University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Whitney Battle-Baptiste

I am a historical archaeologist who focuses primarily on the historical intersection of race, class, gender in the shaping of cultural landscapes across the African Diaspora.  My theoretical interests include Black Feminist theory, African American material and expressive culture, and critical heritage studies.  My work spans a variety of historic sites in the Northern and Southern United States, including the home of Andrew Jackson in Nashville, Tennessee; Rich Neck Plantation in Williamsburg, Virginia; the Abiel Smith School in Boston, Massachusetts; and the W. E. B. Du Bois Homesite in Great Barrington, Massachusetts.  My latest research is a community-based archaeology project at the Millars Plantation site on the island of Eleuthera in the Bahamas.

Recent Publications: “Sweepin' Spirits: Power and Transformation on the Plantation Landscape”

“Black Feminist Archaeology”

Keywords: Black feminist theory, African American material, Expressive culture, Critical heritage studies, Plantations, Power, Natural Landscape, Cultural Landscape,
Anthropology, Archaeology,

Waylon Howard

Waylon J. Howard, PhD is a Research Methodologist in the Institute for Social Science Research at the University of Massachusetts and affiliated faculty at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Dr. Howard completed his Ph.D. in Quantitative Psychology at the University of Kansas and has obtained advanced training and extensive experience in the use of quantitative methods including structural equation modeling, hierarchical modeling, mixed modeling, and Monte Carlo simulation techniques. Dr. Howard has extensive experience providing methodological, statistical, and analytical consultation on major research grants. He has also led and managed research and evaluation efforts to assess and report on the effectiveness of various programs and grant making strategies. Dr. Howard’s research is focused on the practical issues in handling missing data in social and behavioral science research. He has been the Director of Research and Evaluation at the Maryland Center for Developmental Disabilities at the Kennedy Krieger Institute; a Senior Research Analyst at the Biostatistics, Epidemiology and Data Management Core at Johns Hopkins University; and a Quantitative Analyst at Juniper Gardens Children’s Project in the Institute for Lifespan Studies at the University of Kansas; and a Research Assistant at the Center for Research Methods and Data Analysis at the University of Kansas.       

Ventura R. Pérez

Bio-archaeology: My primary area of interest is interpersonal and institutional forms of violence. My work focuses on cultural representations of violence using an interdisciplinary inquiry that includes social science and behavioral and biological research (specifically skeletal trauma), along with the analysis of artifacts and ethnohistoric research. I view the use of violence as a cultural performance and argue that in order to understand its use we must strive to recognize the culturally specific circumstances under which it is produced and maintained. My other interests include skeletal biology, taphonomy, forensic anthropology, paleopathology, and the etiology of diseases affecting the human skeleton. My research is currently in Zacatecas, Mexico at the site of La Quemada (AD 900) and in the greater Southwest.

Recent Publications: 

“Landscapes of Violence"

"The Bioarchaeology of Violence"

Keywords: Violence, Archaeology, Ritualized violence and warfare, Ancient societies, Violence, Human experience, Interrelationships between society and violence, Trans-disciplinary research

Sarah Vega-Liros

Sarah Vega-Liros serves as the Research and Engagement liaison assigned to faculty, graduate students and staff in the Colleges of Humanities and Fine Arts and Social and Behavioral Sciences. She specializes in assisting with the submission of grant and fellowship proposals that must follow University policies and procedures. She also assists faculty with award management, including facilitating milestone meetings, rebudgets and close-outs.

Ryan Acton

Congratulations to lab member and Sociology Ph.D. student Ryan Acton on completing his doctoral degree, and transitioning to his new position as Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Dr. Acton will join a select group of interdisciplinary researchers as part of a new UMass initiative on computational social science, continuing his work on social networks, online behavior, and research methodology. During his tenure at the NCASD Lab, Acton was a key figure in many projects, including research on emergent coordination following Hurricane Katrina, GIS-based modeling of large-scale networks, and data collection from online sources. His ScrapeR package for web-based data collection in R has become a popular tool for automating data collection both locally and in the broader R community, and is freely available via the CRAN online archives. We congratulate Dr. Acton on his new position, and look forward to further collaborations with him in the years ahead.

Recent Publications:

“Extended Structures of Mediation: Re-examining Brokerage in Dynamic Networks”

“Interorganizational Collaboration in the Hurricane Katrina Response”

Keywords: Brokerage, Social processes, Structural theory, Social networks, Structural dynamics, Coordination, Disasters, Emergent multiorganizational networks, Interorganizational, collaborations, Hurricane Katrina

Rodrigo Dominguez Villegas

Rodrigo Dominguez is a PhD student in the Sociology Department at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He received his B.A. in Economics and Geography from Middlebury College. He is currently working with Professor Jennifer Lundquist on studying the socioeconomic outcomes for foreign born veterans. His primary research interests include international migration, economic development, and public policy analysis.  He is an independent consultant for the Migration Policy Institute in Washington D.C.

As a new consultant for ISSR Rodrigo will provide consultations on spatial statistics, multiple regression methods and on the STATA, ArcGIS and GeoDa software programs.

Robert L. Ryan


Professor Ryan, FASLA is the Graduate Program Director for the Dual Degree Masters' Program in Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning.  His courses have an interdisciplinary framework integrating landscape architects, planners, and allied professionals in order to give students the skills to deal with the increasingly complex interdisciplinary environmental problems.  His course, People and the Environment, shows students from a variety of disciplines how to apply environment and behavior research to design and planning.  He teaches the graduate MLA studio in landscape and greenway planning, senior BSLA integrated experience studio, and a sustainable green infrastructure seminar.

Professor Ryan's research addresses the question: what motivates people to become engaged in sustainable landscape design, planning and management practices that benefit the environment and how does that affect their attitudes and behaviors in the landscape?  His studies in urban parks, rural landscapes, and national forests have shown that people’s connection to nearby nature or landscape (i.e, place attachment) is critical to developing better land stewardship.  A key part of this work has been to understand the landscape patterns that are both ecologically beneficial, as well as perceived as beautiful by local residents. In addition, his research has shown that place attachment can help promote connections between local residents and urban parks, particularly those undergoing ecological restoration.   His research has focuses on visual resource management, greenway and green infrastructure planning, and sustainable site design.       He is a senior researcher on the UMass interdisciplinary graduate education research (IGERT) project to study offshore wind energy facilities.  

He is the co-principal investigator of the Boston Metropolitan Area Urban Long-term Research Project (ULTRA), a NSF funded study to explore the relationship between socio-economic forces and urban ecosystem patterns and processes across a metropolitan region.  Within this project, his research focuses on using urban green space to ameliorate the challenges facing inner city residents.   See the project web-page:  He is also currently working on a UMass Center for Agriculture project to study local residents' attitudes toward landscape water conservation and storm water management practices in the Ipswich River Watershed.

Dr. Ryan is the co-author of the award-winning book, With People in Mind: Design and Management of Everyday Nature with environmental psychologists Stephen and Rachel Kaplan, as well as a recent book chapter in the Sustainable Sites Handbook (edited by Meg Calkins).  He serves on the Editorial Board of the international journal, Landscape and Urban Planning, and is a technical advisor to the ASLA’s Sustainable Sites Initiative Human Health and Well-being Technical sub-committee. 

Recent Publications: 

"influence of landscape preference and environmental education on attitudes toward wildfire management in the Northeast pine barrens (USA)”

“The social landscape of planning: Integrating social and perceptual research with spatial planning information”

Keywords: Landscape preference, Wildfire mitigation, Wild land-urban interface, Northeast United States, Forest management, Esthetics, Environmental education, Landscape perceptions, Social science research, Integrated landscape models

Rebecca Ready

Dr. Ready is Director of Clinical Training and a geriatric neuropsychologist with expertise in the assessment of emotion, life quality, and well-being in adult and aging populations.  She conducts research on emotion regulation and memory, risk for Alzheimer's disease, emotion in Mild Cognitive Impairment, and life quality in Huntington's disease.  She also is interested in measurement development, the assessment of adult learning disabilities and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and training in clinical psychology.I am new scholar and my project is in development but here is a preliminary title:  "Spontaneous and Directed Emotion Regulation in Older Adults: Influence of Executive Functions and Neuroticism"
This grant will be submitted to the Social Division of the National Science Foundation.
My experience to date has been extremely positive.  I am eternally grateful for the grant-writing support and motivation that comes from ISSR.  Their expertise in grant writing is phenomenal.  It is difficult to get excited about grant writing in a tight funding climate and being part of the ISSR community makes all the difference to me.

I am new scholar and my project is in development but here is a preliminary title:  "Spontaneous and Directed Emotion Regulation in Older Adults: Influence of Executive Functions and Neuroticism"

This grant will be submitted to the Social Division of the National Science Foundation.

My experience to date has been extremely positive.  I am eternally grateful for the grant-writing support and motivation that comes from ISSR.  Their expertise in grant writing is phenomenal.  It is difficult to get excited about grant writing in a tight funding climate and being part of the ISSR community makes all the difference to me

Spontaneous and Directed Emotion Regulation in Older Adults: Influence of Executive Functions and Neuroticism
This study will test novel parameters of the Strength and Vulnerability Integration model of adult development and emotion regulation, build on the theory by incorporation of Neuroticism into emotion regulation models, determine the modifiability of emotion regulation strategies in older adults, and link lab-based emotion regulation outcomes to stress regulation in daily life.  The following specific aims will be addressed in a within-subjects study of older adult participants:  
Aim 1:  To identify how executive functions and Neuroticism determine successful emotion regulation in the context of unavoidable stress in the lab.  Emotion regulation is indicated by subjective, electrophysiological, neuroendocrine, and observational methods.  
Aim 2:  To determine the effects of executive functions and Neuroticism on learning and implementation of lab-based emotion regulation strategies.
Aim 3:  Link lab-based emotion regulation outcomes with daily stress regulation as indicated by subjective and neuroendocrine measures.  This work will determine the ecological validity of laboratory emotion regulation outcomes, as well as clarify how executive functions and Neuroticism are associated with daily stress regulation.
Recent Publications: 
“Attentional biases and memory for emotional stimuli
in men and male rhesus monkeys.”
“Confirmatory factor analysis of the Frontal Systems
Behavior Scale”
Keywords: Receptive field, Electrical stimulation, Visual cortex, Response Property, Cerebral cortex, Frontal Lobe, Behavioral dysfunction, Frontal subcortical functions

Ray La Raja

My research interests include political parties, interest groups, elections, campaign finance, political participation, American state politics, public policy and political reform. I am co-founder and former co-editor of The Forum: A Journal of Applied Research in Contemporary Politics and I am a member of the Academic Advisory Board of the Campaign Finance Institute.
Courses Taught: 
American Politics; Political Parties and Elections; Political Participation, Ethics and Politics
Current Projects: 

I am currently studying how campaign finance laws affect elections and ideological polarization of political parties. In addition, I'm looking at the ways that political reforms laws might boost turnout or increase citizen participation in other ways through public financing of elections.

Recent Publications: 

"Don’t Blame Donors for Ideological Polarization of Political Parties"

"Small Change"

Keywords: Political contributions, Money in politics, Partisan polarization, Political ideology,  Money, Political Parties, Campaign finance reform

Rahsaan Maxwell

Rahsaan Maxwell received his BA from the University of Pennsylvania (1998) and his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley (2008).  His research examines the politics of ethnic, racial, religious, and immigrant-origin minorities, with a particular focus on Western Europe.  He has explored these issues from numerous angles, including political representation, participation, identity, discrimination, and attitudes about government.

Recent publications:

“Ethnic Minority Migrants in Britain and France: integration

“Immigrant politics: race and representation in Western Europe”

Keywords: Labor market, Political integration, Assimilation trade-offs, Economy,Political resources, Ethnic minorities, Political parties, Minority politicians, Migrant political participation


Faculty News: 

Political Scientist, ISSR Research Scholar Focuses on Minority Migrants in Europe


“My research focuses on the politics of ethnic and racial diversity in Europe,” says Rahsaan Maxwell, assistant professor of political science, who is among the first group of Social Science Research Scholars affiliated with the Institute for Social Science Research in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences. “As an African-American who grew up in New York City, I’ve been thinking about the complexities of diversity for as long as I can remember. Traveling outside the country in my teens and early twenties, I became fascinated with all the different ways societies can be organized.”

Diversity in Europe, according to Maxwell, shares many basic similarities with the U.S. while also having many differences. “Studying how diversity operates in Europe provides me with a new way of understanding my American roots in a broader perspective,” he says. “Plus, ethnic and racial diversity is one of the biggest and most pressing issues in contemporary Europe. Due to recent immigration, the complexion of Europe is changing but it’s not yet clear how that transformation will play out. It’s good to engage with those intense debates.”

In graduate school at the University of California Berkeley, Maxwell did a lot of fieldwork. Three years of interviews in Paris and London resulted in his dissertation and first book, Ethnic Minority Migrants in Britain and France: Integration Trade-Offs (Cambridge University Press, 2012). Debates around diversity have been powerful, he says. “In many ways I compare this moment in Europe to the 1960s in the U.S., when civil rights and societal change were open and on the table. “Paris was especially exciting because academics play a much larger role in the public and political debate than here. I went to lots of meetings, debates and public events, and interviewed lots of people. Always, I was inspired by their commitment to making a change for something they believed, even if I didn’t agree with their opinions.”

These days Maxwell’s work primarily focuses on statistical analysis of survey data, related particularly to migrant integration in Europe, and writing articles about the results. And the list of publications is impressive. In addition, he is a reviewer for numerous professional journals, and has been called on to speak at many workshops and conferences around the world. “My main intellectual contribution so far has been to highlight the complexity of the integration process,” says Maxwell. “Many people want to know whether integration has succeeded or failed but my research has been all about showing how it can simultaneously be a success and a failure on different dimensions—economic or political, for example.”

Prior to Maxwell’s research, most people who looked at this issue were sociologists studying the multiple ways in which economic and cultural outcomes could be mixed. Maxwell, however, has extended those insights into political outcomes. “I would like to think that this is opening up new questions and new ways of investigating how minorities integrate into a society,” he says.

One of the more practical results of Maxwell’s research is showing that in many respects integration in Europe is more successful than people realize. Much of his work, for example, shows that minorities in Europe have very positive attitudes about European society, something one would not often realize by reading popular media accounts. “I hope my research helps to counterbalance the other narrative,” he says.

As an ISSR Research Scholar, Maxwell is participating in an interdisciplinary seminar that includes ongoing presentations and discussion of faculty research proposals, advice on grant writing and submission, information about grant agencies, and opportunities to meet national scholars for consultation. His project explores the conditions under which majority and minority individuals in Europe do and do not share identities with each other. In particular, he is focusing on how these identity boundaries may vary across different areas of society, such as politics, sports, business, and culture. Beginning with a pilot survey conducted in France last summer, he is developing a research grant proposal to expand the project within France and to Germany.

“The ISSR Research Scholars program has been a great opportunity to see the nuts and bolts of how people from other disciplines conduct their work,” says Maxwell. “The tangible benefits are clearly the course release and the structured feedback on my grant proposal, but the intangible benefit of being inspired by different approaches to research is also very valuable.”

Maxwell came to UMass in 2009 as part of a large wave of hiring in political science. “There has been lots of new energy and the department is very open to new ideas,” says Maxwell. “Junior faculty get a lot of respect and are included in departmental discussions and debates in ways that might not happen in every university. The department is very self-conscious about casting a wide definition of political science and encourages us to pursue a wide range of questions. This is especially nice for me because much of my research overlaps with other disciplines—most notably sociology and increasingly psychology.”

Story from UMass Amherst College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, January 24, 2013.


Naomi Gerstel

Naomi Gerstel is a Professor of Sociology at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Gerstel’s research and courses focus on family, carework, job hours/schedules, gender, race and family & work policy.  Her research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the Russell Sage Foundation and has appeared in the American Sociological Review, Contexts, Social Forces, Social Problems, Journal of Marriage and the Family, Journal of Health and Social Behavior, and Gender & Society, among others.  Her most recent articles have examined marriage as a greedy institution, the effects of women’s employment on care to kin and friends, effects of race on caregiving, labor union’s family policies, childcare, the Family and Medical Leave Act, and the hours and schedules of medical personnel.  Her co-authored  and co-edited  books include Commuter Marriage, Families at Work, Families and Work, and Public Sociology.   She has received the Rosabeth Moss Kanter Award and Samuel F. Conti Fellowship. She has chaired the Family Section of the American Sociological Association and  co-edited the ASA Rose Book Series and the Backstage Column for Contexts. Her current research consists of two projects, one on care to relatives and friends and the other on why Americans spend so much time on the job.


Expertise: Dual Earner; Families of Color: African Americans, Hispanics, Asian American; Paid Family Leave; Work Hours; FMLA, Changing Definitions of Family, Dependent Care, Child Care, Overwork/Workload, Elder Care, FMLA

Recent Publications:

"Rethinking Families and Community:
The Color, Class, and Centrality of Extended Kin Ties”

“The Time Crunch: Will Labor Lead?”

Keywords: Marriage, Nuclear families, Social commentary, African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Social Classes, Social policy, Labor, Trade Unions, Work Hours, Gender, Class, Equality, Working class

Michelle Budig


Michelle Budig's research interests focus on gender, employment, labor markets, earnings, stratification, and family. Her research has appeared in the American Sociological Review, Social Forces, Social Problems, Gender & Society, and numerous other professional journals. Currently she is working on break an NSF-funded project using multi-level models with cross-national data to estimate the effects of work-family reconciliation policies on the motherhood wage penalty. She is a past recipient of the World Bank/ Luxembourg Income Study Gender Research Award and the Rosabeth Moss Kanter Award for Research Excellence in Families and Work. As a scholar, Budig worked on two projects, which investigated how work-family reconciliation policies affect women's family formation patterns across twenty-two countries. Governments have enacted many of these policies to slow or reverse fertility decline, but little research has directly examined the effects of policies, such as paid maternity leave, publicly subsidized day care, or leave targeted for fathers, on women's fertility. The second project investigated the growing differences in family formation patterns among social groups in the U.S. This research suggests that socioeconomic opportunity and race shape the "opportunity costs" associated with childbearing.  

Recent Publications: 

“Cross-National Patterns in Individual and Household
Employment and Work Hours by Gender and Parenthood”

“Differences in Disadvantage: How the Wage Penalty for
Motherhood Varies Across Women's Earnings Distribution”

Keywords: Employment, Gender, Parenthood, Motherhood, Motherhood penalty, Earnings, Women




Past research shows that American women's self-employment is profoundly shaped by their family responsibilities, particularly those in nonprofessional occupations. This is attributed to the absence of significant employment supports for mothers of young children. But if these supports--such as universal publicly-funded childcare or universal maternity leave--did exist in the US, would gender gaps in self-employment participation and related earnings decrease? Using newly collected social policy data, cultural indicators, and longitudinal panel data from 15 westernized countries, this project examines cross-national differences in women’s self-employment participation, investigates the socio-political contexts where women’s self-employment is more frequent and more profitable, and offers insights on the work-family reconciliation policies that promote female entrepreneurship.

Intellectual Merit:

While vast literature exists on welfare state policies and gender differences in wage employment, the link between work-family policies and gender gaps in entrepreneurship is unknown. Current policies to promote self-employment generally focus on access to capital, networks of expertise, and training for entrepreneurs. Understanding how work-family supports may encourage specific forms of female self-employment offers a potentially transformative understanding regarding how to promote women’s entrepreneurship.  This study takes an innovative approach to understanding how work-family reconciliation policies shape women’s entrepreneurship across different welfare state contexts. Event history analysis, fixed effects regression, and multi-level modeling will estimate policy effects net of controls for individual factors associated with self-employment, labor force participation, and earnings. In addition to adding new knowledge in the areas of entrepreneurship, social policy, and gender inequality, this study’s findings will cut across multiple fields, including economics, sociology, political science, and social policy. The PI’s expertise, established access to restricted datasets, and utilization of a new NSF-funded work-family policy database represent some of the strong scientific resources of the proposed research.

Broader Impacts:

The study’s broader impacts include education and training of graduate/undergraduate students, expanding the scientific understanding of the individual and socio-political factors leading to women’s engagement in self-employment, and outreach to policymakers seeking to increase female entrepreneurship. In terms of integrating research and education, this project will hire and train both a graduate and undergraduate research assistant (RA). Students will be trained in data management, statistical analysis, literature reviews, writing of scientific articles, and presentation at national conferences. The undergraduate student will train in methods and programming through short courses and workshops offered through the UMass Institute for Social Science Research. In addition, the graduate RA will attend an intensive multi-day event history modeling workshop with Dr. Paul Allison, who is a leading expert on this method. The PI will seek to hire members of underrepresented groups including female and racial/ethnic minority students. In terms of broad dissemination of scientific ideas, results will be presented at national professional conferences, in peer-reviewed journal articles, and through submission of products for high-profile research awards. This project has direct application for increased economic competitiveness of the US. Self-employment is a driving force behind new job creation in the US. Fostering self-employment among underrepresented groups, such as women, is a goal of US policymakers. Strategies for disseminating my research findings to policymakers include making use of the UMass Office of News and Media Relations and the UMass Public Engagement Project to issue press releases for project publications, sending project results as “factsheets” to the Center for Economic Policy Research in Washington, D.C., through whom she has briefed congressional groups in the past, and writing op-ed pieces for newspapers and congressional news venues, such as “The Hill.” The PI will be available for testimony before legislators and as an “expert” to respond to requests for interviews and information. The PI is currently listed as an expert on related topics with the Work-Family Researchers Network and with the American Sociological Association Press Office.

Matthew Denny

Matt Denny is a second year PhD student in the Department of Political Science at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He received his M.Sc. from the Department of Resource Economics with a focus on applied econometrics and experimental economics in 2013. He is a member of the Political Interaction Networks Lab at UMass Amherst, and is advised by Bruce Desmarais and Hanna Wallach. His primary research interests include computational social science and network analysis, with applications to the study of legislative politics and government bureaucracy. 
As a consultant for ISSR for the past year, Matt specializes in social network analysis, statistical models for text, data management, web scraping, high performance computing and big data analytics. He also teaches workshops and consults on the use of R, LaTeX, C++, Python and PHP/MySQL for social science research.
Website and materials: 

Mary Fechner

Recent Publications:

“Berliners’ Models of Heart Disease Causation”

“Culture and Co-Morbidity in East and West Berliners”

Keywords: Anthropology, Ethnography, Grounded theory, Health, Detriments of heart Health, Illness and disease, Interpretive methods, Medical, Culture, Depression, Ethnography, Mixed methods, Cross-cultural

Martha Fuentes-Bautista

Martha Fuentes-Bautista is an Assistant Professor of Public Policy and Communication. She conducts research on the social and policy implications of information and communication technologies (ICTs) with a particular focus on how ICTs exacerbate or alleviate social inequalities. She also has investigated the institutional contexts of ICT adoption and use in Latin America and the U.S. Publications include “Reconfiguring Public Internet Access in Austin, TX: WiFi’s Promise and Broadband Divides” (Government Information Quarterly). A recent Faculty Research/Healey Endowment grant is supporting data collection and analysis concerning the role played by local broadband interventions on the ability of Western Massachusetts communities to expand universal service—findings that will inform state and federal programs charged with advancing broadband coverage. 


Research interests: 


telecommunication and community media policy; technology and inequality; global communications; social movements and new media technologies

Recent Publications: "Rethinking localism in the broadband era: A participatory community development approach"

"Community Media and the Rearticulation of State-Civil Society Relations in Venezuela."

Keywords: Broadband adoption, Localism, PEG access, Digital inclusion, Municipal telecommunication policy, Local mass media, Alternative mass media, Democracy


Marta Murray-Close

I’ve been interested in the social sciences since I first attended Smith College as an undergraduate,” says Marta Murray-Close, assistant professor of economics and public policy, who is focused broadly on family economics and economic demography. “I was a psychology major and loved being a departmental research assistant. In fact, the research topics that most interest me now—gender, sexual orientation, and work-family issues—haven’t changed much since then.”

But quite unexpectedly, Murray-Close changed her focus to economics. “I never had much interest in the field because I didn’t know that economics had anything to say about my areas of interest. I assumed that economics was all about banking and business.” Approaching the end of her undergraduate career, Murray-Close had an elective spot to fill in her schedule. Even though she’d spent three and half years avoiding economics, she decided to see what it was all about. “I discovered that economists study all sorts of things—including gender and labor markets,” she says.

After graduation Murray-Close wanted to continue doing research and also make a social contribution. Back in her hometown of St. Paul, she was hired as a part-time survey interviewer at an applied research center. “I made it known that I was interested in a research position and eventually they promoted me to research assistant and then to research associate. That was about as far as I could go with only a BA, so I knew to continue in this vein I needed to go back to school.”

Murray-Close chose to attend the University of Michigan where a world-class interdisciplinary social science research center offers training in economic demography. With her PhD in hand, she came to UMass in the fall of 2011. “It was a dream job: an economics department with an unusual degree of intellectual diversity, senior colleagues I had followed and admired for years—especially Lee Badgett and Nancy Folbre—and junior and senior colleagues who are committed to making the world a better place. If you had asked me when I started grad school where I would eventually want to work, I likely would have said UMass, so I feel very lucky to be here.”

Focused on the diversity of modern family arrangements, Murray-Close is especially interested in the economics of gender and sexual orientation and the economics of nontraditional families. She also explores the implications of work-family trade-offs for the personal and professional lives of men and women where heterosexual married couples head a shrinking proportion of all families and where, even among heterosexual married couples, dual-earner couples are the new norm. “Social policies and programs have been slow to respond to these changes,” says Murray-Close, “but I hope that research that improves our understanding of modern families can help us design better policies to support them.”

It didn’t take Murray-Close long to affiliate herself with the Institute for Social Science Research (ISSR) here on campus. Selected as one of the first group of ISSR Research Scholars this year, she received course release for an interdisciplinary seminar of six social science faculty from across the university that meets regularly to develop their individual research grant proposals. (Two such seminars are taking place this year, accommodating twelve faculty members.)

Murray-Close has been examining the challenges highly educated, dual-career couples face when looking for two jobs in the same location. She is especially interested in the decision some couples make to live apart and wonders if maintaining separate residences is a long-term solution or simply a Band-Aid.. She will be looking for funding to complete data collection in a longitudinal survey examining the prevalence, predictors, and consequences of living apart among early-career economists. “Between 2007-08 and 2010-11, my collaborators and I surveyed four graduating cohorts of new PhD economists as they entered the job market for the first time,” she says. “While we initially planned to assess their career sacrifices associated with dual-career location problems, we found that 15 and 20 percent of economists with spouses who responded to our survey avoided career sacrifices by making a personal sacrifice: they expected to be living apart for at least the year after they entered the job market. We will follow up with the economists in our original cohorts to learn about their experiences with living apart over the first three years of their careers.”

Commenting on her experience as an ISSR fellow, Murray-Close notes that the support for grant writing has been invaluable. “ISSR has provided me with resources—both time and peer mentoring—that will significantly strengthen the grant I am writing now and the numerous grants I will undoubtedly write in the future,” she says. “The workshop has also introduced me to faculty in other departments and has helped orient me to the resources that support research on campus. I’m sure that facilitating these kinds of connections across units and departments will be a key contribution of ISSR to the university.”


Murray-Close has been impressed with the excellent resources on campus for demographic and family researchers. ISSR and the Center for Research on Families stand out as examples, as do several specific faculty members in departments beyond economics. “It’s exciting to be surrounded by people who are doing top-notch work in the things about which I’m most passionate.

Recent Publications: “Challenges in Determining How Child Work Affects Child Health"

Keywords: Child Labor, Health, Research bias, Experimental groups

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.

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.


Laras Sekarasih

Laras is a PhD student in the Department of Communication at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She received his B.A. in Psychology from Universitas Indonesia and an M.S. in Human Ecology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her current research interests are media, children, and the family, media literacy education, and media effects. She currently works under the supervision of Dr. Michael Morgan on a dissertation project that examines the role parents' television viewing in cultivating materialism in the family. Additionally, she is also involved as a researcher and facilitator in the UMass Department of Communication's research/community outreach media literacy education initiative under the supervision of Dr. Erica Scharrer. 

Laras' works has been presented in the annual national and international Communication conferences, and has been published in the Journal of Children and Media. Her paper on Television Viewing and the Cultivation of the American Dream has won a top student paper award in the 2012 Association of Education for Journalism and Mass Communication annual conference. She has also received Fulbright Scholarship for her Master's study.
Joining ISSR in Fall 2013, Laras specializes in multiple regression and structural equation modeling. She teaches workshops on SPSS and LISREL software programs.


Kristine Yu

My primary area of study is tone and intonation in human language---the way in which we use variations in vocal pitch to indicate contrasts in: (1) word meanings (e.g. in Mandarin, "ma" pronounced with a flat high pitch means "mother", but "ma" pronounced with a falling-rising pitch means "horse"), (2) grammatical structures (e.g. in Somali, one ox is "dibi", with a high tone on "di", but oxen is "dibi" with a high tone on "bi"), and (3) pragmatic meaning (e.g. in English, "No, BOBBY came to lunch yesterday" would be an appropriate answer to "Did George come to lunch yesterday?", but "No, Bobby came to DINNER yesterday" would be an appropriate answer to "Did Bobby come to dinner yesterday?".

My current area of focus is on studying the acoustic dimensions of tonal contrasts marking word meanings in a variety of languages, e.g. Bole (Nigeria), Cantonese (China), Hmong (Laos, China) and the role of tone and intonation in recovering syntactic structure from an utterance as it is being spoken.

Experience working with ISSR: so far I've found it very, very helpful for navigating putting together a grant!


Recent publications: 

  1. Kristine M. Yu. The experimental state of mind in elicitation: illustrations from tonal fieldwork. (To appear, Language Documentation & Conservation) [manuscript supplementary materials]
  2. Kristine M. Yu and Hiu Wai Lam. The role of creaky voice in Cantonese tone perception.1 (2014, JASA 136(3), pp. 1320-1333) [webpdfsupplementary materials]
  3. Kie Zuraw, Kristine M. Yu, and Robyn Orfitelli. The word-level prosody of Samoan.2 (2014, Phonology 31.02, pp. 271-327) [webpdf]
Keywords: Amino acid sequence, Chemokine receptors, Protein databases, Molecular sequence data Phonology, Linguistics, Somoan


Kevin Young

My research focuses on issues germane to international political economy, in particular the politics of financial regulation, international negotiation theory, transnational policy networks, and the role of private business in shaping global governance. I am particularly interested in analyzing the ways in which regulatory policy is affected by interest groups.
PhD, London School of Economics; MRes, London School of Economics; MA Carleton University; BA, Trent University.
Courses Taught: 


Undergraduate Courses: International Political Economy (Polsci 359) Corporate Lobbying in the Global Economy (Polsci 397CL) Graduate Courses: International Political Economy of Money and Finance (Polsci 797MF) Political Economy (Polsci 791PE) Money and Power (Polsci 792MP)

Recent Publications: 

“Losing Abroad but Winning at Home: European Financial Industry Groups in Global Financial Governance Since the Crisis”

“Leveraged Interests: Financial Industry Power and the
Role of Private Sector Coalitions”

Keywords: Banking, Basel Committee, European Union, Financial governance, Interest groups, Lobbying, Coalitions, Business conflict, Financial regulation, Derivatives, Interest groups

Karen Mason

Karen Mason, Grants, Personnel and Budget Manager at ISSR, has been working in the field of research support her entire UMass career.  Initially hired as support staff and moving into grant administration at the Social and Demographic Research Institute (SADRI), housed within the Department of Sociology, in 2012 she worked with then Acting Director of SADRI Jennifer Lundquist to establish the Institute for Social Science Research, designed to support the interests of social science researchers on campus more broadly.  Among the services Karen provides are support for proposal preparation and grant management, personnel supervision, and fiscal administration of ISSR activities.  She also works closely with the ISSR Scholars Program, aimed at providing social science faculty with support to develop successful grant proposals.

Jeungok Choi

BIO: Jeungok Choi, RN, PhD, MPH is an Associate Professor at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, School of Nursing (SON). She has a Master of Public Health (MPH) from Tufts University with concentrations in Biostatistics and Epidemiology and a PhD in Nursing Boston College.  She also had a postdoctoral research fellow training in Nursing and Biomedical Informatics at Columbia University School of Nursing sponsored by Reducing Health Disparities through Informatics Research Training Program (NINR T32NR07969).
Through her entire research career, she has been seeking for ways to improve healthcare communication for those with low literacy skills. Her approach is that appropriate pictographs (simple line drawings showing explicit healthcare actions to be taken) in addition to simplified text can improve learner’s cognitive learning process and enhance his/her engagement in deeper understanding. Her research has especially focused on web-based, pictograph-enhanced healthcare instructions for low-literate older adults with hip replacement surgery. She has completed several pilot studies about healthcare instructions for immigrant women (funded by Susan G. Komen for the Cure) and older adults with hip replacement surgery (funded by Healey Endowment Grant University of Massachusetts). She is currently conducting two projects: development of  web-based, pictograph-enhanced discharge instructions for low literate older adults (funded by American Nurses Foundation Association of Rehabilitation Nurses); and  examination of  the effect of  these Web-based instructions on comprehension and recall, adherence to discharge instructions, and health outcomes (complications, admission to ER, readmission to hospital) using an experimental posttest repeated-measures design (funded  by Sigma Theta Tau International, Inc.). Her publications have foci related to pictographs, web-based education, staffing model, and healthcare terminology.


At the University of Massachusetts, she has been involved in developing and teaching core DNP courses: Informatics for Nursing Practice, Intermediate Biostatistics, and Research Methodology in Nursing. She has advised many DNP students in their capstone projects. She is an academically and clinically trained statistical consultant through mentored consultation training and teaching experience. She was a recipient of 2011 College Outstanding Teacher by the School of Nursing University of Massachusetts.

Recent Publications: “Development and pilot test of pictograph-enhanced breast healthcare instructions for community-residing immigrant women”

“Mobile outreach strategies for screening hepatitis and HIV in high risk populations”

Keywords: Breast healthcare instructions, Immigrant women, Low literacy, Pictographs, Visual aids, Mobile health units (MA), Health screening methods, Hep. C risk factors, HIV infection risk factors, Special populations (MA)

Jennifer Lundquist

I am a sociologist and demographer. I examine how racial, ethnic and gender
inequalities are perpetuated and sometimes undone in various institutional settings, such
as the workplace, the dating/marriage market and in families. I am drawn to research
conundrums. My major areas of scholarship include analyzing online dating behavior to
better understand how interracial interaction contributes to continued racial
hierarchies; taking advantage of unique social continuities in the U.S. military that
provide insight into what drives racial disparities in health, family formation behaviors
and other outcomes in larger society; tracing the development and impact on the American
welfare system of the U.S. prison and military system “submerged states”; and better
understanding how institutions and their policies impact the changing American life
course in the post-industrial economy. By exploring alternative institutional contexts, I
cast a number of important social problems in a new light. 

Recent Publications: 

“Reinstitutionalizing Families: Life Course Policy
and Marriage in the Military”

“Do Black-White Racial Disparities in Breastfeeding
Persist in the Military Community?”

Keywords: Family, Life course, Society, Military studies, Economy and organizations, Maternal and child health, Military studies, Race and ethnicity

Jacklyn Stein

Jackie Stein is a Ph.D. student in the Sociology Department at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She received her B.A. in Biology from Williams college and an M.P.H. from the University of California Berkeley. Her primary research interest is in American public opinion about economic inequality, which is the focus of her dissertation project. Her previous research investigates inequality manifested through the schedules and work hours of American health care workers, as part of a larger project led by professors Naomi Gerstel and Dan Clawson. She is also a research assistant at the UMass Donahue Institute, where she is part of a team evaluating a Massachusetts initiative to increase community college student success in STEM fields. 

Jackie has been a consultant with ISSR since its inauguration in 2012 and specializes in qualitative coding with the NVivo software. 

Henry Renski

Henry Renski joined the faculty of Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning in the fall of 2007. He teaches courses in quantitative methods, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and spatial analysis, and state and local economic development policy.
Dr. Renski’s research focuses on understanding the technological and social forces driving regional economic competitiveness and transformation, and building upon this knowledge to improve the effectiveness of economic development policy. His current work examines regional influences on entrepreneurship; changing patterns of commerical development in the internet age; industrial cluster analysis and cluster-based development strategies; and the application of spatial-analytical techniques to local economic policy decision-making.  His work has been published in a variety of planning, economic development and regional science journals including the Journal of the American Planning Association, the Journal of Planning Research and Education, Regional Studies, the Journal of Regional Science, Papers in Regional Science, and Economic Development Quarterly.
In addition to his teaching and research, Dr. Renski serves as the Director for the UMASS Center for Economic Development - a  campus-based institute which provides technical assistance and conducts applied research on behalf of states, communities, regional planning and development agencies, and other public/non-profit entities interested in promoting economic development. He is the Graduate Program Director of the PhD in Regional Planning, and the resident methodologist for the UMASS Institute for Social Science Research.
Prior to joining LARP, Dr. Renski worked as a Special Assistant to the Governor of the State of Maine as both the Deputy Program Manager of Maine’s WIRED (Workforce Innovations in Economic Development) initiative and as a Research Economist with the Maine State Planning Office.

Recent Publications:

“The influence of industry mix on regional new firm entry”

“External economies of localization, urbanization and
 industrial diversity and new firm survival”

Keywords: Entrepreneurial, Small business operations, Science and technology, Urban studies and planning, Externalities in economics, Entrepreneurship, Urbanization, Cities & towns, Diseconomies of scale

Fidan Ana Kurtulus

Fidan Ana Kurtulus' research explores a number of topics in labor economics, including the organization of workers within firms, participatory workplace practices and employee ownership, the causes and consequences of workplace diversity, and the long-term effects of affirmative action legislation on the U.S. employment landscape since the Civil Rights Movement.

Recent Publications: “Affirmative Action and the Occupational Advancement of
Minorities and Women During 1973-2003”

“What Types of Diversity Benefit Workers? Empirical Evidence
on the Effects of Co-worker Dissimilarity on the Performance
of Employees”

Keywords: Gender disparities, Unemployment rates, Labor mobility, Industrial relations, Diversity in the workplace, Job performance, Labor productivity, Demographic characteristics

Eric Griffith

Eric Griffith is a PhD student in the Anthropology Department at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He received his B.A. in Cultural Anthropology from Boston University and a M.A. in Neuropsychology from Boston University. At UMass, Eric is working on his dissertation project about cross cultural variations in Alzheimer's disease under the direction of Dr. Lynnette Sievert. His primary research interests include aging, neurodegenerative disease, biocultural research, and mental illness.

As a consultant for ISSR for two years Eric specializes in qualitative research methods and NVivo software training.


Enobong Branch

Enobong Hannah (Anna) Branch is an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology. Her research focus lies primarily in the study of Blacks contemporarily and historically. Dr. Branch is interested in the heterogeneity ofthe black experience created by the intersection of gender, nationality, citizenship and economic class. Her book Opportunity Denied: Limiting Black Women to Devalued Work provides an overview of the historical evolution of Black women's work and the social-economic structures that have located them in particular and devalued places in the U.S. labor market. Her interest in computer science/information technology arose due to the similarities with Black women's historical exclusion from desirable jobs. A set of racist and deeply sexist assumptions existed as to why they were not competent to enter fields and their marginalization prevented them from challenging the stereotypes. Her current research investigates the ways in which race and gender influence the entry and persistence of women and minorities in information technology.

Areas of interest:

Race, racism, and inequality, intersectional theory (race, gender, and class), work and occupations, historical demography, and evaluation and applied research

Recent Publications: "Opportunity Denied: Limiting Black Women to Devalued Work"
"Regional Convergence in Low-Wage Work and Earnings"
Keywords:  African American women, Employment History, Sex discrimination against women, Discrimination in employment, Low-wage Earnings, Occupations, Black women, Economic restructuring, Region South

Emily West

Supported by the ISSR Scholars Program, Emily West submitted an NSF proposal to the Political Science division entitled "The Impact of Health Care Consumerism and the Consumer Frame on Health Care Policy Attitudes," in collaboration with co-PIs Dr. Tatishe Nteta (Political
Science) and Dr. Michael Begay (Public Health). Her paper "Consumer Subjectivity and US Health Care Reform” was published in 2014 in the journal Health Communication, and she will be testing hypotheses about the impact of consumer framing on health policy opinion in this fall's Cooperative Congressional Election Study.
EXPERIENCE IN ISSR SCHOLARS PROGRAM: I'm very appreciative of the guidance and feedback I received as part of the ISSR Scholars Program.  
Our co-facilitators were generous with their time and provided both honest and constructive guidance. The guests from around campus made us aware of the broader resources available for funded research. And finally, my fellow scholars' work was very inspirational and motivating.  

Recent publications: 

“Reality Nations: An International Comparison of the Historical Reality Genre”

“The Racialization of US Health Care Reform: The Case of Gold-Plated Cadillac Health Plans”

Keywords: Mass communication, Sociology of Culture, Critical and Cultural studies, Gender, Race, Sexuality, Ethnicity in communication



Elisabeth Hamin

Dr. Hamin is the department head for Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning.  She teaches and researches in land use planning, with a particular focus on planning for climate change adaptation.  Through studios and projects, she works with regional planning agencies and communities on master plans, special projects, and climate change planning.  She served as program director for the PhD in Regional Planning for over ten years.    Please see her cv link below for a listing of her books, articles, presentations, and other publications.


Prior to coming UMass, Dr. Hamin taught at Iowa State University from 1995 to 2001.  During her doctorate, she worked in land use and energy consulting, and before her doctorate, she worked in real estate consulting and development, providing financial and marketing analysis to major real estate developers across the United States.

Dr. Hamin's core research falls into two areas. The first is research on local governments and land use planning for climate change. The second is growth management policy and regionalism, at the state, regional and local level.

Recent Publications: "Urban Form and Climate Change: Balancing Adaptation and Mitigation in the U.S. and Australia"      

"Ad hoc Rural Regionalism"

Keywords: Climate change, Mitigation, Adaptation, Urban planning, Land use, Rural studies, Regionalism, Newregional geography, Community planning, Regional planning, Land use

Donald Tomaskovic-Devey

Don Tomaskovic-Devey is interested in the processes that generate workplace inequality. He has projects on the impact of financialization upon US income distribution, workplace desegregation and equal opportunity, network models of labor market structure, and relational inequality as a theoretical and empirical project. His long-term agenda is to work with others to move the social science of inequality to a more fully relational and organizational stance. He is advancing this agenda through studies of jobs and workplaces, as well as social relationships between jobs within workplaces and the social relationships that link organizations to each other.-------Organizations and Inequality, Economic Sociology, Sex, Race and Class Processes, Methodology
Don Tomaskovic-Devey is interested in the processes that generate workplace inequality. He has projects on the impact of financialization upon US income distribution, workplace desegregation and equal opportunity, network models of labor market structure, and relational inequality as a theoretical and empirical project. His long-term agenda is to work with others to move the social science of inequality to a more fully relational and organizational stance. He is advancing this agenda through studies of jobs and workplaces, as well as social relationships between jobs within workplaces and the social relationships that link organizations to each other.
Current Grants
Don Tomaskovic-Devey (PI) and Lee Badgett and Fidan Kurtulis (Co-PIs). Building an Interdisciplinary Equal Employment Opportunity Research Network and Data Capacity, September 2013 - September 2016. National Science Foundation.


Don Tomaskovic-Devey (PI) and Ken-Hou Lin (Co-PI). Does Financialization Contribute to Growing Income Inequality? April 2013 - May 2016. Institute for New Economic Thinking.

Keywords: Financialization, Financial, services, Main street, Income distributions, Systemic risk, Labor markets, Networks, Wages, Behavior, Collusion

Recent Awards:

Anneliese Maier Research Award, Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, January 2014-Decemeber 2018.

2014 Best Paper Award, Inequality, Poverty and Mobility Section of the American Sociological Association.

Finanalist 2014 Rosabeth Moss Kanter Award for Excellence in Work-Family Research.

Annual University Lecture, Faculty of History and Sociology, Bielefeld University, Germany, June 2014

Visiting Scientist,Science Po, Paris, January 2014

Cole Lecturer in Contemporary Issues, University of Massachusetts, 2013

Recent Publications:

Kevin Stainback and Donald Tomaskovic-Devey. 2012. Documenting Desegregation: Racial and Gender Segregation in Private Sector Employment since the Civil Rights Act. NY: Russell Sage Foundation.

Donald Tomaskovic-Devey, Martin Hällsten, and Dustin Avent-Holt. Forthcoming. “Where do Immigrants Fare Worse? Modeling Workplace Wage Gap Variation with Longitudinal Employer-Employee Data.” American Journal of Sociology.

Donald Tomaskovic-Devey. 2014. “The Relational Generation of Workplace Inequalities.” Social Currents. 1:51-73.

Dustin Avent-Holt and Donald Tomaskovic-Devey. 2014. “A Relational Theory of Earnings Inequality.” American Behavioral Scientist. 58:379-399.

Donald Tomaskovic-Devey and Ken-Hou Lin. 2013. “Financialization: Causes, Inequality Consequences, and Policy Implications.” North Carolina Banking Institute. 18:167-194.

Ken-Hou Lin and Donald Tomaskovic-Devey. 2013. “Financialization and US Income Inequality, 1970-2008.” American Journal of Sociology. 118: 1284-1329.

Donald Tomaskovic-Devey. 2013. “What Might a Labor Market Look Like?” Research in the Sociology of Work. 24:45-80.

Ayse Yetis-Bayraktar, Michelle Budig, and Donald Tomaskovic-Devey. 2013. “From the Shop Floor to the Kitchen Floor: Maternal Occupational Complexity and Children’s Reading and Math Skills.” Work and Occupations. 40:37-64.

Dustin Avent-Holt and Donald Tomaskovic-Devey, 2012. “Relational Inequality: Gender Earnings Inequality in US and Japanese Manufacturing Plants in the Early 1980s.” Social Forces. 91: 157-180.

Fidan Kurtulus and Donald Tomaskovic-Devey, 2012. “Do Female Top Managers Help Women to Advance? A Panel Study Using EEO-1 Records” Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. 639: 173:197.

Patricia Y. Warren, Eric A. Stewart, Donald Tomaskovic-Devey and Mar Gertz. 2012. “White's Residential Preferences : Reassessing the Relevance of Criminal and Economic Stereotypes.” Race and Justice. 2:231-249.

Daniel Cannity

Daniel Cannity is a PhD Student in the Department of Sociology at the University Massachusetts Amherst. He received his B.A. in Sociology from American International College. His research interests include computational social science, data mining, and quantitative research methods. Substantively, he has done work on video games, digital literacy, and digital culture. 

Dan works for ISSR as IT Support & Design, maintaining the ISSR Lab computers, distributing software, and assisting with the ISSR website.

He has experience with R, JMP Pro, Qualtrics, and STATA software programs

Dania Francis

Francis studies the fields of labor economics and public economics with particular attention to racial and ethnic inequalities. Dania Francis broadly studies the fields of labor economics and public economics with particular attention to racial and ethnic inequalities.  She completed her PhD in May 2013 at Duke University.  Her dissertation research centered on the economics of education, focusing on the causes and consequences of the racial and socioeconomic academic achievement gap.  In Spring 2014, Dania Francis will be teaching “Foundations of Black Education in the U.S.”

Recent Publications: 

"Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice?
Teacher Perceptions of Black Girls in the Classroom."

"Reparations for African-Americans as a
Transfer Problem: A Cautionary Tale”

Keywords: Education, Racial disparities, Student behavior, Teacher perceptions, African Americans, Economic conditions, Income gap, International trade, Incentives in industry,

Bruce Desmarais

Bruce received his PhD in political science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2010. In Fall 2010, he joined the Department of Political Science at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He is one of the core faculty members of the Computational Social Science Institute, a collaborative organization of scholars spanning the social, mathematical and computational sciences focusing on problems in social science research that are fruitfully approached using computationally intensive research methods, Data Science and Big Data.

Bruce's primary areas of research include social network analysis applied to politics, political methodology and political institutions. In his work, Bruce focuses on rigorously and precisely identifying the complex ways in which political actors and institutions exhibit interdependence, and developing research methods capable of illuminating these dependencies. His work includes applications of network analysis to international conflict and cooperation among states, legislative collaboration in the US Congress, campaign finance networks, digital communication networks in local government and the interconnectedness of scientific research and US regulatory policymaking. Bruce's current research agenda is generously supported by three grants from the US National Science Foundation.

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.

Bernhard Leidner

Dr. Bernhard Leidner received his Ph.D. from the New School for Social Research in New York City in 2010. He joined UMass Amherst in the summer 2011. His research focuses on processes of social identification and intergroup relations, primarily in the context of large social categories such as nations and ethnic groups. Specifically, his research is at the cross-road of the social psychological areas of norms and morality (e.g., moral disengagement in response to ingroup wrongdoings), intergroup threat (e.g., threat-induced shifting of moral principles such as fairness or loyalty), and social justice (e.g., reparations after ingroup wrongdoings; conflict resolution). Some of the topics Dr. Leidner investigated/s include: reactions to ingroup-committed torture; American justice appraisals after atrocities committed in Iraq and Afghanistan; reconciliation strategies in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He is currently interested in the search and need for meaning as motives for human 'warlikeness' and peacefulness.

Recent Publications:

“Bringing science to bear – on peace, not war:
Elaborating on psychology’s potential to promote peace”

"Affective dimensions of intergroup humiliation."

Keywords: Intergroup conflict, Intergroup violence, Intergroup peace, Intergroup processes, Aggression, Domestic violence, Social Research

Amanda Walker Johnson

I am a cultural anthropologist interested in the intersection of critical race theory, anthropology of science, and critical educational theory, and I am committed to conducting research and pedagogy as work for social justice. My research examines the ways in which systems of standardized testing and the production of "scientific" knowledge about race, segregation, failure, and risk, particularly as products of standardized testing, impact education in the US, particularly for African Americans and Latino/as. Additionally, I teach courses related to education and race; critical race theory and political economy of race in the US; feminist theories of race, body, and nation; and cultural and identity politics in the African Diaspora.

Recent Publications: "Objectifying measures: the dominance of high-stakes testing and the politics of schooling"          

Keywords: Educational tests, Educational measurements, Examinations, Validity