M.V. Lee Badgett
Director, Center for Public Policy and Administration and Professor of Economics
M. V. Lee Badgett is a professor of economics and the director of the Center for Public Policy and Administration at the UMass Amherst. She is also the research director of the Williams Institute for Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy at UCLA. She studies family policy issues and labor market discrimination based on sexual orientation, race, and gender.
Prof. Badgett’s public engagement work includes co-authoring policy reports, testifying as an expert witness in Congress and state legislatures, testifying in litigation, analyzing public policies, consulting with regulatory bodies, briefing policymakers, writing op-ed pieces, appearing on television and radio shows, speaking with journalists, and advising businesses. In 2010, she was an expert witness in the Perry v. Schwarzenegger trial on the constitutionality of Proposition 8. Based on these experiences, Badgett is writing a new book on how to use research to change the world.
Badgett received a Ph.D. in economics from the University of California Berkeley in 1990, and has a BA in economics from the University of Chicago (1982). She has also taught at Yale University and the University of Maryland.
Center for Research on Families
Naomi Gerstel's research focuses on work and families, with particular attention to gender gaps in paid and unpaid caregiving. She explores the effects of employment on the care adult daughters' and sons' give to their parents, the effects of marriage on women's and men's ties to their parents, siblings, and the broader community, the ways race, gender and class jointly shape work and family ties, how social class shapes fathering as well as the enforcement and utilization of the Family and Medical Leave Act. As a Family Research Scholar, Dr. Gerstel and Dr. Dan Clawson (FRS 03-04 and Professor of Sociology) developed proposals to study the ways work hours are shaped by organizations, occupations, unions and families. The National Science Foundation funded two of their proposals, NAEMT funded a third, and the Sloan Foundation funded a fourth. Dr. Gerstel has also been a visiting scholar at the Russell Sage Foundation and her research has been supported by the National Institutes of Health, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the National Academy of Science.
Associate Director, Center for Public Policy and Administration
Susan Newton received her doctorate from Purdue University, where she was trained as an urban and community sociologist. Faculty appointments took her to Ohio and Louisiana before she moved into more administrative roles—first as a program manager and project evaluator for National Science Foundation-funded projects, and later as a grants specialist.
Her earliest ventures in community engagement began in graduate school, when she participated in the development of a local women’s center and conducted research on the effects of a regional plant shutdown and evaluated a job search training program designed to assist displaced workers. Subsequent engagement revolved around participation in the Louisiana Women’s Studies Consortium, a group that linked feminist academics around the state and had numerous connections to women’s rights groups; involvement in the resistance movement against the war in Iraq; and assistance in the passage of a community wetlands bylaw.
Her current work at the Center for Public Policy and Administration has enabled her to think in new ways about the necessity and potential of linking public affairs with rigorous scholarship.
Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology
Amy Schalet is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology who straddles the worlds of academia, public health and policy debates about adolescent sexual health. She received her Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of California Berkeley, a Bachelor's degree in Social Studies from Harvard University, and completed a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of California San Francisco’s School of Medicine.
Her research focuses on adolescent sexuality and culture in comparative perspective. Her articles have appeared in a wide range of scholarly and popular publications. Her book Not Under My Roof: Parents, Teens, and Sex in Holland and America, forthcoming with the University of Chicago Press in Fall 2011, is aimed at both academic and non-academic audiences.
She has been a featured speaker at national and state conferences and seminars on sexual and reproductive health, including, at the CDC Conference on STD-Prevention, the California Adolescent Health Conference, and the American Academy for Pediatrics. She has served as a board member at Advocates for Youth, and advisory council member for the Adolescent Health Working Group.
Her research on adolescent sexuality has been cited in, among others, articles and websites of the New York Times, Salon, Slate, the Washington Post, Feministing, and the Journal of the American Medical Association.
(Click here for an extended biography.)
Linda R. Tropp
Associate Professor, Psychology
Director, Psychology of Peace and Violence Program
Linda R. Tropp is Associate Professor of Psychology and Director of the Psychology of Peace and Violence Program at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Her research concerns how members of different groups approach and experience contact with each other, and how group differences in power or status affect views of and expectations for cross-group relations.
Dr. Tropp participates in a range of activities to translate research into applied settings and improve interracial relations among youth. She regularly partners with community- and school-based organizations to evaluate applied programs that seek to reduce racial and ethnic conflict. For two years, she worked as a member of the Safe Schools Initiative sponsored by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office, to promote civil rights and minimize harassment, bullying, and hate crimes in Massachusetts schools. Collaborating with school administrators, educators, and representatives from a range of governmental and non- governmental agencies, she developed survey instruments to assess school climate and evaluate state-sponsored programs among students and school staff across the Commonwealth. She has also worked with national organizations to present social science evidence in Supreme Court cases concerning school-based racial integration programs (Meredith v. Jefferson County Board of Education and Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District, 2006), and her work has been cited in other briefs submitted to the Supreme Court for cases involving affirmative action (e.g,. Grutter v. Bollinger et al., 2003; Gratz/Hamacher v. Bollinger et al., 2003) and gay rights (e.g., Boy Scouts of America v. Dale, 2000; Lawrence and Garner v. State of Texas, 2003).
Assistant Professor of Nutrition
Commonwealth Honors College Professor of Nutrition
Lisa M. Troy is an assistant professor in the Department of Nutrition and the Commonwealth Honors College Professor in Nutrition. Her research interests include the effect of overall diet quality and components of a healthful diet on under-nutrition, obesity, metabolic syndrome and risk factors for diabetes and heart disease.
She is also interested in how government programs and policies affect food security, diet quality and public health outcomes. Toward accomplishing these goals, Dr. Troy and her colleagues at Tufts University developed an index to measure adherence to the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. This index has been used in epidemiologic studies to examine how a diet consistent with federal guidelines relates to bone mineral density and the prevention of chronic diseases of aging including hip fracture, insulin resistance, and the metabolic syndrome. The index is being updated for the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Her current research focuses on how diet and exercise improve sleep duration and quality.
Associate Director, Center for Research on Families
Wendy Varner is the Associate Director of the Center for Research on Families at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She first joined the university in 2000 to become the Grants and Research Manager for the Center for Public Policy and Administration.
She had worked the previous fifteen years in community based anti-poverty agencies including the Community Action Corporation of Franklin County as Director of Development and Planning, the Community Adolescent Resource and Education Center, a school for teenagers and their children in Holyoke, as Executive Director, and at Cambridge Community Services as Director of Youth Programs.
She holds a Masters in Education from Harvard University with a focus on Administration, Planning and Social Policy.
"My hope is that my experience in both non-profit and academic institutions will be helpful to the Public Engagement Project's goals," Varner says.