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New Faculty: Five Objects that Matter
February 10, 2020

In continued expansion of our innovative programs, Rutgers School of Social Work is pleased to announce the appointment of three new tenure-track faculty members.

Assistant Professor Woojin Jung’s research focuses on development aid policy as a strategy to alleviate global poverty. She examines whether the poorest benefit from community development projects in fragile states, using artificial intelligence and spatial analysis. Her research addresses the problem of
identifying and characterizing poverty in data-sparse contexts.

Assistant Professor Jamey Lister researches the characteristics, consequences, and treatment of addictive disorders among underserved populations. His work aims to address the ongoing epidemic of opioid-related overdose deaths, barriers to evidence-based treatment, and improve addiction treatment services.

Assistant Professor Mark Van der Maas’s research interests include refining public health approaches to addressing problem gambling during market expansion, exploring how patterns in gambling behaviors reflect the aging of the U.S. population, and critically examining responsible gambling policies across

We asked each of them to identify five meaningful objects in their offices.

Woojin Jung

Lemon latte cup: My day doesn’t start without having a cup of coffee.Brewing coffee, making quasi-latte art, and tasting coffee are some of the most important rituals of my day. It’s next to impossible for me to resist the aroma of coffee, particularly on a rainy day, which makes its scent deeper.

Old wallet: I used to lose wallets within a week or two of purchasing them. It didn’t matter whether it was a brand-name wallet or not. The only way to break this jinx was to have someone else buy one for me. Today, I never lose wallets if someone buys them for me. My boyfriend – now my husband – bought one for me a long time ago, and I kept it for ten years. Then my mom gave me this special gift on my birthday. I still use it and have taken it with me as I traveled to more than 30 countries around the world.

“Tokki,” or Snow Ball: This bunny is named Snow Ball. Its other name is “Tokki,” meaning bunny in Korean. It’s my daughter’s stuffed animal, but my little son carries it with him all the time. I enjoy playing with Tokki with my son and my daughter because it’s a lot of fun for them. If my kids want to skip breakfast or don’t go to bed on time, Tokki whispers to them in a sweet voice, and they magically listen. I can’t stop loving the things my kids and husband love.

Peak powdered milk: In a remote village on the other side of the globe, I was getting hands-on experience in community development. I lived in a guest house and enjoyed drinking powdered milk — white as snow and sweet as vanilla ice cream. One day, I was mixing the powder with a bottle of water, waiting for it to dissolve, and thought, “I love it, but why is there no cold milk?” Then I looked around, and there was no refrigerator. Then I realized there was no power and no running water. Drinking a cold glass of milk needed a whole system of infrastructure in place. When the government fails to provide essential public goods, each individual needs to find his or her own solution, which is inefficient and costly. People unfairly shoulder the double burden of getting by and filling the service gaps. Peak powdered milk encouraged me to think about these concepts and ushered me into the field of international development.

Papyrus journal: I like to open my travel journal on airplanes so I can daydream in the clouds. I take a pencil with an eraser so I can scribble something and feel okay making mistakes. I like the touch of a pencil sketching lines and letters in paper – crisp, smudgy, or winkled. Sometimes, I just end up drawing a face with big, starry eyes. I’ve also used this journal to make a bucket list, and I’ve already checked off three items: working in an international organization, getting a doctorate, and becoming a faculty member. Now, I’d like to enrich my life with the arts so I can communicate more with the world. One day I hope to mark off my entire list and start adding new items.

Jamey Lister

The James Listers: This is me on Father’s Day in 1981 with my grandpa and dad. We share names, and were all raised in rural towns where self-reliance was valued while healthcare was nonexistent. My grandpa taught me something important – addiction is complex. He had a wonderful spirit, but his alcohol use disorder brought pain. My dad incorporated those childhood lessons as he built our family. In my life, I was fortunate to experience love from both men.

Detroit map art: This piece sits in my office and reminds me of a great chapter in my life! I met my wife, Holly, in Detroit while we both worked with an addiction clinic. The map reminds me of many cherished memories, running routes, and friends. Detroit will always be a special place for my scholarly work, too, as it’s where my mission to create knowledge that helps people with addiction from underserved communities fully developed.

Biltmore magnet: This magnet highlights the importance of family. My wife and I lived apart when she was completing her psychology internship in Connecticut as I was starting on the tenure track in Michigan. We missed each other dearly! The morning she moved we bought matching magnets to remind us of each other when apart. That trinket symbolizes the value hope can have during struggle. My mother would be proud — she sends similar keepsakes to my family members.

A gambling game passed down: This poker game has a meaning few would guess when they see it on my office shelf. I received this from one of my mentors, David Ledgerwood, upon starting my first faculty position. Dave previously received the game from his mentor, Nancy Petry. Both Dave and Nancy are gambling scholars and people that I model myself around, and I look forward to the day when I pass the game on to one of my mentees.

Headphones: Music has always been a central part of my life. I’ve played in bands, wrote my own music, and almost always have music playing while I work. When I first started writing in college, I regularly ran into writer’s block. One of the biggest things that helped me break free was music – it helped me concentrate better. Nowadays, I also use my headphones to provide me privacy as I walk around campus, breathe, and recharge.

Mark van der Maas

Hummel statuette: I received this figurine after my grandmother passed away. It represents the dogs I’ve had throughout my life that have helped me a lot. When I first moved to New Jersey, my dog got me out of the house and into my new community every day. Having a reason to walk down the street and see friendly faces has really made my transition easier.

Toronto Blue Jays commemorative glass:I spent the last 10 years in Toronto, and it’s a great city. I grew up in a small town in Ontario, and while I loved growing up there, the community was fairly homogeneous. The different cultures, neighborhoods, foods, music, and languages that you come into contact with every day in Toronto help you realize that it’s the differences between people that make life interesting. 

Ursula K. Le Guin’s “Those who walk away from Omelas”: Ursula K. Le Guin’s short story “Those who walk away from Omelas” has had a big impact on me. It’s a story about a paradise that is supported by the complete suffering of one person. Often, gambling policy is viewed in terms of the large amount of funds it can generate in contrast to the relatively few people who develop a gambling disorder. This story reminds me that these kinds of calculations diminish the suffering of real people and should be resisted.

Wedding ring: My relationship with my wife, Jeanette, is very important to me. The support she has given me has been a critical part of any successes I’ve had or am likely to have in the future (and vice versa, I hope). Coming to Rutgers is a big step for us, but the help that we’ve received from the faculty and staff has made the move here far more enjoyable than we could have hoped.

Howard S. Becker’s Outsiders: Outsiders is a fantastic piece of scholarship. This book, in particular, has taught me a lot about the connections between power, what we define as deviant or wanted behavior, and our understandings of morality. I also admire Becker’s approach to research and writing as a craft as well as a science. His approach reminds me that rigor and accessibility do not have to be contradictory in the social sciences. 

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