College of Social Science Dean's Research Associate Program welcomes third cohort

April 1, 2022 - Liz Schondelmayer

This year, the Michigan State University College of Social Science is thrilled to announce the four accomplished academics joining the Dean's Research Associate Program (DRAP) as a part of the program's third cohort of postdoctoral scholars. 

The DRAP was established in 2018 as a major College initiative aimed at promoting an inclusive scholarly environment in which outstanding emerging scholars can advance diversity, equity, and inclusion throughout the college and campus community.

Associates will have a minimal teaching load, will be mentored and supported by established college faculty, and will participate in the Dean's Research Associate Development Institute with the ultimate goal of transitioning them into tenure-system positions at Michigan State University.

"I cannot wait to see the incredible things this talented group of academics will accomplish during their time in the Dean's Research Associate Program," said Dr. Nwando Achebe, the College of Social Science Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. "Their diverse backgrounds, skillsets and research interests are sure to strengthen and enrich our campus's academic culture."

Please join the College of Social Science in wishing these scholars a warm welcome:

Rene Crespin (top left) is currently finishing his PhD at Cornell University and will be joining the Department of Economics this fall. His current research interests include school choice, residential sorting, and labor markets - and how these intersect.

Rene was first introduced to Michigan State University when he was a Teaching Fellow in the American Economic Association’s Summer program (AEASP) hosted at MSU in 2019. "Through this experience, I saw how committed MSU professors were in making sure that undergraduate students from underrepresented backgrounds felt welcomed and how their perspectives were valued," said Rene.

"When I saw the application for the Dean’s Research Associate Program, I thought it would be a great opportunity to develop my research in the economics department, but also to be a part of a department with motivated faculty to be supportive of students from different backgrounds."

Ampson Hagan (top right) will be joining the Department of Anthropology after earning his PhD from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His research interests include understanding the experiences of African migrants making their way into North Africa, especially their interactions with police and humanitarian organizations.

For Ampson, acceptance into the program brought about feelings of relief and rejuvenation of his passion for research. "Now that I have a viable path forward, I can begin to meaningfully and more securely explore other research projects and political education work alongside my current work," said Ampson.

"In this program, I am eager to focus on humanitarian technologies, something I only hinted at in my dissertation research. This new research will explore how humanitarian organizations deploy biometric technologies in migration management to identify migrants, and how those technologies traffic racial biases from the West to the humanitarian theater of West Africa where organizations use them." 

Kendall Morris (lower left) is currently finishing her PhD at the Boston University School of Social Work, and will be joining MSU's School of Social Work afterwards. Here, she will continue her research on the effects that trauma and community violence have on mental health within Black families and communities, and the resources available to help with the healing process. 

"I seek to understand the individual, family, community, and systemic factors that contribute to higher homicide rates in Black communities, and the bereavement and mental health issues that Black families and communities experience after a homicide and how surviving families and communities cope with traumatic loss," said Kendall. 

Kendall is thrilled to be a Spartan and continue her academic journey at MSU. "I feel very blessed to be selected for this program," Kendall reflected. "It means the world to me that my research is important to MSU and that I have this unique opportunity to create a strong foundation for myself in academia."

Lastly, Raúl Rodríguez (lower right) will be joining the MSU Department of Political Science from the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership at Arizona State University. An alum of "Teach for America," Raúl earned his PhD through the University of Notre Dame. His research focuses on American liberal democracy and the teachings of French political philosopher Alexis de Tocqueville. 

"I applied to this program because I want to be part of a movement dedicated to making higher education more diverse, equitable and inclusive. This program is a unique and important avenue by which young scholars of differing perspectives can be part of an interdisciplinary community dedicated to making excellent education available to all students," said Raúl.

"As a former Teach For America (TFA) high school teacher, I am firmly committed to this noble effort. Throughout my life, I have witnessed how caring mentors and professors from different backgrounds can make a lasting impact on students and communities."

Learn more about the Dean's Research Associate Program here.