5 Questions with Faculty: Lisa Baranik

Lisa Baranik, biking during a trip to Tunisia — where she very much enjoys the oven-roasted Chicken Shawarma. 

ALBANY, N.Y. (October 11, 2017) — Lisa Baranik is an assistant professor of Management in the School of Business. This is her second year teaching at UAlbany, drawn to the University’s unique Human Resource Information Systems (HRIS) program.

“Over 74% of organizations use technology in their human resource processes,” she said. “Our students learn how to implement cutting-edge software and tools in our world-renowned HRIS program and, as a result, nearly 100% of our graduates receive job offers. I enjoy being a part of a program that prepares students to have such promising careers.”

What are you working on now?

I just finished a project looking at vocational stressors among refugees living in the United States and Europe. Refugees participating in the study told us that there is a stigma to being a refugee, and that this stigma makes it hard to meet people, to learn the language of their new country and to find jobs. These feelings of stigma and discrimination are related to depression, anxiety and sleep problems.

One out of every 122 people in the world is now a refugee. Although we can feel powerless in the face of this humanitarian crisis, my research suggests that befriending refugee families can make a big difference. Dr. Ilham Almahamid, assistant professor in UAlbany’s School of Public Health, has known this for years. She just launched a non-profit organization called New York for Syrian Refugees that pairs people living in the Capital Region with local refugee families.

What made you decide to pursue your field?

When I was in high school, I drove to my SATs with a friend. My friend scored about 150 points higher than me. I went to college; he became addicted to drugs.

There are many disciplinary lenses you could use to try to figure out why that happened, such as substance abuse or sociology perspectives. The one that hooked me was psychological theories of human motivation.

If you weren’t teaching at a university, what would you be doing?

I would be running a native plant landscaping company. Two of my best friends are entomologists and a few years ago, one of them commented on how lawns are dead zones for insects. After reading Bringing Nature Home by Douglas W. Tallamy and learning about how native plants in backyards can support wildlife, I want to replace as many lawns as possible with native plants, like Coneflowers and Black-Eyed Susans.

If you could have dinner with anyone, living or not, who would it be?

Eddie Murphy, Amy Poehler and Louis CK. They have all made me laugh so hard, I cried.

What’s your favorite food, to eat or cook, and why?

Sam Sifton’s Oven-Roasted Chicken Shawarma. I’ve lived in or visited Syria, Morocco, Egypt and Tunisia. No matter how hard I try, I will never cook chicken shawarma as well the people living in those countries. But Sam Sifton’s recipe gets close enough.

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