Joya Misra appointed Director of ISSR


Joya Misra, Professor of Sociology and Public Policy, has been appointed Director of the Institute for Social Science Research (ISSR) in the UMass College of Social and Behavioral Sciences (SBS), for a three-year term effective September 1, 2019.

Misra succeeds Laurel Smith-Doerr, who has served as Director of ISSR since 2012, building it into a vibrant center for promoting excellence in social science research. Misra expressed that she was “delighted to have this opportunity, given the impact that ISSR has had on the college and university under the leadership of Laurel Smith-Doerr.”

“Joya brings a wealth of experience in creating and leading interdisciplinary research teams,” said John A. Hird, Dean of SBS. “It is with great excitement that we look forward to welcoming her as the new director of ISSR,” he added.

Misra was appointed to the position by Dean Hird, following the work of a search committee chaired by Senior Associate Dean of Research & Faculty Development, Jen Lundquist (Sociology), and committee members Krista Harper (Anthropology), Karen Mason (ISSR), Tatishe Nteta (Political Science) and Maureen Perry-Jenkins (Center for Research on Families).

Misra’s research and teaching primarily focus on social inequality, including inequalities by gender and gender identity, race, ethnicity, sexuality, nationality, citizenship, parenthood status, and educational level. She is deeply interested in analyzing how and when policies can mediate inequality, and create more equitable societies, and believes effective public engagement can influence policy decisions.

Misra is one of three scholars around the country leading a $750,000 NSF project that examines how to create greater equity in faculty workloads. She is also a co-principal investigator on the $3 million NSF ADVANCE-Institutional Transformation grant awarded to the campus in 2018, aimed at creating greater equity among faculty by gender, race, and nationality.

Misra says that she received valuable support and guidance “from the wonderful ISSR staff and faculty,” during the course of her own research projects, and views this opportunity as a way to give back. She notes, “I'd like to build on the important work ISSR has been doing, including creating additional support for a wide range of collaborations and intellectual communities, and ensuring that faculty across the university can access timely workshops on grant-seeking that draw on the expertise of former ISSR Scholars and mentors.”

Five major grants from the National Science Foundation (NSF) since 2006 have helped to support Misra’s research, which in 2009 garnered her and Michelle Budig the inaugural World Bank/Luxembourg Income Study Gender Research Award. Other accolades, including the SBS Outstanding Teaching Award (2004-05), UMass Sociology Mentoring Award (2009-2010, 2014-15), and Sociologists for Women in Society Mentoring Award (2010), make clear her dedication to teaching and mentorship. She is also Vice-President of the American Sociological Association, and a recent Samuel F. Conti Faculty Fellowship Award winner.

The social science community is welcomed to attend the "Celebration of ISSR" event on Monday, September 16th from 12 - 1:30 p.m. in the Old Chapel.  This will serve both, as a celebration of outgoing Director Smith-Doerr's tenure and many accomplishments, and as a welcome for ISSR’s new Director, Professor Joya Misra.

- By Mythreyi Krishnan, Director of Communications and External Affairs for the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences at UMass Amherst