March 27, 2019
Kimberley Geissler, Assistant Professor of Health Promotion and Policy, and Jacquie Kurland, Associate Professor of Communication Disorders, have been named 2019-20 Institute for Social Science Research (ISSR) Scholars. ISSR's mission is to promote excellence in social science research, and the Scholars Program is one of its key strategies for strengthening social science infrastructure at UMass Amherst.
ISSR Scholars will receive resources and mentoring to allow them to develop innovative new research and funding proposals that have the potential to shape social theory and policy. They will participate in a year-long seminar and mentorship program, attend in-depth sessions on grant writing and receive valuable peer feedback on their proposals. In addition, ISSR Scholars are given unique opportunities to consult with nationally recognized experts about their proposals.
Geissler plans to research provider specialization in the treatment of mental illness. Individuals with mental illness struggle to obtain adequate health care for their mental health and physical health needs, and the quality of the care they receive is often inadequate. The project addresses one aspect of mental health services delivery – provider specialization – that may be an important component of mental health care quality. Better understanding how to optimize the match between patients and providers and improve mental health care quality is an important contribution to the care of individuals with mental illness.
Kurland will investigate measures of interactional satisfaction and transactional success in aphasic conversation. People with aphasia, a language impairment secondary to left hemisphere stroke, communicate better than they talk. Unfortunately, there exist no psychometrically valid, clinically feasible instruments for measuring treatment-induced improvements in conversation, the most frequent communicative activity of daily life. This project seeks to develop a normed instrument that will fill this critical gap.