Julie Caswell Named Distinguished Professor

Dr. Julie CaswellPhoto Credit: John Solem/ University of Massachusetts Amherst
Thursday, July 13, 2017

Dr. Julie A. Caswell, Professor of Resource Economics and SBS Associate Dean for Education & Student Development, has been named Distinguished Professor by the University of Massachusetts Board of Trustees. With a joint PhD in agricultural economics and economics, Dr. Caswell joined the UMass community in 1984 as Assistant Professor of Agricultural and Resource Economics, and has since received many accolades. She is a Fellow of the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, has been named UMass Amherst Spotlight Scholar, awarded the Outstanding Accomplishments in Research and Creative Activity Award, named Fulbright Distinguished Lecturer (2009), was the recipient of the Chancellor's Medal, and named a CFNR Outstanding Teacher.

Dr. Caswell is internationally renowned for her research on the economics of food safety and nutrition. Her work focuses on understanding the operation of domestic and international food systems, analyzing how well they work, and evaluating how government policy affects their operation and performance, with a particular interest in the economics of food quality. As a founding and leading scholar in this field for over 30 years, her expertise has placed her on many National Academies food safety and nutrition studies, and her vital work helps keep consumers informed of the quality of the food they eat. Her research has been influential and ahead of its time, particularly on nutrition and biotech labeling, the costs and benefits of food safety regulations, risk-based regulatory systems, and third-party certification of food quality.

Dr. Caswell served as Chair of the Department of Resource Economics from 2006-2012. In 2014, she was appointed SBS Associate Dean for Education and Student Development. In this role, she has led the UMass College of Social and Behavioral Sciences in its key educational initiative, the SBS Pathways Program. This is a holistic approach focused on student success that supports students throughout their entire university careers. SBS Pathways aims to educate students on how to plan for, engage in, reflect on, and articulate the competencies they have gained from their academic, co-curricular, experiential learning, and career and professional development experiences.

Subbaswamy and Newman note that Caswell's work on the safety, labeling, certification, and regulation of food is influential on an international level —a domain over which one external reviewer describes her as “the leading authority.”

They write, “External reviewers consistently cite Dr. Caswell’s preeminence as a scholar in her field, often describing not only her influence on other scholars’ work but also her influence on regulatory decisions made by governments and other policy makers. One reviewer calls her ‘a world-renowned expert’ in her field. Others suggest that she has been largely responsible for defining the field.”

Dr. Caswell says, “I am gratified by this recognition from my academic home—the University of Massachusetts.”

SBS Dean John A. Hird adds, “Julie excels in everything she does: research, teaching, and leadership.  I’m delighted to see her recognized for her achievements in this way, and we are fortunate that she’s leading SBS’s initiatives in undergraduate education and student success.  Professor Caswell is everything a scholar should be.”

Qualifications for the title of Distinguished Professor include outstanding research, teaching, and/or public service contributions that are widely recognized; an extraordinary level of productivity and impact in his/her field of study; a level of productivity and impact that has been demonstrated for an extended time; pre-eminence in his/her field; recognition by professional organizations for outstanding contributions; being a person who would be a major loss to the university if he/she were to leave; and being a role model for faculty and students.

Visit Julie Caswell's webpage.