2021-22 Samuel F. Conti Faculty Fellowship Awards Announced
The Office of Research and Engagement has announced the 2021-22 Samuel F. Conti Faculty Fellowship Awardees. The Conti Fellowship acknowledges the high quality and importance of a faculty member’s accomplishments in research and creative activity at UMass Amherst and their potential for continuing excellence, particularly with respect to the project that they propose to undertake during the fellowship. Since 1981, 146 Fellowships have been awarded, and the list of fellowsis a “who’s who in research excellence.”
The selection of the Conti Fellows is based on campus nominations, endorsed by the department and dean, and on external letters of support. These nominations are reviewed by a faculty committee of previous Conti Fellows who provide a recommendation for the selections. Conti Fellows receive release time from other duties for one year, in order to concentrate on the research project they have proposed, as well as a cash stipend.
The 2021-22 Conti Fellows are:
Nilanjana Buju Dasgupta, Psychological and brain sciences
Nilanjana Dasgupta is a social psychologist whose research focuses on unconscious or implicit bias with emphasis on testing how to change implicit bias. More specifically, evidence-based scientifically tested solutions to overcome biases in ways that allow underrepresented students thrive in academic and career trajectories in science, technology, and engineering. This Conti Fellowship will enable Dasgupta to write a research-informed book explaining why progress toward institutional diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) has been limited, despite a cottage industry of trainings, by synthesizing and translating research from psychology, sociology, organizational behavior and management science for a broad audience. She will identify key factors that magnify inequities in institutional access and advancement and offer research-driven solutions that rest less on changing individual hearts and minds, and more on leveraging the power of situations to move toward more equitable and inclusive institutions. Her pathbreaking research was highly praised in her references, “Quite frankly, she is a trailblazing scientist who is conducting impeccable research that aims to reduce gender and other forms of social inequity in academia and the workplace.”
Janice Irvine, Sociology
Janice Irvine is a leading scholar of culture and politics, the history of ideas and the production of social knowledge, especially knowledge about sexuality and science. References commended her research, stating she “is truly one of the most eminent and deeply respected scholars of gender, sexuality, ethnography and social science knowledge production in the world today.” This Conti Fellowship will allow Irvine to complete ethnographic site visits and videotaping of walking tours to be incorporated into a multi-media digital book on how decades of mid-20th century ethnographic studies of “deviant” communities offered a challenge to decades of scientific racism. Titled, “Marginal People in Deviant Places. Ethnography, Difference, and the Challenge to Scientific Racism,” the digital book will allow readers to actually visit the places where this important research took place, to take video walking tours, and to listen to original interviews with scholars and activists talking about the importance of these sites.
Jane Kent, Kinesiology
Jane Kent’s research is in the area of human skeletal muscle function, bioenergetics and fatigue. In particular, her work examines the mechanisms of fatigue, and how these vary depending upon age, gender, chronic health status and habitual physical activity level. A related interest is an examination of the influence that fatigue has on functional capacity. This Conti Fellowship will allow Kent to amplify the contributions of her work toward understanding the causes and consequences of age-related changes in human skeletal muscle function. She will focus on three goals related to 1) Muscle fatigue and mobility in aging; 2) Linking muscle energetics, whole-body metabolism and fatigability; and 3) Predicting mobility impairment in aging. References expressed that, “She is an outstanding researcher who has had an amazing career in obtaining externally funded grants, in being highly productive, and contributing to the science in her field. She is viewed among her peers as one of the leading scientists in the area of age-and disease-related changes in human neuromuscular function.”