The University of Massachusetts Amherst


seed grant watering canThe Institute has an annual grant opportunity for faculty. To encourage multidisciplinary scholarship that will impact communities, we offer up to $12,000 for team research on diversity and equity.

The next call for proposals will be announced in Fall 2019. Proposals will be due in March 1, 2020.



Teams we’ve funded in 2019

From left: Carolina Aragon (landscape architecture), Ezra Markowitz (environmental conservation), Trisha Andrew (chemistry), and Elisabeth Hamin (landscape architecture)

This project was co-funded by the Institute of Diversity Sciences and the Social Science and Environment Network (supported by the Institute of Social Science Research and the School of Earth and Sustainability).

From left: Kevin Young (political science), Brendan O'Connor (computer science), and Seth Goldman (communication)

Our project examines the diversity of powerful organizations, including large global corporations, think tanks and a variety of international organizations. We utilize new data collection and network analysis to answer two key questions about organizational leadership. First, how diverse are these leaders in terms of gender, race, color and educational background? Second, has this diversity changed over time, and if so how?  Existing studies on diversity within large organizations are simple counting exercises, and usually just of boards and CEOs of corporations.

From Left: Katherine Dixon-Gordon (psychological & brain sciences); Karen Kalmakis (nursing); Linda Isbell, PhD (psychological & brain sciences); William Soares (emergency medicine, UMass Medical School, Baystate); Elizabeth Schoenfeld (emergency medicine, UMass Medical School, Baystate)

A substantial proportion of emergency department (ED) visits are due to substance misuse. Although providing these patients with a brief screening and treatment referral is efficacious, less than half of ED staff provide such referrals. ED patients with substance misuse constitute a population at the intersection of multiple social and economic sources of health care disparities.

From left: Jeffrey Starns (psychological & brain sciences), Andrew Cohen (psychological & brain Sciences), and Darrell Earnest (teacher education and curriculum studies)

Developing more inclusive educational practices for mathematical concepts is critical for promoting STEM diversity. Students from underrepresented groups face unique challenges in STEM  fields, and the math-heavy content of STEM classes exacerbates this problem. Students from racial/ethnic minority groups are less likely to have a strong math background, and women are more likely to have negative attitudes about their math skill level.

Teams we funded in 2018

From left: Dania Francis (economics) and Sara Whitcomb (student development)

We will explore whether teachers exhibit bias (either negative or positive) with regard to race, gender, or socioeconomic status in their perceptions of student absenteeism and tardiness (a proxy for effort). Subjective perceptions that teachers form about student behaviors ,such as effort, perseverance, participation, and disruptiveness, often inform academic placement decisions that can alter a student’s entire academic trajectory.

Standing from left: Tiffany Trzebiatowski (management), Fidan Kurtulus (economics); sitting from left: Ina Ganguli (economics), Doug Rice (political science)

Our team will study how employer discrimination and worker diversity impacts firm performance and innovation outcomes. To do this, they will collect and construct a large-scale, unique database of employment discrimination court cases and link this to firm diversity and firm performance measures. This project will be an important contribution to the body of scientific knowledge on how diversity among employees and discrimination litigation can impact firm outcomes.

From Left: Lisa Sanders (psychological and brain sciences), Meghan Armstrong-Abrami (languages, literatures, and cultures), Anne Gilman (psychological and brain sciences) and Kristine Yu (linguistics).

Understanding speech in noisy environments is both necessary for healthy functioning and a considerable challenge. Classroom noise interferes with speech comprehension and hinders learning, especially in listeners trying to access education in a non-native language. There exist large disparities in a fundamental aspect of thriving in our society: access to successful speech communication in classrooms.

From left: Jennifer M. McDermott (psychology), Shannon C. Roberts (mechanical and industrial engineering) and graduate students Adaeze Egwuatu (driver seat) and Yalda Ebadi (passenger seat).

From left: Elizabeth Bertone-Johnson (biostatistics & epidemiology), Nicole VanKim (biostatistics & epidemiology), and Lynnette Leidy Sievert (anthropology)

We aim to understand whether timing of menopause and menopause symptom experiences may vary based on sexual orientation. Few studies have examined this critical window of change among lesbian and bisexual women, despite the fact that they are more likely than heterosexual women to experience risk factors that in turn may increase their risk for younger age of menopause and experiencing more menopause symptoms (such as hot flashes and night sweats).

From left: Kristine Yu (linguistics), Meghan Armstrong-Abrami (languages, literatures, and cultures), Lisa Green (linguistics) and Brendan O’Connor (computer science)

It is well known that there are systematic differences between African American English (AAE)—a linguistic variety with set sentence structure, sound patterns, meaning, and word structure used by some, not all African Americans—and “mainstream/classroom/standard” American English. For example, speakers of AAE know that they can say she been married to mean that ‘She has been married’, but that if they put an accent on been, i.e., she BEEN married, that means that ‘She has been married for a long time and is still married’.