Susan Thomson Tripathy is a Associate Teaching Professor in the Sociology Department and Director of BLA Program at UMass Lowell.

Susan Thomson Tripathy, Ph.D.

Adjunct Faculty

College of Fine Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Sociology, Climate Change Initiative
Dugan Hall - 2nd Floor


Community Engaged Learning, Participatory Action Research, Ethnography


  • Ph D: Anthropology, (1989), Harvard University - Cambridge, Mass.
  • MA: Anthropology, (1983), Harvard University - Cambridge, Mass.
  • MM: Clarinet Performance, (1979), Cleveland Institute of Music, Cleveland, OH
  • BA: Music, (1977), Magna Cum Laude, Mount Holyoke College - South Hadley, MA


Susan Thomson Tripathy's research interests emphasize qualitative methods, including ethnography, oral history interviews, and participatory action research, all of which are also important parts of her teaching. To connect these research skills with real life community problems and concerns, she integrates community engagement opportunities into almost all of her courses. Projects completed by her students in collaboration with community partners include facilitating a storytelling booth for a Franco-American neighborhood festival; creating a museum exhibit featuring the oral histories of refugees from Burma, Bhutan, Congo and Iraq; arranging an exhibit of art created by guests at a local drop-in center; and organizing workshops and college tours for high school youth as part of a local mentoring program.

Most recently, she has also collaborated with Kavitha Chandra, Ph.D., to utilize participatory action research (PAR) focus groups as an assessment approach for the Research, Academics, and Mentoring Pathways (RAMP) summer program for first-year female engineering students. Thomson Tripathy's earlier doctoral research, funded by a Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation grant, focused on ethnographic fieldwork in rural Bihar, India, analyzing the politics and artistic development of a local dance form. Before coming to UMass Lowell in 2011, she was the Director of Research at Germaine Lawrence, a residential treatment center for adolescent girls in Arlington, Mass.

She has also taught at Middlesex Community College, where she was an active participant and researcher in MCC's extensive community service program. At UMass Lowell, Thomson Tripathy's teaching has been recognized in 2013 and 2014 with awards in Applied and Experiential Learning, and in 2017 she was the recipient of a FAHSS Teaching Excellence award in Sociology.

Selected Publications

  • Tripathy, Susan Thomson, Kavitha Chandra, and Diane Reichlen. 2020. "Participatory Action Research (PAR) Focus Groups as Formative Assessment of a STEM Summer Bridge Program." In ASEE Conference Proceedings, June 2020 (Virtual conference). 
  • Silverman, Phyllis and Susan Thomson. 2018. "When Men Grieve: Widowers' Stories of Coping with their Wives' Deaths." Omega: Journal of Death and Dying, 77(2):133-153. 
  • Thomson, Susan, David Hirshberg, Amy Corbett, Nicole Valila, and Denise Howley. 2011. "Residential Treatment for Sexually Exploited Adolescent Girls: Acknowledge, Commit, Transform (ACT)." Children and Youth Services Review, 33:(11), 2290-2296. 
  • Thomson, Susan. 2007. "Along the Path to Nibbana: Civic Engagement, Community Partnerships and Lowell's Southeast Asian Buddhist Temples." In Southeast Asian Refugees and Immigrants in the Mill City: Changing Families, Communities, Institutions - Thirty Years Afterward, edited by S.C. Cowan, J. Gerson, and L.Pho. Hanover, NH: University Press of New England.