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Allan on Leadership Team Awarded $3 Million by the National Science Foundation to Foster New Paths for Equity and Inclusion in STEM Fields

James Allan
James Allan

Professor James Allan, chair of the faculty in the UMass Amherst College of Information and Computer Sciences, is a member of the leadership team on a National Science Foundation (NSF) ADVANCE Institutional Transformation grant to support the development of an innovative professional advancement model for underrepresented faculty in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) at the university.

With the five-year, $3 million NSF grant, Allan is part of an interdisciplinary team from four UMass Amherst colleges who will focus on using collaboration as a tool for fostering equity for women and other underrepresented faculty in science and engineering fields. It is believed to be the largest social science-led interdisciplinary grant ever awarded to UMass Amherst.

"This highly competitive grant will be a tremendous boost for our continuing efforts to create a campus environment that supports the success of all members of our community," said UMass Amherst Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy. "I commend the faculty team for developing a winning proposal that envisions a new and bold way for the university to promote the success and professional growth of our faculty."

With coordination from the campus' Institute for Social Science Research (ISSR), the ADVANCE project centers its research and programming on three essential elements: encouraging research collaboration, creating an inclusive community through mentoring, and promoting shared decision-making and governance at the department level. The team is drawing upon research literature on leadership development and organizational behavior to create pathways for faculty advancement. At the heart of the project is their R3 model: strategically using resources, relationships, and recognition to encourage faculty collaboration and equity.

"Within CICS, we have embarked on many initiatives to broaden participation among all groups - faculty, staff, and students. As one example, we recently added two directors of diversity to help us in solidifying our commitment to inclusiveness and equity," said Allan.  "We have also strengthened mentoring for new faculty so that they can be immersed in our culture of collaboration and collegiality. This grant will enable us to share our experiences with our colleagues across campus and to learn about best practices being implemented in other disciplines to further our goals."

Along with Allan, the other co-principal investigators are Buju Dasgupta, psychological and brain sciences, David McLaughlin, electrical and computer engineering, Joya Misra, sociology and public policy, Jennifer Normanly, biochemistry and molecular biology, Laurel Smith-Doerr, sociology and director of ISSR, and Gabriela Weaver, chemistry. The project is being led by principal investigator Enobong (Anna) Branch, professor of sociology and associate chancellor for equity and inclusion and chief diversity officer, to ensure that the successful ADVANCE project activities and practices are sustained beyond the award term and systematically integrated into the existing campus structure.

As the project moves forward, the leadership team invites wide engagement from faculty and campus leadership to develop further and implement the key program ideas and to participate in the research.

UMass Amherst News Office press release