McCormack Speaks

December 14, 2018
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Chae Man Lee is One of First Two Recipients of Gerontology Department’s Postdoc Fellowship

McCormack Speaks sat down with Dr. Chae Man Lee, a 2017 graduate of the Gerontology PhD program and one of the first of two of the department’s postdoctoral fellows.

 

SA: What was your research focus as a student?

CL: My research was focused on senior transportation, older driver safety, and healthy aging data reporting for Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire. My doctoral dissertation entitled, “Understanding the role of driver, vehicle, environment, and policy factors in crash injury severity among older adults in the United States” investigated how individual characteristics, vehicle elements, environmental elements, and driving licensing policy were associated with level of injury severity, from no injury to fatal injury resulting from car crashes.

SA: What is the main focus of your postdoc fellowship?

CL: As a post doc, I am still doing older driver safety and healthy aging data reporting. I am currently a co-investigator on a healthy aging data report for Massachusetts and New Hampshire, funded by Tufts Health Plan Foundation. I am working with Drs. Beth Dugan and Frank Porell to develop healthy aging data reports for Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire. We also do research on transportation options available for older people in Massachusetts, safety of older pedestrians for MassDOT, and the Governor’s Council to Address Aging Issues in Massachusetts to improve transportation safety.

SA: Are there any new or expanded projects you are able to pursue now that you were not able to do as a student?

CL: Besides working on healthy aging data report, I also plan to expand research about older driver safety related with my dissertation. Regarding hot spot analysis of crash location among older drivers in my dissertation, I was doing it only for the Massachusetts area. But, in the future, I will plan to do more on hotspot analysis of crash locations among older drivers in all of the United States.

SA: How have the resources at the McCormack Graduate School and at UMass Boston assisted with your postdoc goals?

CL: In 2007, I made the first journey to enter the Gerontology PhD program. As a student, I met wonderful mentors, Dr. Beth Dugan and Dr. Frank Porell. They are always supportive to grow my research ability. We have been working together on healthy aging data reports from 2013. From getting my degree and currently working on the healthy aging project, the McCormack Graduate School and UMass Boston are always providing great environments for research. The faculties and staff from the Department of Gerontology are all good. As I am an international student, UMass Boston was great to support my visa status to continuously work in the US.

SA: How do you view your work as connecting to the values and mission of the McCormack Graduate School?

CL: I have heavily focused on quantitative research design, data collection, management, and analysis. As a part of the healthy aging research team, I have a good opportunity to look at how my quantitative research experiences are effective in the real life of local areas and service providers for older people. I think that our healthy aging products are in accordance with MGS’s mission.

SA: Anything else that you would like to note?

CL: I want to express special appreciation to Drs. Dugan and Dr. Porell. I have spent my entire life in MGS at UMass Boston with them from 2007 to current. Without them, I am not able to finish my degree and to do my postdoc fellowship. They are not only great mentors and professors in school life but also friends and family members in personal life. They always encourage, guide, and advise me to move forward and to produce better works in my research as well as provide the best warmth.

 

 

December 14, 2018
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Wendy Wang is One of First Two Gerontology Postdocs

 

McCormack Speaks sat down with Dr. Wendy Wang, a recent graduate of the Gerontology PhD program and one of the department’s first two postdoctoral fellows.

SA: What year and program did you graduate from? What was your research focus as a student?
WW: I graduated in May 2018 from the Gerontology PhD program. My research focused on marital relations, intergenerational relations, and health in later life. For my dissertation, I examined how providing grandchild care affect grandparents’ marital quality.

SA: What is the main focus of your postdoc fellowship?
WW: I focus on two main areas. The first area is healthy aging and senior transportation. I work with Dr. Elizabeth Dugan and her research team. Our team creates Healthy Aging Data Reports that report indicators of healthy aging for every community in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire. We also do research on transportation options available for older people in Massachusetts, safety of older pedestrians for MassDOT, and the Governor’s Council to Address Aging Issues in Massachusetts to improve transportation safety.

The second area is family relations in later life. I am currently working on transforming my dissertation into publishable manuscripts. Other studies I conduct examine older couples’ marital quality, personality similarity, health, and relationships between adult grandchildren and grandparents.

SA: Are there any new or expanded projects you are able to pursue now that you were not able to do as a student?

WW: Many of the research ideas stem from when I was a student, but as a student, I didn’t have that much time to explore all these topics. Coursework and dissertation were my main focus at that time. Now, I have more time and freedom to contribute more to the research team; I also do research that I always wanted to do but didn’t have time to.

SA: How have the resources at the McCormack Graduate School and at UMass Boston assisted with your postdoc goals?

WW: The faculty here are very supportive and easy to work with. I not only work with my mentor, Dr. Elizabeth Dugan, but also collaborate with other faculty members with similar interests on publications. Whenever I have problems, they are always there to help. In addition, the Gerontology Department provides funding for attending conferences, and sponsors activities like job-talk practices and conference presentation practices, which helped our professional development. Finally, I am very grateful that I have my own work space, computer, and printer, which allow a very comfortable environment to work efficiently.

SA: How do you view your work as connecting to the values and mission of the McCormack Graduate School?

WW: My work contributes to the understanding of population health and well-being among older adults and their family members. We care about disadvantaged groups and racial minorities, and emphasize equal opportunities. Our research ideas stem from real-life problems that the society is facing or will face. By conducting the research projects, our team tries to provide suggestions to local government and service providers to reduce social isolation, improve health and well-being, and preserve older adults’ freedom and dignity. I believe that the work I’m doing aligns with MGS’s mission to understand and remedy important social, political, economic, and environmental issues, and to promote social justice and equity.

SA: What do you hope to do after you complete your postdoc fellowship?

WW: I hope I will become a more competitive candidate to find a faculty position in a university, and continue my research.

SA: Anything else that you would like to note?

WW: I would like to thank my mentor Dr. Elizabeth Dugan and the McCormack Graduate School for providing me this postdoc opportunity. By doing this postdoc, I am able to work with the professors I am familiar with and develop more research experiences. This also gives me a transitional time to be more prepared for my future work.

November 19, 2018
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Bob Turner, McCormack Research Fellow, Shares His Perspectives as One of Key Debate Organizers

 

Over the last three years, the McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies has returned to its role as a sponsor of political debates. Since this past summer, McCormack has collaborated with The Boston Globe and WBUR to provide a platform for political candidates running for office to have discussions with each other and the public. The team organizing these debates is led by Dean Cash, Research Fellow Bob Turner and Rashelle Brown, McCormack’s events planner. McCormack Speaks sat down with Bob Turner to learn more about the behind-the-scenes work.

 

SA: What kind of reactions have you received regarding these debates from the public, candidates, UMass Boston, and the city of Boston?

BT: It is very satisfying, in particular, that all of the candidates I talked with spoke positively about the professional way the debates were run. All said they were the most substantive of their campaigns. Our last debate, between the candidates for governor on November 1, was the last of that campaign but still produced lively dialogue and fresh information. It had a large audience, as it was telecast live by Channel 5. There has been much comment from within UMass Boston about the public service that the debates gave, and the positive message this sent about our school as a substantive and productive member of the community.

SA: What has been surprising about sponsoring these debates?

BT: The partnership among MGS, The Boston Globe, and WBUR has developed over three years into a very strong and mutually supportive group. We look forward to more years of this collaboration. Also, all of the 10 debates we co-sponsored were broadcast live. The degree of technical skill and experience needed to bring this off – on radio and television – was really impressive. Equally impressive, always, is the so-calm and so-effective preparation of our own events planner, Rashelle Brown.

SA: What have been the challenges and the rewards of sponsoring these debates?

BT: A major reward: the MGS participation. In several of the debates, questions from McCormack students or faculty that had been prepared beforehand were posed to the candidates, either by the MGS questioner in person, or by a panelist. Helping prepare the questions, and then witnessing their inclusion in the debates, was very gratifying. It was terrific positive publicity for the school. A challenge will be to make sure this kind of questioning by MGS people will be included in all future debates.

SA: How do you see sponsorship of these debates as connecting to the values and mission of the McCormack Graduate School?

BT: The Supreme Court seems to think corporations are citizens that can make political contributions. This is questionable. Not questionable is the fact that the John W. McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies, while prohibited from making cash contributions to candidates, is without question a citizen of our city, state, and nation. Anything we can do to further the health of our democracy is at the core of our very being.

SA: Are there plans for future debates? How do you envision McCormack continuing and expanding these forums?

BT: We look forward to more action next year, and are talking with our partners about what that might look like. One thought: we just had the mid-term elections, but the New Hampshire presidential primary is only 14 or 15 months away, and swarms of presidential candidates usually start arriving in these parts with the first snowflakes.

October 31, 2018
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PhD Student Marcia Mundt Awarded 2018 Doctoral Dissertation Research Grant

Public Policy PhD Student Marcia Mundt recently was awarded the 2018 UMass Boston Doctoral Dissertation Research Grant. Her grant will support her dissertation, which is entitled: “Participate for Peace: The Impacts of Participatory Deliberative Democracy on Post-Conflict Peacebuilding in Central America.”

Throughout this academic year, Mundt is interviewing municipal officials and participants about their experience with open town hall meetings, community associations, participatory budgeting, and participatory planning processes in Central America. In partnership with the Universidad de El Salvador, the University de San Carlos de Guatemala, the Universidad Politecnica de Nicaragua, and the Latin American Public Opinion Project at Vanderbilt University, she aims to determine if and how local level public participation in policy decision-making can influence peace processes following civil war.

Applications for the award are reviewed twice each year by a committee of university faculty from various disciplines and program areas across campus, who then make recommendations to the Vice Provost for Research and Strategic Interests & Dean of Graduate Studies. Allocations are determined based upon the significance of the research, the merits of the research design, and the reasonableness of the budget request.

October 24, 2018
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New Book by Associate Dean Kiki Edozie examines Global African Diaspora Through Multidisciplinary Lenses

 

Professor Rita Kiki Edozie, Associate Dean of the McCormack Graduate School, recently published her latest book on global African diaspora. It is an anthology that presents a new study of African diaspora through diverse, interdisciplinary perspectives. Professor Edozie sat down with McCormack Speaks to share more about her book.

 

SA: Where did you get the idea for this book?

RE: Given my own identity as an African immigrant to the US, I’ve had a longstanding personal and intellectual interest in the public policy of diversity of people of African descent in the US from the perspective of transnational and migration studies, immigration studies, and cross-cultural studies. When President Obama was elected, his Kenyan ancestry – among his other multiple identities, including spending time in Indonesia – intrigued many. Needless to say, however, the President’s identity especially triggered a debate about identity and the rootedness and dynamism of African heritage in the US, the Americas, and around the world. As such, the title of the book, New Frontiers in the Global African Diaspora, was inspired by these interests to trace, identify, analyze, and document the array of diverse experiences and political circumstances of African heritage peoples around the world.

 

SA: What gap in the literature does your book address?

RE: African Diaspora Studies has become an emergent but stable sub-discipline of both African American Studies on the one hand, and African Studies on the other. Some refer to the study as the great bridge between the two. It has become the intellectual study that informs the intersections, nexuses, interactions, and exchanges of the politics, economics, cultural and social studies of African descendant peoples. The study has become a global ethnic and area study which has now expanded the study of African Americans from an ethnic-national focus, as well as expanded the study of Africa from a comparative- area/regional basis that now integrates both as a global, diasporic study. In advancing this trend in African Diaspora Studies, our book – note that my co-editors are Michigan State University professors, Dr. Glenn Chambers and Dr. Tama Hamilton Wray –fills a gap in the Study of the African Diaspora. We are distinctive, I believe, in articulating the contours of the global trend and shift while also pedestaling and repositioning the continent of Africa in relation to this global expansion.

SA: What types of projects and dialogues do you hope this book will inspire?

RE: I’ll cite the book’s blurb written by Canadian Professor of English Ato Quayson, who also has Ghanaian heritage and has written extensively on the topic of new African Diasporas (see his own book  titled, Oxford Street, Accra: City Life and the Itineraries of Transnationalism). Quayson says of our book, “….New Frontiers…pairs a candid enigma – what is the African Diaspora? – with a set of essays that tackles the question from a variety of perspectives.”

As well, Jean Rahier, Professor of African Diaspora Studies at Florida International University whose own co-edited Volume on African Diaspora Studies, Global Circuits of Blackness: Interrogating the African Diaspora, inspired our book with his afterword. While commending our work for its recognition of the “transnationality” of the African Diaspora and for our positioning Africa’s coeval location and relationships with peoples of the African Diaspora globally, Rahier pushes our study to incorporate European and/or Australian based scholarship on the African Diaspora which would have appropriately pushed the limit of our expansionist African Diaspora theme appropriately further. Finally, in addition to what we significantly refer to as “global pivots,” “repositioning Africa,” “exploring uncharted African diasporas in Latin America and the Caribbean” – all significant talking points that I know will create debates and discussions – we uniquely raise a disciplinary question about how African Diasporas are represented in our section on “Humanities African Diasporas.” In doing so, our contributing authors present chapters on the filmic representations of the Garifuna, Nigerian cinema (Nollywood in Brazil), Ethiopian filmmakers in the US, African film festivals in Canada, Afro-Danish artists in New Orleans, and Afro-Peruvian artists among other creative representations of African Diaspority.

SA: How have your affiliations with the McCormack Graduate School and UMass Boston assisted with the publication of this book?

RE: While the genesis of the book project began with my recently previous role as Professor of International Relations and Director of African American and African Studies at Michigan State University, the completion of the manuscript occurred with my current appointment as Professor of Global Governance, Human Security, and International Relations and Associate Dean here at the McCormack Graduate School. From the vantage point of this book where now I’ve left what one former city council member in Detroit called, “The African city of Detroit,” I find myself in Cosmopolitan Boston where African and African American diversity is just as intriguing.

Now in Greater Boston, with my colleagues from the Trotter Institute of Black Culture, the Asian American Studies Institute, the Gaston Latin American Studies Institute, and the Native American Institute, I continue the study of the Public Policy of African Diaspority in an American region. With our project, “The Changing Faces of Massachusetts,” I am especially intrigued by the large communities of Black Bostonians, Cabo Verdes, Haitians, Nigerians, Somali, and other communities of African descent who have for so long contributed to the socio-cultural formation of the region here. Our study will deepen the research that I began in the current book, and perhaps provide the opportunity to present more empirical and policy evidence of the dynamism and complex relations of these communities and their impact on American life.

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