The University of Massachusetts Amherst
University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Project Team

Expert Advisors

Laurie Salame

Laurie Salame, JD, teaches in the Isenberg School of Management, Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management, at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where she has been since 2001. Her classes include Introduction to Hospitality & Tourism, Hospitality Law, Gaming and Social Policy, and Casino Operations Management. Salame will be taking on administrative and organizational tasks associated with the project, as well as heading up the teams conducting the employee and patron surveys.

Prior to teaching, Salame was an attorney at Community Legal Aid (formerly Western Massachusetts Legal Services), where she was a staff attorney, an AmeriCorps Domestic Violence Project attorney, and an Equal Justice Fellow, developing a program doing economic development work with the low-income community. Before that she worked in government at the Massachusetts Office for Victim Assistance, and held a management job at a Boston law firm. Prior to law school, Salame worked in the hotel industry for 12 years in Las Vegas, San Diego, and Miami, concentrating in rooms management and operations. She earned her BS in Hotel and Restaurant Management from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and graduated cum laude from Suffolk University Law School, where she was editor of the Suffolk University Law Review.

Dr. Henry Renski

Henry Renski, PhD, is an Associate Professor in the Department of Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning (LARP), where he teaches courses in quantitative methods, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and spatial analysis, and state and local economic development policy.

Dr. Renski’s research focuses on understanding the technological and social forces driving regional economic competitiveness and transformation, and building upon this knowledge to improve the effectiveness of economic development policy. His current work examines regional influences on entrepreneurship, changing patterns of commercial development in the internet age, industrial cluster analysis and cluster-based development strategies, and the application of spatial-analytical techniques to local economic policy decision making.  His work has been published in a variety of planning, economic development, and regional science journals, including the Journal of the American Planning Association, Journal of Planning Research and Education, Regional Studies, Journal of Regional Science, Papers in Regional Science, and Economic Development Quarterly.

In addition to his teaching and research, Dr. Renski serves as the Director for the Center for Economic Development at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, which provides technical assistance and conducts applied research on behalf of states, communities, regional planning and development agencies, and other public/non-profit entities interested in promoting economic development. 

Dr. Mark Nichols

Mark Nichols, PhD, working with the economics team at the Donahue Institute of the University of Massachusetts, will analyze the economic impacts of casino gambling in Massachusetts.  A Professor of Economics at the University of Nevada, Reno, Dr. Nichols has twenty years of experience analyzing the social and economic impacts of casinos.  He has published over 25 scholarly articles and supervised numerous student theses related to the impacts of casinos on communities.  He was also a Co-Principal Investigator on a grant funded by the U.S. Department of Justice examining the impact of casinos on crime and quality of life in new casino jurisdictions.

Project and Data Management

Alissa Mazar

Alissa Mazar, PhD, is a Research Associate and Project Manager for the SEIGMA study. Mazar holds a PhD in Sociology from McGill University and her research examines the use and impact of casinos as a socio-economic development tool for communities. More broadly, Mazar’s research focuses on where casinos fit into North America’s movement towards a service-based economy. She has also taught and assisted in teaching sociology courses in sociological inquiry, the sociology of sex and gender, gender and work, work and industry, and technology and society.

Martha Zorn

Martha Zorn, MS, directs the Data Management Center for the SEIGMA project. Zorn has worked as a biostatistician and data manager in the School of Public Health and Health Sciences, at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst for the past 25 years. During that time, she has worked on numerous research projects, including HIV research, cohort mortality studies, smoking for cancer survivors, diabetes and cystic fibrosis, community based obesity prevention among black women, improving cancer screening in low income housing sites, improving health literacy through the internet, influencing media and the public agenda on cancer and tobacco disparities, and respiratory effectiveness clinical trials. She earned her BS in Mathematics from Earlham College and her MS in Biostatistics from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where she was elected to the Rho Chapter of the Delta Omega Honor Society.

Valerie Evans

Valerie Evans, MA, MSc, is a biostatistician for the SEIGMA project. Evans has worked on a variety of projects in both biology and public health including HIV vaccine development, global influenza, and pharmaceutical supply chains. She also was a Peace Corps Public Health Specialist in Guinea, West Africa. Most recently she was the project coordinator of the AMASA project (Accessing Medicines in Africa and South Asia) at the University of Edinburgh. She earned her BA in Biology from Boston University, a Master’s degree in Biology from Harvard University, and a MSc in Public Health Research from the University of Edinburgh.

Vivian Cronk

Vivian Cronk, BA, Mount Holyoke College, Francis Perkins Scholar, is the Grants and Contracts Coordinator providing primary fiscal and administrative support for the gambling research projects in the Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, currently the Social and Economic Impacts of Gambling in Massachusetts (SEIGMA) and Massachusetts Gambling Impact Cohort (MAGIC) studies.  Vivian has over 10 year’s office management and budget experience most recently from work at UMass Amherst. 


Social Analysis

Dr. Rosa Rodriguez-Monguio

Rosa Rodriguez-Monguio, PhD, Associate Professor of Health Policy Management, will work with the social team at SPHHS to analyze the social and health impact of casino gambling in Massachusetts. Dr. Rodriguez-Monguio has been working on the area of health economics and economic evaluation of health care programs and services for the past thirteen years. She has published over 30 peer-reviewed manuscripts and served as principal or co-principal investigator on research projects for federal and state agencies, foundations, and several governments and international organizations.

Dr. Edward Stanek, III

Edward Stanek, PhD, is a biostatistician in the Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology in the School of Public Health and Health Sciences at UMass Amherst. Over the course of his career, Dr. Stanek has collaborated with researchers on a wide variety of public health problems, including studying factors affecting growth and development among borderline malnourished children in developing countries, exposure assessment due to contamination of soil and dust in children and adults, seasonal variation in serum cholesterol levels, and many other topics. Dr. Stanek is actively involved in developing methods that incorporate Superpopulation and Bayesian frameworks for inference. Drawing from this expertise and experience, Dr. Stanek has an interest in the role of statistics in developing inference based on samples of subjects from populations, which has direct application in the SEIGMA project.

Economic Analysis

Economic and Public Policy Research at the University of Massachusetts Donahue Institute

The Economic and Public Policy Research group (EPPR) is a part of the UMass Donahue Institute, the public service outreach and economic development unit of the University of Massachusetts President’s Office. A leading provider of applied research on strategic economic and public policy issues,  EPPR produces in-depth economic impact and industry studies that help clients build credibility, gain visibility, educate constituents, and plan economic development initiatives. EPPR is known for providing unbiased economic analysis on state-level economic policy issues in Massachusetts and beyond, and has completed a number of industry studies on IT, defense industries, telecommunications, health care, and transportation.

EPPR’s role in the SEIGMA project is to measure and assess the economic and fiscal impacts of gambling facilities at the local, regional, and state level. Our research includes a variety of secondary data measures, including public data sets and direct primary data collection, as well as estimation methods to try to isolate the net economic effects of each gaming site. The introduction and ongoing operations of new gambling facilities impact economic and fiscal conditions including government, finance, business dynamics, and labor market conditions.  EPPR is tracking and quantitatively assessing a wide range of economic and fiscal metrics, collecting and integrating qualitative information, and conducting economic impact modeling analysis to estimate direct and secondary impacts related to the presence of the new gambling facilities.

Data Collection

NORC at the University of Chicago

NORC at the University of Chicago delivers objective data and meaningful analysis to help decision-makers and leading organizations make informed choices and identify new opportunities. Since 1941, NORC has applied sophisticated methods and tools, innovative and cost-effective solutions, and the highest standards of scientific integrity and quality to conduct and advance research on critical issues. Today, NORC expands on this tradition by partnering with government, commercial, and nonprofit clients to create deep insight across a broad range of topics and to disseminate useful knowledge throughout society.


Ipsos is a global market research company, based in Paris, France, with locations in the U.S. and Canada. With more than 2,800 professionals and support staff in the U.S. and Canada, Ipsos offers a suite of research services—guided by industry experts and bolstered by advanced analytics and methodologies—in advertising, customer loyalty, marketing, media and public affairs research, as well as survey management, forecasting, modeling, and consulting. Ipsos companies offer a complete line of custom, syndicated, omnibus, panel, and online research products and services.

Market Street Research

Market Street Research, based in Northampton, MA, is a marketing research company with over 30 years of experience conducting customized, marketing research services for hospitals, banks, nonprofits, and other businesses throughout the United States.

Research Assistants

Joshua Freeman

Joshua Freeman is a doctoral student in Epidemiology at UMass Amherst. He obtained his bachelor’s degree in Biology and Japanese at Wake Forest University. After taking time off to work in a detox center, Freeman began his Master's in Public Health at Brown University. After graduating, he worked as a Clinical Research Assistant at Rhode Island Hospital as part of a depression and peer-violence prevention clinical trial in adolescents and also as a Research Assistant on an Epigenome Wide Association Study. Currently, he is working as a data analyst for the SEIGMA Study.

Nozipho Maziya

Nozipho Maziya is a doctoral student in Public Health with a concentration in Nutrition at UMass. She obtained her bachelor’s degree in Food Science and Nutrition from the University of Swaziland in Africa. Maziya came into the department as a Fulbright Scholar in 2011, and has recently completed her master’s thesis, which examined associations between contextual environments and nutritional status of adolescents within villages of the Kilosa District in Tanzania. In her home country of Swaziland, Maziya worked with rural communities facilitating the establishment and implementation of projects aimed at promoting maternal and child health, reducing poverty and food insecurity, improving clean water access and sanitation, and preventing HIV/AIDS. She currently works as a survey analyst for the SEIGMA Study.

Yiding Zhang

Yiding Zhang is currently a research assistant for the SEIGMA study. He works with Dr. Edward Stanek to evaluate modal effects in survey data. He has also worked on a simulation study of SEIGMA survey data with Dr. Stanek to simulate two-stage sampling and compare different estimators for evaluating problem gambling rates. In summer 2014, he also worked on an aphasia study with Dr. Jacquie Kurland, creating a matched data set for a training program. Zhang received his BS degree from the College of Biological Sciences at China Agricultural University and is pursuing an MS in Biostatistics at UMass Amherst.