UMass Boston

Summer Funding

2022 Winners



Margaret Gatonye, PhD candidate, McCormack School for Policy and Global Studies
Project: Women’s marginalization in Kenyan marine and freshwater fisheries


Margaret Gatonye’s research focuses on women’s marginalization in Kenyan marine and freshwater fisheries and how this is affected by climate change. Margaret seeks to answer the questions: What socio-economic factors have contributed to women’s marginalization in the Kenyan fisheries sector? How are women in Kenya mobilizing and organizing to resist these marginalizing factors? and in what ways do climate change factors influence women’s marginalization? Through her research, Margaret hopes to inform policy on the intersection between fisheries, climate change, gender, and marginalization; and to contribute to the literature on women’s marginalization in the Kenyan fisheries sector. 



Evans Kyei, PhD Candidate, University of Massachusetts Boston
Project: Association of Inclement Weather and Opioid Overdose Mortality with Racial Disparity Perspective


Evans Kyei's research is on the association of inclement weather and opioid overdose mortality with a focus on racial disparity. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the United States recorded a staggering 100,000 overdose deaths during the first year of the COVID pandemic and black and brown communities were hit hardest. Although the root causes of this opioid misuse and overdose death have been extensively studied, little is known about the environmental exposures that contribute to this fatality and how it is associated with the racial disparity of overdose death. Evans seeks to address this gap by investigating the association between inclement weather events and the rise of opioid overdose death across different races in the US. 



Tania Ploumi, PhD Candidate, University of Massachusetts Boston
Project: Climate Change and mental health in vulnerable communities: a Psychological Ecosystem Services approach.


Tania Ploumi is researching how mental health is affected by climate change in Dorchester, MA. Dorchester is the highest-ranked community regarding socio-environmental vulnerability factors, including mental health issues indicators. It is also one of the neighborhoods most lacking in open spaces, especially when compared with other parts of Boston. Her work seeks to better understand the connections between mental health, climate change, and urban nature with the aim of helping resilience planning in frontline communities. 



2021 Winners

During the summer of 2021, with support from the Barr Foundation, SSL provided affiliates with stipends of up to $2,500 for climate justice research with a focus on issues of race and racism. 

Ping Ann Addo
Ping-Ann Addo, Associate Professor of Anthropology, College of Liberal Arts 

Ping-Ann is studying the sustainability and homeland conservation practices of Maroon peoples in the Caribbean. Maroons are peoples whose ancestors escaped colonial enslavement in the New World and set up independent societies there. Ping-Ann will be applying her summer funding to apprise herself and train a future researcher in these issues, prepare a multi-lingual bibliography of print and digital resources on Caribbean Maroon history of environmentalism and its relationship to sovereignty, and conduct interviews with black eco-feminist leaders about their communities’ visions for foregrounding sustainability in their continued bid for sovereignty as indigenous Africans in the New World.



Anne Blaschke
Anne Blaschke, Associate Lecturer, American Studies, College of Liberal Arts

Anne Blaschke is focusing on two research questions: 1) How can Global North nations more effectively support the environmentally vulnerable areas of the globe whose wellness cultures we so eagerly consume? 2) How can national and local policies make safer the outdoor spaces Black and brown athletes seek to enjoy? Her research piece will conclude with concrete suggestions for sustainable policy changes—for example, on international trade, environmental protection and corporate accountability—that support Black and brown wellness practitioners in the U.S. and abroad. Her goal is to promote historically contextualized education on the connection between racism, outdoor fitness practices and climate justice.


Pratyush Bharati
Pratyush Bharati, Professor of Management Information Systems, College of Management 

Pratyush is employing data analytics and AI techniques to conduct an analysis of climate data, social data, community discourse and spatial data that can help improve climate assessment. The research aims to identify and assess coastal resilience in neighborhoods such as Dorchester, East Boston and Quincy. His team will develop a flexible model that accommodates various sets of climate criteria and racial/economic attributes and can be used to build a new decision support system for climate change assessment. For example, this analysis can help understand the climate risks identified by Climate Ready Boston and Natural Hazard Mitigation Plan. 


Courtney Humphries
Courtney Humphries, PhD candidate, School for the Environment

Courtney has identified that climate adaptation efforts designed to make the Boston waterfront more resilient with sea level rise are at risk of repeating and exacerbating racial disparities already present in the city’s waterfront development. Her research would examine existing racial inequities in waterfront development policies and climate adaptation planning in Boston. It would rely on planning document analysis and interviews with nonprofit leaders and community representatives to understand the impacts of different waterfront policies, regulations, and planning processes on BIPOC communities. The goal would be to identify key problems that should be the focus for developing antiracist approaches to waterfront climate adaptation.  


Sajani Kandel
Sajani Kandel, PhD candidate, School for the Environment
Project: heat adaptation needs in Dorchester 

Sajani’s research will explore the heat adaptation needs of BIPOC and low-income residents in Dorchester. Preparing for extreme heat events remains an understudied problem, and there is little to no knowledge on whether existing heat adaptation and action plans reflect residents’ struggles and resource needs. This research will engage marginalized community members who were historically left out of mainstreaming planning and policy decisions in Dorchester. Their local expertise will be used to develop adaptation strategies for effective and socially sensible climate resilience outcomes. 


Betsy L Sweet.
Betsy L. Sweet, Assistant Professor of Equitable and Sustainable Development

Betsy is exploring traditional indigenous knowledge, specifically linked to institutions and ceremonies, and how those might be helping Native communities in Mexico withstand, resist and repair climate and racial injustice. Additionally, her research will focus on the following question: How is racism in Mexico and the erasure of Black and Native epistemologies and ontologies impacting daily life and producing insurgent nodes of power and agency as community strength in the face of climate change? The answer can help reorient approaches to climate and racial injustice and guide policies that address climate disparities.



Tony VanDerMeer
Keith Jones
Tony Van Der Meer, Senior Lecturer II in Africana Studies, College of Liberal Arts (left)
Keith Jones, Visiting Assistant Professor of Africana Studies, College of Liberal Arts (right)

Keith and Tony are interested in furthering their own and the broader campus community's understanding of how climate justice is deeply related to the social, economic and public health crises of our present moment. They intend to further the programming that they coordinated over the past year (both the Sankofa conversation series and the Restorative Justice colloquium on Homegoing), each of which was intended to be a campus-wide effort to produce transformative cultural change at UMass Boston. This funding will support a new series of panels that continue the Sankofa conversation programming, but which engage in substantive issues of climate and climate justice, structural racism and restorative justice.  

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