Amy Schalet, PEP Director
Associate Professor, Department of Sociology

Amy T. Schalet, Ph.D. is Associate Professor of Sociology at Umass Amherst and a specialist on adolescent sexuality, culture, family and health. She has worked closely with physician organizations, collaborated on clinical and educational materials, spoken with journalists, appeared on radio and television, and advised community, advocacy groups and policy makers.  The recipient of two dissemination grants from the Ford foundation, Dr. Schalet has presented research to multiple non-academic groups, including at the Massachusetts Department of Health, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  She received the 2012 Cassell Award for Excellence in Sexuality Education from the Healthy Teen Network for her book Not Under My Roof: Parents, Teens, and the Culture of Sex.  Dr. Schalet has also written opinion pieces for the New York Times, Washington Post, and the Huffington Post. She has been interviewed on CNN, and her research has been featured in, among others, the Financial Times, the Wall Street Journal, Time's Healthland and Salon


M.V. Lee Badgett
Director, Center for Public Policy and Administration and Professor of Economics

M. V. Lee Badgett, Ph.D. is a professor of economics and the director of the Center for Public Policy and Administration at the UMass Amherst. She studies family policy issues and labor market discrimination based on sexual orientation, race, and gender, as well as the connections between LGBT rights and economic development.  Prof. Badgett’s public engagement work includes co-authoring policy reports, testifying as an expert witness in Congress and in litigation, 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.  She is finishing a book for NYU Press on how to use research to change the world. 

Susan Newton
Associate Director, Center for Public Policy and Administration

Susan Newton, Ph.D. is 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.

Maureen Perry-Jenkins
Professor, Psychology
Director, Center for Research on Families

Maureen Perry-Jenkins, Ph.D. is a Professor of Psychology and Director of the Center for Research on Families at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.  Her research focuses on the ways in which socio-cultural factors such as race, gender, and social class, shape the mental health and family relationships of employed parents and their children. Her current research involves a ten-year, longitudinal study funded by the National Institute of Mental Health  that examines the transition to parenthood and transition back to paid employment for working-class, low wage couples and for African-American, Latino and European-American single mothers.  The project examines how risk and resilience factors across these multiple life transitions affect new parents’ well-being, relationship quality and the socio-emotional well-being of their children.  Her engagement efforts focus on work and family issues and she served on the national panel for workplace flexibility policies.  She was a recipient of the University of Massachusetts Distinguished Outreach Research Award for her efforts to apply her research to policy as well as the Outstanding Teacher Award on the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences.

Laurel Smith-Doerr
Professor, Department of Sociology
Director, Institute for Social Science Research

Laurel Smith-Doerr, a professor of sociology and the director of the Institute for Social Science Research at UMass Amherst. She studies the organization of science and technology, such as how collaboration can be more effective, include broader participation by women and underrepresented minorities, and have innovative outcomes including economic growth. A current project with colleagues examines the impact of women’s leadership in federal science agencies (Women in Science Policy—WiSP). Prof. Smith-Doerr has worked with natural scientists and engineers, with science policymakers, and spoken with journalists. For example, she worked with policymakers, attorneys, and other scientists at the National Science Foundation on implementing the ethics education, data management, and postdoc mentoring requirements in the Congressional 2007 America COMPETES Act. She won the NSF Director’s Award for Collaborative Integration in 2009 for this work.

Linda R. Tropp
Professor, Psychology
Director, Psychology of Peace and Violence Program

Linda R. Tropp, Ph.D. is Professor of Psychology and Director of the Psychology of Peace and Violence Program at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.  She received the 2012 Distinguished Academic Outreach Award from the University of Massachusetts Amherst for excellence in the application of scientific knowledge to advance the public good.  Her research concerns how members of different groups approach and experience contact with each other, and how group differences in status affect cross-group relations.  She has worked with national organizations to present social science evidence in U.S. Supreme Court cases on racial integration, on state and national initiatives to improve interracial relations in schools, and with non-governmental and international organizations to evaluate applied programs designed to reduce racial and ethnic conflict.  She has introduced intergroup research into broader public debates through citations in newspaper and magazine articles (New York Times, Boston Globe, O Magazine, Associated Press, ABC News, BBC News, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Tampa Bay Times, among others) and being interviewed on radio and television (Talk of the Nation, WAMC Northeast Public Radio; TVO Toronto).

Lisa Troy
Assistant Professor of Nutrition
Commonwealth Honors College Professor of Nutrition

Lisa M. Troy, Ph.D. is Assistant Professor of Nutrition and Commonwealth Honors College Professor of Nutrition at UMass Amherst and uses novel pattern analysis approaches to examine the role of diet and exercise on chronic disease prevention. She also studies how government programs and policies impact diet quality and public health outcomes. She has extensive experience in public policy engagement including as a study director for the National Academies of Sciences, Institute of Medicine and has given invited lectures at professional conferences on “Tips for talking to policy-makers,” and “Using Qualitative Data to Inform Social Policy.” In 2010-12, Dr. Troy worked in the U.S. Senate (Robert P. Casey, PA) and U.S. House of Representatives (James P. McGovern, MA) through Columbia University’s Health and Aging Policy Fellowship and American Political Science Association programs. She was a founding member of the Massachusetts Food Policy Alliance, which played an instrumental role in advocating for legislative commitment to create a Food Policy Council for the state of Massachusetts.

Wendy Varner
Associate Director, Center for Research on Families

Wendy Varner, M.Ed. is the Associate Director of the Center for Research on Families at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She holds a Masters in Education from Harvard University with a focus on Administration, Planning and Social Policy. 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.