Office of Faculty Development Mutual Mentoring Grants for 2020-21 Announced April 9, 2020

The Office of Faculty Development has awarded Mutual Mentoring Grants to ten teams and four individual faculty for 2020-21. 

2020-21 Mutual Mentoring Team Grant Recipients:

Bio Learn Mentoring Group
College of Natural Sciences
Team Leader: Kari Loomis, lecturer, biology
A group of biology faculty members expanding their existing learning community by creating focused mentoring groups and offering professional development in STEM education.

BioEpi Early-Career Faculty Mentoring Program
School of Public Health and Health Sciences
Team Leader: Lisa Chasan-Taber, professor and chair, biostatistics and epidemiology
A mentoring network to support, advance, and retain early-career faculty in biostatistics and epidemiology through a roundtable discussion series and travel funding to support early-career faculty meetings with external mentors.

Building Support Networks of Jr Women in Math/Statistics
College of Natural Sciences
Team Leader: Maryclare Griffin, assistant professor, mathematics and statistics
A support network addressing the unique career challenges junior tenure track women face in mathematics and statistics, including multiple seminars from visiting early-career tenure track women in mathematics or statistics.

Cross-Disciplinary Faculty Designing Multimodal Writing Courses
College of Natural Sciences and College of Humanities and Fine Arts
Team Leaders:
Deborah McCutchen, senior lecturer, associate director for Junior Year Writing (JYW) Program
Haivan Hoang, associate professor, English, associate director of the Junior Year Writing Program
A professional development team aiming to improve members’ respective multimodal junior-year writing courses by exploring and applying new instructional technologies and strengthening the support network for JYW faculty.

The Glass Half Full/The Full Picture
College of Social & Behavior Sciences
Team Leaders:
Mari Castañeda, incoming dean of Commonwealth Honors College and professor, communication
Jennifer Lundquist, associate dean of research and faculty development and professor, sociology
A group of women full professors from ten disciplinary areas and four colleges meeting monthly for support and advice as they plan the second half of their careers. A spring-term event for all women full professors will share lessons learned.

Law and Society Community
College of Social & Behavior Sciences
Team Leader: Jamie Rowen, associate professor, legal studies and political science
Monthly mentoring meetings devoted to topics such as understanding promotion/tenure, developing a support network, excelling at research, and excelling at teaching as well as planning for the Center for Justice, Law and Societies.

Leveraging Effective Approaches to Promotion (LEAP)
College of Humanities and Fine Arts
Team Leaders:
Caryn Brause, associate professor, architecture
Carey Clouse, associate professor, architecture and landscape architecture and regional planning (LARP)
The LEAP group will meet to support, strategize, and steer shifting career trajectories, helping individual members pursue mid-career shifts while simultaneously moving from the rank of associate professor to full professor.

Mutually Mentoring Academic Moms
College of Humanities and Fine Arts
Team Leader: Rachel Green, assistant professor, comparative literature and Israel/Palestine studies
A support group for academic mothers addressing the competing demands of scholarly productivity and home life through a writing accountability group (WAG), writing retreats paired with on-site childcare, and broad campus outreach.

Soft Matter Writing Group
College of Natural Sciences
Team Leader: Shuang Zhou, assistant professor, physics
A writing group composed of faculty in “soft matter” field with a focus on improving the quality and quantity of grant proposals of all members through open planning, accountable writing, and peer-review meetings.

Winds of Change
College of Humanities and Fine Arts
Team Leader: Jonathan Hulting-Cohen, assistant professor, music and dance, saxophone
Building professional and musical relationships among faculty in the woodwind area through musical collaboration, round-table discussions, and research projects of area concerns.

2020-21 Mutual Mentoring Micro Grant Recipients:

Karen Kurczynski, associate professor, modern and contemporary art
College of Humanities and Fine Arts, history of art and architecture
Organizing a faculty seminar with contemporary art historians at Brandeis University to discuss scope and research methods for a book addressing the connections of race and politics in contemporary art.

Stephen Paparo, associate professor, music education, choral conductor
College of Humanities and Fine Arts, music and dance
Working with professional coach Katie Linder to develop a five-year strategic plan for promotion to full professor, seek feedback on a manuscript of a book proposal, and receive coaching on scholarly productivity.

Jonathan Wynn, associate professor, undergraduate program director, incoming chair
College of Social and Behavior Sciences, Sociology
Hosting mentoring and scholarship conversations and retreats for current and future leaders in the sociology program, including strategies for best practices, training on race and inequality, LEAD+, the Mutual Chair Mentoring Program, etc.

Caroline Yang, assistant professor, English
College of Humanities and Fine Arts, English
Establishing a mutual mentorship with Esther Kim Lee of Duke University with the goal of co-editing an anthology on the study of blackface and yellowface minstrelsy, focusing on how artists of color have explored the minstrel form.

About Mutual Mentoring Program:

The Office of Faculty Development’s Mutual Mentoring (MM) program provides funding to individuals or groups of faculty for the purpose of developing mentoring networks. The Mutual Mentoring Team and Micro Grants encourage faculty to develop robust professional networks that support their growth as researchers, teachers, and leaders in their fields.

MM Team Grants provide up to $6,000 for one year to support full-time faculty teams. MM Micro Grants provide up to $1,500 for one year to individual faculty. Applications are accepted in February and announced in April for projects which take place from June 1 though May 31. The Office for Faculty Development works in collaboration with ADVANCE, who also funded a number of team Mutual Mentoring grants.

Desert Fog Collectors

My nephews posted pics of the Anti-Atlas Mountain Range in Morocco, where the fog collectors can condense & collect 20+ liters of water per meter of mesh a day from the fog rolling in, for about 15 towns like Dar Si Hmad, pictured below, where evidently the temps are 46 degrees Centigrade right now.

Fog Collectors


Dar Si Hmad, Morocco


Anti-Atlas Mountain Range, Morocco

Mhamid, Morocco

Mhamid, Morocco

For Island Reach in Vietnam (pre Morocco) go to: A New Expedition

Vietnam: Woman with meal

Write Angles Journal

It’s fun to publish idiocy with my fav local writing conference (After attending this yearly for about a decade they are very forgiving!)

WriteAngles Conference

By writers, for writers, for over 30 years in Western Massachusetts



Fall submissions are being posted below

Published Nov 27th, 2018



by D.K. McCutchen

One chilly second-Sunday in May, I complained, “Why can’t I hotflash on demand?”

And my daughter said, “you’re not a superhero, Mom.”

But I AM!

Menopausal-Mom! Forgetter of small facts, able to power small (sweaty) cities for minutes at a time!

I flipflop between the guilty miracle of air-conditioning – magical moments when the chemical burn hits and instead of flapping and swearing I punch the AIR button, HIGH, COLD, Ahhhh – or using my ice-block hands to cool nuclear reactors. My thermostat’s off. So, my theory, which is mine, is that I’m simply a metaphor for the larger system. Global change is a menopausal planet.

Think about it! The see-saw’s out of whack, the temp in the terrarium’s varying wildly. The northwest passage opened and Gary Larson’s penguins are about to meet polar bears. Floods of temperamental tears are raising sea-levels, and there’s a whole lotta lost car keys out there. Let’s not even mention the bits that’re drying up or erupting.

So what do we DO for Menopausal-Mom, kids? We help reduce stress. No room for dithering! When sweat rolls off the proverbial brow, it’s DANGER-WILL-ROBINSON! Our path is clear. Drastically reduce emissions, NOW. Shrug off that greenhouse sweater, FAST! Or Menopausal-Mom’s gonna meltdown, and the homefront’ll be even more unlivable.

After all Mother Earth’s done for us, least we can do is be good kids – not bicker about who gets what. We’re all responsible. In fact, Menopausal-Mom needs YOU to be the superhero, ‘cause she’s busy trying to remember where she put that … thing….

So – yeah – imperfect metaphor here! Earth’s a superhero, you’re a superhero, Mom’s a Menopausal Superhero who’s gonna do … something … soon as she remembers what!

And yup! Global Change – Just like Menopause! Let’s hope we can sweat the changes or we’re … kinda done here.

Happy Mother’s Day!

(P.S. Send chocolate.)

D.K. McCutchen is Senior Lecturer in The UMass College of Natural Sciences, and supports other writing teachers via the UMass Writing Program. She may be the longest-running member of the University Writing Committee. Lack of poetic-DNA led to a tale of low adventure & high science titled THE WHALE ROAD. In a literary attempt to save the world, she’s now writing gender-bender-post-apocalyptic-speculative fiction. She lives on a river with two brilliant daughters and a Kiwi, who isn’t green, but is fuzzy.


Sugaring has finished for Spring 2018 and that part of our family has headed back down to Fiji and from there sailing back to Vanuatu (with one going in a whole ‘nother direction). Janis Steele (my sister-in-law) of Island Reach, writes: “Our latest video about the creation of a network of Marine Protected Areas in Southwest Bay. The project was supported with a Rapid Ocean Conservation grant from Waitt Foundation. Congrats to the Senewon association for all their great work!”

JELLYFISH DREAMING top-5 Final Short-list: Young-Adult Novel Prize, Fish Publishing

Fish Publishing Logo

JELLYFISH DREAMING made the top-5 for Fish Publishing’s 2016 Young-Adult Novel Prize: Final Short-List


Last Year in Review: JFD got a bit of buzz after Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlett (#33) — out of Small Beer press in Northampton, MA — published the short story version of the same name. Had a fantastic time with that, as editor Michael Deluca set up a reading panel at READERCON summer of 2015 and got us all reviewed in LOCUS  and  SFRevu (see reviews in the sidebar). I had more fun writing up an interview for him for his blog The Mossy Skull while we were in Boston that August. I was super impressed to walk into a Cambridge bookstore and see LCRW populating the shelves. It all left me with a fabulous impression of small presses, though I gather Small Beer Press has a particularly good reputation for supporting their writers. Our dear family friends, Poet Elizabeth Libby and the late, great nature writer Bill Macleish –who took me to my first Science Journalism conference, admonished me to bring a journal on the Whale Road, and played bagpipes at my wedding– were the first to predict (to me at least) that Small Presses were the publishing choice of the future. Bill was impressed by their kindness and attention to writers, as compared to his later experiences with the big presses. We lost Bill Spring of 2015, and the world is an emptier place for it. But his books remain.

Fall of 2015  I was meant to be reading from JFD for Rough Trade out of Nottingham, but my husband broke his leg playing soccer with our daughter’s school team (a step-n-snap moment). He headed in to surgery the day (hour, moment) I’d have been Skyping with Giselle Lieb in Nottingham (who also has a story in that edition of LCRW). Believe me, I considered reading from Tim’s hospital bedside – it was a great apocalyptic setting! But even with computer in lap, it was not to be, as the timing came down to my reading coinciding with the surgeon walking in to explain what a plateau fracture of the tibia meant (imagine a shattered stick being held together by 9 woodscrews and long metal strapping).  I had to get my priorities straight. I was sad to miss it, but Giselle said they had a great reading, and Tim had a looong recovery of 8+ weeks of no weight bearing whatsoever, and lots of PT after. (2015-2016 had a lot of disasters and losses. Some among family and friends, at at least one orange-colored that we can almost all relate to- worldwide.)

A month to the day later (I was sitting by my dad’s hospital bed this time), I got an email from Clem Cairns at Fish Publishing saying the full JFD mss made the top ten finalist list! (Not that this balanced out what you were going through, Pop, but it was a welcome ‘up’ moment.) He wrote:

“Yo Deb. Great to see your name come up. Delighted for you. It is a sizzling story, bristling with imagination and verve. Splendid. Good luck with all of the sick folk.”

Then, Spring of 2016, JFD moved up for final consideration among the top 5 being considered for publication by Fish (I believe out of Cork University Press?). Sadly, there could be only one. But it was delightful to get that far with this quirky mss.

Next step? I’m turning JFD into a Graphic Novel with amazingly fast and furious illustrator Mike Bukowick!  Mike Bukowick caricature copy

I believe this collaboration is turning an unusual story that has gotten lots of attention into something even more unusual and compelling (and hopefully publishable).

Oh! And another thing I’m pleased to brag about, is JFD’s Prequel, ICE, which won first place for a Speculative Literature Foundation Grant the year previously, now also has a short-story version that I’m shopping around, and that Mike is illustrating!

With luck and time, we plan to turn both books into graphic novels and add a third. The luck, of course, is necessary for carving out the time.  May all losses and disasters cease and desist for the foreseeable future….(yeah, right). If nothing else, it’s going to be a nerve-wracking next 4 years, ’cause we sure do live in interesting times. Let’s hope the upcoming post inaugural Women’s March in Washington, and the one Tim an the girls and I are attending in Boston, are as peaceful as they are meant to be. As another, much smaller, Tim said (and I misquote): Heaven help us, Everyone. We’re gonna need it.

Deb Caricature copy








That was good news in a hard year. JELLYFISH DREAMING (JFD) had made first runner up in the past with the Speculative Literature Foundation, and had gotten much kind support from the grant administrators and judges. ICE is the prologue to JFD, which is currently being turned into a graphic novel with illustrator MIKE BUKOWICK. Though ICE will likely come after JFD sequentially. Stay Tuned for the third (or first story, depending on the timeline): THE GREAT WAVE unless I write the last (PLASTIC EATERS) first. I like flipping around in time evidently.