The University of Massachusetts Amherst
University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Executive Team

Dr. Rachel Volberg

Dr. Rachel Volberg has been involved in epidemiological research on gambling and problem gambling since 1985 and has directed or consulted on numerous gambling studies throughout the world.  In 1988, Dr. Volberg was the first investigator to receive funding from the (U.S.) National Institutes of Health to study the prevalence of problem gambling in the general population.  Dr. Volberg is currently the Principal Investigator on the Massachusetts Gaming Commission’s Social and Economic Impacts of Gambling in Massachusetts (SEIGMA) study.  In addition to her work in Massachusetts, Dr. Volberg is working on two projects in Canada to assess the impacts of the introduction of online gambling and to identify best practices in population assessments of problem gambling.  She is also a member of research teams in Australia, New Zealand, and Sweden conducting large-scale longitudinal studies to identify predictors of transitions into and out of gambling and problem gambling.

Dr. Volberg has published extensively, presented at national and international conferences, and testified before legislative committees in states and provinces throughout North America.  She sits on the Editorial Boards of the Journal of Gambling Studies, International Gambling Studies and the Journal of Gambling Issues and is a longtime member of the American Sociological Association and the (U.S.) National Council on Problem Gambling.  Dr. Volberg holds appointments at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and the Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand.

Dr. Robert Williams

Dr. Robert Williams is a professor in the Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Lethbridge, in Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada and also a Research Coordinator for the Alberta Gambling Research Institute.  Dr. Williams teaches courses on gambling; provides frequent consultation to government, industry, the media, and public interest groups; and regularly gives expert witness testimony on the impacts of gambling. Dr. Williams is a leading authority in the areas of:  prevention of problem gambling; Internet gambling; the socioeconomic impacts of gambling, the proportion of gambling revenue deriving from problem gamblers; the prevalence and nature of gambling in Aboriginal communities; the etiology of problem gambling; and best practices in the population assessment of problem gambling.  He is currently a Co-Principal Investigator on the SEIGMA study.

Dr. Mark Melnik

Dr. Mark Melnik is the Director of Economic and Public Policy Research at the UMass Donahue Institute. Dr. Melnik specializes in demographic, socio-economic, and labor market issues and leads a 15-person team working on variety of economic and public policy research projects informing clients in government, private industry, and the non-profit sectors. In his time at the Institute, Dr. Melnik has served as the principle-in-charge on projects with such clients as the Secretary of the Commonwealth, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, the Boston Foundation, the City of Boston, the City of Cambridge, MassDOT, the New England Foundation for the Arts, MassEcon, MassDevelopment, the Boston Private Industry Council, the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development, the Massachusetts Housing Partnership, and the MetroSouth Chamber of Commerce. In addition, Dr. Melnik serves as the Senior Managing Editor of MassBenchmarks, the journal of the Massachusetts economy published by the Institute in cooperation with the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. 

Before joining the Institute, Dr. Melnik worked as Deputy Director for Research at the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) where he led research teams on demographic and economic research studies as well as analyses used for public policy advisement and decision making with the BRA and the City of Boston. Before joining the BRA, Dr. Melnik worked as a research associate at the Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy at Northeastern University. As a leading expert in demographic and socioeconomic issues in the Commonwealth, Dr. Melnik is quoted extensively in the media and was appointed to Governor Charlie Baker’s Future of Transportation Commission and the Massachusetts Economic Development Council Board of Directors.
 
He holds a doctorate in sociology from Northeastern University. His dissertation explored skill and credential mismatches in the greater Boston labor market. He received his master of arts from Northeastern University and his bachelor of arts from Youngstown State University, both in sociology.