The University of Massachusetts Amherst
University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Congratulations to Kira Tait, who was selected as one of two finalists for the campus-wide Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition! The final round is on February 28th.
The University of Massachusetts Amherst Three Minute Thesis (3MT) celebrates the research accomplishments of our graduate students while helping students develop their presentation and communication skills. These popular competitions have become a global phenomenon and offer graduate students the opportunity to communicate the significance of their research to a general audience, all in three minutes or less.

On February 10, the Harriman Institute for Russian, Eurasian, and East European Studies at Columbia University held the Third Annual Edward A. Allworth Memorial Lecture in celebration of his distinguished career in the field of Central Asian studies. This year Regine A. Spector discussed her research on the lives of people and businesses at the bazaar, one of the most important centers of social and economic life in contemporary Central Asia, Regine published her first book "Order at the Bazaar: Power and Trade in Central Asia" in 2017.

Seven faculty members from across six departments and five colleges have been chosen as 2020 Public Engagement Faculty Fellows by the Public Engagement Project (PEP), including two from the Department of Political Science. The faculty fellows will draw on their substantial research records to impact policy, the work of practitioners and public debates. Faculty fellows receive a stipend and technical training in communicating with non-academic audiences, and will travel to Beacon Hill to share their research with lawmakers. This is the sixth cohort of Public Engagement Faculty Fellows.

Raymond J. La Raja, political science and associate dean for program innovation in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, says U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney’s vote against President Donald J. Trump on one of the impeachment counts shows that Romney doesn’t want to be an ordinary senator. “Romney’s plan is to be a pre-eminent senator who has his own power base,” La Raja says. “Trump might not win [in November], so now who’s going to be a pivot player if there’s a Democratic presidential candidate? It’s going to be someone who stood up to Trump.”

The exclusive UMass Amherst WCVB poll of voters in New Hampshire shows that U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders is leading the pack in the Democratic presidential race with 25% followed by former Vice President Joe Biden at 20%, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren at 17% and former mayor Pete Buttigieg with 12% of respondents. U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and businessman Tom Steyer each had 5% while businessman Andrew Yang had 4% of respondents. The poll also found that 61% of those polled say there is still a chance they will change who they are supporting. The poll found that 36% of respondents say when choosing a candidate, the most important quality in that choice is who has the best chance of defeating President Donald J. Trump in November.

Elizabeth Sharrow, an assistant professor of UMass Amherst Department of Political Science and history, co-authored a paper which utilizes college athletics as a case study for how identity and social interaction affect opinions on policy change. The largely gender-separated nature of athletic competitions constitute a clear barrier: Only 9% of sports are coed. Meanwhile, 81% of black athletes participate in either football, basketball or track and field, limiting the potential for interracial interactions in other sports.

The Law, Ethics & Animals Program at Yale Law School is honored and delighted to invite you to join them on Tuesday, February 4, 2020, for the Yale Law, Ethics & Animal Program Inaugural Lectures, featuring Dr. Sheila Jasanoff and Dr. Timothy Pachirat. Together, these lectures will resonate with aspects of LEAP's mission and will speak to the importance of the field of animal law. The lectures will be back-to-back from 4:30 pm to 6:00 pm followed by a reception for faculty, students, friends and supporters of LEAP from 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm. Please RSVP to reserve a seat.

On Jan. 30, 2020, Anthony Rentsch, UMass Amherst Class of 2018, along with his faculty advisors, Profs. Brian F. Schaffner and Justin H. Gross, had an article published in Public Opinion Quarterly. The article, "The Elusive Likely Voter: Improving Electoral Predictions with More Informed Vote-Propensity Models," was based on work completed as part of Anthony Rentsch's honors thesis at UMass, and is just in time to be useful to those preparing to analyze the 2020 elections. Rentsch completed his Master's degree in Data Science at Harvard University in December 2019.

Raymond La Raja, political science, and Jonathan Rauch from the Brookings Institution write that both Democrat and Republican presidential nominating processes are at risk of producing nominees who aren’t competent to govern and/or don’t represent a majority of the party’s voters. They say this is because party professionals have a declining role in the process, but these insiders can make primaries safer, fairer and more democratic.

Congratulations to Timothy Pachirat, who has been awarded a Laurence S. Rockefeller Visiting Fellowship to the University Center for Human Values at Princeton University next year 2020/2021.