The University of Massachusetts Amherst
University of Massachusetts Amherst

Search Google Appliance


Current and Past Family Research Scholars

Associate Professor, Civil & Environmental Engineering


Dr. Eleni Christofa’s main research areas of interest are Intelligent Transportation Systems, Traffic Operations and Control, Sustainable Infrastructure Management, Public Transportation Systems and Incident Detection and Management. Dr. Christofa is interested in developing a lab that will focus on more efficient and sustainable traffic management strategies for urban transportation networks. With the main interest being the use of signal control systems that are widely available in cities to better manage multimodal traffic in order to mitigate congestion and the related externalities, i.e., increased travel time, emissions, etc. Dr. Christofa plans on using advanced teaching techniques and incorporating new technologies in the classroom. Her goal is to educate the future generations of engineers to become independent thinkers who are able to solve real-world problems and develop innovative solutions through research.

Assistant Professor, Nutrition


Dr. Sarah Gonzalez-Nahm is a mixed methods researcher interested in maternal and child nutrition, the social determinants of health, and obesity. Dr. Gonzalez-Nahm is a systems thinker who believes complex problems, such as obesity and health inequity, require complex solutions. Her long-term research goals are to gain a deeper understanding of the factors that contribute to inequities in nutrition and obesity for families with young children; and to contribute to policy and system-level solutions that target obesity and health inequities.

Associate Professor, Graduate Program Director, Department of Food Science


Dr. Lili He’s research focuses on development and applications of the most advanced and innovative analytical techniques in solving the critical and emerging issues in food science. Surface-Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy (SERS) is a combination of Raman spectroscopy and nano-techniques. The use of metallic nanostructure enhances the Raman scattering more than a million times. We have developed various SERS based techniques for food safety and food chemistry applications.

Assistant Professor, Nursing


Dr. Favorite Iradukunda completed a BS in Nursing at the University of Rwanda College of Medicine and Health Sciences in Kigali, Rwanda. She went on to earn an MS in Nursing at the University of Cape Town, South Africa and a PhD in Nursing at UMass Amherst. Dr. Iradukunda joined the Elaine Marieb College of Nursing faculty in 2020. Her career and research interests include maternal health equity, cross-cultural intersectionality and health outcomes, lifestyle “choices”, maternal healthcare services, and access to information/resources.

Assistant Professor, Biostatistics and Epidemiology


The overarching theme of Dr. Cassandra Spracklen’s research is to discover how genetic variants influence cardiometabolic traits and the mechanisms through which they act. Genetic studies have recently identified many DNA regions that affect whether an individual has inherited a high risk for cardiometabolic traits, such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or type 2 diabetes. However, most of these findings are not yet being used to identify new drugs to treat or prevent disease because, within most of these DNA regions, the specific DNA variants and genes that influence disease risk have not yet been identified. The goal of Dr. Spracklen’s research is to combine epidemiologic, genetic, and bioinformatic methodologies to tease apart results from genome-wide association studies and identify which DNA variant(s) are ultimately responsible for a given cardiometabolic trait. I also have strong research interests in of reproductive and perinatal epidemiology, particularly regarding fertility and adverse pregnancy outcomes, as well as life course epidemiology.

Assistant Professor, Sociology


Dr. Aida Villanueva is a sociologist who studies the intersection of gender inequality, family labor, and women’s employment in Latin America and the United States. In her research, Dr. Villanueva takes a cross-national, comparative approach to explore women’s work and the reproduction of gendered disadvantage in labor markets. Her portfolio could be organized under three branches: family labor, precarious employment, and household structure. Dr. Villanueva’s current projects explore connections between daughters’ family labor and mothers’ work for pay in disadvantaged households.