Florida State University

College of Social Sciences & Public Policy

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COSSPP Faculty Are Experts On Current Issues

In addition to the recent interview with Associate Professor of Political Science Sean Ehrlich on Brexit, the Florida State University Communications team has also identified several faculty of the college as experts ready to talk to the media on today’s hot-button topics.

These experts are well-versed in the public health challenge presented by the coronavirus outbreak:

Alan Rowan, teaching professor, Public Health Program
Rowan was a member of the SARS task force for the Florida Department of Health and has held multiple public health positions in federal and state government. He currently teaches courses on infectious and chronic disease epidemiology in the College of Social Sciences and Public Policy.
“The current coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is very similar to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), both of which are coronaviruses and seem to have similar transmission and symptoms in humans. Florida has experience dealing with those earlier outbreaks of coronavirus. The most common symptoms for the disease are fever, shortness of breath and cough. The best protection is regular handwashing, staying home if you are sick, avoiding sick individuals and avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth. A calm, deliberate approach to prevention is the best method for dealing with the possible spread of the virus.”

John Taylor, professor, Department of Sociology, and member of the Center for Demography and Population Health
Taylor’s research focuses on social status disparities in health and well-being. His most recent work has examined how exposure to stress and adversity is related to biological functioning.
“The most alarming aspect of the coronavirus is how little we know about it in terms of its origins, propensity to be transmitted from human to human and its likelihood to spread to new geographical regions. Much more will be known over time, but right now great effort is needed to monitor and contain the effects of this virus.”

Faculty members in a range of disciplines have insight into the upcoming election season:


Matt Pietryka, assistant professor, Department of Political Science
Pietryka’s research focuses on understanding how the social and political contexts of life influence the political attitudes and behavior of individuals. In particular, he studies how political discussion with friends and family can affect individual political behavior.
“I study individual-level political decision making. I can discuss why citizens support various candidates and how they decide whether to vote or abstain.”

Hans Hassell, assistant professor, Department of Political Science
Hassell’s research focuses on political institutions and specifically on political parties and their role in electoral politics.
“The Democratic Party nomination contest this election cycle provides clear insights into the changing nature of politics in the United States. The rise in the number of presidential candidates in recent years results from divisions within the party coalitions and from easier access to vital campaign resources – money and media – that were not present in previous election cycles. The Democratic nomination is reflective of changes and rising divisions within parties in our increasingly polarized political system.”

Carol Weissert, LeRoy Collins Eminent Scholar and Chair of Civic Education and Political Science, Department of Political Science
Weissert studies federalism, state politics and health policy.
“Partisan politics will continue to define our presidential elections, which could also see security threats, distrust of government and competitive efforts to turn out each party’s base. Florida will once again play a key role in the presidential outcome and very likely one that will once again be extremely close. I am happy to talk about Florida’s role in this election.”

Deana Rohlinger, professor, Department of Sociology
Rohlinger researches mass media, political participation and politics in America.
“When the smoke from the 2020 presidential election clears, the U.S. will have a president. But, no matter who wins, the ability of citizens to discuss political issues is bound to take a beating.”


Mark Isaac, Quinn Eminent Scholar Professor, Department of Economics
Isaac can discuss the national economy as it relates to energy policy and the economics of government regulation.

And these scholars are among the university’s go-to people for Black History Month:

Shantel Gabrieal Buggs, assistant professor, Department of Sociology and faculty member of African American Studies program
(Buggs’ research includes race, gender, intimacy (romantic/sexual relationships, online dating, family), racial identity and community and representation of race and gender in popular culture. She specializes in interracial relationships, multiracial people/identity and families and black popular culture.
“Black History Month is always an important time to reflect not only on how far U.S. society has come over the past several hundred years but also what issues we — as black people and residents of the U.S. more broadly — still face today. Given that I study people’s intimate lives and media, particularly spaces like social media and film, it isn’t always immediately clear why those relationships and interactions matter. Black History Month provides an occasion for people to consider these topics in more detail, especially how we can use the internet and the people we choose to share our lives with to make incremental positive change (or potentially do more damage to the world). I always look forward to these conversations with my students whether it is February or not and look forward to seeing what will come from mainstream discussions of race in the beginning of 2020 — an important election year and a year that brims over with the promise of a new decade.”

Katrinell Davis, associate professor, Department of Sociology and faculty member of African American Studies program
Davis’ research interests include low-skilled black workers, environmental injustice, urban inequalities and the social determinants of health. She is currently completing a book-length manuscript on the recovery from the water crisis in Flint, Michigan.
“I specialize in research that examines the employment and ecological conditions in poor, predominately African American communities. I have published articles and a book on the nature of employment opportunities available to high school educated African American women. My research explores the institutional constraints to job security and mobility as well as the structural circumstances that undermine lead remediation efforts, particularly, in poor communities of color. In my work, I address how the intersections between race, gender and class shape social outcomes.”

Patrick Mason, professor, Department of Economics, and director of the African American Studies program
Mason’s primary areas of interest include labor, political economy, development, education, social identity and crime. He is particularly interested in racial inequality in the U.S., Caribbean and Mexico, income distribution, racial profiling and connections between the family environment and socioeconomic well-being.
“My research and teaching interests have focused on the nature, extent and persistence of economic exploitation and racism in various dimensions of society. Accordingly, I also have a strong interest in public policies and institutions that are consistent with increasing social justice.”