UMass Amherst Inaugurates Institute for Social Science Research

AMHERST, Mass. – The College of Social and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Massachusetts Amherst will mark the launch of its Institute for Social Science Research (ISSR) on Friday, Oct. 26 at 3:30 p.m. in the Massachusetts Room of the Mullins Center.

ISSR is the newest iteration of a research initiative that began in 1962 as the Population and Research Institute, a joint venture of the sociology and anthropology department and the agricultural economics department. In 1972, it was renamed the Social and Demographic Research Institute (SADRI).

Serving as a general resource and a research incubator for social scientists across campus, ISSR supports faculty-initiated interdisciplinary research, methods consulting and instruction and also offers faculty grant mentorship and support. Jennifer Lundquist, associate professor of sociology, is leading ISSR.

At the celebration Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy, Provost James Staros will offer remarks. In addition, ISSR scholars Michelle Budig of the sociology department and Robert Ryan of landscape architecture and regional planning, will present new research briefings. Budig will discuss her recent congressional testimony on the motherhood wage gap and her ongoing research on cross-national work-family policies. Ryan will speak about the Boston ULTRA ecosystem project, funded by the National Science Foundation, and his ongoing research on urban green space and human well-being.

By increasing funding activity for interdisciplinary scholarship through development of a general social science research infrastructure, ISSR will help advance UMass Amherst to the top tier of public research universities. In the process, ISSR will establish ties across social science departments and promote partnerships between natural science, humanities, and behavioral science researchers. Likewise, ISSR will enhance social science graduate and undergraduate education by providing training opportunities and experience conducting social science research in collaboration with affiliated faculty.

Plans 2012-13 include grant-writing mentoring seminars for two groups of ISSR scholars. The 12 scholars will meet regularly throughout the academic year to develop individual research grant proposals. The seminar will include 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.

A research consulting program will offer expertise in statistical modeling, quantitative and qualitative methods, data programming, and walk-in consultation for faculty and graduate students. Workshops and speaker series throughout the year will include methodology training, panels focused on research in practice, an ISSR Scholars Speaker Series and summer workshops. In addition, a Social Science Resource Mapping Project will provide a clearinghouse of information on social science resources on campus.

In the future, besides expanding all of these programs, ISSR plans to:

·      develop an Interdisciplinary Social Science Methods Certificate program

·      offer high-performance computing, expand its data repository portal

·      serve as the campus advocate for social science software licensing

·      provide yearlong undergraduate research assistantships

·      serve as a research incubator

·      invite visiting faculty with training expertise to serve as “scholars-in-residence”

·      offer mock review panels to evaluate research proposals

·      connect faculty with grants officers

For more information about the Institute for Social Science Research, visit