Brown Faculty Chairs Share Highlights of 2017-18

Students Krystyna Marcinek, Lindsey Polley, and Claudia Rodriguez prepare for a day out with Brown Faculty Chair Kathryn Pitkin Derose

Photo courtesy of Kathryn Pitkin Derose/RAND Corporation

August 27, 2018

From weekly chats to a panel discussion of behavioral economics; dance lessons to a ping pong tournament; and local picnics to an Olvera Street outing, the three Brown Faculty Chairs in 2017-18 went out of their way to engage with students and staff both academically and socially.

Prof. Kathryn Pitkin Derose's residency at Pardee RAND ran from November 1 through 30, 2017. She organized a Día de los Muertos outing on November 2, a salsa and bachata lesson, and a trip to the "Radical Women: Latin American Art, 1960-1985" exhibit at the Hammer Museum at UCLA.

"I tried to make my social activities reflect a little bit of who I am," Derose said. "A running theme was Latin American cultural exposure in Los Angeles, as well as activities that are fun and promote health (e.g., physical activity) like walking and dancing. I also wanted to offer different kinds of activities for different types of students and personalities."

Derose also led two seminars, titled "What’s faith got to do with it? Reflections on the roles of religious congregations in addressing health disparities" and "Immigrant health advantage or immigrant healthcare disadvantage? Policy challenges for a Nation of Immigrants in the 21st century." She also hosted talks by a visiting scholar, the Rev. Noelle Damico, on faith-based accountability.

These talks and activities also reflected Derose's background. Her research focuses on understanding and addressing health disparities, and she has expertise regarding faith-based organizations, community-based participatory research, Latinos, and Latin America. Derose also examines Latino immigrants' health care access and quality in the United States and park-based interventions to increase physical activity. She is bilingual (English-Spanish), having lived and worked in Latin America for six years before seeking graduate education in public health.

"Serving in this role [as a Brown Faculty Chair] gave me the opportunity to become acquainted with a broader range of students than I had before and to understand better their interests, concerns, and needs. I also enjoyed interacting with Pardee RAND deans and staff and feeling more a part of what’s happening in the school. Finally, I appreciated the time that I had to focus on some of my research and policy interests and think about ways to contribute beyond the project work that I do," she said.

Prof. Sebastian Linnemayr scheduled his residency, from February 5 through March 2, 2018, to coincide with a winter quarter course he taught with Sean Grant, Applying Behavioral Insights and Behavioral Economics. As with Derose, he held regular office hours and small group events, such as picnic lunches in Tongva Park and on the Santa Monica Pier.

"This opportunity gave me dedicated time to interact and mentor students, which is one of the activities that is most fulfilling for me. It's particularly enlightening to be embedded with the students in the same area so that I could 'walk around' and connect in the classic RAND style of propinquity. I got to know a lot of students I had never talked before, and talked in more depth with those I had met previously," Linnemayr noted.

His residency overlapped with that of the year's third Brown Faculty Chair, Prof. Andrew Parker, who was in Santa Monica from February 26 through March 22. Parker and Linnemayr eagerly collaborated on both academic and social events. Socially, they hosted Pardee RAND's inaugural Student Doubles Ping Pong Tournament. (View a photo album on Facebook.)

Academically, they organized a panel discussion on "Behavioral Economics: Where is it coming from, where is it going?" as part of Linnemary and Grant's class. The panelists included Parker, a psychologist; Grant, an implementation scientist; and economists Linnemayr and Katie Carman. They discussed whether behavioral economics is a discipline, a paradigm shift in economics, or simply a fad.

"The panel was well attended and provided interesting insights into how researchers from different disciplines — economics, psychology, decision research — view this growing strand of economics," Linnemayr said.

Linnemayr's research focuses on the use of behavioral economics for behavior change, for chronic conditions such as HIV; Parker's research applies core concepts in behavioral decision research to the understanding of decision makers' behavior in complex, real-world situations. The fact that their residencies overlapped was also helpful professionally.

"My overlap with Sebastian allowed us to brainstorm new ideas for using the RAND American Life Panel to combine his interest in resolutions and habit formation with my interest in aging — a topic that may turn in to future research," Parker said.

But Parker said the "highlight" of his residency was "being able to attend in person the dissertation proposal defense of Gursel Aliyev, whose dissertation committee I chair.

"As someone resident in the Pittsburgh Office, I am typically advising Gursel electronically. Being there in person for this important event was both gratifying and helpful," Parker added.

Activities with Prof. Derose

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p201711_06, seminar, discussion

Activities with Profs. Linnemayr and Parker

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sebastian linnemayr
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Andrew Parker and students dine at Jimmy's Famous American Tavern