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News & Events

Human Ecology welcomes new faculty and instructional staff

We are excited to welcome eight new faculty and three new instructional staff to campus this fall. Each department will add at least two faculty or instructional staff members, bringing a wealth of expertise and commitment to human well-being to the school.

Melissa Bublitz

A woman smiling, with shoulder-length dark brown hair, wearing a pink shirt and black jacket.

Liz Kramer Professor of Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship | Professor, Civil Society & Community Studies and Consumer Science

“I study the intersection of consumer behavior, public policy, and well-being, investigating topics such as food access, health and wellness, sustainability, nonprofit marketing, and social innovation. As a member of the Transformative Consumer Research community, I often lead teams of researchers who collaborate with community stakeholders to study efforts to create positive societal impact and grassroots social change. My work seeks to leverage science to empower consumers and organizations to make choices that advance the well-being of individuals and the communities in which they live and work.”

Matthew Calvert

A white man smiling, with gray hair, wearing glasses and a dark gray sweater.

Professor, Civil Society & Community Studies

“My research focuses on the intersection of youth and community development and my Extension practice strengthens community approaches to engage young people in systems change. I focus on understanding and demonstrating practical programming practices that build knowledge, and youth-adult relationships that can be leveraged into innovative practices and benefit communities over time by strengthening the diversity of social networks. I partner with community and youth development practitioners in program efforts that generate opportunities for research and learning about how youth development contributes to community development. Extension’s reach allows for a wide range of settings and place-based approaches, from the Growing Connections project focused on neighborhood placemaking in Milwaukee to Youth in Governance programs that engage youth in local government decision making in rural, suburban, and urban Wisconsin.

“I have developed curriculum and supported program development and evaluation in nationwide efforts to engage youth in participatory research and action including Engaging Youth, Serving Communities (a USDA Rural Youth Development initiative) and the Youth Advocates for Community Health program, which is co-led by UW–Madison Division of Extension’s Institutes of Positive Youth Development and Health & Well-Being. I also co-created with Wisconsin youth organizations an annual youth-adult conference, Youth as Partners in Civic Leadership, focused on youth engagement in community change. I have partnered with Wisconsin 4-H to evaluate youth-adult partnership practices, youth leadership development programs, and youth program quality. These programs provide an ongoing laboratory for learning about and strengthening program practices in rural, tribal, and urban communities.”

Gisella Kagy

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Assistant Professor, Consumer Science

“I am an applied microeconomist who studies empirical questions related to consumers, firms, human capital accumulation, and labor markets in low-income countries. I have a particular interest in studying how gender interacts with labor markets. My research also explores how early childhood and in-utero health shocks impact later life human capital accumulation. I have projects in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, and Ghana that use a variety of experimental and applied methods. Much of my work involves field experiments and original data collection.”

Amanda Kozlowski

A white woman smiling, with dark brown, straight hair, wearing an orange mock neck sweater and a small blue necklace.

Teaching Faculty, Consumer Science

“With a passion for empowering individuals through financial education, I bring a holistic perspective to the realm of personal finance. I believe every person has a fundamental right to financial education, and I’m committed to breaking down the barriers that often make finance seem daunting. Combining education, empathy, and practical experiences, I am driven to help individuals achieve their financial aspirations and build a more secure future.”

David J. Pate Jr.

A Black man smiling, wearing a black jacket with a white shirt.

Visiting Associate Professor, Consumer Science and Human Development & Family Studies

“My research projects involve the use of qualitative research methods to examine the relationship of non-custodial fathers and their interaction with their children, the child support enforcement system, corrections, and the impact of social welfare policy on the well-being of African American adult males and their families. Prior to entering the world of academia, I was a practicing social worker for 16 years in the areas of direct practice, administration, and policy advocacy. This professional experience has allowed me to develop an integrative approach to the analysis of my scholarly activities.”

Mitch Frank

A white man with a mustache and long hair, wearing a brown shirt.

Teaching Faculty, Design Studies

“I take a craft-based approach to designing and making clothing and fabric. As an educator, I help students gain the craft skills that will empower them to make bold and authentic creative decisions in their own work. I draw on my professional experiences in the entrepreneurial fashion world (including as a sewing machine operator, apparel production manager, buyer, and designer) to provide insight into the realities of modern clothing production. My education in creative writing (BA) and fiber art (MFA) has helped me develop a strong conceptual and practical basis for teaching the fundamentals of clothing design and construction.”

Mengni Zhang

An Asian man sitting in a chair, wearing a black colored t-shirt.

Assistant Professor, Design Studies

“As a multidisciplinary design researcher, my goal is to help improve our everyday life qualities by leveraging and enhancing the ambient environments. Academically, my research focuses on understanding human-environment relations through building and testing assistive technologies embedded in architectural spaces, especially for independent living purposes.

“Professionally, as a licensed architect, my focus is on hospital design and planning. I believe the intersection between health care architecture and human-robot interaction brings exciting new potentials in creating interactive, adaptive environments with a health and wellness agenda. This research direction in human-built environment interaction also forms the basis for my teaching, which involves crafting interdisciplinary classes to bring together students across campus.

“As we embrace and adapt to global changes with new technologies, specifically within the context of the built environment, how can we envision new ways architecture can also become animated, responsive, and therapeutic to enable us to live healthier, more sustainable lives?”

Quentin Riser

A Black man smiling, with black, curly hair, wearing a blue shirt.Assistant Professor, Human Development & Family Studies

“My research examines the ways in which birth, child, family characteristics, and public policies influence children’s cognitive and social-emotional development as well as family well-being. I am also interested in applications of quantitative research methods and study design in developmental and family sciences, and I leverage secondary, administrative, and other data sources in my work.

“My work aims to inform the development and implementation of evidence-based policy and interventions at local, national, and international levels.”

Claire Barrett

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Associate Teaching Professor, Human Development & Family Studies

“As an associate teaching professor, I integrate my expertise in teaching, (clinical) practice, and applied research to enrich student learning. My scholarship examines social determinants of health and well-being for youth, families, college students, and communities. Specifically, I study equity-minded high-impact pedagogical practices and community-based research methods that empower individuals and communities to address social determinants of health and well-being.

“In the classroom, I seek to support students’ well-being through engaged learning practices that facilitate a sense of connectedness and belonging. Coalescing stakeholders from across campus, I facilitated a Teaching for Well-Being Taskforce and led the development of the Healthy Academics Toolkit, which was selected as a POD Network innovation award finalist. I received the K. Patricia Cross Future Leaders Award from the Association of American Colleges and Universities for my excellence in teaching and learning and commitment to community-engaged teaching practices. I also was selected as a Morgridge Fellow with the Morgridge Center for Public Service and participated in the UW–Madison Discussion Project.

“Trained as a psychologist, I support student mental health in an ecological context ranging from individual-level intervention to population-level approaches. Most recently, I worked at UW–Madison’s University Health Services Prevention and Campus Health Initiatives, where I oversaw the Healthy Academics Initiative. In this capacity, I enjoyed building partnerships across campus to advance health-promoting policies and practices that support well-being in academic environments. I previously directed academic engagement initiatives, including first-year seminars, mentorship development programs, and academic support services; managed community-based research and evaluation projects focused on social determinants of health and well-being for youth and families; and worked as a mental health provider and mindfulness educator in both K-12 and higher education.”

Katie Fitzpatrick, associate professor of Consumer Science, and Zoua Vang, Meta Schroeder Beckner Outreach Professor and professor of Civil Society & Community Studies, will also join Human Ecology on campus this fall. Because their appointments officially began in fall 2022, they were welcomed in a previous post.