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4 PhD students defend dissertations

Join us in congratulating Law and Public Policy PhD candidates Sonya Larrieux, Michael Asaro, Lisa Granquist, and Demetra Paparounas on successfully defending their dissertations.

On March 13, Larrieux defended her dissertation, Functional Outcome After Total Hip Replacement: The Effect of Race and Ethnicity Among Medicare Beneficiaries, which addresses the paucity of empirical studies examining the relationship between race/ethnicity and the post-surgical functional outcomes of individuals who had a total hip replacement.


“This study differs from previous ones in its focus on functional rather than the surgical outcome or medical issues related to this surgical procedure.”

— Sonya Larrieux


The following month, on April 3, Asaro defended Managing the impacts of commercial fisheries on the endangered North Atlantic right whale: A social-ecological systems approach, an analysis of the federal policy framework in place in the U.S. under the Marine Mammal Protection Act to reduce human-caused mortality of the endangered North Atlantic right whale resulting from entanglement in commercial fishing gear.

Right whales are among the rarest large whales in the world, having first been hunted to near extinction and now facing several human-caused threats. Asaro’s research consisted of three complementary parts that aimed to gain a systems-oriented understanding of the past, present, and future of right whale conservation and management under the institutional framework of the Marine Mammal Protection Act. His dissertation utilized a social-ecological systems theoretical framework and drew conclusions on both the theory and its practical application to right whale conservation.

Granquist defended her dissertation on April 5, entitled Characteristics and Conflicts of Municipal Coastal Resilience in Massachusetts. The goal of her study was to produce an integrated analysis to examine the capacity and potential of Massachusetts coastal communities to implement coastal resilience practices given their existing regulatory, policy, and governance environments. A document review of municipal regulations of three towns and a content analysis of interviews comprised the case study, and a localized spatial and econometric study examined the effects of accelerated erosion.

Two days later, Paparounas successfully defended Empowering Cities: Assessing municipal capabilities for business attraction, a study focused on what municipalities can do to boost their business attraction and retention capabilities.

Paparounas examined 351 municipalities in Massachusetts from 2001 to 2015 and further investigated a subset of those, discovering that municipalities with a positive attitude towards economic development experienced more than three times larger employment growth than those who did not. Furthermore, municipalities that were vigilant about economic development during the Great Recession years were also more resilient to the economic challenges posed by the financial turmoil.


“The environment that certain municipal characteristics nurtures better shields communities and nested businesses in their effort to sustain employment at the downturn of the business cycle.”

Demetra Paparounas


Published On: April 30, 2017 |
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