Research Roundup: Winter/Spring 2021 Issue

June 24, 2021

Research Roundup highlights the work of faculty in the Division of Social Sciences. For ongoing coverage of UCSC research, please visit the UCSC Newscenter and Social Sciences News.


Professor Melissa Caldwell published an article in The Conversation, “Why people with disabilities are at greater risk of going hungry – especially during a pandemic.” The article discusses the economic struggle faced by many Americans that were exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. She notes, however, that pervasive food insecurity disproportionately affects people with disabilities but has received less attention. Many people with disabilities have reduced access to food shopping, and could not always shop during hours set aside for elderly or disabled customers; nor could they secure up to two weeks of supplies when shopping in a wheelchair. This limited their ability to respond to shortages caused in the early months of the pandemic. In addition, the opportunities to connect with community were reduced when food banks and community service centers were shut down. Altogether, these pandemic changes created a situation where people with disabilities were even further marginalized and less visible than before.

Professor Nancy Chen’s research on concepts of food and wellness in Chinese medicine was recently featured in an online article for The Zoe Report. The article, “Culinary principles of traditional Chinese medicine & how to incorporate them into your diet” discusses how to put into practice beliefs and practices of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) to improve or maintain health by balancing life force, or qi. TCM practitioners view nutrition and medicine as closely intertwined with a goal of achieving harmony: internal harmony, external harmony, interpersonal harmony. Maintaining this balance is helped by eating food with your body’s specific needs in mind, but also paying attention to the origins and age of your food, and focusing on food that is local and fresh.

In addition, Professor Chen’s book chapter on "Food" has been published in A Cultural History of Medicine in the Modern Age, volume 6 (Bloomsbury), the first comprehensive and interdisciplinary overview of the cultural history of medicine from ancient times to modernity. The Cultural History of Medicine includes six illustrated volumes covering 2500 years of human history, and is the definitive reference work on the subject.

Division of Social Sciences

guliasi_lagattuta.jpgResearcher Les Guliasi has published “Toward a political economy of public safety power shutoff: Politics, ideology, and the limits of regulatory choice in California in the journal Energy Research & Social Science. California utilities have chosen to shut off electricity delivery to consumers by employing a “Public Safety Power Shutoff” (PSPS) strategy when gusty winds and dry conditions heighten the risk of wild fires, which pose a major threat to life, property, and public health and safety. This paper examines the public policy rationale underlying the PSPS strategy within the context of the policy framework for advancing the commercialization of microgrids as a means of mitigating the effects wildfires and PSPS events, centering on a case study of the outcome of the first phase of the California Public Utilities Commission’s (CPUC) microgrid rulemaking proceeding. The theory of structural interests is used to explain how political and ideological conflict among key stakeholders, including developers, environmentalists and social justice advocates, and the clash between investor-owned utilities (IOUs) and community choice aggregators (CCAs) over market share, fought in the regulatory arena, reveal contrasting visions about the future of energy delivery, and expose the limitations of policy choices faced by regulators in adjudicating disputes. This case study provides some cautionary lessons for the nation’s public utility regulators to avoid “regulatory inertia” in their decision-making process, and to confront practical tradeoffs when balancing legitimate interests in serving the public good against the desire to promote long-term environmental goals. This study was also featured in the UCSC News.


Professor Rob Fairlie testified before the House Committee on Small Business during a special hearing dedicated to assessing the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic and the effects of relief measures to date. Professor Fairlie also presented his findings to the California State Assembly, Committee on Jobs, Economic Development, and the Economy, on "The Impacts of COVID-19 on Small Business Owners" and served as an advisor for Vice President Kamala Harris’s team for small business policy.

Professor Fairlie also published several journal articles, including "Parental income and college outcomes: Evidence from lottery wins" (with George Bulman, Sarena Goodman, Adam Isen), in American Economic Review; "Evaluating entrepreneurship training: How important are random experiments for estimating impacts?” in the Journal of Economics and Management Strategy; "Minority student and teaching assistant interactions in STEM" (with Dan Oliver, Glenn Millhauser, and Randa Roland) in Economics of Education Review; and "Instructional interventions for improving COVID-19 knowledge, attitudes, behaviors: Evidence from a large-scale RCT in India" (with Prashant Loyalka and Dinsha Mistree) in Social Science & Medicine.

Professor Galina Hale’s latest working paper, “Do looks matter for an academic career in economics?,” was featured in UCSC News, Marketplace, and Vox Talks.  The paper shows that physical appearance matters for academic hires and promotions in economics, and that better-looking economists' papers are cited more frequently. These findings are consistent with broader literature on appearance effects in politics and the private sector. The paper discusses a number of short- and long-term factors that may explain this relationship between looks and success in academia.

Assistant Professor Kristian Lopez-Vargas published “Improving the cost-effectiveness of the Conservation Reserve Program: A laboratory study” (with Peter Cramton, Daniel Hellerstein, Nathaniel Higgins, Richard Iovanna, Steven Wallander) in the Journal of Environmental Economics and Management. The Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) is the world’s largest payments-for-ecosystem services program, with $1.8 billion paid to farmers in 2017 for practices on 23.4 million acres. The CRP uses a pay-as-bid, reverse auction with field-specific price caps to enroll most of the land in the program. Using a laboratory experiment, the authors studied the impact of varying the tightness of the price-cap auctions and examined two alternative auction formats based on reference prices. They found that excessively tight bid caps reduce efficiency and cost effectiveness by discouraging participation. Conversely, bid caps set too high also reduce cost-effectiveness by allowing higher rents. An exogenous reference price ranking format, which makes medium-cost sellers more competitive against low-cost sellers, reduces both efficiency and cost-effectiveness. An endogenous reference price format increases cost-effectiveness by increasing participation and reducing rents.

Assistant Professor Jeremy West and Professor Rob Fairlie coauthored a research study with two UCSC graduates on "Automated enforcement of irrigation regulations and social pressure for water conservation." The paper evaluates two interventions by a Southern Californian city to encourage households to use less water during a recent drought. The first intervention sent automated warning letters to households who disobeyed the city's policy of allowing landscape irrigation only on two days per week. The second intervention sent normative Home Water Reports to provide social pressure to conserve. The study finds that both interventions successfully reduced water use and suggestive evidence of complementary effects, highlighting the merits of implementing multidimensional conservation programs. The paper is forthcoming as a publication in the Journal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists.


Associate Professor Lora Bartlett led the Suddenly Distant project, a team of researchers across the country who are studying how COVID-19 has influenced teachers’ work. The researchers found ample evidence that teaching during a pandemic is hard on teachers and students, with 78% of teachers reporting student engagement as a challenge in their classrooms during the fall of 2020 and 57% concerned about unequal access to learning. In most cases, student participation plummeted most drastically among students from lower income households, students with special needs, English language learners, and students who were already struggling academically. As the pandemic dragged on, teachers have faced increasing pressure to return to pre-pandemic norms, but the team’s research indicates that policies like premature reinstitution of state standardized testing can erode teachers’ ability to create a supportive learning environment centering on student well-being and engagement during a time of crisis.  

Professor Cynthia Lewis published “The sociocultural role of imagination in critical digital literacy” in Pedagogies: An International Journal with co-authors Anne Crampton and Cassandra Scharber. The article discusses the role of play and imagination in three urban settings: an English secondary classroom, a community organization grounded in civic participation, and a digital learning lab in a library setting. All three settings were found to share the following overarching dimensions of engagement grounded in play and imagination: social actors have agency to act and transform signs and relationships as well as modify contexts in ways that change the problem space and their positions as meaning-makers; moreover, the emergence of unexpected meaning is developed in interactions of people, tools, and artifacts. The settings also point to differences in the nature of play and imagination related to other conditions of the setting. We found that the purpose of each setting was integrally related to how play and imagination functioned in each.

Professor Judit Moschkovich published two co-authored articles. The first, “Tales from three countries: Reflections during COVID-19 for mathematics education in the future” in Educational Studies in Mathematics, examines how school mathematics prepares citizens for a democratic society, using reflections on the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic and COVID-19. Using narratives from three countries—Italy, the US, and Germany—we reflect on the goals of teaching mathematics during this crisis and examine aspects of each country’s standards for mathematics education. The authors discuss issues common across settings for preparing students to become active citizens, including: (1) developing a positive mindset towards mathematics to engage with and reflect on real world problems, (2) improving interdisciplinary connections to both physical and social sciences, 3) developing a better understanding of how science professional practices and insights are similar or different from everyday practices, and (4) using mathematics to consider collective matters beyond the individual.

The second article, “Designing and enacting instruction that enhances language for mathematics learning – A review of the state of development and research” appeared in ZDM, The International Journal on Mathematics Education. Four decades of research on language in mathematics classrooms support enhancing language to promote students’ mathematics learning. The article presents six research-based design principles for instruction that enhances language for mathematics learning and reviews the research that provides an empirical foundation for principles for (a) designing learning environments to enhance language for mathematics learning and (b) teaching practices (including teacher moves and classroom norms) involved in enacting those designed learning environments.

Professor Moschkovich also published two chapters: “Language issues in mathematics word problems for English Learners,” co-authored with Professor Judy Scott, in Diversity Dimensions in Mathematics and Language Learning: Perspectives on Culture, Education and Multilingualism (DeGruyter Press); and “Noticing multilingual and non-dominant students’ strengths for learning mathematics and science,” co-authored with Psychology professor Maureen Callanan and three doctoral students. The result of work by the Institute for Social Transformation’s New Gen Learning group, it was published in Multilingual education yearbook 2021: Policy and practice in STEM multilingual contexts (Springer).

 Looking ahead, Professor Moschkovich will be a commentator for an online session in the NSF DRK12 meeting on “Civic Reasoning and Discourse in STEM.” This session will explore the opportunities and challenges for engaging STEM students in civic reasoning and discourse. Professor Moschkovich will focus her comments on the role of mathematics in civic reasoning and discourse about the pandemic. In July, Professor Judit Moschkovich will deliver an Invited Lecture during the 14th International Congress on Mathematical Education (ICME) Shanghai, China, titled “Language and Learning Mathematics: A Socio-Cultural Approach to Academic Literacy in Mathematics.” The videotaped lecture will be shown live in Shanghai and broadcast online for remote attendees. Professor Moschkovich will also lead an online workshop at the ICME Early Career Research Day titled “Using a naturalistic paradigm and ethnographic methods in math education research.”

Environmental Studies

campbell-mcuin_canals.jpgProfessor Elliott Campbell and postdoctoral researcher Brandi McKuin published a paper, “Energy and water co-benefits from covering canals with solar panels” in Nature Sustainability. Solar power development over canals is an emerging response to the energy–water–food nexus that can result in multiple benefits for water and energy infrastructure. Case studies of over-canal solar photovoltaic arrays have demonstrated enhanced photovoltaic performance due to the cooler microclimate next to the canal. In addition, shade from the photovoltaic panels has been shown to mitigate evaporation and potentially mitigate aquatic weed growth. In their research, the authors used regional hydrologic and techno-economic simulations of solar photovoltaic panels covering California’s 6,350 km canal network, the world’s largest conveyance system covering a wide range of climates, insolation rates and water costs, and found that over-canal solar could reduce annual evaporation by an average of 39 ± 12 thousand m3 per km of canal. Furthermore, the financial benefits from shading the canals outweigh the added costs of the cable-support structures required to span the canals. The net present value of over-canal solar exceeds conventional overground solar by 20–50%, challenging the convention of leaving canals uncovered and calls into question our understanding of the most economic locations for solar power. This research was also covered in the UCSC News.

Professor Greg Gilbert and Assistant Professor Kai Zhu collaborated with 48 institutions to contribute data for the recent breakthrough study, "Continent-wide tree fecundity driven by indirect climate effects.” The UCSC data was collected by student interns at the UCSC Forest Ecology Research Plot (FERP), directed by Professor Gilbert. The study, published in Nature Communications, analyzed data from hundreds of long-term forest monitoring sites across North America to document that climate change is causing declines in seed production for older, larger trees in western forests while increasing seed production for younger, smaller trees in East Coast forests. On the West Coast, these reductions in reproductive ability could limit the capacity of forests to bounce back following damages or die-backs from rising temperatures, drought, or pest infestations driven by climate change. Understanding this trend could help guide forest management practices and improve the modeling of future changes to North American forests. The project was also covered in the UCSC News.

Professor Karen Holl published an article in The Conversation, “Arbor Day should be about growing trees, not just planting them” addressing the current trend of business leaders, politicians, YouTubers and celebrities to call for the planting of millions – or even trillions – of trees to slow climate change. Although trees are one part of the solution, it is impossible for humanity to plant its way out of climate change. For trees to produce benefits, they need to be planted correctly, which often is not the case. Scientific assessments show that avoiding the worst consequences of climate change will require governments, businesses and individuals around the globe to make rapid and drastic efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Professor Holl was recently awarded the MacArthur Foundation Chair at UC Santa Cruz for her work to increase the effectiveness of forest restoration efforts in combating climate change.

Associate Professor Sikina Jinnah co-authored a paper Splitting geoengineering governance: How problem structure shapes institutional design” in Global Policy. The article adds conceptual discipline to a well‐rehearsed but largely intuitive argument within the climate engineering community that carbon dioxide removal (CDR) and solar radiation management (SRM) should be treated separately – ‘split’ rather than ‘lumped’ – in policy discussions. The authors build the first theoretically derived argument for ‘splitting,’ and through analyzing their problem structures demonstrate that SRM and CDR are different in ways that are likely to yield different state preferences for institutional design. They posit that policy proposals that split SRM and CDR are more likely to be adopted by states and construct a theoretical argument for ‘splitting’ SRM and CDR governance in global policy discussions.

Associate Professor Jinnah also published the introduction to a 30th anniversary issue of Environmental Politics. The special issue, co-authored by the editorial team, commemorates the anniversary of the journal, reflects on the state of the field, and identifies future research directions.  

Professor Michael Loik co-authored new study, “Tropicalization of temperate ecosystems in North America: The northward range expansion of tropical organisms in response to warming winter temperatures,” showing how parts of the US will ‘tropicalize’ as climate changes. In this study, published in Global Change Biology, a team of 16 scientists led by U.S. Geological Survey ecologist Michael Osland examines the influence of extreme cold events on the northward range limits of a diverse group of tropical organisms, including terrestrial plants, coastal wetland plants, coastal fishes, sea turtles, terrestrial reptiles, amphibians, manatees, and insects. For these organisms, extreme cold events can lead to major physiological damage or landscape-scale mass mortality. Conversely, the absence of extreme cold events can foster population growth, range expansion, and ecological regime shifts. In the 21st century, climate change-induced decreases in the frequency and intensity of extreme cold events are expected to facilitate the poleward range expansion of many tropical species. This study highlights critical knowledge gaps for advancing understanding of the ecological implications of the tropicalization of temperate ecosystems in North America. This work was also featured in the UCSC News.

Professor Flora Lu, in collaboration with the National Science Foundation/Belmont Forum/NORFACE international research team, published “Transformations to groundwater sustainability: From individuals and pumps to communities and aquifers” in Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability. In the article, the authors posit that if current practices of agricultural intensification relying on the depletion of aquifers and exploitation of (female) labor continue, transformations to groundwater sustainability will be impossible to achieve. Thus, the development of new groundwater imaginaries, based on alternative ways of organizing society-water relations is of critical importance. The paper argues that a comparative documentation of grass-roots initiatives to care for, share or recharge aquifers in places with acute resource pressures provides an important source of inspiration. Using a grounded anti-colonial and feminist approach, the authors combine an ethnographic documentation of groundwater practices with hydrogeological and engineering insights to enunciate, normatively assess and jointly learn from the knowledges, technologies and institutions that characterize such initiatives. Doing this usefully shifts the focus of planned efforts to regulate and govern groundwater away from government efforts to control individual pumping behaviors, to the identification of possibilities to anchor transformations to sustainability in collective action. Environmental Studies graduate students Aysha Peterson and Michelaina Johnson, are co-authors, as well as Adjunct Assistant Professor Linnea Beckett at Colleges Nine and Ten, representing a linkage between a department and the colleges in the Social Sciences Division. Information about the Salinas Valley was also shared in the supplementary material. 

Postdoctoral researcher Brandi McKuin was the lead author of a study, “Rethinking sustainability in seafoodSynergies and trade-offs between fisheries and climate change” published in Elementa. In this study, researchers at the University of California, Santa Cruz and NOAA examines traditional aspects of seafood sustainability alongside greenhouse gas emissions to better understand the “carbon footprint” of U.S. tuna fisheries. Sustainability is a common goal and catchphrase used in conjunction with seafood, but the metrics used to determine the level of sustainability are poorly defined. Although the conservation statuses of target or nontarget fish stocks associated with fisheries have been scrutinized, the relative climate impacts of different fisheries are often overlooked. An increasing body of research seeks to understand and mitigate the climate forcing associated with different fisheries, but little effort has sought to integrate these disparate disciplines to examine the synergies and trade-offs between conservation efforts and efforts to reduce climate impacts. In this study, the authors quantified the climate forcing per unit of fish protein associated with several different U.S. tuna fishing fleets, among the most important capture fisheries by both volume and value in order to consider the unintended consequences on fisheries conservation. The study was also covered in the UCSC News.

Assistant Professor Maywa Montenegro de Wit published a paper, “What grows from a pandemic? Toward an abolitionist agroecology,” in The Journal of Peasant Studies, that examines how COVID-19 has exposed racialized vulnerabilities in the dominant agrifood system. In contrast, Agroecology has the potential to heal manifold metabolic rifts through which a series of breakdowns, from pandemic ecologies to uncontrolled infection among meatpacking workers, arise. Ecologically, it offers biodiversity-based agriculture to maintain landscape complexity and buffer viral spillovers. Socially, intentional work is needed to center racism in the original accumulations through which metabolic rifts emerge. Specifically, agroecologists can mobilize lessons from abolition, a strategy premised on dismantling exploitative systems through growing relationships and institutions that affirm life.

Lecturer and Director of the Center for Integrated Spatial Research (CISR) Barry Nickel and Professor Chris Wilmers published “Energetics and fear of humans constrain the spatial ecology of pumas” in the prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Their paper describes how the physical landscape and the need to avoid predation risk both exert costs on animal movement. How these fundamental factors interact to ultimately determine wildlife space use remains unknown, leaving open the question of how short-term movement costs drive long-term processes such as home range formation. Using data from collared pumas (Puma concolor) to integrate the costs of physical terrain and predation risk (from humans) in a common currency, energy, the authors show that both factors affect short-term movement costs and that, cumulatively, short-term costs constrain long-term space use (e.g., home range area). The relatively greater short- and long-term energetic cost of avoiding human-induced risk highlights the important role that risk plays in shaping an animal’s “energy landscape.”

Professor Chris Wilmers co-authored a study, “Disturbance type and species life history predict mammal responses to humans” published in the journal Global Change Biology. Analyzing data from 3,212 camera traps the team compiled detection data for 24 mammal species from 61 populations across North America to quantify the effects of (1) the direct presence of people and (2) the human footprint (landscape modification) on mammal occurrence and activity levels. Thirty-three percent of mammal species exhibited a net negative response (i.e., reduced occurrence or activity) to increasing human presence and/or footprint across populations, whereas 58% of species were positively associated with increasing disturbance. Apparent benefits of human presence and footprint tended to decrease or disappear at higher disturbance levels, indicative of thresholds in mammal species’ capacity to tolerate disturbance or exploit human-dominated landscapes. Species ecological and life history traits were strong predictors of their responses to human footprint, with increasing footprint favoring smaller, less carnivorous, faster-reproducing species. Differential responses by some species to human presence and human footprint highlight the importance of considering these two forms of human disturbance separately when estimating anthropogenic impacts on wildlife. This approach provides insights into the complex mechanisms through which human activities shape mammal communities globally, revealing the drivers of the loss of larger predators in human-modified landscapes.

Professor Wilmers also published a study in Current Biology, “COVID-19 suppression of human mobility releases mountain lions from a landscape of fear,” which shows how the quiet of pandemic-era lockdowns allowed pumas to venture closer to urban areas. Based on tracking data, a 50% decline in human mobility due to shelter-in-place orders in the Bay Area resulted in a relaxation of mountain lion aversion to urban areas. Rapid changes in human mobility thus appear to act quickly on food web functions - suggesting an important pathway by which emerging infectious diseases will impact not only human health but ecosystems as well.

Assistant Professor Kai Zhu published a new study, “Montane species track rising temperatures better in the tropics than in the temperate zone,” in Ecology Letters showing how rising temperatures resulting from climate change are affecting where plants and animals can live in mountain regions around the globe. The researchers found that tropical species are shifting their ranges up mountain slopes at a rate that’s 2.1 to 2.4 times faster than their temperate counterparts, and tropical forests, in particular, are undergoing these changes 10 times faster than temperate forests. These findings contribute new insight into how species survival outcomes—and potential conservation strategies—may vary by geography as our world warms. This study was also featured in the UCSC News.

Latin American and Latino Studies

Assistant Professor Jeffrey Erbig published a book chapter, “Between ethnonyms and toponyms: Cartography and Native pasts in the eastern Río de la Plata,” in The Río de la Plata from Colony to Nations (Palgrave). The chapter considers representations of autonomous Indigenous peoples as free-floating ethnic labels in colonial maps. Focusing on southeastern South America, it charts the emergence, geographic positioning, and eventual erasure of ethnic labels in 177 of the most widely circulated maps of the region. It then demonstrates how these cartographic renderings influenced both colonial and postcolonial notions of Indigenous identities and homelands and how these ideas continue to permeate digital countermapping projects emanating from the Global North.

Justin Perez published the article “Scandalous denouncement: Discrimination, difference, and queer scandal in urban Amazonian Peru” in the journal Latin American and Caribbean Ethnic Studies. Over the past decade, as the international HIV/AIDS funding landscape has reprioritized the provision of life-saving antiviral therapy in favor of less-costly prevention approaches among key populations, the health sciences have increasingly focused on discrimination as a site of health intervention. In this article, he brings analytical frameworks from the fields of queer studies and ethnic studies to reimagine dominant theorizations of discrimination and stigma as a social determinant of health in the health sciences. Based on data from ethnographic fieldwork conducted among the gay and transgender communities in which HIV is most concentrated in Peru, article findings suggest that the imperative to file formal discrimination grievances as a form of preventing HIV paradoxically reinforced ethno-racial hierarchies and stereotypes of gay and transgender people as “scandalous." 

precarity-ramirez.jpgProfessor Catherine Ramirez published a book, Precarity and Belonging: Labor, Migration, and Noncitizenship, co-edited with Sylvanna M. Falcón, Steven C. McKay, Juan Poblete, and Felicity Amaya Schaeffer (Rutgers University Press). Precarity and Belonging stems from events and conversations at UCSC, including Non-Citizenship, the campus' inaugural Andrew W. Mellon Foundation John E. Sawyer Seminar on the Comparative Study of Cultures. 

Professor Ramirez’s article, “Latinx assimilation,” exploring the history of assimilation in the United States, and the many ways Latinxs have or have not assimilated, was published in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of American History. She also published an op-ed in The Atlantic (with Glenn Kramon),  “The U.S. Must Do More to Care for Its Caregivers,” about immigrant essential workers and aging US citizens.

In addition, Professor Ramirez was the subject of several interviews, including “Public (with John Alba Cutler), in Public Books; “Catherine Ramírez on Missions, Monuments, Sites of Memory & Sites of Dispute” (with Sociology professor Chris Benner), The Cutting Edge, on KSQD 90.7FM; and “Catherine S. Ramírez Talks: Pachucas, Latinx Futurisms, Assimilation & Precarity” (with Frederick Luis Aldama), on Latinx Pop Lab. 

Professor Jessica Taft published a book chapter, "Is it okay to critique youth activists? Notes on the power and danger of complexity" in Children and Youth as Subjects, Objects, Agents: Innovative Approaches to Research Across Space and Time, edited by D. Levison, M.J. Maynes, and F. Vavrus (Palgrave Macmillan). The chapter explores the political and intellectual implications of the adult tendency to offer over-enthusiastic praise for youth activists, arguing for the value of deep critical engagement. Based on ethnographic field research with the Peruvian movement of working children, this piece grapples with the delicate balance between supporting young activists and respectfully providing a critical analysis of the movement -- as activist-scholars do with adult-led social movements.  Writing against both romanticization and easy sound bites, it argues for the value of more complex stories about social movements and social change.

Professor Taft also received a Fulbright Global Scholar award to conduct research on international children's rights institutions and their shifting relationships to young activists.


markmassoud.jpgProfessor of Politics and Legal Studies Director Mark Fathi Massoud published a new book, Shari‘a, Inshallah: Finding God in Somali Legal Politics, with Cambridge University Press. At a time when many people want to separate religion from nation, Massoud brings God back into the law and shows how people use Islam to fight for human rights. The book is based on historical research, ethnographic fieldwork, and nearly 150 interviews with religious leaders, officials, activists, and aid workers in Somalia and Somaliland. 

Professor Massoud also wrote an article for The Conversation, "Muslim women are using Sharia to push for gender equality,” and an essay, “Interdisciplinary Interfaces: Theology and Law,” for the University of Oxford Frontiers blog.

Finally, Professor Massoud published "Teaching three canons of international law" in Third World Approaches to International Law Review (TWAILR), in which he reflects on teaching an interdisciplinary and cross-listed international law course to more than 1,000 undergraduates over a decade at UC Santa Cruz.

Assistant Professor Sara Niedzwiecki's book Uneven Social Policies: The Politics of Subnational Variation in Latin America (Cambridge University Press, 2018 hardback, 2020 paperback) received two book awards: the Latin American Political Science Association's Donna Lee Van Cott Book Award from The Political Institutions Section and the International Public Policy Association's IPPA Book Award. The book studies how social policies can transform the lives of the poor and marginalized, yet inequitable implementation often limits their access. Uneven Social Policies shifts the focus of welfare state analysis away from policy design and toward policy implementation. By examining variation in political motivations, state capacity, and policy legacies, it explains why some policies are implemented more effectively than others, why some deliver votes to incumbent governments while others do not, and why regionally elected executives block the implementation of some but not all national policies. Niedzwiecki explores this variation across provinces and municipalities by combining case studies with statistical analysis of conditional cash transfers and health policies in two decentralized countries, Argentina and Brazil. The analysis draws on original data gathered during fifteen months of field research that included more than 230 interviews with politicians and 140 with policy recipients.

Assistant Professor Niedzwieccki spent the 2020-2021 year as a visiting fellow of the Kellow Institute.


davidenko.jpgAssociate Professor Nicolas Davidenko has a new paper out, Time compression in virtual reality, published in the journal Timing and Time Perception. The paper discusses the phenomenon that virtual-reality (VR) users and developers have informally reported that time seems to pass more quickly while playing games in VR. Referred to as time compression, a longer real duration is compressed into a shorter perceived experience, experiments suggest that VR displays do produce a significant time compression effect. The first and lead author, Grayson Mullen, was a Cognitive Science major at UCSC who graduated Spring 2020. These results were also featured in a UCSC News article.

Professor Phil Hammack’s Sexual & Gender Diversity Lab published “Gender and sexual identity in adolescence: A mixed-methods study of labeling in diverse community settings

in the Journal of Adolescent Research that reports on findings from a study of LGBTQ+ high schoolers in politically diverse regions of California. The paper, led by Professor Hammack and co-authored by graduate student Sam Hughes and two former UCSC undergraduates, highlights the rise in new labels to describe gender and sexual identity among today teens. Among the key findings, teens assigned female at birth were more likely than those assigned male to use nonbinary language to describe their gender or sexuality, and they were more comfortable with diverse forms of gender expression. Teens in politically progressive communities were more likely to use terms like “nonbinary” and “queer,” but teens in conservative areas talked about access to diverse language via the internet and social media. The paper was the subject of a UCSC news story, and Hammack was interviewed on this subject by The Washington Post.

Professor Hammack also published “Minority stress, distress, and suicide attempts in three cohorts of sexual minority adults: A U.S. probability sample” in the journal PLoS ONE. The paper reports on findings related to coming out, stress, and mental health from the first nationally representative multi-cohort study of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and queer adults. Importantly, though the study found earlier ages of coming out, younger cohorts were just as likely to experience stress related to stigma and negative mental health outcomes.

In addition, Professor Hammack launched his new Psychology Today blog, “Radical Authenticity Revolution,” focusing on sexual and gender diversity in the 21st century. Professor Hammack was interviewed for articles on gender and sexual diversity in The New York Times and The Washington Post, and he was a panelist on NPR’s 1A program on bisexuality.

Professor Jean Fox Tree published a trove of papers, including “Referential communication between friends and strangers in the wild” in Dialogue & Discourse, a study suggesting that referent negotiation observed in labs is generalizable but that naturalistic communication is subject to social and personality factors that may not be as influential in laboratory conditions; “Psychological distance in mobile telepresence” in International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, which posits that in-person interviews are more grounded and interactive than interviews via mobile telepresence robots; and “Meeting by text or video-chat: Effects on confidence and performance” in Computers in Human Behavior Reports researching how the way people first get to know each other impacts how they feel about their conversations and how effectively they work together; and “Lexical divergence in collaborative creativity” in Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, in which results of their research highlight how conversations that make space for diverse contributions across participants can benefit group processes.

Other published research from Professor Fox Tree, in papers co-authored with Andrew Guydish, include “Reciprocity in conversation” in Language and Speech, which tested whether conversations with contribution imbalances brought on by task demands contained attempts to redress the created imbalance; “Good conversations: Grounding, convergence, and richness” in New Ideas in Psychology, proposing that positive subjective conversational experience comes about when interlocutors reach common ground with one another and do so with the least required effort possible (collaborative theory of language use), converge on their language use and communicative behaviors (communication accommodation theory), and select the appropriate medium for their conversation to take place (media richness theory); and “Reciprocity in instant messaging conversations” in Language and Speech, which tested how the introduction and removal of well-defined roles influenced contribution behaviors in instant messaging conversations.

Media outlets reporting on Professor Fox Tree’s work include The Atlantic, The Walrus, Forbes, and Curiosity Daily. In addition, a report on her work on “ums and uhs” came out in a major German news outlet, Die Zeit.

Dickson Emeriti Professor Thomas Pettigrew’s latest book, Contextual Social Psychology, traces his 65-year career to share the greatest themes, perspectives, and advances from his lifetime of work. Pettigrew is an internationally renowned expert on racism and intergroup relations who has earned seven lifetime achievement awards from both psychology and sociology organizations. The book synthesizes his most important insights through a combination of personal stories, applied examples, and theoretical frameworks.

Assistant Teaching Professor Hannah Raila published the article "Could written imaginal exposure be helpful for hoarding disorder? A case series" in Journal of Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders. It applied a treatment approach called imaginal exposure - one of the most successful treatments for OCD and anxiety disorders - and presented early evidence that this approach could help people with hoarding disorder, as well. The case series had 8 participants with hoarding disorder undergo an imaginal exposure intervention wherein they repeatedly wrote about their worst fear related to discarding (e.g., "I recycled my mail and now I need it for my taxes" or "I gave away my childhood toy and now desperately miss it") in order to desensitize to these discarding-related fears. The study found that people with hoarding disorder thought the imaginal exposure exercise was tolerable and useful, and it offered very preliminary evidence that it could reduce hoarding-related symptoms (such as difficulty discarding objects). Overall, the study suggests that imaginal exposure for hoarding merits further investigation in a larger clinical trial.

barbararogoff-video.jpgProfessor Barbara Rogoff’s research team’s newest video took awards in the Public Choice and the Most Discussed categories in the National Science Foundation’s 2021STEM for All Video Showcase competition. The 3-minute video, “Learning with Purpose as a Cultural Strength,” shows how learning can benefit from having the goal of benefitting a larger community, especially for students for underserved backgrounds. The video is based on interviews with mothers of young Mexican-heritage children, as well as observations of UCSC students. It highlights the ways that many students learn to be community-minded, based on their inclusion as contributors in family activities from an early age. Professor Rogoff's interdisciplinary research team included Dr. Sam Severance (Education) and graduate students Gloriana López and Itzel Aceves-Azuara (Psychology), A’Lester Allen (Chemistry), Dustin Palea (Computer Science), and Josh Smith (Ecology and Evolutionary Biology). Videos from Rogoff’s research team, which highlight skilled collaboration, helpfulness, and keen observation, have taken top awards in the previous five years and are available for viewing.


Assistant Professor Hillary Angelo published a book, How Green Became Good: Urbanized Nature and the Making of Cities and Citizens (University of Chicago Press). Urban greening is a contemporary global phenomenon. This work examines the origins and meanings of the enduring appeal of urban green space. Turning to Germany’s Ruhr Valley (a region that, despite its ample open space, was “greened” with the addition of official parks and gardens), Assistant Professor Angelo shows that greening is as much a social process as a physical one. She examines three moments in the Ruhr Valley's urban history that inspired the creation of new green spaces: industrialization in the late nineteenth century, postwar democratic ideals of the 1960s, and industrial decline and economic renewal in the early 1990s. Across these distinct historical moments, the impulse to bring nature into urban life has persistently arisen as a response to a host of social changes, and reveals an enduring conviction that green space will transform us into ideal inhabitants of ideal cities. Ultimately, however, the creation of urban green space is more about how we imagine social life than about the good it imparts.

doucet-battle.cover-copy.jpgAssistant Professor James Doucet-Battle published a new book, Sweetness in the Blood: Race, Risk, and Type 2 Diabetes (University of Minnesota Press). Sweetness in the Blood provides an ethnographic picture of biotechnology’s framings of Type 2 diabetes risk and race and, importantly, offers a critical examination of the assumptions behind the recruitment of African American and African-descent populations for Type 2 diabetes research. Doucet-Battle begins with a historical overview of how diabetes has been researched and framed racially over the past century, chronicling one company’s efforts to recruit African Americans to test their new diabetes risk-score algorithm with the aim of increasing the clinical and market value of the firm’s technology. He considers African American reticence about participation in biomedical research and examines race and health disparities in light of advances in genomic sequencing technology. Sweetness in the Blood challenges the notion that the best approach to understanding, managing, and curing Type 2 diabetes is through the lens of race. It also transforms how we think about sugar, filling a neglected gap between the sugar- and molasses-sweetened past of the enslaved African laborer and the high-fructose corn syrup- and corporate-fed body of the contemporary consumer-laborer.

University Relations, the Science & Justice Research Center, the Institute for Social Transformation, and the Sociology Department co-sponsored the book launch of Sweetness in the Blood on April 7.

Professor Hiroshi Fukurai has published a new book showing how Indigenous “original nations” around the world are fighting for sovereignty and the ecological preservation of their ancestral homelands across and within the geopolitical boundaries of state lines. Original Nation Approaches to Inter-National Law re-examines global politics and the history of regional conflicts from the perspective of Indigenous peoples, whose traditional homelands have often been subdivided or combined as colonial empires shaped the states on today’s world map. The book also considers new approaches to global governance that could help to reclaim rights for equitable representation in global politics by Indigenous nations. This book was reviewed in the UCSC News.

blackmediterranean-hawthorne-copy.jpgAssistant Professor Camilla Hawthorne co-edited The Black Mediterranean: Bodies, Border, and Citizenship (Palgrave), which aims to problematise and rethink the contemporary European migrant crisis in the Central Mediterranean through the lens of the Black Mediterranean. Bringing together scholars working in geography, political theory, sociology, and cultural studies, this volume takes the Black Mediterranean as a starting point for asking and answering a set of crucial questions about the racialized production of borders, bodies, and citizenship in contemporary Europe: what is the role of borders in controlling migrant flows from North Africa and the Middle East?; what is the place for black bodies in the Central Mediterranean context?; what is the relevance of the citizenship in reconsidering black subjectivities in Europe?

Assistant Professor Hawthorne also co-authored “Black geographies of quarantine,” published in UCHRI Foundry. The dialogue was the first installment of the series, Dialogues on COVID-19 and Racism, organized by the UCSC Science & Justice Research Center’s Theorizing Race after Race (TRAR) working group. In the dialogue the authors discuss how the imposition of quarantine leads to limitations on mobility for some, while simultaneously compelling others (e.g., “essential workers”) to move. They point out that control of mobility itself is a central feature of the American racial capitalist state and provide insights from the burgeoning field of Black Geographies to show that the production of space is also always linked to the production of race. Blackness has historically been tied to particular frameworks of (im)mobility–seen as either bounded within degraded space, or as perpetually uprooted and endlessly mobile.

In addition, Professor Hawthorne published “Making Black Lives Matter in Italy: A transnational dialogue” in Public Books, discussing the impacts, similarities, and differences of the Black Lives Matter movement in the US and Italy.  An Italian version of the piece also appeared in the magazine Jacobin Italia for the special issue "Burn in the USA.”

Assistant Professor Hawthorne also delivered the Gender, Place, and Culture 2021 Jan Monk Distinguished Lecture. She was interviewed for the Cornell Migrations podcast, and was listed as one of Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera's top women of 2020, an honor that was highlighted in the UCSC News.

Research Associate Ron Weitzer published “Interaction rituals and sexual commerce in Thailand’s erotic bars” in the Journal of Contemporary Ethnography. The article explores bar prostitution as a distinct sexual arena. Drawing on fieldwork in six red-light districts in Thailand, key structural and interactional features of the bars located in these areas are identified. The analysis draws on an “interaction rituals” framework to elucidate scripted encounters between workers and customers, successive ritual chains, and the way departures or “broken chains” help to confirm the existence and vitality of normative chains. The author argues that bars are organized around a distinctive moral economy—a courting-and-dating model—which allows sex workers and their clients to simultaneously downplay their involvement in prostitution and form affective ties with one another. Due to this framing, bar prostitution can be distinguished from most other types of prostitution, where opportunities for destigmatization are either minimal or nonexistent.