New director chosen for Health Sciences Research Institute
Professor Deborah Wiebe has been named the new faculty director of UC Merced’s Health Science Research Institute. Wiebe will serve a five-year term as director, a role she served on an interim basis for six months in 2016.
Wiebe has an M.A. and a Ph.D. in medical psychology, as well as an MPH in epidemiology. Prior to joining the faculty at UC Merced in 2013, Wiebe held academic and administrative positions at several major universities, including Director of Research at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and Director of Clinical Training in psychology at the University of Utah.
Wiebe’s research focuses on self-regulation and the central role of social relationships (e.g., parentchild relationships; patient-provider relationships) in preventing and managing chronic diseases such as diabetes, and how these associations change across developmental and sociocultural contexts.
Brown has received national recognition for her research, most recently receiving the 2018 Dennis Drotar Distinguished Research Award from the Society of Pediatric Psychology. Her research has been consistently funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health, primarily the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.
Wiebe replaces Public Health Professor Paul Brown, who held the position since June 2012. Brown oversaw HSRI’s growth from the initial proposal to create an Organized Research Unit to its status today as the largest ORU on campus, with 110 members representing all three of UC Merced’s schools - Engineering, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts.
Under Brown’s leadership, HSRI grew its funding portfolio to 52 grants with a combined value of $15.5 million, including the new Nicotine & Cannabis Policy Center, led by Professor Anna Song.
NEW BOOK EXPLORES HOW FORMERLY INCARCERATED PERSONS PARTICIPATE IN CIVIC ACTIVISM
When pondering faith and redemption, the concept of “making good” on the past can be a crucial step in moving forward.
Professor Edward Orozco Flores’s new book, “Jesus Saved an Ex-Con: Political Activism and Redemption After Incarceration” explores how formerly incarcerated individuals organize to change their communities with a goal of “making good.”
The book, published with New York University Press in September, builds upon qualitative research Flores conducted from 2012 through 2015. Flores conducted participant observation with Chicagobased Community Renewal Society (CRS) and Los Angeles-based LA Voice. While CRS supported faith-based organizing among the formerly incarcerated through the FORCE project, LA Voice supported the Homeboy Industries Local Organizing Committee.
The book builds off Flores’s first book “God’s Gangs,” which examined faith-based recovery among former gang members at Homeboy Industries and Victory Outreach. Flores said a common theme in “God’s Gangs” was how these organizations reoriented people away from the streets through shifts in religious practices and gendered displays.
“Jesus Saved an ExCon” turns the focus toward how the formerly incarcerated participate in civic and political action.
“During the research for my first book, I wanted to see persons in recovery doing something intentional to change the conditions under which they lived,” Flores said. “I thought that it would require some sort of political awakening. I found I was totally wrong.
“People who are formerly incarcerated participate in organizing to change laws precisely through efforts at redemption and making good.”
“Jesus Saved an ExCon” tracks how formerly incarcerated persons organized corporate and legislative campaigns to regulate the use of records in job hires, remove absolute bars against people with records and reappropriate state funding.
Flores said formerly incarcerated people expressed it was their opportunity to give back to their communities and to prevent others from going down the same path.
Flores is an associate professor in sociology and is part of the School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts. His areas of specialization include race, gender, religion and immigration. Flores has been with UC Merced for five years.
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