The University of Massachusetts Amherst
University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Public Engagement Project

Louis Graham

Louis Graham UMass headshot
Assistant Professor, Health Promotion and Policy
Family Research Scholar, 2016-2017


Using community-based participatory approaches, Dr. Graham's scholarship aims to understand psychosocial determinants of mental and sexual health among ethnic minority and sexually marginalized groups – including depression, anxiety, and HIV prevention among black and Latino gay and bisexual men and transgender women. His approach to CBPR facilitates power sharing whereby community stakeholders are engaged in the entire research process from beginning to end. Also central to his research is incorporating critical race theory and queer theory as frameworks and analytic tools. Though he employ mix-methods, Graham is most interested in narrative and visual methods.

Dr. Graham values transdisciplinary collaboration and locates his work at the intersections of theory, research, policy, and practice. He is a Kaiser Permanente Burch Policy Fellow and  a co-principal investigator of a five-year, Ford Foundation funded research project, “Detroit Youth Passages,” ( which seeks to examine and positively transform structural conditions that contribute to sexual vulnerabilities. In this role, he is the director of all research, communication, and dissemination activities in partnership with the Ruth Ellis Center and African-American transgender and gay communities in Detroit.

Susan Newton

Susan Newton headshot
Associate Director for Research, School of Public Policy


Newton received her Doctorate in sociology from Purdue University and has worked previously in grants administration at Amherst College and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Amy Schalet

Amy Schalet headshot
Associate Professor, Sociology


Amy Schalet's research has focused on sexuality and culture. She has authored several publications on comparative adolescent sexuality. Her book Raging Hormones, Regulated Love, to be published by the University of Chicago Press, examines approaches to adolescent sexuality in American and Dutch middle-class families. Prior to coming to the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Dr. Schalet held a three-year postdoctoral fellowship at the School of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, where she pursued the public health and policy implications of her research on adolescent sexual health.

Dr. Schalet has given plenary addresses at several public health conferences, including the CDC Conference on STD-Prevention. She was recently awarded a grant by the Ford Foundation entitled, "Advancing Sexuality Education, Health and Policy Using a New ABCD for Adolescent Sexuality" which will expand previous work with physicians to educators, administrators, and school-based nurses.

Nilanjana Dasgupta

Buju Dasgupta headshot
Professor, Psychological and Brain Sciences
Director of Faculty Equity and Inclusion, College of Natural Sciences
Family Research Scholar, 2006-2007 & 2012-2013


Nilanjana Dasgupta's research focuses on prejudice, stereotyping, and the self-concept, with special emphasis on the ways in which societal expectations unconsciously or implicitly influence people's attitudes and behavior toward others and, in the case of disadvantaged groups, influence their self-concept and life decisions. She has examined these issues in relation to race and ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, age and nationality.

She is particularly interested in identifying how implicit bias might be reduced by changing the structure of local environments and, in contrast, how such bias might get magnified by specific negative emotions. Recently, one strand of her research has begun to identify what factors help members of disadvantaged groups become resilient to negative stereotypes and successful despite those stereotypes versus what other factors make them vulnerable to negative stereotypes.

In her second year as a Family Research Scholar, Dr. Dasgupta developed a grant proposal for the project entitled, "The impact of same-sex peers on adolescent girls' interest in science and math." This grant proposal built on her prior work where she argued that although individuals' choice to pursue one academic or professional path over another may feel like a free choice, it is often constrained by subtle cues in achievement environments that signal who naturally belong there and who do not. Dr. Dasgupta used her theoretical model, the Stereotype Inoculation Model, to test whether contact with same-sex peers in science and math classrooms function as "social vaccines" who inoculate girls' academic self-concept against stereotype threat and increase their confidence and interest in science, technology, engineering and math (or STEM). This project particularly focused on adolescent girls in middle school and tested whether attending a single-sex school versus a co-ed school had different effects on adolescent girls' interest in STEM, their identification with it, self-efficacy, performance and career aspirations. She also compared whether girls of color versus White girls responded similarly or differently to same-sex learning environments in STEM.

Elizabeth Krause

Elizabeth Krause headshot
Associate Professor, Anthropology
Family Research Scholar, 2011-12


Elizabeth Krause’s current research seeks to illuminate how families negotiate the terms of transnational capitalism and the novel models of social organization and practices that underwrite its dynamics in one region of southern Europe. Here, a demographic “crisis” of very low fertility collides with an economic “crisis” of globalization.

The “family” as a social unit has become politically charged. An industrial district in Central Italy serves as an ethnographic laboratory to explore how two populations contend with the structural inequalities, power dynamics and governing strategies of globalization. Her new project, “Tight Knit: Two Familisms in One Country,” focuses on relations between and within local Italian and transnational Chinese families in Prato, Italy, where small- to medium-sized firms predominate. Each of these populations has specific histories of flexibility and networking strategies moored in familistic regimes. The project seeks to understand how different varieties of familism persist or morph.

Current publications can be found here:

Rebecca Spencer

Rebecca Spencer headshot
Assistant Professor, Psychological and Brain Sciences
Family Research Scholar, 2010-11


Rebecca Spencer is interested in the influences of sleep on cognitive function and development. Her most recent work suggests that the benefits of sleep on learning diminish with age that is unrelated to reduced total hours of sleep, and preliminary evidence suggests a possible connection with levels of fragmentation in the REM sleep stage.

As a Family Research Scholar, Spencer worked on several grant proposals to address the question of whether this age-related decline in sleep-dependent memory consolidation also extends to non-motor cognitive tasks, including emotional memory processing. This study has several important implications in the field of family research. First, it may improve the lives of older adults by helping family caretakers understand the benefits of healthy sleeping habits. Second, it may help middle-aged adults recognize and address the risks of sleep deprivation as a result of work, family, and other life stresses. Finally, it may help young adults appreciate the importance of adequate sleep as it relates to their performance at school, driving capabilities and other everyday cognitive and motor activities.

Linda Tropp

Linda Tropp headshot
Associate Professor, Psychological and Brain Sciences
Director, Psychology of Peace and Violence Program
Family Research Scholar, 2009-10


Linda Tropp’s research concerns how members of different groups approach and experience contact with each other, and how group differences in power or status affect views of and expectations for cross-group relations. She also studies how group memberships can be important aspects of the self, and how individuals' identities as group members can influence their feelings about themselves, their groups, their social experiences, and their feelings toward members of other groups.

She received the Allport Intergroup Relations Prize from the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues for her research on intergroup contact, the Erik Erikson Early Career Award for distinguished research contributions from the International Society of Political Psychology, and the McKeachie Early Career Teaching Award from the Society for the Teaching of Psychology. Tropp is also a Fellow of the American Psychological Association, the Society of Experimental Social Psychology, and the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues. She currently serves on the editorial boards of Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin and Group Processes and Intergroup Relations. During her year as a Family Research Scholar, Dr. Tropp examined how family members and peers influence adolescents’ positive interactions with other ethnic groups. She developed a proposal for a longitudinal study of adolescents from both majority and minority ethnic backgrounds. The goal of her study was to illuminate how normative views of families and peers influence the development of positive intergroup relationships.

Lee Badgett

Lee Badgett headshot
Professor, Economics
Director, Center for Public Policy & Administration, 2013-16
Family Research Scholar, 2004-05


M. V. Lee Badgett studies family policy issues and labor market discrimination based on sexual orientation, race and gender. She is also the research director of the Williams Institute for Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy at UCLA and the director of the Center for Public Policy & Administration at UMass Amherst (2013-16).

Her latest book, When Gay People Get Married: What Happens When Societies Legalize Same-Sex Marriage (NYU Press, 2009), focuses on the U.S. and European experiences with marriage equality for gay couples. She co-edited of the recent book, Sexual Orientation Discrimination:  An International Perspective (Routledge, 2007). Her first book, Money, Myths, and Change:  The Economic Lives of Lesbians and Gay Men (University of Chicago Press, 2001), presented her groundbreaking work debunking the myth of gay affluence. She is also the author or co-author of numerous journal articles and policy reports.

Prof. Badgett’s policy-related work includes testifying as an expert witness in legislative matters and litigation, analyzing public policies, consulting with regulatory bodies, briefing policymakers, writing op-ed pieces, 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.