The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Past Fellows

Kristen DeAngelis, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Department of Microbiology
Department Director, Honors Program

Kristen DeAngelis is a microbiologist studying the main living component of soil, microbes. Her research involves how soil microbial communities are resilient to climate stress associated with warming and drying.  As a PEP fellow, she will engage with community groups and lawmakers to encourage soil conservation, by planting local, perennial, and diverse plants, composting, and managing land to increase ecosystem resiliency and promote community values.

Read more about Dr. DeAngelis' research

Michael A Knodler, Jr., Ph.D.

Professor, Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering
Director, University of Massachusetts Transportation Center
Michael Knodler has expertise in the area of transportation engineering, with his main areas of research and teaching being related to transportation safety, traffic operations and roadway design. During the course of his Public Engagement Fellowship he will work towards improving the national and regional dialogue on critical issues in transportation.

Read more about Dr. Knodler's research

Kirsten Leng, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Women, Gender, Sexuality Studies

Kirsten Leng studies the history of feminism.  Her research addresses two questions.  First, how have gender politics influenced scientific knowledge on sex and sexuality, specifically among feminists in the early twentieth century?  Second, what role has humor played in U.S. feminism? As a PEP fellow, she will write articles for the general public that show how feminists have used science and humor as key resources to affect social change.    

Read more about Dr. Leng's research

Toussaint Losier, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, W.E.B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies

Dr. Losier is an expert in 20th African American History, Social Movement Politics and Criminal Justice Policy. He has served as Vice Chairman of the Chicago Anti-Eviction Campaign. He is co-author of Rethinking the American Prison Movement with Dan Berger. During his Public Engagement Fellowship, he will be preparing a media engagement strategy for discussing the politics of criminal justice reform.        
Read more about Dr. Losier's research

Steven Petsch, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Department of Geosciences

Dr. Steven Petsch studies the controls on the composition of the atmosphere over the course of the Earth's long history. As a PEP Fellow, Dr. Petsch is interested in using climate change as the vehicle to address the politicization of science, the blurring between fact and opinion, and the diminishing value of scientific expertise in public discourse.

Read more about Dr. Petsch's research

Elizabeth (Betsy) Schmidt, J.D.

Professor of Practice, School of Public Policy

Elizabeth (Betsy) Schmidt is a Professor of Practice in the School of Public Policy at UMass Amherst, specializing in the way individuals and institutions create successful social change. In addition to academic positions at several law schools and universities, she has practiced law, consulted with nonprofits, and worked directly for nonprofit organizations in legal and management capacities. During her fellowship, she will develop workshops to help nonprofits be more effective advocates for their causes and find other ways to bring the knowledge she shares in the classroom to a wider audience.    

Read more about Dr. Schmidt's research

Alicia Timme-Laragy, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, School of Public Health and Health Sciences

Alicia Timme-Laragy is a developmental toxicologist with expertise in how early life exposures to pollutants affect health. She uses zebrafish to identify and understand the health risks of per and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) found in contaminated drinking water. During her Public Engagement Fellowship, she will engage with community action groups and journalists about her research.

Read more about Dr. Timme-Laragy's research

Brian Whitcomb, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology

Whitcomb’s research focuses on how fertility and pregnancy are impacted by inflammation, as well as the behavioral and lifestyle factors that may trigger inflammatory responses. He is the President-Elect for the international Society for Pediatric and Perinatal Epidemiologic Research (SPER). As a Public Engagement Faculty Fellow, Whitcomb will work to inform clinicians and the general public about the influences on reproductive health, and to help SPER grow its presence and level of engagement beyond the immediate scientific community.

Read more about Dr. Whitcomb's research

In appreciation of their generous support, the UMass Public Engagement Project would like to thank the Office of the ProvostUniversity Relations, and the Colleges of Natural SciencesSocial and Behavioral Sciences Humanities and Fine ArtsEngineeringPublic Health, and Education.  The UMass Public Engagement Project also recognizes and appreciates in-kind contributions and collaborations with the Center for Research on Families and the Institute for Social Science Research