F. Chris Curran, School of Public Policy, Writes About Teacher Overtime Policy in Education Week

F. Chris Curran, a new assistant professor in the School of Public Policy, recently wrote a letter to the editor about including teachers in overtime pay discussions that was published in Education Week. In the letter, Curran referenced President Obama’s announcement of plans for changes in overtime-pay regulations, noting that provisions of the proposal would prevent teachers from seeing benefits from the policy.

Chris Curran“While teachers hoping for an extra paycheck may be disappointed, the national conversation on what President Obama calls a ‘fair day’s pay’ should not be allowed to pass the schoolhouse by. It is an opportunity to recognize, and remediate, the fact that teachers in this country are underpaid relative to the requirements and importance of their jobs,” Curran wrote.

He added: “The call for increasing teacher pay is not new, but if policymakers are ready to acknowledge that a salary below $50,000 necessitates compensation for overtime hours, then we should also recognize that teachers are no exception. We know that who is in front of the class has important implications for student outcomes.”

Curran joined the School of Public Policy faculty this month, and he conducts research on education policy with an emphasis on improving educational outcomes for underserved and disadvantaged youth. His research interests include early childhood education, school discipline and safety, teacher labor markets, and politics of education. Read more on the School of Public Policy website. Curran also published an op-ed earlier this month in The Tennessean in which he outlined future opportunities for NashvilleNext, a strategic plan for Nashville’s growth that was recently adopted by the Metropolitan Planning Commission.

Christelle Viauroux, Economics, Finds that Mandatory Life Jacket Use Could Reduce Recreational Boating Deaths by 80 Percent

Christelle ViaurouxA new study by Christelle Viauroux, an associate professor of economics, found that requiring recreational boat operators to wear life jackets would increase the odds of surviving a boating accident by 80 percent. Viauroux conducted the study with Ali Gungor of the U.S. Coast Guard’s Standards Evaluation and Analysis Division and the findings were published in Risk Analysis.

The researchers used data from 2008 to 2011 from the U.S. Coast Guard’s Boating Accident Report Database (BARD) and compared life jacket use to other factors affecting fatalities in recreational boating.

A major goal of the research was to assess the impact of a mandatory life jacket policy on the recreational boating fatality rate. “However, such a major and controversial policy cannot be implemented without a thorough investigation of life jacket effectiveness. A lot of the work focusing on reducing recreational boating fatalities lacked the availability of life jacket use data,” the authors wrote in their published findings.

The research recently received news coverage in U.S. News Health. The story noted that from 2008 to 2011, making life jacket use mandatory would have likely led to a 20 percent increase in life jacket use by recreational boaters and “the researchers estimated the increased life jacket use would have saved more than 1,700 boaters and more than 1,200 drowning victims.” Read “Mandatory life jacket laws could reduce boating deaths” in U.S. News.

Read more about Christelle Viauroux’s research and a press release announcing the findings of the study.

Tim Brennan, School of Public Policy and Economics, Comments on Net Neutrality in the Brisbane Times

Tim BrennanTim Brennan, professor of public policy and economics, was quoted in a recent Brisbane Times article about the possibility of proposed net neutrality rules in Australia. Brennan, who served as chief economist of the FCC last year, was interviewed after presenting a talk about attempts to create net neutrality rules for U.S. carriers at the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) annual regulatory conference in Brisbane earlier this month.

Brennan urged regulators to take a cautious approach to net neutrality in Australia: “Before Australia embarks on net neutrality, it should have evidence of a problem and not merely presumptions that there could be a problem. Even a monopoly broadband provider has incentives to offer high-quality, unbiased access to its subscribers,” he told the Brisbane Times.

“Restricting the ability of broadband service providers to negotiate with specific users could inhibit the development of new innovations that over time could benefit all,” he added, pointing to the example of exclusive agreements between Apple and AT&T Mobile that led to the development of the iPhone and other smartphones.

Brennan is an expert in antitrust law and policy, regulatory economics, electricity markets, telecommunications and broadcast policy, and copyright and intellectual property. In addition to serving as FCC chief economist, he is a senior fellow at Resources for the Future, an independent organization that conducts economic research and analysis. Read more about Brennan’s research on the School of Public Policy website.

Sarah Jewett, STEM Transfer Student Success Initiative, and Susan Martin, CWIT, Write Series of Op-eds for Evolllution


Susan Martin

Sarah Jewett, executive director of the STEM Transfer Student Success Initiative, and Susan Martin, associate director of the Center for Women in Technology, recently co-wrote a two-part series op-ed for Evolllution about their work developing programs to bridge access to STEM fields, focusing on underserved transfer students.

The first part of the series discussed the STEM Transfer Success Initiative, which creates local institutional partnerships to support the success of students in transition, and the T-SITE Scholars program, which targets talented engineering and computing transfer students who demonstrate financial need.

Sarah Jewett headshot

Sarah Jewett

“These projects illustrate the potential of collaborative relationships to improve academic success, increase retention in STEM majors and decrease time to graduation,” Jewett and Martin wrote.

The second part of the series focused on reflecting on the lessons that were learned during the launch process of the STEM Transfer Student Success Initiative and T-SITE Scholars program.

“Improving the success, retention and graduation rates of transfer students requires institutions to engage in critical self-reflection. Given that transfer students comprise almost half of the student population at UMBC, it was imperative for us to think seriously about how students experienced the transition between institutions, and to adopt new approaches to improve the process,” the authors wrote.

The complete two-part series can be accessed below:

STEM Transfer Success: The Value of Critical Reflection and Shared Responsibility
STEM Transfer Success: Reflecting on Lessons Learned

Danielle L. Beatty Moody, Psychology, Receives NIH Career Development Award

Danielle BeattyDanielle L. Beatty Moody, an assistant professor of psychology, has received a Career Development Award from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The five-year, $600,000 project will investigate the ways in which racial disparities in exposure to early life social disadvantage promote accelerated diseases and disorders related to the brain including stroke, dementia, and cognitive decline in African Americans across the span of the lifetime.

“Pronounced racial disparities are observed across multiple clinical and subclinical brain health endpoints in African Americans compared to Whites and may be attributable, in part, to accelerated age-related disease processes,” NIH stated in a public health relevance statement announcing the award.

“The interrelations among life course social disadvantage, accelerated aging, and brain health endpoints have been grossly understudied and are crucial to developing appropriate prevention and intervention strategies geared toward reducing and ultimately eliminating race-related health disparities in brain aging,” Dr. Beatty Moody explained in the award announcement.

Beatty Moody, as the primary investigator of the project, will work with 300 participants in the study to determine whether early life social disadvantage is related to MRI-indicators of brain pathology predictive of future stroke and cognitive decline and if they are more pronounced in African American than White adults. She will also research potential psychosocial, behavioral, and biomedical mediators of those associations.

Professor Beatty Moody’s research interests focus on cardiovascular disease, health and racial/ethnic disparities, psychosocial stressors, socioeconomic status, and discrimination. Read more about her research on the psychology department website. Read the Career Development Award announcement on the NIH website.

Steph Ceraso, English, Receives the 2015 Richard Ohmann Outstanding Article in College English Award

stephceraso_webSteph Ceraso, an assistant professor of English, has been selected for the 2015 Richard Ohmann Outstanding Article in College English Award. The annual award is presented by the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE). Ceraso received the recognition for her article “(Re)Educating the Senses: Multimodal Listening, Bodily Learning, and the Composition of Sonic Experiences.”

The award is recognition of an outstanding refereed article in the past volume year of the journal College English that makes a significant contribution to the field of English studies. It is given in the name of Richard Ohmann, landmark editor of College English from 1966 to 1978.

Ceraso’s essay aims to reimagine how listening is taught by accounting for the different sensory modes in which sound is experienced: “In response to widespread ‘plug in and tune out’ listening habits, and to the need for a more substantial listening education—particularly in relation to digital engagement and production—my article offers an expansive, explicitly embodied approach to the teaching of listening. My aim in writing this piece was to create a sonic pedagogy that allows students to capitalize on the compositional affordances of sound in digital contexts and retrains them to become more thoughtful, sensitive listener-composers of sound in any setting,” Ceraso shared.

Ceraso’s article received significant praise from the NCTE selection committee in a press release announcing the award: “The judges found Professor Ceraso’s essay fresh, timely, and engaging—a piece that will have an impact on the field for its vision and accessibility. Her essay, woven throughout with connections to pedagogy and composition, pushes the boundaries of multimodal composition as Professor Ceraso challenges us to reimagine how soundscapes can change the writing classroom—that is how we can incorporate ‘productive, quality sonic experiences’ that build on students’ past experiences.”

The award will be presented in November at the NCTE Annual Convention in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Ceraso’s teaching and research interests include rhetoric and composition, sound studies, digital media production, and pedagogy. Read more about her work on the English department website.

Orianne Smith, English, Wins Inaugural British Association of Romantic Studies First Book Prize

Orianne Smith bookOrianne Smith, associate professor and chair of English, has won the prestigious biennial First Book Prize from the British Association of Romantic Studies (BARS). Smith’s book Romantic Women Writers, Revolution, and Prophecy: Rebellious Daughters, 1786–1826 (Cambridge University Press, 2013) was selected from a strong shortlist of finalists for the inaugural prize.

Professor Smith traveled to Cardiff, Wales to accept the award. In an announcement posted on the BARS blog, the judges stated during the award ceremony that her book “corrects the gender imbalance of previous work on literary enthusiasm by shedding light on the previously obscured role of women writers in apocalyptic discourse…a tremendously fluent and incisive study, making surprising and productive use of speech-act theory to bring out the performative dimension of prophetic writing.”

Dr. Smith participated in a detailed and wide-ranging Q&A posted on the BARS blog about her research process in writing her award-winning book. She said the idea for the project first came to her when writing the conclusion for her final paper on the “wild, wacky and truly wonderful Civil War prophetesses” in her seventeenth-century sectarian writers class during her second year of graduate school.

Orianne Smith with Professor Emma Clery, the Chair of the First Book Prize Committee, giving her acceptance speech.

Orianne Smith with Professor Emma Clery, the Chair of the First Book Prize Committee, giving her acceptance speech.

“It occurred to me that there could be an interesting connection between these seventeenth-century women who claimed the authority of God during a period of revolution and Romantic women writers who also assumed the mantle of the female prophet in the wake of the French Revolution,” she said. “I wrapped up the paper with this thought, but the idea of a British tradition of female prophecy stuck with me.”

Also in the Q&A, Smith discussed how the project evolved, the benefit of placing religious discourses at center of cultural debates and literary studies, and her future research, among other topics.

Dr. Smith’s teaching and research interests include gender and Romanticism, the Gothic, and the connections between religion, superstition, and magic in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and she has published widely in these fields. Read more about her work on the English department website.