UMass Boston Celebrates Research, Innovation, Scholarship, and Creativity at Recent Luncheon

Barbara Graceffa | December 17, 2013
The cast of Urinetown The Musical performed at the 7th annual research luncheon.

The cast of Urinetown The Musical performed at the 7th annual research luncheon.
Image by: Harry Brett

Each year the Office of the Vice Provost for Research and Dean of Graduate Studies highlights the university’s research, scholarship, innovation, and creativity with a celebratory luncheon for faculty, research staff, and senior administrators. Some 270 people were in attendance at the December 9 event held in the Campus Center ballroom.

Zong-Guo Xia, vice provost for research and dean of graduate studies, served as master of ceremonies and welcomed Chancellor J. Keith Motley and Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Winston Langley who acknowledged the many accomplishments, grants, fellowships, awards, and appointments of the UMass Boston faculty and graduate students. The chancellor referred to the faculty as “the urban architects and builders of endless change and renewal.” Reflecting on a Mayan genesis story, Langley called the UMass Boston professors “searchers and discovers” as they “seek to lend meaning to what we experience.”

Guests enjoyed a detailed slideshow enumerating faculty fellowships and honors including mention of the faculty appointed to serve on Mayor-elect Martin Walsh’s transition team. Among many other accolades for the faculty, Padraig O’Malley, Moakley Chair of Peace and Reconciliation, was lauded for his work with Nelson Mandela.

Director of the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs Matthew Meyer presented a brief slideshow showcasing recent external funding. “It was our fourth recording setting year of grant awards,” Meyer said, noting that numbers were five percent higher than the previous year.

Jeffrey Burr, chair of the Department of Gerontology, presented a slideshow on the many assets of his department at the McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies. A pioneering graduate program, Burr explained that the PhD Program in Gerontology is the second oldest in the country and highlighted the program’s policy orientation and special focus on low-income elderly and cultural diversity. With the hire of three new faculty in the coming year, the department hopes to broaden its expertise in health policy, expand its global impact, and increase its student body. Burr also recounted the many accomplishments of the department’s current students and alumni.

Other assets of the department include its Gerontology Institute, the Center for Social and Demographic Research on Aging, and the Pension Action Center and well as providing editorial leadership on two peer-reviewed journals.

Representing the Center for Governance and Sustainability and the Department of Conflict Resolution, Human Security and Global Governance, Professor Maria Ivanova spoke on behalf of Dean Robyn Hannigan of the School for the Environment on the university’s new $3.1M intercollegiate National Science Foundation grant to study coasts and communities in Massachusetts and the Horn of Africa. UMass Boston's award was one of 7 news grants among 18 awards made to 156 applicants.

She explained the transdisciplinary and transnational nature of the program which seeks to be transformational by looking not only at the “what is?," "why?,” and "what ought to be?" questions, but to take the next "logical step and reflect on ‘how do we get there?,’ a question that demands serious and humble understanding of causal mechanisms in natural and human systems. And knowledge of such pathways comes from beyond academia compelling us all to engage with the world as students and as agents of change simultaneously. ‘How do we get there?’ presupposes solid understanding of 'what is?' and 'why?' and ‘what ought to be?’ But scenarios for change … will evolve and transform and, in the process, will lead to transformation in the minds and hearts of those working on these questions.”

This prestigious grant will provide assistantships to eight doctoral students in the College of Management, College of Science and Mathematics, School for the Environment, and the McCormack Graduate School.

Ivanova was also recognized for her recent appointment to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon Scientific Advisory Board. The only junior faculty member on the 26-member panel, Ivanova will bring expertise on environmental policy and global governance to the team.

“Our faculty and staff are out there working diligently every day to make a difference in the classroom and in the world. I’m most pleased that all our successes were shared with the larger university community,” said a proud Ira A. Jackson, dean of the McCormack School.

Tags: center for governance and sustainability , conflict resolution , creativity , environmental policy , gerontology , graduate studies , human security and global governance , igert , innovation , jeffrey burr

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