Eight Named Public Engagement Faculty Fellows

Elizabeth Evans
Elizabeth Evans

Eight faculty members from across seven departments and six colleges have been named Public Engagement Faculty Fellows by the Public Engagement Project (PEP). They will draw on their substantial research record to impact policy, the work of practitioners and public debates. The fellows, who will receive a stipend and technical training in communicating with non-academic audiences, will also travel to Beacon Hill to share their research with lawmakers.

This is the fourth cohort of Public Engagement Faculty Fellows. “We are excited about continuing to build an interdisciplinary network of publicly engaged faculty at UMass. More than ever, we need university-based scholars to share their research outside the academy so that journalists, policymakers, practitioners and others can use it,” said Amy Schalet, director of the Public Engagement Project.

The 2018 Public Engagement Faculty Fellows are:

Elizabeth Evans, assistant professor, health promotion and policy. Evans studies how the opioid epidemic and other types of substance abuse affect men and women differently. As a PEP fellow, she will write policy briefs, develop an online presence, and engage criminal justice leaders, focusing on prevention and intervention strategies that address the different needs of women and men.

Ezekiel Kimball, assistant professor, educational policy, research and administration. Kimball is an expert on the post-secondary student success trajectories of students with disabilities. During his fellowship, he will engage community groups and nonprofits, write pieces for non-academic audiences, and develop a program to provide advice about college-going to students with disabilities.

Karen Kurczynski, assistant professor, history of art and architecture. Kurczynski studies the history of avant-garde art and its relevance to politically engaged art today. As a PEP fellow, she will write articles for the general public about how art can open minds and suggest solutions to major social problems—from the immigration and refugee crisis to the representation of marginalized communities.

Matthew Lackner, associate professor, mechanical and industrial engineering. Lackner's research focus on offshore wind energy systems. As a PEP fellow, he will use his research to contribute to the policy and public conversations on offshore wind development in Massachusetts and the U.S.

Jenna Marquard, associate professor, mechanical and industrial engineering. Marquard researches how to improve the design of health information technologies that physicians and nurses use to make decisions.  During her fellowship, she will develop best practice guidelines on how such technologies can best transmit complex health-related information to doctors and nurses. These guidelines can aid health information technology vendors who design user interfaces, and federal policymakers who regulate the implementation of these technologies.

Timothy Randhir, professor, environmental conservation. Randhir is an expert in watershed science and policy. His research focuses on how land use and climate change affect water resources. During his PEP Fellowship, Randhir will engage municipal officials, policymakers, and the general public on how to prepare for climate change through better land and water management.

Donald Tomaskovic-Devey, professor, sociology. An expert in workplace diversity and inequality, Tomaskovic-Devey recently co-founded the campus’s Center for Employment Equity.  As a PEP fellow, he will be sharing the center’s high-quality social science evidence on workplace diversity and discrimination with journalists, activists and firms.

Elsbeth Walker, professor, biology. Walker is an expert in the processes that plants use to acquire iron from the environment. During her fellowship, Walker will engage the general public and policymakers to show how her basic research discoveries provide new knowledge necessary to engineer crop plants that combat iron deficiency, the “hidden hunger” that afflicts close to 2 billion people around the world.  

The Public Engagement Project is a faculty-driven initiative building on a collaboration of the Institute for Social Science Research and the Center for Research on Families. The Public Engagement Faculty Fellowship has been made possible with funding from the College of Education, College of Engineering, College of Humanities and Fine Arts, College of Natural Sciences, College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Provost’s Office and University Relations, as well as the collaborating centers.