Public Engagement Project Announces Nine Faculty Selected for the 2015 Faculty Fellows Program

The Public Engagement Project (PEP) at the University of Massachusetts is pleased to announce the 2015 Public Engagement Faculty Fellows program. Nine UMass faculty members from across eight departments and three colleges and schools will draw on their substantial research record to impact policy, the work of practitioners, and public debates. Faculty fellows receive a stipend and technical training in communicating with non-academic audiences.


"We are excited and honored to work with such an accomplished group of scholars," said Amy Schalet, director of the Public Engagement Project. "We were happily overwhelmed by the number and high quality of applicants.  There is clearly demand for this new fellowship opportunity." The Public Engagement Project is a faculty-driven initiative building on a collaboration of the Center for Research on Families (CRF), Center for Public Policy and Administration (CPPA), Institute for Social Science Research, (ISSR), and Psychology of Peace and Violence Program. 


The Public Engagement Faculty Fellowship has been made possible by generous funding from the UMass College of Natural Sciences, College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Provost's Office, and University Relations, as well as the collaborating centers and institutes.

On January 27 the Public Engagement Project will kick off 2015 with a panel entitled "Public Engagement: How to Get Your Research Out There," featuring the following speakers: Provost Katherine Newman, Vice Chancellor for University Relations; John Kennedy, Public Engagement Project Director; Amy Schalet (Sociology); and Linda Tropp, Director of the Psychology of Peace and Violence Program.  The event is open to all and will take place from 11:30-1:00 in Campus Center 804-808.  Light refreshments will be served.

2015 Public Engagement Faculty Fellows:


""Sylvia Brandt, Ph.D., Associate Professor in the Department of Resource Economics and the Center for Public Policy and Administration

Brandt is an expert in the economics of health and chronic illness. As a Faculty Fellow, Brandt intends to develop a network of economists, epidemiologists, and public health researchers to better inform public debate on the costs associated with childhood asthma that are attributable to air pollution.


""Lisa Chasan-Taber, Ph.D., Professor in the Department of Epidemiology

Chasan-Taber investigates interventions to promote healthier lifestyles and reduce harmful pre-natal exposure among high-risk, ethnically diverse pregnant women. During her Public Engagement Fellowship, Chasan-Taber will develop communication tools and strategies to help translate her research for use by culturally diverse populations.


""Paul M. Collins, Jr., Ph.D., Associate Professor and Director of Legal Studies in the Department of Political Science

Collins investigates the factors that shape the selection and decision-making process of U.S. Supreme Court justices. During his Public Engagement Fellowship, Collins will develop a media relationship strategy, using the success of his recent book Supreme Court Confirmation Hearings and Constitutional Change to contribute to public discussions of the Supreme Court.


""Nilanjana (Buju) Dasgupta, Ph.D., Professor in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences and Director of Faculty Equity and Inclusion for the College of Natural Sciences

Dasgupta's research identifies solutions to the problem of the gender gap in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education and career opportunities from pre-adolescence through adulthood. As a Faculty Fellow, Dasgupta will develop a comprehensive disseminating strategy to place her research and solutions before K-12 educators, higher education administrators, policy-makers, and STEM businesses.



Aline C. Gubrium, Ph.D., Associate Professor in the Department of Health Promotion and Policy Education, and Elizabeth Krause, Ph.D., Professor in the Department of Anthropology.

Gubrium's research uses participatory digital and visual storytelling methods to research and implement culturally-centered interventions to address health inequities among marginalized women, youth and families. Krause's fine-grained field studies illuminate important family processes, such as the shift to lowest-low fertility among Italians, the formation of global households among Chinese migrants, and the experiences of young parenting Latinas in Massachusetts. During the fellowship, Gubrium and Krause will use a three-pronged strategy (media, face-to-face, and direct polity efforts) to promote dignity and systemic support for young parents.


""Michael A. Rawlins, Ph.D., Extension Assistant Professor in the Department of Geosciences and Manager of the Climate System Research Center

Rawlins' research advances understanding of Earth's climate, with a focus on water and carbon cycles. As a Public Engagement Faculty Fellow, Dr. Rawlins will implement tools to help lay audiences understand climate changes and build confidence in the research and predictions of geoscientists.


""Rebecca Spencer, Ph.D., Associate Professor in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences

Spencer's groundbreaking research explores the importance of sleep from childhood through old age. As a Public Engagement Faculty Fellow, Spencer intends to inform the general public about her findings and work with education policymakers to protect healthy sleep habits for students at all levels. 


""Julian Tyson, Ph.D., Professor in the Department of Chemistry

Tyson's research focuses on developing reliable methods for individuals to measure arsenic content of food at home. As a Public Engagement Faculty Fellow, Tyson will engage consumer advocacy groups, policymakers, and journalists to dispel myths and promote understanding of the risks related to arsenic consumption.


For more information about the Public Engagement Project please contact the Director, Amy Schalet, at