Six Faculty Named Chancellor Leadership Fellows for 2019

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Six faculty have been awarded Chancellor’s Leadership Fellowships for 2019, according to John McCarthy, provost and senior vice chancellor for academic affairs and Anna Branch, associate chancellor for equity and inclusion.

Lori Goldner, professor of physics, is working with McCarthy in academic affairs. Two fellows, Melissa Wooten, associate professor of sociology and Linda Tropp, professor of social psychology, are working with associate chancellor Anna Branch in the office of equity and inclusion. Jennifer Ross, professor of physics, Angela de Oliveira, associate professor of resource economics and Karen Helfer, chair and professor of communication disorders, will work with Michelle Budig, vice provost for faculty development in the office of faculty development. 

These fellowships seek to cultivate future campus leaders by offering a half-time, one-year, temporary appointment to an administrative area on campus and by providing shadowing and mentoring from the leaders of the host units. In addition, fellows are expected to launch a significant program during the fellowship year.

“The Chancellor’s Leadership Fellowship provides an opportunity for faculty to learn about academic administration from the inside out,” McCarthy says. “It is critical to the future of this institution that talented faculty members have an opportunity to participate in high-level decision-making and contribute to development and implementation of our strategic plans.”

Branch adds, “These fellowships enable faculty to develop and demonstrate capacity for leadership in arenas that are not often a part of day to day faculty life. I am thrilled this cohort reflects and supports our commitment to supporting diversity in the campus leadership ranks.”

de Oliveira is an experimental economist whose research examines what makes decision makers different from each other and how this can be accounted for by policy. She uses controlled laboratory techniques to determine the robustness of how individual and societal differences affect behavior. Her research has been funded by the National Science Foundation and she is an “Enabling the Next Generation of Hazards and Natural Disasters” fellow. She has published in a number of journals, including the Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, the Journal of Public Economics and the Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization. Additionally, Dr. de Oliveira is a member of the advisory board for the Society for the Advancement of Behavioral Economics. Beginning in May as a Chancellor’s Leadership Fellow, de Oliveira will be working on mentoring and programming to support faculty transitions, including new faculty hires, newly promoted faculty (to associate and full ranks) and sabbatical planning.

Goldner is Director of the UMass Center for Biological Physics. She moved to UMass in 2008 after a 17-year career at the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Her background in experimental physics and measurement science is broad, with work in low temperature physics, nonlinear dynamics, atomic physics, optical physics and biophysics. She is best known for her work in near-field and single-molecule-sensitive microscopies. In 2006, she was a founding co-chair of the first “Single Molecule Approaches to Biology” Gordon Research Conference. She is active in faculty governance through her work on the Research Council of the Faculty Senate. As a Chancellor’s Leadership Fellow, Goldner’s work will focus on data and data analytics for a more robust and responsive research effort. She began her fellowship in January and participates in the provost’s management group. 

Ross studies the biological physics of how cells organize their interior spaces, a process that requires interdisciplinary approach that includes physics, chemistry and biological knowledge. She is currently the lead principal investigator (PI) on a grant from the National Science Foundation with Patricia Wadsworth (biology) on the self-organization of the mitotic spindle – the machinery required for cell division. She is also co-PI on a Keck Foundation award to develop novel autonomous biomaterials. Her work has been funded by NSF, NIH, Research Corporation for Science Advancement and the Moore Foundation. Her scholarship has received numerous awards, including the Cottrell Scholars Award, NSF INSPIRE Award, the Margaret Oakley Dayhoff Award from the Biophysical Society and she was recently named a Fellow of the American Physical Society. She has served on the editorial boards of the Biophysical Journal, Physical Biology and Frontiers in Biophysics and is currently Chair of the Division of Biological Physics for the American Physical Society and a Council Member for the Biophysical Society. As a current Chancellor’s Leadership Fellow, Ross is developing new programming on lab management, supporting new PIs, and leadership training for faculty. She also participates in the provost’s management group.

Helfer researches speech understanding in difficult listening environments and particularly how aging affects this ability. A fellow of the Acoustical Society of America, Helfer’s latest NIH-funded grant is focused on measuring speech understanding ability and listening effort in middle-aged adults via dual-task costs associated with balancing while listening and walking while listening. Projects under this grant also investigate the efficacy of over-the-counter hearing aids for middle-aged adults. She served as graduate program director for the department of communication disorders from 2001 until 2015 and has been department chair since 2016. Helfer has completed two external leadership experiences: the CAPCSD (Council on Academic Programs in Communication Sciences and Disorders) Leadership Academy in 2017 and the HERS Leadership Development Program in 2018. Beginning as Chancellor’s Leadership Fellow in September, Helfer will be working on projects involving the support of mid-career associate professors and on initiatives for bringing academic leadership opportunities to the faculty as a whole.

Tropp studies how members of different groups experience contact with each other and how group differences in status affect cross-group relations. She has worked with national organizations on U.S. Supreme Court cases relevant to racial integration and equity, on national initiatives to improve interracial relations in schools and with non-governmental organizations to evaluate interventions designed to bridge group differences in divided societies. A fellow of the American Psychological Association, Tropp has received distinguished research and teaching awards from the Society of Experimental Social Psychology, the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues and the International Society of Political Psychology. Tropp will work with faculty and staff in the College of Education to review materials on diversity and inclusion and to envision, develop and evaluate the effectiveness of new training modules for pre-service teachers.

Wooten’s research lies at the intersections of organizations, education and race. Much of her work centers on understanding how black communities use organizations to pursue freedom. She is the author of In the Face of Inequality: How Black Colleges Adapt (SUNY Press, 2015). This book empirically investigated how racism disadvantaged black colleges by preventing them from gaining critical material and political resources and the effect this had on black Americans quest for educational liberty. She is currently writing a book that traces how 20th and 21st century philanthropists get involved in causes related to Black education. Public commentaries on her research appear in The Conversation, The Academic Minute, and the African American Intellectual History Society. In her role as a Chancellor’s Leadership Fellow with the Office of Equity and Inclusion, Wooten is creating programs to help faculty of color obtain developmental feedback on their larger career aspirations and move their research projects forward. She is working to enhance mentorship for faculty of color on their overarching research, teaching and service goals. She is also working on initiatives to help faculty of color advance their writing projects and navigate the challenges associated with book writing.