New Faculty Members, 2016-2017

The College of Social Science welcomes 21 new tenure-system faculty members this academic year. Discover what they bring to our programs by perusing their bios and comments on their work.



School of Criminal Justice


Cavanagh_Caitli_360x360_CJ_2016_directory.jpgCaitlin Cavanagh, Assistant Professor
Ph.D., University of California Irvine

Caitlin Cavanagh is an assistant professor in the School of Criminal Justice at Michigan State University. Broadly, her research focuses on the intersections of psychology and the law, and how social contexts shape adolescent behavior. A developmental psychologist by training, she is particularly interested in the dynamic parent-child relationship. Her program of research seeks to produce developmentally sound research that can improve how the juvenile justice system interfaces with youth and their families.

“Juvenile offending inflicts high costs on youth, their families, and local communities. I examine how the family context contributes to the etiology of, and desistance from, juvenile offending, and the effects of juvenile offending on the family. My goal is to guide decision makers with limited resources toward programs that are most likely to be effective. In this way, I hope to inform policy to improve how the juvenile justice system interfaces with children and families.”



Department of Economics


Croson_David_ECON_2016_directory.jpgDavid Croson, Associate Professor
Ph.D., Harvard University

David Croson’s research focuses on how companies outperform their competitors, particularly through entrepreneurship and innovation – most recently analyzing common decision errors made by entrepreneurs, the welfare effects of these decisions, and how to improve them. Other current research topics include efficient public and private investment in high-risk, long-duration projects; nontraditional benefits of vertical integration; and the design and application of research methods to identify future high-performing firms. He is developing a specialized Economics course to anchor MSU’s new undergraduate minor in Entrepreneurship and Innovation.

“My research tries to give the simplest possible explanation for a complex problem (such as why most investors can’t beat the market, why the average small business is not very profitable, or why most new businesses fail). In the classroom, I emphasize that pattern recognition and the ability to reason by analogy are critical skills that complement quantitative reasoning. If we know what we’re looking for, and how to recognize it when we find it, outperforming can be routine! Sometimes, having that 1% extra insight (or slightly better intuition) can make a hard problem easy, generate a great startup idea, or double the profitability of an existing business.”

Croson_Rachel_preferred_crop_directory.jpgRachel Croson, Professor and Dean
Ph.D., Harvard University

Rachel Croson’s research focuses on behavioral and experimental economics, investigating how people make a variety of economic decisions including financial, charitable, and risky. She has served in a number of professional leadership roles, including Associate Editor for the American Economic Review and Experimental Economics, among others, and on the board of the Committee on the Status of Women in the Economics Profession, where she was pivotal in developing and running mentoring workshops. Dr. Croson is currently serving as the Dean of the College of Social Science.

“I’ve always enjoyed being on the upward slope of the learning curve; learning about different disciplines and identifying how their core concepts can enrich my field and how my research area can enrich theirs. That diversity of thought and cross-pollination is why I became, and will ultimately always be, an academic.”



Department of History


Simon_Amy-300x236_HST_2016_directory.jpgAmy Simon, Assistant Professor
Ph.D., Indiana University

Amy Simon is the William and Audrey Farber Family Endowed Chair of Holocaust Studies and European Jewish History, participating in the Department of History, James Madison College, and Jewish Studies. Her research examines victim representations of perpetrators in Yiddish diaries written in the Warsaw, Lodz, and Vilna ghettos during World War II. She believes in a holistic and inter-disciplinary approach to history that incorporates a variety of areas, including history, film, literature, public history, and testimony.

“I see my research as a way of reclaiming Holocaust victims' voices in the pursuit of better understanding their everyday experiences under the Nazi regime. This approach emphasizes their diverse humanity and the serious attempts they made to understand the humanity (or lack thereof) of the people around them.”



Department of Human Development and Family Studies


McCauley_Heather_HDFS_2016_credit=Jordan Noble_directory.jpgHeather L. McCauley, Assistant Professor
Sc.D., Harvard University

Heather L. McCauley is an Assistant Professor of Human Development & Family Studies at Michigan State University and Core Faculty in MSU’s Research Consortium on Gender-Based Violence. Trained in social epidemiology and global health at Harvard University, her research focuses on the health impacts of relationship violence and sexual assault among marginalized adolescents and young adults, including system-based youth and sexual and gender minority populations. She is Principal Investigator on a NICHD-funded mixed methods study to understand the contexts of sexual minority women’s abusive relationships and Co-Investigator on a NIAAA-funded cluster randomized controlled trial in 30 college health centers evaluating a brief clinical intervention addressing alcohol and sexual assault. Dr. McCauley serves on the Board of Trustees at St. Lawrence University (Canton, NY).

“I am moved by the resilience of adolescents who have experienced trauma and aim to leverage this dynamic developmental period to change trajectories for survivors of sexual violence. By partnering with local communities and interdisciplinary teams of scholars, I am able to see this work translate rapidly into clinic-, school-, and community-based interventions that can make a difference. Concretely, this includes helping doctors incorporate conversations about violence into their clinical practice, teaching parents how to talk to their kids about sexuality, and empowering adolescents to recognize that violence and coercion are not normal parts of a healthy relationship.”

Wang_Yijie_HDFS_2016_directory.jpgYijie Wang, Assistant Professor
Ph.D., University of Texas

Yijie Wang’s research interests center on the development of adolescents, particularly those from racial and ethnic minority families. Her work investigates how socio-cultural processes (e.g., ethnic/racial socialization, discrimination) in multiple developmental settings (e.g., family, peer, school) influence youth’s psychosocial and psychobiological adjustment. She is particularly interested in diversity in social settings and how such diversity impacts development and well-being. Her research employs developmental methodologies including longitudinal and experience sampling designs. She has two primary projects. The first project investigates the impact of ethnic/racial socialization and discrimination in peer networks on adolescents' psychological and physiological well-being. The second project examines adolescents’ substance use and risky sexual behaviors in diverse ethnic groups. This project is funded by the National Institute of Health.

“Ultimately, I'd like to explore the opportunities and challenges associated with racial/ethnic and cultural diversity, especially how these factors impact development and well-being.”



Department of Political Science


Ostrander_Ian_PLS_2016_directory.jpgIan Ostrander, Assistant Professor
Ph.D., Washington University

Ian Ostrander’s research and teaching interests primarily concern American political institutions with a particular emphasis on the U.S. presidency, Congress, bureaucracy, and the interaction of all three. Specifically, his research has focused on the use of presidential signing statements, strategic delay in the executive nominations process, the development of Senate procedure, and the importance of congressional staff.

“I study institutions because they form the rules of the game and ultimately dictate what is possible.”

Sebell_Dustin_PLS_2016_directory.jpgDustin Sebell, Assistant Professor
Ph.D., Boston College

Dustin Sebell’s research interests range broadly across the history of political thought, from the classical to the late modern period, but his current work focuses on classical political thought.

“My interest in the thought of the past does not stem from indifference to the problems of the present. Rather, I study the history of political thought generally, and classical political thought in particular, in the hope that it can shed light on fundamental questions—questions about what we can know, and how we should live—that we still face today.”



Department of Psychology


Anderson-Carpenter_Kaston_PSY_2016_directory.jpgKaston Anderson-Carpenter, Assistant Professor
Ph.D., The University of Kansas

Kaston Anderson-Carpenter is the director of The Advancing Community Empowerment and Social Justice (ACES) Laboratory which is committed to promoting equity in underserved populations through theoretically-grounded research and empirically-driven action. The ACES mission is fulfilled through two core efforts: understanding how social determinants contribute to inequity in underserved communities and investigating the community processes that facilitate positive social and environmental change. Translating research into practice is fundamental to his work. To that end, ACES collaborates with community partners at the local, state, and national levels.

“Having spent much of my life in poverty, I have experienced firsthand the impact of social and environmental factors on health and well-being. As a researcher, my goal is to lift up the voices of communities that have been historically marginalized and underserved. My family has long lived by the creed ‘to whom much is given, much is required.’ Therefore, I believe my research is not just my job—rather, it is my moral obligation and purpose.”

Arguello_Amy_PSY_2016_directory.jpgAmy Arguello, Assistant Professor
Ph.D., UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas

The main goal of the Arguello lab is to examine how neural substrates and subcircuits promote drug relapse. Specifically, she is interested in the interaction between the lateral orbitofrontal cortex and basolateral amygdala and how these regions contribute to cue-induced relapse. Her lab utilizes multidisciplinary approaches to answer these questions, including western blotting, immunohistochemistry, in vivo viral and optogenetic manipulations, in combination with a rodent model of drug relapse.

“Results from this line of research will aid in the development of novel treatment options for drug relapse.”

Brascamp_Jan_PSY_2016_directory.jpgJan Brascamp, Assistant Professor
Ph.D., Utrecht University

Jan Brascamp’s research focuses on the neural processes of interpretation and selection that allow sensation (the retinas detecting light) to turn into conscious visual perception (seeing). He approaches this topic using a diverse array of techniques from psychology and neuroscience, including psychophysics, brain imaging (fMRI), computational modeling, eye tracking and brain stimulation (TMS).

“It’s fascinating and gratifying to be part of the endeavor to understand the mind — one of the biggest mysteries left to science. My focus on perception allows me to study a comparatively tractable part of the puzzle that is close to the system’s input side (the senses), while always looking for a connection with the bigger picture.”

Drahota_Amy_PSY_2016_directory.jpgAmy Drahota, Assistant Professor
Ph.D., University of California Los Angeles

Amy Drahota runs the Autism Community Treatments Lab ACT Lab) through the Clinical and Ecological-Community programs in the Department of Psychology. Current ACT Lab research spans from intervention development to implementation of established evidence-based practices for individuals with autism spectrum disorder. The overall goal of the ACT Lab is to improve the lives of individuals with specialized needs due to autism spectrum disorder or neurodevelopment disorder and co-occurring psychological and behavioral disorders. This is accomplished by building up community agencies that provide services to individuals with mental and behavioral health needs, improving access to care, and developing interventions and service systems to meet needs through collaboration with researchers, practitioners and innovators.

“I strive to make effective interventions accessible to all individuals in need of them within their own communities.”

Healey_Karl_2_PSY_2016_directory.jpgKarl Healey, Assistant Professor
Ph.D., University of Toronto

Karl Healey studies these age-related and individual differences in memory. He combines behavioral experiments, computational modeling, and multivariate analyses of neural representations.

“Our memories define us as individuals. They record our personal histories on an autobiographical timeline. Memory is also central to our intellectual lives, as almost every cognitive task requires retrieving information from memory. Thus, memory is among our most important cognitive faculties. But some individuals are better at searching memory than others. And we all tend to get worse at searching memory as we grow older. I want to understand the source of these age-related and individual differences.”

Veenema_Alexa_PSY_2016_directory.jpgAlexa Veenema, Associate Professor
Ph.D., University of Groningen

Alexa Veenema’s lab explores the neural basis of social behavior. Specifically, her research focuses on understanding the roles of the neuropeptides vasopressin and oxytocin (as well as opioids and orexin) in regulating social behavior (such as social play, social novelty-seeking, social recognition, social investigation, and sociosexual motivation) and how this is modulated by sex, age, and early life stress.

“It is expected that our research will gain insights into the neural network underlying normal as well as abnormal forms of social behavior. Findings of our research will be essential first steps in the evaluation of vasopressin and oxytocin as potential therapeutic targets in the treatment of social dysfunction in humans. Ultimately, our research should help lead to more effective treatment of the symptoms and/or causes of social behavior deficits.”



School of Social Work


Moylan_Carrie_SW_2016_directory.jpgCarrie Moylan, Assistant Professor
Ph.D., University of Washington

Carrie Moylan researches gender-based violence, sexual violence, and domestic violence, and she is part of the MSU Research Consortium on Gender-Based Violence. Her other focus areas include community and organizational strategies for preventing and responding to gender-based violence and campus sexual assault. She teaches research methods and generalist practice in the MSW program.

“From my first experience volunteering in a domestic violence shelter during college, I found myself thinking about how and why services work (and sometimes don’t work) to improve the lives of victims of gender-based violence. My research is still driven by this same desire to understand organizational level strategies for promoting justice, focusing most closely on the prevention of gender-based violence and the amelioration of the consequences of experiencing sexual and domestic violence in both campus and community contexts.”

Shires_Deirdre_SW_2016_directory.jpgDeirdre Shires, Assistant Professor
Ph.D., Wayne State University

Deirdre Shires’ research interests include health disparities among sexual and gender minorities, barriers to healthcare access for marginalized populations, patient-provider communication, structural bias in healthcare settings, and cancer screening and survivorship. She teaches theories of groups, organizations, and communities as well as research methods.

“Visiting a doctor or hospital to get the care we need is something that many of us take for granted, but this is often not the case for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals. No one should be afraid to seek healthcare services, and sensitive and high-quality care should be available for everyone. To that end, my research focuses on breaking down the barriers that LGBT people face when seeking healthcare.”

Fei-Sun_SW_2016_directory.jpgFei Sun, Associate Professor
Ph.D., University of Alabama

The research of Fei Sun includes interventions to reduce impact of Alzheimer's disease on individuals, families and communities, cognitive and emotional well-being in aging populations, service use among ethnic minority older populations, and elder abuse and neglect. He teaches research methods for social work, gerontological social work, social welfare policy, and human behavior in social environments.

“Every individual older person is entitled to a fulfilling, joyful and healthy life. And our job is to help those most vulnerable identify their strengths, and equip them with knowledge, support and skills needed to cope with disabilities, memory problems or other diseases.”



Department of Sociology


Hsieh_Ning_SOC_2016_directory.jpgNing Hsieh, Assistant Professor
Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania

Ning Hsieh is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Michigan State University. Her research examines disparities in health and social resources within and between national and cultural contexts. Currently her work focuses on three themes: the link between mental health and social relationships in cross-national comparative perspective; inequalities in health, access to health care, and and exposure to stress and behavioral risks by sexual orientation, gender, and race; the association between functional and cognitive limitations, social interaction/isolation, and relationship quality among older populations. Overall, Dr. Hsieh’s research seeks to understand how social, behavioral, institutional, and cultural factors contribute to health and well-being.

"Health disparities are largely rooted in social injustice at the community, national, or international level. My research addresses the lack of social, economic, cultural, and political resources among marginalized populations and its link to poorer health."

Ponce_Aaron_SOC_2016_directory.jpgAaron Ponce, Assistant Professor
Ph.D., Indiana University

Aaron Ponce’s work addresses core questions at the intersection of political sociology and global social change, focusing on international migration and immigrant reception. Most recently, his work has examined migration to the Nordic universalist welfare states and the influence of changing demographics on social cohesion across Europe. More broadly, Dr. Ponce seeks to uncover the causes and consequences of historic and contemporary social change linked to globalization with an emphasis on the construction and contestation of socio-cultural diversity (ethnic, religious, sexual, linguistic).

“My research focuses on the way diverse populations move through social life, how they are received by societies, and how societies and social structures are changed by their presence. Whether it is Muslim immigrants, people who identify as LGBT, or other racial and linguistic minorities, I believe studying marginalized groups, their treatment, and the relative opportunities open to them tells us about ourselves, our country, and the larger global community. With my work, I try to bring to light persistent social inequalities through critical engagement to make a difference in the lives of those who benefit least from socio-cultural divisions.”



School of Planning, Design, and Construction – Urban and Regional Planning


Kotval-Karanchandani_Zeenat_URP_2016_directory.jpgZeenat Kotval-Karamchandani, Assistant Professor
Ph.D., Michigan State University

The research interests of Zeenat Kotval-Karamchandani include transportation planning, and urban and environmental sustainability. Currently, Dr. Kotval-K's research focuses on health impacts of travel behavior (specifically for older adults), environmental impacts of travel behavior (specifically in the Detroit Region), and accessibility to food systems in Mumbai, India.

“I like to use urban planning and transportation as a framework to research issues that the under-privileged sections of our society face so that they have a voice through my work.”

Nubani_Linda_print_SPDC_2016_directory.jpgLinda Nubani, Assistant Professor
Ph.D., University of Michigan

Linda Nubani’s research Interests include environment and behavior, space syntax (spatial analysis)/visual and spatial properties of physical environment and their behavioral outcome, post occupancy evaluation, crime prevention through environmental design, neighborhood design and quality of life, design for special populations, and evidence-based design (EBD) in the workplace environment and healthcare facilities areas.

“As many behavioral and health outcomes are now found to be associated with the physical environment, my ultimate goal is to come up with an instrument that can objectively measure and predict the outcomes on two very important different topics: healthcare facilities and stranger to stranger criminal activities. I definitely want to see less crime and zero hospital associated infections and accidents. In both topics, I hope to save lives!”