The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Why Public Engagement?

As citizens and as scholars, we have an interest in today’s debates about public policy, conversations about the state of the world, and imagining a different future. Read more about the Public Engagement Projects' Mission and Vision

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2018 PEP Fellow, Elizabeth Evans's research on gender-tailored methods to address the harmful mental health effects of childhood adversity featured in News Medical Life Sciences

Gender-tailored methods to address the harmful mental health effects of childhood adversity may help alleviate the current opioid crisis and make treatment more effective, concludes 2018 PEP Fellow, Elizabeth Evans, in her latest research about opioid use disorder (OUD) featured in News Medical Life Sciences. Looking for new ways to address the public health emergency that the opioid crisis has created, Evans and colleagues examined gender differences in associations between mental health conditions and adverse childhood experiences (ACE) among adults with opioid use disorder. The study, published in the international journal Addictive Behaviors, suggests that treatment for OUD and mental health conditions, especially in the case of women, should be integrated in settings that also provide childcare and create a supportive environment to address stigma and shame. Research also featured in Vermont Public RadioScience Codex and NEPR.

New research by Michael Rawlins, 2015 PEP Fellow, on the changing character of hydrological cycle elements across the North Slope of Alaska featured in Science Daily

A new analysis, featured in Science Daily, of the changing character of runoff, river discharge and other hydrological cycle elements across the North Slope of Alaska reveals significant increases in the proportion of subsurface runoff and cold season discharge, changes the authors say are “consistent with warming and thawing permafrost.” First author and lead climate modeler Michael Rawlins, 2015 PEP Fellow, says warming is expected to shift the Arctic from a surface water-dominated system to a groundwater-dominated system, with deeper water flow paths through newly thawed soils. “Our model estimates of permafrost thaw are consistent with the notion that permafrost region ecosystems are shifting from a net sink to a net source of carbon,” he says. Also featured in Daily Hampshire Gazette, and Stories In The News.

2019 PEP Fellow, Alicia Timme-Laragy, recently hosted a workshop on the health risks associated with PFAS

Alicia Timme-Laragy, 2019 PEP Fellow, recently hosted a workshop for elected officials and candidates on the health risks associated with per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) chemicals. “PFAS 101: Current Research and Health Risks” brought staff representing a number of state representatives and senators, Westfield city councilors, and staffers from Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey's office to campus to introduce legislators to the current state of research and raise awareness of the health risks associated with PFAS chemicals. Read more here.

Erin Baker, PEP steering committee member, and colleagues visited the University of Ghana and University of Cape Town as part of a World University Network (WUN) grant

Erin Baker, PEP steering committee member, and colleagues, recently visited the University of Ghana and University of Cape Town as part of a World University Network (WUN) grant. The Sustainable Energy-Access Network for Africa, established as part of the WUN grant, is made up of researchers from the University of Massachusetts, University of Ghana, University of Cape Town, University of Nairobi, Argonne National Lab and Carnegie Mellon University. The team’s aim is to investigate how to improve electricity systems and access throughout the African continent, using stakeholder-driven methods to inform policy and investment. Read more here.

PEP Co-Director, Linda Tropp, quoted in Yes Magazine article on changing minds and developing empathy for others.

PEP Co-Director, Linda Tropp, is quoted in a Yes Magazine article on changing minds and developing empathy for others. The article explains that we develop beliefs through our feelings, and a way to change beliefs is through making emotional connections with people. “The more contact we have, the less anxious we feel about being with people who are different from us, and the more able we are to empathize with them in terms of what they’re going through,” explains Tropp.

2018 PEP Fellow, Elizabeth Evans, has research on success of 2008 parity law in improving Medicaid access for substance use featured in EurekaAlert!

2018 PEP Fellow, Elizabeth Evans, and colleagues', research on the success of a 2008 parity law in expanding Medicaid acceptance by facilities treating substance use disorders (SUDs) featured in EurekaAlert!. The researchers conclude that the increase in SUD treatment coverage "may result in significant expansions in access to care for those enrolled in Medicaid."

PEP Steering Committee Member, M. V. Lee Badgett's research cited in Bloomberg Quint article on new study on gay-friendly workplace policies.

A Bloomberg Quint article about a new study finding that gay-friendly workplace policies help attract top talent, cites related research by PEP steering committee member, M. V. Lee Badgett. Badgett found that India was losing as much as 1.4 percent of its national output before the 2018 overthrow of a long-standing law making homosexuality a crime. Story also featured in Miami Herald, The Business Times, Bristol Herald Courier, and Chicago Tribune.

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