Humphrey School Welcomes New Faculty Members

March 28, 2023
Head shots of Tricia Olsen, Heather Randell, and Nichola Lowe
L-R: New Humphrey School faculty members Tricia Olsen, Heather Randell, and Nichola Lowe, who will join the School for the fall 2023 semester.

The Humphrey School of Public Affairs is pleased to announce three new faculty members who will join the School in the fall of 2023: two in the global policy area and one in urban and regional planning. 

Global Policy

Tricia Olsen will become the new Harold E. Stassen World Peace Chair, a joint appointment with the Department of Political Science in the University of Minnesota’s College of Liberal Arts. 

Olsen is currently an associate professor and associate dean at the University of Denver’s Daniels College of Business, with a joint appointment at the Korbel School of International Studies. She studies and teaches about public policy and the political economy of human rights and development, with a focus on Latin America. 

“Professor Olsen brings to the Humphrey School an extraordinary research record in the field of global human rights, combined with a track record of policy impact," said Professor Christina Ewig, who served on the search committee. “Her research on corporate human rights abuses tackles one of the most pressing human rights issues in our world today. Perhaps most importantly, Professor Olsen brings her expertise to contemporary policy debates. Her membership in the expert working group related to the U.S. government’s National Action Plan for Responsible Business, and her ongoing collaborations with the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights Conduct, are just two recent examples.”

Olsen has received support from various organizations for her research, including the National Science Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation, USAID, and Fulbright-Hays. She earned her master’s and PhD from the University of Wisconsin–Madison, and her BA from Carleton College. 

Heather Randell will join the global policy faculty as an assistant professor. She is currently an assistant professor of rural sociology and demography at Pennsylvania State University. Her research interests are environmental change, sustainable development, and human health and well-being. 

Randell served as a contributing author on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Sixth Assessment Report. She has received funding from the National Institutes of Health and National Science Foundation to support her research. She earned her PhD in sociology from Brown University, her Master of Environmental Management from Duke University, and her BS in biology from Cornell University.

Urban and Regional Planning

Nichola Lowe will join the urban and regional planning area faculty this fall. Currently she is professor and interim department chair in the Department of City and Regional Planning at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. 

Her research focuses on the institutional arrangements that lead to more inclusive forms of economic development, particularly the role of local policy and practice in aligning industrial innovation and equity. 

Lowe’s book, Putting Skill to Work: How to Create Good Jobs in Uncertain Times (MIT Press 2021), explores how labor market intermediaries harness uncertainty around skill in their negotiations with employers, advancing broader conceptions of expertise to include the frontline manufacturing workforce. 

Lowe has worked on evaluation and applied research projects for the Inter-American Development Bank, Bank of Northeast Brazil, Ontario Ministry of Economic Development and Trade, the Chicagoland Workforce Funders Alliance, the North Carolina Biotechnology Center, and the North Carolina Department of Commerce and its Board of Science and Technology.

Humphrey School Associate Dean for Research Ryan Allen said the School is "extremely fortunate” to have Professor Lowe join the faculty.

“She is a preeminent scholar of economic and workforce development in the field of urban and regional planning. Her scholarship is notable for its attention to pressing public challenges, and is equally impactful in the academy and among practitioners," he said.

Lowe earned her PhD in economic development and planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, her master’s degree from the University of California, Davis, and her BS from the University of California, Berkeley. 

“I’m thrilled to welcome each of these new faculty members to the Humphrey School this fall,” said Dean Nisha Botchwey. “They will bring new scholarship and excitement to our curriculum and learning environment, as well as leverage the priorities in our strategic plan of local and global connectedness, community partnerships, equity, and sustainability.”