The University of Massachusetts Amherst
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Social Justice Related Research

Recent CRF scholars are conducting research on social justice related topics such as police discrimination, obesity in minority children, infant mortality in Black communities, barriers to social mobility, socioeconomic disparities in teen car crashes, stress experienced by immigrants, equity in water access, and stress on Latinx families related to racial discrimination.  We believe that this kind of research can provide evidence-based knowledge that will improve the health and well-being of families that are disproportionately impacted by a wide range of social injustices.

Read more about the recent CRF Scholars who are engaged in social justice related research:

Airín Martínez, Public Health, examines the effects of structural and interpersonal racism in relation to ethnic-racial socialization and biobehavioral health in Latinx parent-youth dyads. She hopes to identify protective factors that can be integrated into local interventions and provide evidence to support equitable social policies.

Mark Pachucki, Sociology, and Nicole VanKim, Biostatistics and Epidemiology, look at how exposure to the criminal justice system is associated with biological aging. They will examine the prospective association between reports of police discrimination and chronic stress at the cellular level amongst Black women. They hope to provide further evidence for the need for police reform and to inform health interventions in Black communities.

Tara Mandalaywala, Psychological and Brain Sciences, studies how children’s early-emerging beliefs about achievement might predict relative risk or resilience to economic disadvantage. She hopes this knowledge will serve to develop low-cost interventions to improve health outcomes among at-risk populations. 

Emily Kumpel, Engineering, studies water access and equity. She hopes her work will enable the design of engineered systems that control risks to health and enable provision of safe, sustainable water supplies. Her study will be carried out in Nairobi, Kenya, Mysore, India, and the Pioneer Valley in Massachusetts.

Shannon Roberts, Engineering, studies teenage driving behaviors to determine why differences exist in the number of accidents and crashes among adolescents of different socioeconomic status (SES). She hopes to mitigate the health disparity between high and low SES teenagers by reducing crash risks and fatalities.

Sarah Goff, Public Health, seeks to address issues of quality and equity in the US health care system. One of her recent studies identified factors that matter to low-income and racial/ethnic minority mothers when choosing a pediatric practice.

Kalpana Poudel-Tandukar , Nursing, studies socio-cultural factors that increase immigrant stress and developing effective community-based strategies to address these factors. She aims to develop, implement, and evaluate the efficacy of culturally competent, family-based interventions to reduce stress and depression in immigrants.

Sofiya Alhassan, Public Health, studies physical activity and policy-based interventions in preschool-age children, environmental and media influences on health behaviors in ethnic-minority populations, and after-school family-based interventions to improve physiological (obesity and diabetes risk) and psychosocial health, and academic performance of minority pre-adolescents.

Lindiwe Sibeko, Nutrition, is part of a Springfield based, community-engaged research partnership focused on tackling breastfeeding inequities through development and evaluation of interventions/programs aimed at increasing breastfeeding initiation and duration rates among African-American women. Breastfeeding has a significant protective impact on maternal and child health outcomes, including its role in infant survival and decreased risk of infant mortality.

Ezekiel Kimball, Education, studies postsecondary success trajectories of students with disabilities. Some of his recent publications address coping and resilience in students with disabilities, navigating disability in campus housing, and queer perspectives on the experiences of students with disabilities.

Nilanjana Dasguta, Social Psychology, looks at unspoken assumptions about social groups, often called implicit stereotypes or biases, and the ways in which they impact people’s evaluations of, and actions toward, others. Her goal is to inform social problems such as employment discrimination, educational disparities in science, engineering, and mathematics, and the underrepresentation of women and ethnic minorities in professional leadership roles.

Jennifer Whitehill, Public Health, was awarded a contract from the Massachusetts Cannabis Commission for $53,129 to identify Massachusetts communities that have been disproportionately impacted by cannabis prohibition.