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Laurel Smith-Doerr

ISSR Director Laurel Smith-Doerr

Laurel Smith-Doerr serves as the inaugural director of the Institute for Social Science Research at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and is also appointed as a professor of Sociology. She began in September 2013.

After earning her PhD in sociology from the University of Arizona in 1999, Smith-Doerr joined the faculty at Boston University, where she earned tenure in the Sociology department. In 2004-5 she received a Jean Monnet fellowship to the Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Study at the European University Institute in Florence, Italy.  From 2007 until 2009 she was a visiting scientist and program director in Science, Technology and Society at the National Science Foundation.  For her work at NSF in leading the Ethics Education in Science and Engineering program and on the committee implementing the ethics education policies of the US Congress’ America COMPETES Act of 2007, Smith-Doerr received the NSF Director’s Award for Collaborative Integration.  She recently completed a three-year elected term on the Council of the Society for Social Studies of Science (4S), and continues with an elected term as an at-large Council member of the American Sociological Association (ASA).

Smith-Doerr investigates how science, gender, and organizations are connected and become institutionalized in contemporary knowledge-based communities.  She conducts research on inter-organizational collaboration, implications of different organizational forms for women’s equity in science, gendering of scientific networks and scientists’ approaches to social and ethical responsibilities, and tensions in the institutionalization of science policy.  Results of this research have been published in her book, Women’s Work: Gender Equity v. Hierarchy in the Life Sciences, and scholarly journals, including Administrative Science Quarterly, Minerva, Regional Studies, American Behavioral Scientist, Sociological Forum, Industry & Innovation, Sociological Perspectives and Gender & Society. Smith-Doerr has a deep interest in interdisciplinary research, both as an object of study and as a goal for the Institute for Social Science Research.

Laurel Smith-Doerr

Laurel Smith-Doerr serves as the inaugural director of the Institute for Social Science Research at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and is also appointed as a professor of Sociology. She began in September 2013.

After earning her PhD in sociology from the University of Arizona in 1999, Smith-Doerr joined the faculty at Boston University, where she earned tenure in the Sociology department. In 2004-5 she received a Jean Monnet fellowship to the Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Study at the European University Institute in Florence, Italy.  From 2007 until 2009 she was a visiting scientist and program director in Science, Technology and Society at the National Science Foundation.  For her work at NSF in leading the Ethics Education in Science and Engineering program and on the committee implementing the ethics education policies of the US Congress’ America COMPETES Act of 2007, Smith-Doerr received the NSF Director’s Award for Collaborative Integration.  She recently completed a three-year elected term on the Council of the Society for Social Studies of Science (4S), and continues with an elected term as an at-large Council member of the American Sociological Association (ASA).

Smith-Doerr investigates how science, gender, and organizations are connected and become institutionalized in contemporary knowledge-based communities.  She conducts research on inter-organizational collaboration, implications of different organizational forms for women’s equity in science, gendering of scientific networks and scientists’ approaches to social and ethical responsibilities, and tensions in the institutionalization of science policy.  Results of this research have been published in her book, Women’s Work: Gender Equity v. Hierarchy in the Life Sciences, and scholarly journals, including Administrative Science Quarterly, Minerva, Regional Studies, American Behavioral Scientist, Sociological Forum, Industry & Innovation, Sociological Perspectives and Gender & Society. Smith-Doerr has a deep interest in interdisciplinary research, both as an object of study and as a goal for the Institute for Social Science Research.

Laurel Smith-Doerr

ISSR Director

Current Projects


“The Social Organization of Collaboration in the Chemical Sciences.”
 
Collaborative PI: Prof. Jennifer Croissant, University of Arizona
Postdoctoral Research Associate: Dr. Itai Vardi, Boston University
Graduate Research Assistants: Ms. Claire Duggan, Boston University; Ms. Angela Stoutenburgh, University of Arizona, Tim Sacco, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Science is an increasingly collaborative venture. To understand important issues in science policy and knowledge production, one must understand collaboration. Investigating what collaboration looks like on the ground (i.e., what scientists view as worth pursuing and how they manage collaboration) is important. The contributions of this project are expected to include building basic social science knowledge about collaboration, with a particular emphasis on the involvement of women and men in research collaboration and how scientists think about responsibilities in collaboration. 

Scientists in academic and industry settings are participating in this research. The investigators attend regular research group meetings (for about 12 months) in the chemical scientists’ organization, and unobtrusively take notes on observations of collaboration in process. Members of the groups being observed are asked to give the investigators a 45 minute individual interview, scheduled at their convenience. The collected data are used in a strictly anonymous form: neither the individual participants’ identity, nor the identity of their organization will be revealed in reports and publications. Please feel free to contact the PIs with any questions or comments.

 

"Women in Science Policy" (WiSP)

Collaborators: Prof. Kaye Husbands Fealing, University of Minnesota; Prof. Susan Cozzens, Georgia Institute of Technology; Dr. Debra Fitzpatrick, University of Minnesota. Graduate Research Assistant: Mr. Connor Fitzmaurice, Boston University; Sharla Alegria, University of Massachusetts Amherst

The work of science and technology (S&T) policymaking agencies in the United States is important to building knowledge and economic growth. These agencies make decisions about how to structure policies and programs for funding science and technology development, how to promote technology transfer and innovation, and how to use scientific and technical methods in federal regulation and oversight.  This project investigates the organization and leadership of federal science and technology policy agencies, and in particular examines the role of women in science and technology policy. Research across the social sciences has investigated the advantages of including diverse perspectives in decision-making, including the perspectives of men and women leaders. While there is much research on women in science and women in management or government, there is little previous research on the role of women leaders in science and technology policy.  This project explores new ground by collecting data on the role of women leaders in science and technology policy.  The project contributes by providing both qualitative and quantitative measures of women’s participation and influence on science and technology policy at the federal level.  Data collection focuses on leadership in S&T policymaking agencies from 1992-2008. The research informs understanding of organizational processes from theories at the intersection of multiple social science disciplines and areas: science/technology studies, sociology, political science, public policy, management and economics. For example, whether variation in the organizational structures of S&T agencies shapes women’s participation in science and technology policy is a question of wide intellectual interest.  To science policy studies, this work contributes important insight on how leaders at the agencies that fund science view their role in knowledge production processes.

Research funding is the lifeblood of science and engineering. The health of federal S&T policymaking agencies in the US is vital to the nation’s continued competitiveness in generating the scientific knowledge and technological development that supports a healthy economy built on innovation.  This project contributes to our understanding of that vital role of S&T policymaking agencies by investigating the organization and leadership of federal level S&T policymaking agencies in the US.  Understanding how women leaders have contributed to the S&T policy agenda, how variation in the participation of women in different agencies has produced different outcomes, and what the anatomy of a healthy S&T policy sector looks like are important outcomes expected in this project.  This project will generate knowledge that is expected to have practical implications for improving policy organization structures and practices.

 

 

Laurel Smith-Doerr

Current Projects


 “The Social Organization of Collaboration in the Chemical Sciences.”
 
Collaborative PI: Prof. Jennifer Croissant, University of Arizona
Postdoctoral Research Associate: Dr. Itai Vardi, Boston University
Graduate Research Assistants: Ms. Claire Duggan, Boston University; Ms. Angela Stoutenburgh, University of Arizona; Tim Sacco, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Science is an increasingly collaborative venture. To understand important issues in science policy and knowledge production, one must understand collaboration. Investigating what collaboration looks like on the ground (i.e., what scientists view as worth pursuing and how they manage collaboration) is important. The contributions of this project are expected to include building basic social science knowledge about collaboration, with a particular emphasis on the involvement of women and men in research collaboration and how scientists think about responsibilities in collaboration. 

Scientists in academic and industry settings are participating in this research. The investigators attend regular research group meetings (for about 12 months) in the chemical scientists’ organization, and unobtrusively take notes on observations of collaboration in process. Members of the groups being observed are asked to give the investigators a 45 minute individual interview, scheduled at their convenience. The collected data are used in a strictly anonymous form: neither the individual participants’ identity, nor the identity of their organization will be revealed in reports and publications. Please feel free to contact the PIs with any questions or comments.

 

"Women in Science Policy" (WiSP)

Collaborators: Prof. Kaye Husbands Fealing, University of Minnesota; Prof. Susan Cozzens, Georgia Institute of Technology; Dr. Debra Fitzpatrick, University of Minnesota. Graduate Research Assistant: Mr. Connor Fitzmaurice, Boston University; Sharla Alegria, University of Massachusetts Amherst

The work of science and technology (S&T) policymaking agencies in the United States is important to building knowledge and economic growth. These agencies make decisions about how to structure policies and programs for funding science and technology development, how to promote technology transfer and innovation, and how to use scientific and technical methods in federal regulation and oversight.  This project investigates the organization and leadership of federal science and technology policy agencies, and in particular examines the role of women in science and technology policy. Research across the social sciences has investigated the advantages of including diverse perspectives in decision-making, including the perspectives of men and women leaders. While there is much research on women in science and women in management or government, there is little previous research on the role of women leaders in science and technology policy.  This project explores new ground by collecting data on the role of women leaders in science and technology policy.  The project contributes by providing both qualitative and quantitative measures of women’s participation and influence on science and technology policy at the federal level.  Data collection focuses on leadership in S&T policymaking agencies from 1992-2008. The research informs understanding of organizational processes from theories at the intersection of multiple social science disciplines and areas: science/technology studies, sociology, political science, public policy, management and economics. For example, whether variation in the organizational structures of S&T agencies shapes women’s participation in science and technology policy is a question of wide intellectual interest.  To science policy studies, this work contributes important insight on how leaders at the agencies that fund science view their role in knowledge production processes.

Research funding is the lifeblood of science and engineering. The health of federal S&T policymaking agencies in the US is vital to the nation’s continued competitiveness in generating the scientific knowledge and technological development that supports a healthy economy built on innovation.  This project contributes to our understanding of that vital role of S&T policymaking agencies by investigating the organization and leadership of federal level S&T policymaking agencies in the US.  Understanding how women leaders have contributed to the S&T policy agenda, how variation in the participation of women in different agencies has produced different outcomes, and what the anatomy of a healthy S&T policy sector looks like are important outcomes expected in this project.  This project will generate knowledge that is expected to have practical implications for improving policy organization structures and practices.

 

Henry Renski

Dr. Renski is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning. His research interests include the study of spatial variations in regional development patterns, specifically entrepreneurship, industrial concentration, and human capital. He is also interested in applied methods of demographic and economic analysis, such as population forecasting, measuring inequality and polarization, economic impact analysis, spatial patterns of development and quantitative approaches to measuring the impact of state and local economic development policies.

Daniel Cannity

Daniel is a Ph.D. student in the department of sociology. His interests include networks, statistical modeling, digital sociology, video games, and embodiment. His current work focuses on the learning trajectories of digital literacy. 

His work for ISSR includes IT support for multiple platforms and programs, lab maintance, software distribution, and design work. 

Bruce Desmarais

Current Projects

Bruce A. Desmarais and John A. Hird, Professor of Political Science and Public Policy and Interim Dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, have been awarded a $527,233 grant from the National Science Foundation titled “Scientific Evidence in Regulation and Governance.” The project makes use of powerful new information and analytical tools to understand and improve how science is used across disparate federal policymaking arenas.

Using the best available science is an important component of effective rulemaking and required by Presidential executive order. The scientific basis of regulatory policymaking plays an important role in maintaining the legitimacy, transparency, and accountability of policymaking by unelected officials. They focus on regulatory impact analyses (RIAs), which US federal regulatory agencies are obligated to produce to assess anticipated costs and benefits of major regulations.  By identifying the sources of information—scientific and otherwise—that regulatory agencies use to justify their policies, Desmarais and Hird and a team of graduate and undergraduate students will uncover the relationships between research and regulatory policy and the networks that inform the transmission of science and other information into policymaking.  Central to the project is the development of the first large-scale, publicly available database that connects specific policies to specific scientific sources, allowing comparisons across time, policymaking domains, and scientific disciplines.  This database better illuminates the basis of regulatory impact assessments, reveals how science is presented to policymakers, and provides scientific researchers as well as their funders with concrete evidence of real-world policy impact. The project results: 1) describe the patterns of scientific research use in regulatory decisions; 2) identify characteristics of scientific research that make it more or less useful to policymakers; and 3) utilize specific instances of research-to-policy connections to reverse engineer science-policy networks, and understand when and how regulatory policymakers make use of scientific research.

The public-use, online database can be used by policymakers to improve their use of science, research funding agencies to understand which research is most used by policymakers and where important gaps exist, and organizations and members of the general public interested in identifying the quality and quantity of evidence used in the policymaking process.  The database will also be openly available to scholars studying the relationship between scientific research and public policymaking. The project helps scientists as well as regulatory agencies identify areas where better research or communication can improve policymaking. The researchers will meet regularly with officials at the Environmental Protection Agency and the Union of Concerned Scientists to help enhance the development and dissemination of the project results.  Overall, the results of this project provide a comprehensive assessment of the role that important actors in the political, policy, and scientific spheres play in facilitating connections between scientific research and rulemaking.

 

Bruce Desmarais (Co-Principal Investigator) is also working on a project with Hanna Wallach (Principal Investigator), receiving a grant of $479, 628 from the National Science Foundation titled "Organizational Responsiveness to Open Outside Input: A Modeling Approach based on Statistical Text and Network Analysis"

This project focuses on the development of new analytical tools for modeling the relationships between intra-organizational communication networks and open, external sources of text data. The massive quantities of textual communications generated within organizations constitute a largely untapped source for insightful, timely organizational analytics. The tools under development for this project are designed to jointly analyze the content of communications and the socio-organizational structure comprised by communication ties, thereby allowing researchers and practitioners to identify and analyze the ways in which government officials' extra-governmental communications are related to intra-governmental communications and operations. In producing these tools, this project builds upon extant textual and network analysis methods by focusing on novel probabilistic methods for identifying topics that cut across network domains (e.g., informal email communications, official meeting minutes, and final policy records) and representing the complex flow of topics through government decision and policy-making processes. These methods, along with data collected during the course of this project, enhance organizations' ability to connect streams of external input to their internal operations. In conjunction with a new, publicly available database of local government communication records, this project showcases and builds upon the success of recent efforts, encompassing the gov2.0 movement, to improve government responsiveness through the solicitation of open outside input.