Faculty Fellows

The Tisch College Faculty Fellows program convenes scholars for interdisciplinary discussions about engaged teaching and research, and builds the capacity of Tufts faculty to integrate active citizenship into their work. It comes with a stipend that can be used for salary or research/teaching expenses. To date, nearly 100 faculty members from all Tufts schools have participated in the program.

Coordinated by Peter Levine, the Lincoln Filene Professor of Citizenship and Public Service at Tisch College, the program brings Fellows together four times a semester to discuss common themes, challenges, and resources from diverse academic perspectives.

Faculty members from all Tufts schools are invited to apply for the 2015-16 academic year. Prospective applicants should contact Peter Levine to discuss their ideas for a project.

The 2014-2015 Faculty Fellows are:


Jennifer Burton

Professor of the Practice, Drama and Dance

As both a filmmaker and scholar, Burton’s work focuses on the interaction of art and social change. Her current film projects with Five Sisters Productions include a comic web series on ageism in the media (“Old Guy”) and a feature documentary on drag performance and gender expression.

As a 2014-15 Tisch Faculty Fellow, Burton is producing “Half the History,” a new web project highlighting the under-told stories of women in American history. The project brings together Burton’s expertise in film, African American Studies, and Women’s History with the creation of short films. The films are inspired by women like Belinda Royall, the formerly enslaved Medford woman who successfully sued for reparations in 1783.

David Ekbladh

Associate Professor of History

Ekbladh’s current work is focused on how the extended economic crisis of the Great Depression altered the global posture of the United States, as the political and social upheaval of the period forced many Americans to reconsider how the international community worked and their place within it. A new force had entered the public sphere, and educational and advocacy institutions focused on what was then a new field of inquiry called international relations. These organizations were often quite active in trying to reshape views on world politics and economics, but the discussion was more than just one among elites. Through his Tisch Faculty Fellowship, Ekbladh will explore how various forces reached and informed the public, and how sectors of the public talked back.

Sasha Fleary

Assistant Professor, Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Study and Human Development

Fleary is a new faculty member in EPCSHD and runs the Child Health Equity Lab. Her research is focused on reducing health disparities and improving preventive health behaviors in underserved communities. She teaches courses on preventive health and pediatric psychology.

As a Tisch College Faculty Fellow, Fleary is working with community partners to conduct a program evaluation on a community organization that provides transitional housing for homeless families in Dorchester. This organization serves mostly women and children who have been victimized, and provides several life skills workshops and a supportive, nurturing environment for families. The goal of the evaluation is to identify aspects of the organizational model, processes, and programming that are most responsible for the organization’s success, as well as aspects that should be improved, from the perspectives of the staff and families they serve.

Sara C. Folta

Assistant Professor, Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy

Folta’s research is focused on community-based interventions, and particularly their use of behavioral theory to create positive change in nutrition and physical activity behaviors.  Through her Tisch College Faculty Fellowship, Folta is enhancing a study funded by the Boston Nutrition Obesity Research Center to develop a six-month intervention for African American women that focuses primarily on civic engagement and secondarily on classic nutrition education. This approach will link the individual and community levels of the eco-social model in a way that is mutually reinforcing of health behavior change, and that places a focus on collective rather than individual health. The study aims to show that this is a more culturally appropriate focus that may achieve high levels of adherence, satisfaction, and retention; and that women will also improve their own health outcomes by working together to create more systemic, community-level change.

David Hammer

Professor of Education and Department Chair

Hammer’s work has been in the learning and teaching of science, mainly physics, across ages—from young children to adults. More specifically, he has studied students’ intuitive epistemologies, how instructors interpret and respond to student thinking, and resource-based models of knowledge and reasoning.

As a Tisch Faculty Fellow, Hammer will explore ways of influencing perceptions and policies about teaching in the US, from K-12 teachers to university faculty. In particular, he hopes to shift expectations about the intellectual demands of expert teaching, about the need for rigor in preparing educators to face those demands, and about the challenges and possibilities of meaningful assessment.

Peniel E. Joseph

Professor of History

The 2014-2015 Tisch College Faculty Fellowship will support Joseph’s current research project: “Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr., and American Democracy: Lessons From the 1960s to the Present.” This exploration into the political worlds of the two most iconic activists of the Civil Rights Movement’s Heroic Period aims to tease out these activists and civil rights icons’ understanding and reconceptualization of American democracy (especially its relationship to racial and economic justice, war, and inequality) both during their lives and after.

Understanding Martin and Malcolm’s analysis of democracy, citizenship, voting, organizing, and civil disobedience provides an important historical context for contemporary social movements and social justice struggles.

Daniele Susan Lantagne

Usen Family Career Development Professor; Assistant Professor, Civil & Environmental Engineering  

Lantagne is a public health engineer who focuses on water treatment to reduce the burden of diarrheal diseases and cholera in developing countries. Over the past 14 years, she has provided technical assistance and evaluation of chlorination, filtration, and combined treatment implementations in more than 50 countries in Africa, Asia, and Central/South America, in both the development and emergency contexts. She has been working in Haiti since 2000, and was a member of the Independent Panel of Experts who investigated the source of cholera in Haiti for the Secretary-General of the UN.

In 2013, Tufts University assisted Haiti’s Public Health and Population Ministry in developing a national household water treatment (HWT) product certification process, and evaluated four novel products currently seeking approval for distribution in Haiti. None fulfilled the certification requirements, as manufacturers provided information that was inapplicable, did not demonstrate product efficacy, and was insufficient to ensure safe product use. As a Tisch Faculty Fellow, Lantagne will work to build in-country capacity to objectively evaluate HWT products and establish this certification scheme in the future.

Helen B. Marrow

Assistant Professor of Sociology

Marrow is a specialist in immigration, race and ethnicity, social inequality and policy, and health. Since 2012, she has been collaborating on a large, interdisciplinary research project entitled “Immigrant-Native Relations in 21st-Century America: Intergroup Contact, Trust, and Civic Engagement.” The project combines survey data from 2,000 native (white and black) and immigrant (Mexican and Indian) residents of the Atlanta and Philadelphia metropolitan areas with follow-up interviews, brief field observations, and in-depth interviews with key political and civic leaders conducted in the summer of 2014. A central goal of the project is to understand how various immigration-related status characteristics (including social class and race, language, religion, skin color, and citizenship) shape patterns of cultural contact and threat in 21st-century America. Another goal is to understand how existing patterns of cultural contact and threat shape intergroup trust and civic engagement.

Through the Tisch Faculty Fellowship, Marrow will be analyzing the quantitative and qualitative data in preparation for presentation in various academic and nonacademic outlets. She will also be serving as 2014-15 co-leader of the Boston chapter of the Scholars Strategy Network, an organization dedicated to making academic research more relevant to the public, politicians, and the media.

José Antonio Mazzotti

Professor of Latin American Literature

Mazzotti has been working on Latin American literature since the beginning of his career, emphasizing the oral aspects and pluricultural background of some canonical and non-canonical authors. He wrote his first book on the rhythms and structures of el Inca Garcilaso de la Vega’s Comentarios Reales, which evoke a form of epic recitation with origins in Quechua oral traditions. His second book examines the massive waves of migration, both internal and external, and the effects of political violence on the search for a new poetic language in Peru in the 1980s. He is currently the director and editor-in-chief of the Revista de Crítica Literaria Latinoamericana, one of the leading journals in the field, and president of the International Association of Peruvianists, an NGO devoted to the dissemination and promotion of new research on Peru and the Andean area.

Mazzotti’s current project is “Documenting and Revitalizing Iskonawa in Peru,” for which he received a National Science Foundation grant in 2012. He and his team of linguists and anthropologists have been collecting and classifying audiovisual material from this endangered community in the Peruvian Amazon. As a Tisch College Faculty Fellow, he is continuing with the project and elaborating an extensive catalog of the community’s oral tradition.

Cora Roelofs

Assistant Professor, Community Health

For the past 15 years, Roelofs has worked with community organizations serving immigrant populations in Boston, Lawrence, and Lowell to understand the factors promoting and challenging occupational, environmental, and economic well-being. She joined the Community Health Program in 2012 and teaches about social change to promote the conditions for health. As a Tisch Faculty Fellow, she will study effective models for course-based service-learning and engage students in her Immigrant and Refugee Health seminar in service-learning projects in partnership with immigrant community organizations in Tufts’ neighboring communities. Working closely with the Haitian Coalition, the Immigrant Service Providers/Health Group, and the Welcome Project, students will better understand these communities’ health needs and resources, and contribute to their goals through research and service.

Kim Ruane

Associate Professor of Mathematics

Ruane has been teaching Calculus for nearly 20 years at the college level and thinking about the pedagogical challenges of effectively teaching the subject. Through her Tisch Faculty Fellowship, she will be experimenting with a “flipped classroom” approach. Ruane will have short pre-recorded lectures available before class, so that the bulk of classroom time can be spent solving problems either individually or collectively. Her approach will also emphasize a more holistic understanding, discussion, and communication of mathematical concepts and problems, beyond their mere calculation. Within that context, Ruane will also explore with her students how calculus may be used in the context of social and political issues.

Li Zeng

Associate Professor of Integrative Physiology & Pathobiology

Zeng’s research at the Tufts University School of Medicine aims to understand the fundamental mechanisms of joint degeneration in arthritis, which includes early detection and monitoring methods for cartilage loss. She also works to convey these findings and knowledge on arthritis etiology, treatment, and prevention to the Chinatown community, where many residents turn to Tufts for medical treatment.

Through the Tisch College Faculty Fellowship, Zeng plans to work with the Orthopedics Department at Tufts Medical Center to conduct a survey on the understanding of arthritis and its treatments, including a follow-up satisfaction rate for Chinese immigrants who have undergo joint replacement surgery. She will also work with Chinatown community groups to set up workshops and disseminate research results and raise awareness of arthritis therapeutic options, keeping in mind the preferred exercise and treatment regimens by the Chinese community, such as Tai Chi. This work will establish a base for research on the impact of ethnicity on the outcome measures for joint surgery procedures.

Updated August 2014