University of Massachusetts Amherst

College of Social and Behavioral Sciences

SBS logo

Make a Gift

Minutman statue by the Old Chapel

facebook icon Twitter icon


SBS Newsletter – Summer 2013

In this issue

Julie CaswellResource Economist is Pioneer in Economics of Food Safety
Professor Julie Caswell (resource economics) has taken over the presidency of the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association (AAEA). Among her first undertakings, as part of AAEA’s participation in activities to encourage funding of research in agricultural, resources and food areas, she visited Capitol Hill on August 1 to give a lunch seminar on the House side as part of a series by the National Coalition for Food and Agricultural Research and a briefing on the Senate side. Read more...

Kevin KnoblochDepartment of Energy Taps Environmentalist Kevin Knobloch '78 as Chief of Staff
Kevin Knobloch '78 (journalism),  president of the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), has been named chief of staff to Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Ernest Moniz, a respected physicist and leader on energy technology and policy, starting on June 24. Dr. Kathleen Rest, UCS’s executive director, will oversee the organization as it searches for a new president. Read more...

Students excavating bones in the forensic anthropology labAnthro Field Class Teaches Students to Excavate and Analyze Bones
It’s another rainy day in a series of rainy days, yet the students are used to the mud and focused on the bones that lie before them. These are not real bones but tools to help them learn about excavation and laboratory analysis of skeletal remains at the Taphonomy Research Laboratory. And mud or no mud, they are deep into it. Read more...

Greg AlexanderScholarships Make Attending UMass a Reality
After Greg Alexander ’14 (anthropology/Native American studies), winner of this year’s Dean’s Merit Award, graduated from high school, he attended the University of Lowell briefly, until he discovered that the costs were beyond his ability to pay. “That’s why I enlisted in the Air Force Reserves, planning to return to school after my stint using G.I. Bill benefits,” he recalls. Read more...

And other topics of interest...

Heather Liljengren '04 collecting seedsAlum Native Seed Collector Helps Dune Restoration and More
NPR's "All Things Considered" ran a story that featured Heather Liljengren '04 (environmental design). A field taxonomist with the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, she collects seeds for a native plants seed bank. Liljengren was on a routine mission at Far Rockaway, Queens, just before Hurricane Sandy, collecting seeds from grasses that help stabilize the dunes, which were totally washed away. Now, those seeds will likely be a part in restoring the damaged beaches.

Charli CarpenterMajority of Americans Oppose Killer Robots
Results of a new survey by Professor Charli Carpenter (political science) show that a majority of Americans across the political spectrum oppose the outsourcing of lethal military and defense targeting decisions to machines. The opposition to autonomous weaponry is bipartisan, with the strongest opposition on the far left and far right, and among active and former members of the military. Read more...

Thomas HerndonStudent’s Critique of Austerity Policies Creates Firestorm
When Thomas Herndon (economics), a third-year graduate student, began a class assignment last fall, he had no inkling that he would end up in the middle of a furious debate over international economic policies. But the results of Herndon’s work have sparked an academic and political firestorm over one of the most famous economic papers in decades, and over whether austerity or stimulus is the best route to long-term prosperity. Read article in the Boston Globe.

Robert RyanASLA Names Ryan to Council of Fellows
The American Society of Landscape Architects has announced that it will elevate Professor Robert Ryan to the ASLA Council of Fellows this fall. Fellowship is among the highest honors the ASLA bestows and recognizes an individual's contributions to the profession and society based on their works, leadership and management, knowledge, and service. Read more...

Sara PlourdeSara Plourde '12 Makes Pitch for Canada
Former Minutewoman softball pitcher Sara Plourde '12 (sociology) is playing for Team Canada. Plourde qualified for Canadian citizenship and the squad because her mother was born in New Brunswick. Plourde went 109-35, threw 14 no-hitters and recorded 1,662 strikeouts during her four years at UMass. She ranks 8th on the NCAA career strikeout list. Read the story in the Vancouver Sun.

Alumni News
Eliza Shirazi '13 (communication/public health), proprietor of the fitness organization Kick It With Eliza, is featured in a video as part of Australis Barramundi's "Be Better" campaign. Much of the footage was filmed on campus.

Danielle Hughes '91 (political science), owner of Divine Capital in New York, appeared on CNBC's Kudlow Report recently, to discuss the the stock market and the Fed's "taper strategy."

Kristen Kuliga '91 (economics), founder and CEO of K Sports and Entertainment, is chair of the steering committee for Protect Our Breasts, operated by a group of UMass students. Their mission is to help prevent cancer by educating men and women about products made with toxins and promoting safer alternatives. Read more about it in the latest UMass Magazine.

Speaking of UMass Magazine, in a photo spread about the current $300 million capital campaign, Trustee Victor Woolridge '80 (legal studies), Ben Happ '98 (psychology) and wife Amy '98 (communication disorders), Peg DiGiammarino '75 (communication) and husband Peter '75 (BDIC), Peter Bloom '78 (political science) and wife Denise '79 (accounting), David Weisblat '75 (political science), and Prof. Emeritus Lew Mainser (political science) are pictured at the April 27 kickoff gala.

SBS alumni are inventive! Samantha Sherwin '03 (communication), who was downsized from her job as account manager at an ad agency, started United Scents, a perfume company that produces fragrances redolent of the United States. Currently there are 7 "states" under production, with plans to do all 50. Atty. Steven Grant '98 (journalism), through a side business called Plenty of Twenties, hides a $20 bill in the Boston area at least once a day and sends its location or clues to thousands of followers in email blasts, on Twitter, etc. What started as a lark has grown into a profit-making venture, with businesses and charities sponsoring twenties in return for publicity. Stuart Tobin '81 (economics) and his friend Jim Shapiro '83 started Thunderbolt Global Logistics in Balitimore in 2008 and now have 13 employees. They help navigate the intricacies on international freight, customs and homeland security issues. Read more about all of these alumni in UMass Magazine.

Marianna Silva-Buck '12 (communication) has published The Adventures of Zandor, a children's book about a dog who gains super powers to help him overcome the scary things in life. It is available as a hardcover book and in e-book format. Read more on her blog.

Testifying at Whitey Bulger’s racketeering trial in Boston, forensic expert Ann Marie Mires PhD '98 (anthropology) said she oversaw the recovery of skeletal remains from two Dorchester sites in 2000, while working for the state medical examiner’s office. Read more...

Pulitzer Prize winner Kevin Cullen '81 (journalism), columnist at the Boston Globe, has been writing lots about the James "Whitey" Bulger trial and doesn't mince words. Click here to read Cullen's columns. Earlier this year he and colleague Sheila Murphy published a book, Whitey Bulger: America's Most Wanted Gangster and the Manhunt That Brought Him to Justice, detailing his rise to power in Boston’s underworld and his capture in 2011 in Santa Monica, CA, after 16 years on the run as one of the FBI’s most wanted fugitives.

Rachel Levine '13 (communication/theater) has landed her first job as junior communication specialist at the Food and Drug Administration. She develops content and graphics for the FDA's Medical Countermeasures initiative website, assists in posting content and graphics for offices within FDA's Office of the Chief Scientist, and assists with events, among other responsibilities.

Kailey Anarino '13 (communication) is an executive assistant at Pierce-Coté Advertising and Regan Communications, where she was an intern last January.

An article by freelance reporter Tracy Lee '08 (journalism/communication) appeared in the Diplomatic Courier in June. It focuses on the deteriorating situation in Syria and how that country is facing a growing humanitarian disaster. Before becoming a freelancer Lee was a UN correspondent for China’s global news agency Xinhua. She covered events ranging from Palestine’s UN Membership bid to the Arab Spring, as well as reporting daily on the UN Security Council, General Assembly and peacekeeping operations. She has written in-depth humanitarian stories on children caught in the crossfire during the Libyan civil war, and on the aftermath of the 2010 Haitian earthquake.

Please send us your news! Also, view upcoming alumni events, sponsored by the Alumni Association, on their Events Listing. And check out MaroonCentral, the Alumni Association's online community. This is a FREE social networking service that encourages communication and professional networking among alumni and students through class notes, profiles, a searchable directory, and more.

Faculty and Department News
Congratulations to Prof. Flavia Montenegro-Menezes (landscape architecture and regional planning) and Prof. Jean Forward (anthropology) who have received grants from the President’s Creative Economy Initiatives Fund. Montenegro-Menezes received $27,000 for “Participatory Asset Mapping: Sustainable Planning and Development in Holyoke,” which will develop a tested and transferable approach to integrating locally unique cultural assets into urban and regional planning. Beyond the immediate benefits to Holyoke, the broader goal is to demonstrate how cultural asset mapping can enhance the planning process while better integrating community strengths and concerns. Forward was awarded $24,000 to work with Native American tribal communities in the state to establish a Massachusetts Native American Trail. The project will allow Native American communities to present their history, heritage and contemporary culture largely in their own words. Read more...

Twenty-five Iraqi students attended the Iraqi Young Leaders Program, a six-week leadership-training program held on campus and run by the the Civic Initiative [directed by Mike Hannahan (political science)] and the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. Among their many activities, they held a fundraiser at The Pub in town for the Amherst Senior Center. Read more... And here's another article that discusses other activities.

Prof. Eric Johnson (anthropology) gave a talk in July at the Tyringham (MA) Union Church on the life of early settlers in the Berkshires dating back at least 4,000 years.

The Center for Public Policy and Administration and the National Center for Digital Government were among the sponsors of the Hack for Western Mass., a June weekend of civic-minded computer whizzes collaborating to devise creative solutions to local challenges. Projects created by teams at the “hackathon” ranged from a new, searchable interface for unlocking prison phone data from the Federal Communications Commission, to a seed swap database to share information about locally available seeds. Two of the event’s organizers were honored at the White House in July as “Champions of Change,” a weekly award series that recognizes citizens across the country working for positive change in their communities.

After 30 years on the faculty, Professor Nancy Folbre PhD '79 (economics) has retired. After receiving her doctorate, she taught at Bowdoin College and the New School for Social Research before joining the department as associate professor in 1984. Folbre describes her research interests as the “interface between feminist theory and political economy, with a particular interest in caring labor and other forms of non-market work.” She is a weekly contributor to the New York Times Economix blog and is the author of over a dozen books including Greed, Lust and Gender: A History of Economic Ideas (2009), Saving State U: Why We Must Fix Public Higher Education (2009), and Valuing Children: Rethinking the Economics of the Family (2008). Several years ago, we posted an article, "A Week in the Life of a Genius," in this publication.

Elizabeth Chilton (anthropology), associate dean for research, traveled to Rabat, Morocco, in July as the only US rep among the dozen invited presenters at an expert meeting on “Intangible Cultural Heritage and Economy." Read more...

Associate Professor Charles Schweik (environmental conservation and public policy) and his former student Lucia Miller MPPA ’12 have received an honorable mention in an international case study competition focusing on collaborative public management. Read more...

SBS in the News
Time, 8/12/13. Jennifer Lundquist (sociology), who studies race and gender, is quoted in the article, "Having It All Without Having Children." While you need a subscription to read the full Time article, we did find a reprint on the website Fem 2.0.

The Real News Network, 8/6/13. Léonce Ndikumana (economics) discusses the growing economic influence of China in Africa. He says China is expanding its investments in African countries, but often doesn’t hire local labor to work in their mining and business enterprises.

New York Times [Room for Debate blog], 8/6/13. Nancy Folbre (economics) is one of five commentators weighing in on the issue of swipe fees for debit and credit card purchases. New York Times [Economix blog], 8/5/13. Folbre says that free trade agreements may ultimately be good for the U.S. economy, but they also contribute to lost jobs. Free trade also is increasing the distance between the winners and losers in the global economy. New York Times [Economix blog], 7/29/13. Folbre says the time spent preparing food at home has dropped dramatically in recent decades, thanks to the availability of prepared food and modern appliances. She also points out that cooking for families creates economic benefits. New York Times [Economix blog], 7/22/13. Noting that McDonald's has sold about 300 billion burgers, Folbre says the company has been extremely profitable and successful as an American-based business. However, she points out that the company is also a strong example of corporate policies that make paying low wages one of the keys to its success. New York Times [Economix blog], 6/24/13. Folbre, writing about why many people will find they don’t have the money they need to retire, advocates for a new pension plan that is available to everyone, is portable from job to job and provides contributors with a monthly check throughout retirement. MSN Money, 6/18/13. An article about American women becoming less likely to enter into marriage or other commitment as they become more self-reliant cites a blog by Folbre on the subject. New York Times [Economix blog], 6/17/13. Folbre discusses the declining demand for husbands., 8/5/13. A columnist writing about co-payments in many health care plans being too high and unfair to many Americans, especially those on the lowest rung of the income ladder, cites a recent study conducted by Gerald Friedman (economics) that indicates adopting a single payer health care system would result in reduced administrative and clerical costs in health care. Such a system would also allow costs for care to be more tightly [Calif.], 7/31/13. Friedman's study for the Physicians for a National Health Program concludes that upgrading Medicare and expanding it to cover all Americans would create $1 trillion in efficiency savings in its first year of operation, enough to pay for comprehensive health benefits for all U.S. residents and lower costs to most people and businesses.

Daily Hampshire Gazette [subscription required], 8/5/13. Karen List (journalism) writes about grants given out by the Emily List Fund for Performing Arts Therapy, established as a living tribute to her daughter Emily who died in 2011.

Springfield Republican, 8/4/13. Eve Weinbaum, director of the Labor Relations and Research Center, says Walmart stores promise to bring both affordable merchandise and jobs to areas, but the jobs are mostly low-wage and don’t help improve the economy of a region., 8/3/13. David Mednicoff (public policy), director of Middle Eastern studies, is quoted in an article about how the government of Qatar is finding that using its vast wealth to support political factions in other countries doesn’t always work out as planned. Christian Science Monitor,, Alaska Dispatch, 7/28/13. Mednicoff comments in a story about how the government of Qatar is finding that using its vast wealth to support political factions in other countries doesn’t always work out as planned. He also notes that a recent change in the leadership of Qatar may allow the government to make significant policy changes at a time when control of the whole region is changing. The Qataris have supported revolutions in Libya, Egypt and Syria, but haven’t always backed the winning factions. Huffington Post, 7/2/13. Mednicoff writes a column about the lessons coming from the unsettled political situation in Egypt.

Bloomberg Businessweek, 8/2/13. At a time when workers in fast-food restaurants are staging short-term walkouts in major cities as part of an effort to boost their pay, Jeannette Wicks-Lim (Political Economy Research Institute) is among the economists who support a plan to increase the minimum wage to $10.50. In These Times, 7/10/13. Wicks-Lim says while women are making progress in achieving some equality with men in terms of earnings, a fundamental uneven division of domestic work in families still exists between men and women.

Times Higher Education [UK], 8/1/13. An article, "Mothers’ work-life balance in the academy," discusses Mothers in Academia, a book co-edited by Prof. Mari Castañeda (communication), and how it came to be. Included in the article is commentary by Brenda Bushouse (political science and public policy), whose testimonial is one of 19 in the book.

India Currents, 8/1/13. In an article about the large numbers of Indian Americans who choose to work for themselves, C.N. Le (sociology) comments about his research involving career choices among the 2nd and 3rd generations. China Daily, 6/29/13. Le says interracial couples, especially when the woman is Asian, still face barriers and complications based on long-standing stereotypes and assumptions., 7/29/13. A story on why fast food workers in 7 cities are walking off the job and protesting for higher wages notes that the Political Economy Research Institute has published an open letter signed by more than 100 economists supporting a $10.50 minimum wage--which would add about 5 cents to the cost of a Big Mac.

Southern California Public Radio, 7/29/13. M.V. Lee Badgett (economics), director of the Center for Public Policy and Administration, talks about the current boycott of Stoli, in response to Russia's new law that tourists or foreigners could be arrested for being perceived as gay or "pro-gay." Philadelphia Inquirer, 7/15/13. Badgett agrees with backers of same-sex marriage in Pennsylvania: legalizing gay unions would have a significant economic impact through taxes, fees and wedding-related spending., 7/1/13;, 6/28/13;, Southern California Public Radio, 6/27/13; The Real News Network, 6/27/13; Bloomberg TV, Politico, 6/26/13; Caribbean Business News, Montreal Gazette [all from AP national writer David Crary], 6/26/13. Badgett comments in a series of news stories on the economic implications of the U.S. Supreme Court decisions to strike down the federal Defense of Marriage Act and to clear the way for the resumption of same-sex marriage in California., 6/20/13. A recent study co-authored by Badgett and PhD student Alyssa Schneebaum MA  '11 (economics), finds that lesbian, gay and bisexual Americans are more likely to be poor than heterosexual people, counteracting the myth of gay affluence.

Springfield Republican, 7/29/13. Robert Pollin (economics), co-director of the Political Economy Research Institute, says federal budget cuts created by sequestration have fallen hardest on lower-income people and programs that serve them. He says the cuts have come in programs such as Head Start, Meals on Wheels, preschool education and housing subsidies for the poor. The Real News Network, 7/21/13. Pollin discusses why the idea that immigrants are responsible for high unemployment doesn’t stand up to careful analysis. The Real News Network, 6/19/13. Pollin says if President Obama were serious about regulation and closing the income gap, he would have reappointed serious regulator Gary Gensler, chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

International Business Times, 7/28/13. Jonathan Rosa (anthropology) is part of a panel discussion about the propriety of white comedian Tim Allen's argument that using the “N-word” in comedy will help remove some of the power and hatefulness of the word. Video of the discussion is included.

Bloomberg, 7/28/13. An editorial on the development of robots as weapons notes the recent study by Charli Carpenter (political science) which found few people supported the idea of autonomous killer robots. Chronicle of Higher Education, 7/1/13. Carpenter discusses why nongovernmental organizations, governmental agencies and those who work in human rights causes often have to choose which issues they will emphasize to international audiences and the media., 7/25/13. Dean Robert S. Feldman says political figures like Anthony Weiner lie in part because they have been successful with lying in the past and don’t really think about the consequences. The Oprah Magazine, July 2013. In a story about why people lie, Feldman, says most people tell social lies that usually are designed to spare someone else’s feelings. By age 3, he says, most people learn that they can avoid trouble and get along with others by telling small lies.

The Real News Network, 7/23/13. James K. Boyce (economics) discusses why the gross domestic product, the most widely cited economic indicator, isn’t necessarily a good measure of the health of the U.S. economy.

NPR, et al, 7/15-7/16/2013. Arindrajit Dube (economics), a “prominent supporter of raising the minimum wage,” was quoted in a widely published Associated Press story about efforts by Washington, D.C., officials to impose a higher minimum wage on big-box retailers, a move strongly opposed by Wal-Mart. He says, "A large retailer can more easily absorb a pay hike than a corner store. [Large stores] are less likely to shut down or cut back on employment” in response to an increase in the minimum wage. Washington Post, 6/22/13. An article about whether or not it would make sense to double the national minimum wage to $15 per hour includes comments from Dube. His research finds that raising the minimum wage doesn’t cause job losses or significant price increases, but doubling the minimum wage, he says, might not accomplish what proponents want. He notes there are better ways to help low-wage workers.

Time, 7/11/13. Brad Tuttle (journalism) writes about why customer loyalty programs are losing their attraction. Time, 6/28/13. Tuttle writes about celebrity chef Paula Deen losing corporate sponsorships and support due to revelations about her racial attitudes, while at the same time sales of her newest book are increasing.

WWLP-TV 22, 7/10/13. Heidi Garrett-Peltier (Political Economy Research Institute) testified during a state legislative hearing on the Budget for All proposal that is under review by state lawmakers.

Al Jazeera English TV, 7/2/13 [sorry, the link is no longer available]. Moments before Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi addressed the nation to reiterate his intention to remain in power, Amel Ahmed (political science) appeared live via Skype from her native Cairo in an interview segment to discuss the protests and political tumult there.

Pioneer, 7/1/13. Elizabeth Chilton (anthropology), associate dean for research, comments on the assertions of an Ashfield resident who claims to have found evidence in New England of ancient stone structures aligned to the solstices as well as skeletal evidence of a lost race of prehistoric giants with double rows of teeth.

WFCR, 6/26/13. Brian Schaffner (political science), director of the UMass Poll, is interviewed about what conclusions can be drawn from Democrat Edward Markey’s victory in the June special election to the U.S. Senate., 6/23/13; Harvard Business Review, 6/19/13. A study co-authored by Donald Tomaskovic-Devey (sociology) finds that gender and racial segregation is increasing in the American workplace and that few firms actually monitor equal employment opportunity progress., 6/17/13. Jane Fountain (political science and public policy) discusses efforts to implement cross-agency collaboration for federal managers.

Springfield Republican, 6/17/13. As the June 25 special election approached, Ray La Raja (political science) noted that a win for Republican U.S. Senate candidate Gabriel Gomez was unlikely.

Science Daily, WSHM-TV 3, 6/14/13. A UMass Poll released June 14 shows that only one in eight Massachusetts residents are very concerned about a terrorist attack where they live. The poll also indicated distinct party-line divisions regarding which government officials and agencies were to blame for failing to prevent the attack.

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, including story ideas, to Sabine Cray, director of communications and marketing. 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.

Back to Top

Draper Hall • University of Massachusetts Amherst • 40 Campus Center Way • Amherst, MA 01003-9244 • Tel: 413.545.4173 • Fax: 413.577.0905
College of Social and Behavioral Sciences Draper Hall University of Massachusetts 40 Campus Center Way Amherst, MA 01003-9244 (413) 545-4173 FAX: (413) 577-0905