Debra Kolodczak

Debra Kolodczak, PhD, is a professional multimedia artist, web content developer, and AEM6 UX designer/editor. She also teaches hybrid courses in graphic communication, visual literacy and virtual media ethics as adjunct faculty in UB's Department of Communication.

As a graduate student in the UB American Studies program, Kolodczak worked closely with John Mohawk, Oren Lyons, and Michael Frisch. In 2003, Kolodczak was named Fulbright Research Scholar, Canada. The award, in support of dissertation research, provided a ten-month period during which she gathered and curated case studies to represent the centuries-long survival of indigenous peoples, particularly those living in Western New York and Southern Ontario. That work is included in her 2009 dissertation, Canoe Links: Work, Play, Symbol, Show in North America's Native/Newcomer Encounter.

By using the canoe as a way to see what is not always obvious when considering the ordinary, Kolodczak's work seeks to add context to understanding how 'things' got to be the way they are and why we should care. The study underscores a central irony: North America’s original inhabitants (indigenous peoples) are among the most impoverished communities living in two of the world's wealthiest nations.

Today, Kolodczak is developing a placed-based, environmental literacy project to sustain a nature preserve around a pre-Civil War farm site in Western New York. Eligible for listing on the US National Registry of Historic Places, the 1830's era farm is adjacent to a small canoe route. That route is representative of thousands of inland waterways that connect the Great Lakes and extend from the top of North America to the tip of South America.

Kolodczak's work continues to be guided by Oren Lyons, Onondaga Faithkeeper (SUNY Distinguished Professor Emeritus, UB American Studies).


Muskoka Canoe.

Working Group

  • Health, Harm, Well-Being