity-driven research practices as key to disrupting the harmful power dynamics that often exist between researchers, community organizations, funders, and policymakers. As a social scientist and qualitative methodologist, Ashton works directly with residents and quality-of-life providers in under-resourced communities to add their expert voices to conversations about their most pressing social and health challenges, and the resources needed to address them. Through her work, Ashton challenges research methods that produce half-truths, leverages the power of stories as science, and invests in community-rooted partnerships to bring social science research beyond laboratories and into the lived experience.
MORE ABOUT ASHTON
Ashton’s passion for translating science to practice can be traced back to her personal experiences growing up in a small, rural community where she learned firsthand the unique health-related inequities and hardships rural families face, as well as the strength and resourcefulness they bring to finding solutions. Noticing that their voices were often missing from programs and policies created for them (rather than with them), Ashton now uses her research training to draw attention to the power and importance of community voice and self-determination in research and evaluation processes. Trained in Human Environmental Sciences, with specific expertise in qualitative methodology, family systems, rural health, and gerontology, Ashton’s work acknowledges and honors the intersecting intrapersonal, interpersonal, and systemic forces that shape opportunities for folks to live their happiest, healthiest lives.