Seven Selected as Public Engagement Faculty Fellows

Erin Baker
Erin Baker
Deepankar Basu
Deepankar Basu
Julie Brigham-Grette
Julie Brigham-Grette
Scott Garman
Scott Garman
Bjorn H. Nordtveit
Bjorn H. Nordtveit
Erica Scharrer
Erica Scharrer
Jonathan Wynn
Jonathan Wynn

Seven faculty members from across four colleges and schools have been named Public Engagement Faculty Fellows by the Public Engagement Project (PEP).  They will draw on their substantial research record to impact policy, the work of practitioners and public debates. The fellows, who will receive a stipend and technical training in communicating with non-academic audiences, will also travel to Beacon Hill to share their research with lawmakers.

“We are excited about continuing to build an interdisciplinary cadre of publicly engaged faculty at UMass. More than ever, we need university-based scholars to share their research outside the academy so that journalists, policymakers, practitioners and others can use it,”said Amy Schalet, director of the Public Engagement Project.

The 2017 Public Engagement Faculty Fellows are:

Erin Baker, professor in the department of mechanical and industrial engineering and director of the Wind Energy Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT). Baker’s research aims to inform policymakers how to make decisions on energy technology in face of climate change. As a PEP Fellow, she will work to reach policy makers and analysts and improve their understanding of how to identify common ground on energy policy and avoid bad outcomes.

Deepankar Basu, associate professor of economics. Basu’s research focuses on the dynamics of capitalist economies and economic development in India. As a fellow he will use his research to contribute to policy and public conversations on nutrition, poverty, health and employment in India. 

Julie Brigham-Grette,professor in of geosciences. Brigham-Grette is an expert in the evolution of the climate and sea level in the Arctic region from the Mid-Pliocene (3 million years ago) through the present. As the storyteller of her observations as a scientist, Brigham-Grette makes climate change real for non-scientists. During her fellowship, Brigham-Grette will help educate the public and policy makers on how to best manage investments in coastline development given the certainty of rising sea levels.

Scott Garman, associate professor in the department of biochemistry and molecular biology. Garman is an expert in the biochemical processes that lead to inherited metabolic diseases, including Fabry and Pompe diseases. During his fellowship, Garman will develop tools for communicating scientific discoveries to the communities affected by these diseases, including physicians, counselors, and patients, so that they will be better able to make decisions about early intervention and treatment.

Bjorn H. Nordtveit, associate professor in the department of educational policy, research and administration. An expert in international literacy and child protection, Nordtveit has worked for over 10 years with UNESCO and the World Bank in education, mostly in Southeast Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. As a fellow, he will produce a guide for education policy makers and practitioners, particularly those affiliated with the World Bank, on how to develop literacy programs.

Erica Scharrer, professor of communication. Scharrer’s research expertise concerns the role of the media in the lives of children, adolescents, and adults. As a fellow, she will work on a book and short articles for the general public, which relay the pertinent findings from research on media and kids, and recommend strategies for parenting in an age when young people spend increasing amounts of time and attention consuming the media.

Jonathan Wynn, associate professor of sociology. Wynn’s research expertise concerns the impact of music festivals and other temporary cultural events on city revitalization. As a fellow, he will write policy briefs and articles for local communities on how to use music, food, and arts events for economic and social gain.

The Public Engagement Project is a faculty-driven initiative building on a collaboration of the Center for Research on Families, School of Public Policy, and Institute for Social Science Research. The Public Engagement Faculty Fellowship has been made possible by generous funding from the College of Education, College of Natural Sciences, College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Provost’s Office and University Relations, as well as collaborating centers and institutes.

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