May 2015 Newsletter

In this Issue

John Hird Appointed Dean of College of Social and Behavioral Sciences

John A. Hird has been appointed Dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, effective April 1. He has been interim dean since April 2014.

Julie Caswell Named Spotlight Scholar

Associate Dean Julie Caswell, professor of resource economics, has been selected from an exceptional pool of faculty nominations to receive recognition as a spring 2015 UMass Amherst Spotlight Scholar. She is being awarded for her research, scholarship, and public service contributions to the field of economics of food safety and nutrition.

Scholarship Sends Student to Czech Republic

Devan Carr ’16 (political science/public health/history) spent her fall semester exploring all the Czech Republic has to offer; an opportunity otherwise inconceivable had she not been granted the Ansin Study Abroad Fellowship.

Ebru Kardan Joins SBS as Director of External Affairs & Communication

Join us in welcoming Ebru Kardan, our new Director of External Affairs and Communication!

Other Topics of Interest

Feel Good Friday: Women & Whiskey

Heather Greene

© Matt Wells Photography

Described as New York City’s first female whiskey sommelier, Heather Greene is the well-known author of Whiskey Distilled, A Populist Guide to the Water of Life. She was the Director of Whiskey Education at The Flatiron Room in Manhattan for two years and still teaches there on occasion. She travels the world consulting with whiskey fans and touring for her music—she’s also an accomplished musician.

Social Science Matters: Robert Ryan

Robert Ryan is the Graduate Program Director in the Department of Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning. His research focuses on sustainability and the positive benefits of urban green spaces and infrastructures.

Rosa Awarded Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship

Jonathan Rosa, Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology, has been awarded the Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship. He will be in residence at Northwestern University’s Latina/o Studies Program for the 2015-2016 academic year.

Mednicoff Speaks at Doha Youth Forum in Qatar

Qatari Forum with David Mednicoff

Assistant Professor David Mednicoff (public policy) spoke in Qatar at the Doha Youth Forum on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice. This event is hosted by the Qatar Foundation, and precedes and ties into the UN Congress on Crime Prevention.

Peterson Named Secretary of Faculty Senate

Professor of Political Science MJ Peterson has been named Secretary of the Faculty Senate. Peterson is the third female in the history of the senate to be elected Secretary.

Alumni News | Department and Faculty News
SBS in the News | A Word from SBS

Alumni News

Kevin Moforte ’14 (CPPA), founder of the Amherst-based social startup Upward Ventures, is featured in the Hampshire Gazette. He specializes in soap-making, and hopes to bring his skills to the women of the impoverished Las Malvinas neighborhood of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, so they can start their own businesses.

Melissa James ’10 (journalism) hosts the first ever Black Tech Boston Meetup.

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Department and Faculty News

Institute for Social Science Research (ISSR) Director and Professor of Sociology Laurel Smith-Doerr represented the American Sociological Association in presenting her NSF-funded research to lawmakers on Capitol Hill at an exhibition titled, “Investments in STEM Research and Funding: Fueling American Innovation.” Smith-Doerr was invited to present findings from The Social Organization of Collaboration in the Chemical Sciences, a collaborative NSF award with Jennifer Croissant at the University of Arizona.

A piece was published that covers research on faculty work life balance by sociology professors Joya Misra and Jennifer Lundquist. The reporter is covering a co-presentation that they gave at the CUNY on Tuesday for the National Center for the Study of Collective Bargaining in Higher Education.

Vamsi Vakulabharanam (economics) addressed the annual conference of the Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET) in Paris on April 9, 2015 in the opening session on "Economic Growth and Inequality Across Time and Space." Sharing the podium were inequality scholar Branko Milanovic, former lead economist at the World Bank, and panel chair Anatole Kaletsky, a member of the governing council of the Royal Economic Society.

Visiting Professor and Armenian Ambassador Armen Baibourtian (political science) led 27 students on a tour of the United Nations Headquarters in New York City March 29-30.

Brenda Bushouse (political science/public policy) gave a lecture at the Universite Catholique de Louvain in Belgium, highlighting the Five College Public Policy Initiative’s Curriculum Bridging Project.

Elizabeth Sharrow (political science/history) has been awarded a 2015-2016 research fellowship from the New England Regional Fellowship Consortium, a part of the Massachusetts Historical Society. The fellowship will enable research on her forthcoming book on Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972.

Student work from LARP Lecturer Jane Thurber's Spring 2015 studio, "Reinvisioning Pynchon Plaza," was included in Springfield 2017, a presentation put
together by the city to identify frameworks for future development.

Lauren McCarthy (political science) returned from Moscow mid-April where she was an honorary guest at the International Academic Conference on Economic and Social Development.

Raz Sibii (journalism) interviewed Dr. Chenjerai Kumanyika at Amherst Media on the topic of code-switching and diversity in public media voice. Listen here.

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SBS in the News

[Some websites may require individual user registration]

Financial Times, 4/29/15. Scott Blinder (political science) says a proposed poll of Hungarian citizens on whether immigrants endanger their livelihoods and spread terrorism is not objective. Viktor Orban, Hungary’s prime minister has promoted the poll. “All these questions tend to push a negative view of migration. They are extremely unbalanced,” Blinder says.

Greenfield Recorder, 4/27/15. A feature story about the River’s Song Celebration set for May 16 in downtown Turners Falls and the accompanying art exhibit at the Great Hall of the Great Falls Discovery Center notes that Annaliese Bischoff (landscape architecture and regional planning) and the Fine Arts Center Asian Arts and Culture program have been collaborating with the organizers., 4/27/15. San Francisco Chronicle, 4/25/15. Paul Collins (legal studies) comments on the Supreme Court hearing on same-sex marriage. Collins says the justices could choose to focus on the question of whether a state that bans same-sex marriage can refuse to recognize marriages performed elsewhere while “punting” the broader marriage issue.

Huffington Post, 4/24/15. A blog post by Aline Gubrium (public health) and Elizabeth Krause (anthropology) opposes the proposed Senate federal budget that calls for cutting $236 billion in non-defense discretionary spending over 10 years and its potential impact on young parents. Gubrium and Krause cite the personal challenges facing young parents gathered through “Hear Our Stories,” a project that documents the individual accounts of young mothers in Massachusetts.

Business & Employment News, 4/24/15. Gerald Friedman (economics) says a frequently used measure of unemployment, the U-3, is probably better suited for economies of the past and has proven to be an inadequate measure for today’s workforce.

MarketPlace [NPR], 4/24/15. Slate, 4/22/15. Forbes, 4/21/15, Forbes 4/20/15; Inquisitr, 4/18/15; New Republic, 4/17/15. Research conducted by Arindrajit Dube (economics) is cited in two columns in Forbes magazine and two news stories about the impact of raising the minimum wage. The two columns are about whether the earned income tax credit serves as a form of welfare for corporations that pay their workers low wages – an argument Dube disputes. In the news stories, Dube’s research on how modest increases in the minimum wage help lower the poverty rate is referenced.

The Nation, 4/22/15. Naomi R. Gerstel (sociology) says flexibility in the workplace was once seen as a benefit for workers, but corporations and employers took control and rebranded it. She says in a recent study done with Dan Clawson (sociology) of hospital workers, unknown and “flexible” scheduling was seen as a curse word., 4/21/15. Jesse Rhodes (political science) says Hillary Clinton is trying to portray herself as a Democratic candidate with empathy and compassion, a contrast to 2008 when she ran as a tough, hawkish candidate. He says her new emphasis is likely to be popular with Democratic voters.

The Prince George Citizen [Maryland], 4/20/15. Reason, 4/4/15. Research about raising the minimum wage, done by Robert Pollin (economics) and co-director of the Political Economy Research Institute, and Jeannette Wicks-Lim is cited.

Daily Hampshire Gazette, 4/18/15. Ray La Raja (political science) comments in a story about limiting campaign donations in local elections in Northampton. He says candidates who can raise additional money for their campaigns will likely use it to boost turnout and reach more voters. He also says he doesn’t think the Northampton City Council has the authority to change state campaign laws.

The Real News Network, Forbes, Financial Times, 4/14/15. Two news stories feature the work of Robert Pollin (economics), co-director of the Political Economy Research Institute, on the impact of raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour. Pollin says companies could raise the minimum wage, and after a period of adjustment, avoid job losses and lost profits. He argues that businesses pay low wages because the taxpayers, through benefits such as food stamps, subsidize the income of workers. A second column from a Forbes contributor says Pollin’s arguments are false and calls his most recent research junk., 4/12/15. An article addresses Reinvisioning Pynchon Plaza, LARP Lecturer Jane Thurber's course, and features student work.

Gulf Times [Qatar], 4/8/15. David M. Mednicoff (public policy), director of Middle Eastern Studies, served on a panel of experts discussing cyber crime held at the Doha Youth Forum on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice in Qatar.

Washington Blade, 4/8/15. M.V. Lee Badgett (economics), director of the Center for Public Policy and Administration, says recent events such as the controversy over Indiana’s religious freedom law show that in addition to discrimination by government for LGBT people, private sector discrimination is now also coming into sharper focus. She says removing government discrimination provokes a larger debate and makes LGBT people more visible to the society in general.

Managed Health Care Executive, 4/7/15. A new study by researchers from UMass Amherst indicates that current methods used to measure hospital quality are fraught with problems that have large consequences for how hospitals are reimbursed by Medicare. In a study published in the March edition of The American Journal of Accountable Care, lead author Sylvia Brandt (resource economics) and co-authors Ning Ding and Brenton Dickinson detail how they analyzed hospitalization in Massachusetts over an eight-year period and show that the rate of repeat hospitalization was determined by what health conditions were included in the index rather than underlying quality of the hospital or provider.

Boston Herald, 4/3/15. Derrick Gordon ’15 (sociology), the junior guard on the men’s basketball team who was the first Div. 1 college player to announce he is gay, is profiled. Gordon recently announced he is transferring for his senior year.

Sports Illustrated, 4/1/15. Jean Sifrin ’16 (resource economics), junior tight end for the UMass football team, is profiled in the Sports Illustrated Monday Morning Quarterback column.

Springfield Republican, 4/1/15. New population projections for the lower Pioneer Valley for the next 20 years say that the region will gain about 32,000 new residents. The figures come from the Donahue Institute and Henry C. Renski (landscape architecture and regional planning), director of the Center for Economic Development. The same figures show slow population growth in Berkshire County and northern Franklin County.

Daily Hampshire Gazette, 3/31/15. Jean Sifrin ’16 (resource economics), Stanley Andre ’15 (resource economics) and Daniel Maynes ’15 (political science/economics) were among the players hoping to be noticed by professional scouts during pro day.

Daily Hampshire Gazette, 3/31/15. Richard “Dick” Leonard Stromgren, 82, of Amherst, emeritus professor of communication, died March 27.

Springfield Republican, 3/30/15. A graduate class in landscape architecture has won a merit award from the Boston Society of Landscape Architects for projects that reimagine the area around Union Station in downtown Springfield. The class, taught by Frank Sleegers and Michael G. DiPasquale (LARP) was one of 16 merit winners recognized by the society. Graduate students Zhuoya Deng, Ben Liu, Mohammed Abdelaal, Meilan Chen, Ericka Duym, Laura Keskula, Joe Larico, Shu Liu, Wenjie Liu, Tharyn Nein-Large, Jason Yu, Junbo Zhang and Zhangkan Zhou are members of the class.

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A Word from SBS

This e-letter has been created for alumni and friends of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences (SBS) at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. SBS includes the degree-granting departments and programs of Anthropology, Communication, Economics, Journalism, Labor Studies, Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning, Legal Studies, Political Science, Public Policy and Administration, Resource Economics, Social Thought and Political Economy (STPEC), and Sociology. Among our ranks are 38,600 alumni, 3,700 undergraduate majors, and 560 graduate students. In addition to its departments, SBS is home to numerous centers and research institutions. Through the general education courses that SBS offers, the College’s 200 faculty members teach one quarter of the nearly 20,000 undergraduates on campus in any given semester.

Gifts from alumni and friends are vital to the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences. Your investment allows us to create remarkable opportunities for today’s—and tomorrow's—students. If you are already a donor, please accept our sincere thanks. If not, please consider a gift to SBS for your department, financial aid, a purpose that speaks to your personal experiences and priorities, or an unrestricted designation. To make a gift online, click here. Or, send a check to the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Draper Hall, University of Massachusetts Amherst, 40 Campus Center Way, Amherst, MA 01003-9244. Questions? Contact James Mallet, 413.577.1700.

We welcome feedback related to this newsletter, the college in general, specific concerns, or topics of interest. Please address all correspondence to If you wish to add your name to the mailing list, or if you wish to unsubscribe, please contact us. If you have had a change of address, email or other personal information, you can update it online. The College of Social and Behavioral Sciences respects your privacy. Your contact information will not be shared with anyone unrelated to the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

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