Department of Human Development and Family Studies NEWsâ€‚ page 12
Health and Human Development News
| Winter 2013-14
you& your health
College of Health and Human Development Dean
Ann C. Crouter
Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies and Outreach Dennis Shea
Interim Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Education Kathryn Drager
Greetings from the College of Health and Human Development At its heart, our college is focused on improving the quality of human health and the quality of life for people of all ages and backgrounds, as well as training the next generation of leaders in this important area. You can find our faculty members in their laboratories where they might be studying exercise physiology or developmental neuroscience, out in the community where they might be examining quality of life for cancer survivors or conducting an intervention to prevent diabetes, or in the classroom where they share their knowledge every day with future speech pathologists, physicians, experts on children and youth, physical therapists, community health leaders, outdoor educators, hoteliers, dietitians, and hospital administrators. The stories in this magazine will give you a flavor for the wide variety of research going on in the college. We’ve created eight versions with sections specifically tailored to each of our academic units to give readers an opportunity to learn more about what is going on in the part of the college that they remember best. All of the versions of the magazine are available on the web, so if you are curious about what the graduates of other majors are reading, please go to: hhd.psu.edu/magazine. A magazine is no substitute for what you can learn by returning to campus. Please schedule a visit to Penn State—and to our college—for 2014. You would be welcome to tour our facilities, sit in on a class or two, and soak up the energetic, rejuvenating spirit that Penn State’s incredible students bring with them to everything they do. I look forward to welcoming you back!
Assistant Dean for Undergraduate Education
Director of Development Kathleen Rider
Assistant Dean for Alumni Relations and Special Projects Abigail Diehl
Assistant Director of Alumni Relations Kristi Stoehr
Director of Communications and Creative Services Scott Sheaffer
Science Writer/Editor Sara LaJeunesse
Communications Specialist Jennifer Hicks
Alumni Mentoring Program Coordinator and Staff Assistant for Alumni and College Relations
V. Diane Collins
Warmly, Articles may be reprinted with permission; for more information please contact the Office of Alumni and College Relations at 814-865-3831 or email@example.com.
Ann C. Crouter Raymond E. and Erin Stuart Schultz Dean College of Health and Human Development
For general correspondence, please write to the Office of Alumni and College Relations, College of Health and Human Development, The Pennsylvania State University, 201 Henderson Building, University Park, PA 16802-6501; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org; or visit www.hhd.psu.edu. This publication is available in alternative media on request. Penn State is committed to affirmative action, equal opportunity, and the diversity of its workforce. (HHD14032) U.Ed. HHD 14-032
Special Section: News From Your Department page 12
you & your fitness nutrition health care relationships
YOU & YOUR Fitness
Exercise for Life
Sayers John Miller, III, assistant professor of kinesiology and former athletic trainer for the San Francisco 49ers, gives tips on how to prevent exercise-related injuries and maintain fitness throughout life. Got knee pain? Plantar fasciitis? IT-band syndrome? Achilles tendinitis? Chances are, if you’re suffering from one of these overuse injuries, you have weak hips, glutes, or abdominals—or all three. According to Miller (featured in the images), weaknesses in these major muscle groups can lead to knees that collapse inward during exercise, a habit that can wreak havoc on the body. “Once you’ve damaged cartilage or torn ligaments, they’re never quite the same,” says Miller. “One of the things we commonly
see is knee, ankle, and lower back pain, and one of the common causes of these types of pain is the inability to control the lower extremities.” To avoid injuries that can squash our hopes of maintaining fitness into old age, Miller says we should regularly dedicate time to strengthening the muscles—hips, gluteals, and abdominals—that control our lower extremities.
Keep the knee over the foot and the beltline parallel to the ground (image A) while squatting. A band (image A) can help prevent the knees from collapsing inward (image B).
As you develop strength, begin to do single-leg squats (image C). Another variation is to place an exercise ball against a wall and hold a static squat position (image D).
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Clamshell Leg Lifts
Clamshell Leg Lifts With Band
Lie on your side with knees at right angles. Lift the top knee up, then lower it. This exercise strengthens the glutes and the external rotators of the hip.
When you become stronger, a band can provide additional resistance.
Leg Presses With Band
Extend one leg at a time while lifting the gluteals and lowering them. This exercise strengthens the gluteal, hamstring, and abdominal muscles.
Doing a leg press with a band around the knees forces you to pull the knees out at the same time you are moving up and down, which emphasizes external rotation of the lower extremity, rather than internal rotation.
Plank Rotations To strengthen the abdominals, position your body parallel to the floor with upper body resting on elbow and forearms and lower body resting on toes. Hold.
To do a side plank, rest on one hand while raising the opposite hand in the air. Balance on sides of feet.
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YOU & YOUR Fitness and Nutrition
Is it Safe to Exercise? Research consistently shows that exercising while pregnant delivers tremendous health benefits, yet many women avoid exercising because they worry about falling. In a recent study, Danielle Symons Downs, associate professor of kinesiology and obstetrics and gynecology, and Jinger Gottschall, assistant professor of kinesiology, examined whether and how pregnant women’s gaits change as they transition between level and hill surfaces, such as when walking or running outside.
“Most people alter their gait to avoid tripping when walking on uneven ground, but we found that pregnant women adopt an exaggerated gait strategy compared to non-pregnant adults,” says Gottschall. The team concludes that although pregnant women do exaggerate their gaits, walking or jogging outside are generally safe activities. However, if pregnant women do not feel comfortable walking outside, a treadmill or a track are good alternatives.
Visit a Park for Your Health Want to become more physically fit? Head to your local park, says Andrew Mowen, associate professor of recreation, park, and tourism management. “Studies show that people exercise more when they have access to parks,” he says. “They also are less stressed and have fewer anxiety disorders when they visit parks.”
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“Work Out” Your Hot Flashes Menopausal women who exercise may experience fewer hot flashes in the 24 hours following physical activity, according to Steriani Elavsky, associate professor of kinesiology, and colleagues. “Some people think that performing physical activity could increase hot flashes because it increases body temperature,” says Elavsky. “But our research shows that this is not true. On average, the women in our study experienced fewer hot flash symptoms after exercising.”
Binge-Eating Disorders Roughly four million Americans regularly binge eat to the point of feeling sick. Repeated bingeing on fatty food may change patterns of neural signaling in the brain in a manner similar to that which occurs during drug use, according to research on rats conducted by Professor of Nutritional Neuroscience Rebecca Corwin. “These changes in the brain could perpetuate the bingeing behavior and may explain why binge-eating disorder is so difficult to treat,” she says. “What’s particularly interesting is that only rats with restricted access to a fatty treat a few times a week will binge on the treat. Rats that get to eat a little of the treat every day don’t binge and don’t show the same changes.”
Symptoms of Binge-Eating Disorder Provided by the Mayo Clinic
• Eating unusually large amounts of food • Eating even when you’re full or not hungry • Eating rapidly during binge episodes • Eating until you’re uncomfortably full • Frequently eating alone • Feeling that your eating behavior is out of control • Feeling depressed, disgusted, ashamed, guilty, or upset about your eating • Losing and gaining weight repeatedly, also called yo-yo dieting If you or a loved one has any symptoms of binge-eating disorder, seek medical help as soon as possible.
For Healthy Weight Loss, Ditch the Diet The Atkins Diet, the Paleolithic Diet, the Cabbage Soup Diet. Some of us have tried every fad diet out there in an attempt to lose weight and keep it off. Yet, according to Penny Kris-Etherton, Distinguished Professor of Nutrition, people might have better success if they think NOT in terms of dieting, but rather on eating healthful foods over their lifetime. “That means eating a lot of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, skim-milk dairy products, lean meats, and a small amount of liquid vegetable oil,” says Kris-Etherton. “It also means avoiding high-calorie snacks. Certainly they can be incorporated in small amounts in a healthy diet, but if you focus on eating the healthier foods, you might naturally eat fewer sweets and treats.” Kris-Etherton says if you feel you really need the structure of a diet, check out the research-based DASH Diet, which emphasizes eating healthful foods in three meals and two snacks a day. Kris-Etherton recently served on a panel of scientists that ranked the diet at the top of the list in a U.S. News & World Report diet ranking.
Take a dip Can’t get your kids to eat their vegetables? Try offering the veggies with a side of dip. Research by Jennifer Savage Williams, associate director of the Center for Childhood Obesity Research, showed that more kids like vegetables when they are paired with a yummy dip compared to vegetables without a dip. “Just because children refuse to taste a vegetable doesn’t mean they don’t like it,” Savage says. “It’s foreign—the key is to try to get them to taste it in a positive light.”
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YOU & YOUR Nutrition
Nutrition Concerns in your
20s, 40s, & 60s As we age, our calorie needs and nutrient requirements change. Lynn Parker Klees, instructor in the Department of Nutritional Sciences, shares tips on how to eat healthfully in your 20s, 40s, and 60s.
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You may be working long hours, making new friends and dating, and possibly getting married and having children. Life is unpredictable, yet grabbing meals on the go often means taking in more calories and fewer nutrients. • When eating in restaurants, take half of the portion home. • Aim to have fruits and vegetables constitute half of your plate at lunch and dinner. • Substitute fruit for dessert most of the time. • When you need a quick meal, pick up healthy convenience foods like rotisserie chicken, instant brown rice, and frozen vegetables. • Reduce sugar-sweetened beverages and substitute water or no-calorie beverages. • Moderate alcohol consumption—one serving per day for women and two servings per day for men.
Life is hectic and you may not notice your metabolism starting to slow down. Watch out for increased belly fat as a result of dropping estrogen levels for women and long hours sitting for both men and women. • Find ways to add movement during the day. Get up early to go to the gym, take off during your lunch break to walk or bicycle, or jog or walk around the soccer field during your kids’ games. • Add strength training to slow the inevitable loss of muscle mass with aging. • Calorie needs drop as we get older. Cut 100 calories a day from your pre-40 diet. For every decade after 40, we need about 1 percent fewer calories, or the equivalent of a cookie. • Limit extra fats and sugars to about 100-150 calories per day.
You may be looking forward to increasing your physical activity in retirement or you may be slowing down due to injuries or chronic health problems. Despite your fitness level, your calorie needs have decreased while your nutrient needs have stayed the same or increased. • If you live alone, try to halve recipes or freeze in small portions for later use to avoid eating spoiled leftovers. • As we age, our thirst mechanism decreases but our fluid needs are maintained. Drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration. • People in their 60s need more protein to maintain their muscles. Choose lean meats, fish, beans, nuts, and tofu, and eat them throughout the day. • Beware of losing too much weight. People who are underweight and undernourished don’t fare as well when faced with illness and injury.
Percentage of Americans who are overweight.
Percentage of Americans who are projected to be obese, not just overweight, by 2030.
Source: Gordon Jensen, professor and head of the Department of Nutritional Sciences
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YOU & YOUR Health care
The Affordable Care Act: A Primer One in seven Americans does not have health insurance. When they do, the average family’s health insurance costs more than $15,000 per year. The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), which was signed into law in 2010, promises to increase and improve health insurance coverage and reduce the cost of health care. How will this benefit you? According to Pamela Farley Short, professor of health policy and administration, it depends on who you are. Below, Short summarizes the primary provisions of Phase I and II of the Affordable Care Act, as it has evolved with Supreme Court decisions, stateby-state decisions about participation, and the Obama administration’s interpretation and implementation of the law.
Phase I (now in effect ) Insurer Limitations Preventive Care Prescription Drugs Young People Small Businesses Lifetime Limits Pre-Existing Conditions High-Risk Patients
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Insurers are limited in how they spend premium dollars; if too little goes into health care for their customers, they must give some of it back through rebates. No additional costs for preventive care, like screenings and vaccinations, for anyone with health insurance. People on Medicare who use a lot of prescription drugs pay less for them. Young people can stay on their parents’ policies up to age 26. Some small businesses get tax breaks to help them buy insurance for their employees. No more lifetime limits on health insurance. Insurance companies can’t turn kids down because of pre-existing conditions, like asthma and diabetes. High-risk pools supported by the government were set up to cover the sickest of the uninsured, even before the big expansions in health insurance scheduled for 2014.
Phase II (effective as of January 1, 2014) Medicaid
States have the option of expanding Medicaid to cover all low-income people, with the federal government picking up the entire cost for three years and then slowly shifting 10 percent to the states by 2020. Because of the Supreme Court ruling, states also have the option of leaving Medicaid unchanged and poor people uninsured.
Tax credits are available to offset health insurance costs of anyone without Medicaid or access to affordable employment-based health insurance if their family income is between 100 percent and 400 percent of the federal poverty line (between $23,000 and $94,000 for a family of four). Lower-income families in this range get more help than higher-income families.
People with no option to get health insurance through work can buy it through an online marketplace, organized by their state or by the federal government on behalf of their state.
Insurers cannot turn people down or charge them more if they are sick.
Insurance Requirement Large Businesses
Everyone is required to have insurance. Those who donâ€™t must pay a special tax that is relatively small in 2014 but increases in subsequent years. Starting in 2015, larger businesses will pay special taxes if they donâ€™t insure their full-time workers.
The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation was an important source of information in compiling these lists.
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YOU & YOUR Relationships
How to connect with kids at any age Greg Fosco, assistant professor of human development and family studies and the Karl R. and Diane Wendle Fink Early Career Professor for the Study of Families, explains two of the most important ways parents can connect with their kids. Focus on positive behavior—Rather than focus on corrective feedback and nagging, parents can praise their kids’ good behavior, notice their successes, and make a point of helping them understand when they are meeting expectations or behaving appropriately. Strive for a ratio of three praises for every one corrective statement. Be a good listener—Children’s disclosures provide a range of opportunities for parents, such as problem-solving difficult peer interactions or learning about challenges their children are having with classwork. Parents are wise to take advantage of any opportunity to learn with whom their children are spending time and what happens while they are unsupervised. The most skillful parents are non-reactive listeners who ask questions like, “What happened next?” or “How did you respond?” or “Was that scary?” which can help kids open up.
“Should I allow my teenager to drink alcohol at home?”
“Many parents believe if they provide alcohol early it takes the mystery away and their kids are less likely to drink outside the home, but research shows that when the first drink is provided within the home, kids are more likely to drink more heavily and frequently,” says Robert Turrisi, professor of biobehavioral health.
Caring For Older Family Members 39.8 million. That’s the number of Americans over age 15 who provided unpaid care to someone over age 65 during a three-month period in 2012, according to a Bureau of Labor Statistics report. Distinguished Professor and Head of the Department of Human Development and Family Studies Steven Zarit gives some tips on how to manage the stress of caring for aging family members: • Get the information you need. Information about your relative’s condition and the options you have for providing care will help a lot. • Connect with other caregivers in a support group or on-line chat, share ideas about what works, and give support to one another. • Ask for help when you need it. • Get regular breaks from caregiving. My research has shown that adult day service programs have therapeutic benefits for their clients, while also reducing stress and improving well-being of caregivers. • If you feel upset and don’t know what to do, a social worker or psychologist with training in caregiving can be very helpful.
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Department of Human Development and Family Studies
Simmer Down: It Could Protect Your Health You’re late for work because of traffic. It rains and you forgot your umbrella. Your boss chews you out for missing an important meeting. Your credit card bill is through the roof. Your cat vomits on the floor. You burn the garlic bread you were making for dinner. And just when you think your day couldn’t get any worse, your spouse arrives home, complaining of an equally stressful day. Do you (A) fume about your bad day or (B) let your misfortunes roll off your shoulders?
ccording to David Almeida, professor of human development and family studies, if you chose (A), you could suffer negative health consequences. “It turns out it’s not the stressors that cause health problems,” says Almeida. “It’s people’s emotional reactions to the stressors that determine whether they will suffer health consequences.”
Using a subset of people who are participating in the MIDUS (Midlife in the United States) study, a national longitudinal study of health and well being that is funded by the National Institute on Aging, Almeida and his colleagues are investigating the relationships among stressful events in daily life, people’s emotional reactions to those events, and their health and well-being ten years later.
“Our research shows that what happened in your daily life ten years ago predicts your chronic health conditions and psychological health now, independent of your earlier health and your current stress,” says Almeida. Almeida says he likes to think of people as being one of two types: Velcro people or Teflon people. “With Velcro people, when a stressor happens it sticks to them; they get really upset and, by the end of the day, they are still grumpy and
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Preserve Your Mind Not only does dwelling on life’s little stressors lead to poorer health outcomes, it also may lead to reduced intellectual function, poorer memory, and slower thinking speed in old age, according to research by Martin Sliwinski, professor of human development and family studies and director of the Center for Healthy Aging. In a paper published in a recent issue of the journal Psychology and Aging, Sliwinski and his colleagues examined the ways in which older adults around 80 years of age reacted to daily stressors and whether their reactions were related to their cognitive abilities. To examine the participants’ cognitive abilities, the researchers gave them a series of tests that included puzzles and vocabulary quizzes. The team then surveyed the participants about the stressors they had experienced in the past 24 hours and their emotional reactions to these stressors. The researchers found that the higher functioning older adults actually experienced more daily hassles than the lower functioning adults. They also found that these higher functioning older adults experienced lower levels of negative emotional reactivity to their daily stressors.
fuming,” he said. “With Teflon people, when stressors happen to them they let them slide right off. It’s the Velcro people who end up suffering health consequences down the road.” According to Almeida, certain types of people are more likely to experience stressors in their daily lives. Younger people, for example, have more stressors than older people; people with higher cognitive abilities have more stressors than people with lower cognitive abilities; and people with higher levels of education have more stressors than people with less education. Almeida’s advice for minimizing the effects of stress on long-term health and well-being? “Do whatever you can to manage the stressors in your life,” he said. “Focus your thoughts on positive events. Happiness seems to cut through negative thought processes. Other things to try are exercise, getting outside, and breathing deeply. These activities help manage the biological havoc that stressors might be having on you.” So the next time someone cuts you off in traffic, go ahead and curse. But once you’re done, take a few deep breaths and let it go. n
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Searching for Patterns in Data Scientists, musicians, and artists collaborate to find new ways to interpret and understand data. From the beginning, the arrangement was intense and fastpaced, like the sound of heavy rain on a metal roof. As it progressed, the rapid drumming, punctuated by thunderous strikes on the bass drum, gradually tapered off until the piece reached a quiet and peaceful ending. Although the composition had nothing to do with weather, it did represent a type of storm— that of an infant crying as a vaccine is injected into her thigh. Afterward, in the warm embrace of her mother, the baby’s crying slowly subsides. The song was one of several performed by renowned percussionists Robyn Schulkowsky and Joey Baron last February in the auditorium of the new Biobehavioral Health Building. The goal of the concert—titled “Playing the Archive: Experiencing Data Through Visual and Sonic Immersion”—was to translate data archives generated by Penn State researchers into music. The event was sponsored by StudioLab, a multi-disciplinary Penn State initiative created in 2011 that facilitates collaboration among scholars from different fields to discover innovative solutions and new paradigms. “Part of our discovery process is passing materials and data developed in one field through the paradigms and mediums of another field,” said Nilam Ram, co-director of StudioLab and associate professor of human development and family studies. “When that medium is music, we push into new territory.” “There is beautiful art to be made from scientific material,” he added. “We also find that in the design and performance process we discover patterns in our data that we didn’t know were there. That, in turn, pushes the science further.” Musicians Schulkowsky and Baron visited Penn State from their home in Berlin, Germany. They spent four days working with re-
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searchers in the Colleges of Health and Human Development and Arts and Architecture to explore how data and document archives can be read as musical scores and played live.
Hearing Data As university and community members with a wide variety of backgrounds filed into the auditorium that evening in February, no one knew what to expect. “The house was packed; people were standing on the steps,” said Ann C. Crouter, the Raymond E. and Erin Stuart Schultz Dean of the College of Health and Human Development. “The atmosphere was intense. People were really curious about what they were going to experience.” In the lobby, the audience was surrounded by large data-based artworks that could have been in a museum. Inside the auditorium, they were confronted with sounds—bass drums, snare drums, tomtoms, gongs, cymbals, triangles, and . . . silence, the meaningful spaces between notes. “It was such a pleasure to hear the musicians’ interpretation of how infants and parents work together to soothe the infant,” said Cynthia Stifter, professor of human development and family studies who collected that data as part of her research. “Prior to the concert, I worked with the musicians on the sounds used to represent infants’ crying and parent soothing behaviors so that they could fine-tune their initial interpretation of the data,” she said. “The end result was fantastic. You could sense the asynchronous nature of the interaction, particularly at the start when the infants were in a high distress state. I like seeing data represented visually. Hearing it gives us an entirely new perspective.” In another piece, Schulkowsky and Baron made music from data collected by Lisa Gatzke-Kopp, associate professor of human development and family studies. The data came from 339 kindergar-
Credit: Laura MacLean
ten children who participated in a study on emotional reactivity. Gatzke-Kopp measured variability in the children’s heart rates as the children watched a series of four film clips, each depicting a different emotional theme: scary, sad, happy, and angry. “The artists read the plot we had made of the data as a musical score. But they rotated the graph 90 degrees and read it vertically, which allowed them to ‘play’ the range of physiological arousal across kids for each observation point,” said Gatzke-Kopp. “So rather than just playing the average level of arousal, which could be viewed as emotional intensity, across the four emotions, they played the degree of variability in emotional reactivity across children.” According to Gatzke-Kopp, at the beginning of the piece the sounds were further apart because fewer kids had extremely high levels of arousal. The density of the rhythm increased toward the middle and slowed down again toward the end where, in the data, there were fewer kids with the lowest levels of arousal. “It was really interesting that the artists rotated the axes and expressed the variability,” said Gatzke-Kopp. “In many ways that is exactly what we are investigating—individual differences. Are the children who reacted more strongly different from those who reacted less strongly? The sonic representation really highlights the range of variation between kids and the idea that the range of physiology is different depending on the emotion being experienced.”
Visualizing Data In addition to exploring musical interpretations of data, the event also showcased new ways to represent data visually. In one example, the group translated measurements of cortisol (a stress hormone) obtained every 20 minutes from 34 people who were exposed to a brief stressor in a driving simulator into a new medium—a wood sculpture with 34 parts.
“Each individual’s cortisol stress response follows a slightly different curve,” said Ram. “Having each of these curves cut into 3-dimensional wooden forms allows us to explore ideas related to timing. We can compare individual curves with one another by aligning all the different pieces of wood at either the front edge of the curves or at their peaks. We see something different simply because we’re able to hold the form in our hands, play with it, and move it around.” In another example, Laura MacLean, a recent master of fine arts graduate from Penn State’s School of Visual Arts and artist-in residence at StudioLab, helped create 140 Hands, a large-format photo print embedded in acrylic that integrates photographs taken as part of a study in which 140 participants documented their daily interpersonal interactions, emotions, and health for nine weeks. “The hand may seem like a very commonplace thing. We often forget what a marker it is for our humanity,” said MacLean. “There is inherent meaning in the hand. It is how we touch our world; it is how we connect with others; it is a signifier of our humanity. The print, now hanging on the fourth floor of the Biobehavioral Health Building, is a good reminder of how our studies of human behavior reconcile the uniqueness of the individual with an abstract collective norm.” “A highlight of the workshops and event was witnessing and participating in an exploratory space where everyone brings something different to the table,” said Candice Ng, StudioLab artist/researcher. “We took on the challenge to build new types of collaborative relationships and explore new ways of thinking.” Participation in the creative process inspired everyone, performers and audience alike, to appreciate the value of each other’s work, to learn new things about how they research, and to embark on new explorations. Learn more about StudioLab’s explorations, hear excerpts of the concert, and see and collect the artwork for your own walls at studiolab.psu.edu/playingthearchive.
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Department of Human Development and Family Studies
Researchers investigate aggression among kindergartners Not all aggressive children are aggressive for the same reasons, according to Lisa Gatzke-Kopp, associate professor of human development and family studies, and colleagues. The findings suggest that different types of treatments may be needed to help kids with different underlying causes for problem behavior. “Aggressive responses to being frustrated are a normal part of early childhood, but children are increasingly expected to manage their emotions and control their behavior when they enter school,” said Gatzke-Kopp. “Kids who don’t do this well are at especially high risk for long-term consequences, including delinquency, violence, dropping out of school, abusing substances, and even suicide. Research tells us that the earlier we can intervene the better the chances of getting these children back on track.”
Gatzke-Kopp and her colleagues, which include Mark Greenberg, professor of human development and family studies and of psychology, recruited high-risk and low-risk kindergartners to undergo a range of neurobiological measures aimed at understanding how aggressive children experience and manage emotions differently than their non-aggressive classmates. The team found that 90 percent of the aggressive kids in the study could be characterized as either low in verbal ability or more easily physiologically aroused. The results appeared in a recent issue of the journal Development and Psychopathology. Other authors of the paper include Christine Fortunato, postdoctoral fellow, and Michael Coccia, statistical consultant, both in the Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center.
Soothing With Food and Childhood Obesity 16 | Health and Human Development
Reducing sibling rivalry in youth improves later health and well-being Sibling arguing and conflict represent parents’ number one concern and complaint about family life, but a new prevention program—designed and carried out by Mark Feinberg, research professor in the Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center, and colleagues— demonstrates that siblings of elementary-school age can learn to get along and, in doing so, can improve their future health and well-being. The program, called SIBlings Are Special, included 12 afterschool sessions in which the researchers used games, role-playing activities, art activities, and discussions to teach sibling pairs how to communicate in positive ways, how to solve problems, how to come up with win-win solutions, and how to see themselves as part of a team rather than as competitors.
Imagine this scenario: Your 3-month-old cries; you feed her. Fifteen minutes later, she cries again. You think, “She must still be hungry.” So you feed her again. Now imagine this: Your 2-year-old is throwing a tantrum in the grocery store. You give him a pack of crackers, hoping it will keep him quiet while you finish your shopping. Many parents, either out of confusion or exhaustion, have offered food to their kids when they weren’t hungry. Yet, consistently doing so may contribute to childhood obesity and even obesity in adulthood, according to Cynthia Stifter, professor of human development and family studies and of psychology. Additionally, the likelihood of becoming obese in response to
“We found that the siblings who were exposed to the program showed more self control and social confidence; performed better in school, according to their teachers; and showed fewer internalizing problems, such as depressive symptoms, than the siblings in the control group,” said Feinberg. The results appeared in the Journal of Adolescent Health. Other authors on the paper include Susan McHale, director of the Social Science Research Institute and professor of human development; Anna Solmeyer, postdoctoral scholar; Michelle Hostetler, research associate; Kari-Lyn Sakuma, research associate and curriculum development expert; and Damon Jones, research assistant professor of health and human development.
the use of food to soothe may be greater for kids who exhibit exuberant characteristics. In a study published in a recent issue of the journal Appetite, Stifter and her colleagues explored the practice of parents using food to soothe their infants and toddlers and the practice’s relationship to child weight status. They found that parents’ use of food to soothe their infants and toddlers was directly related to the children’s temperaments and weights. Children who were rated by their parents as more negative were heavier than children rated as less negative. Also, the children of parents who noted that they occasionally used food to soothe their children’s distress were heavier.
If you would like to make a gift to support research in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies, contact Kathleen Rider at email@example.com or 814-865-1064.
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True Strength >
Department of Human Development and Family Studies
An alumna of the Department of Human Development and Family Studies finds light through darkness.
Each morning when I dropped my daughter off at the Penn State Child Care Center at Hort Woods, Grace Hakizimana ’12 HDFS was there to greet us. The preschool teacher smiled at my baby girl—then 18 months old—as we came through the door. She spoke to her softly. She helped her find her favorite stuffed squirrel. She treated her as if she were her own. On the outside, Grace radiated warmth. But on the inside, there was darkness. When Grace was just 16 years old, her life in her home country of Rwanda was turned upside down. All around her people were murdered in a genocide that would last 100 days and leave 800,000 people dead. Nine years later, after witnessing unspeakable acts and fearing daily for her life, she was admitted to the United States as a refugee. Alone in a country in which she did not speak or understand the language, she eventually made her way to State College, where former friends of her parents were living. With Penn State at hand, she decided to pursue her dream of attending college.
by Sara LaJeunesse
She said that as a young girl in high school, she wanted to be an accountant like her father, so she majored in economics. Her plans changed. “Coming from a country where there are so many problems I felt I wanted to do something for other people as much as I had other people helping me in my life,” Grace told me. She decided, instead, to follow in her aunt’s footsteps and become a nurse. But that goal was put on hold when Yannick was born. Now a single mother who was working full time in a day care center and volunteering for Global Connections—an organization that creates opportunities for international students and recent immigrants—she began to spend whatever time she could spare learning to read, write, and speak English. When Yannick was two years old, Grace sought assistance from advisers in the College of Health and Human Development in enrolling in Penn State’s School of Nursing, but she quickly learned that to earn a degree in nursing she would have to participate in daily clinical experiences in Altoona or Hershey.
I decided to write a profile about this alumna of the Department of Human Development and Family Studies who has overcome so much in her life, so I asked her to meet me in the children’s room at Schlow Library to learn more about her story. Her son Yannick, 7 years old, sat with us at a table, busy making a birthday card for a friend. My toddler and 3-year-old daughter played nearby.
“I couldn’t do that because I had no one to watch Yannick,” she said. “My adviser told me I could help somebody in different ways, and she talked to me about a degree in human development and family studies. I learned I could do so much with human development.”
I asked Grace about her experience in Rwanda, but the horrors she had witnessed were unspeakable. Even the little she did tell me caused my eyes to well up with tears.
Grace spoke in detail about how much she appreciated the assistance of her advisers, especially Diane Leos, Vanessa Wade, Pam Evock, and Ro Nwranski.
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“When I first met Grace she wanted to obtain a degree that would enable her to give back because so many people had helped her along the way,” said Nwranski.
bad conditions. They have children to raise, and they don’t have anything to feed them. Most of the time they have to go to get the water somewhere and they end up being raped.”
So, in 2007, Grace began her course of study in human development and family studies. Along the way, she was awarded a Simmons-Jansma Project Renew Grant from the American Association of University Women (AAUW). The grant was named for Lucretia V. T. Simmons, a past president of the State College AAUW Branch, who, in 1918, was the first woman on the Penn State faculty to become a full professor.
At the mention of water, Yannick piped in. “I know how those women in Africa carry water,” he said. “On their heads!”
Also during her time as a student, Grace conducted an internship at the Bennett Family Center. “I love children,” she said. That goes without saying, I thought to myself, as she lifted my little one, who had come up to her for a snuggle, into her lap. “I either wanted to work with children or the elderly in a nursing home,” she continued. “For now this is something that I want to do. But I still have a goal of becoming a nurse.” Grace, who now works as a teacher’s aide at Young Scholars of Central Pennsylvania, plans to go back to nursing school when Yannick is old enough to stay home alone. Ultimately, her goal is to work with an organization like Doctors Without Borders. “I want to work with women and children in Africa, especially in east Africa, where they have so many refugee camps,” she said. “I never lived in one, but I have friends who lived in those situations. I feel like I can be a big help, especially as a woman. I feel like women in African society do so much, and in time of civil war, things are not good; most of the time women and children suffer more than men. When you look at Congo right now or Sudan, women are living in
“I can do that,” his mother responded, grinning. “During genocide we used to go get the water that way. It’s a natural thing; everybody knows how to do it.” Yannick chuckled at the thought. I decide it was a good time to wrap up the interview, so we all said goodbye. But after Grace and Yannick left, I was haunted by my own imagining of what Grace had endured. I hugged my girls tightly, hanging onto them until they wiggled free from my grasp. Later, I talked to Ro Nwranski on the phone. Over the years, she had come to know Grace well. She spoke candidly. “What Grace has been through in her life is incomprehensible,” she said. “Her courage has helped me and others to understand true strength. Grace and students like her help us to be a better institution.” Once again my eyes filled up with tears. I knew what she meant. When Grace graduated in May 2012, she was among hundreds of other students who were also experiencing emotions of pride and relief that day. Yet few, perhaps, felt them with the same level of intensity as she did. For Grace, that day was much more than a celebration of the completion of her studies; it was a recognition of her triumph over hardships that most Penn State graduates never have to endure. n
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Department of Human Development and Family Studies
Vanessa Wade wins Evelyn R. Saubel Faculty Award Paul Hazi (2)
Vanessa Wade, academic adviser in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies, has won the Evelyn R. Saubel Faculty Award from the College of Health and Human Development. She was given the award at a ceremony held in November in the Bennett Pierce Living Center in Henderson Building. Wade has served as an academic adviser for students pursuing the HDFS major since 2002. In 2012, she became the department’s lead academic adviser. In these roles she has helped students navigate degree requirements, course selection, and confirmation of degree completion. She has updated the HDFS web site, participated in FTCAP and Spend a Summer Day recruitment activities, and reviewed Faculty Senate rulings/updates to determine the effects on HDFS departmental operations.
Wade advises hundreds of students each semester and, according to her nominators, gives each one her careful guidance and support. “Vanessa is a phenomenal mentor and role model to hundreds of students each year,” her nominators wrote. “She shows high levels of compassion; provides tremendous, individualized support to a range of students; and works to improve our program for the benefit of all of our majors.” In addition to serving as an adviser for HDFS, Wade has served as a mentor through the FastStart Mentoring Program. Prior to her position as an academic adviser in HDFS, she worked as a foreign student adviser for the University Office of International Programs from 1999 to 2002. She was an instructor in the Department of African and African American Studies from 2000 to 2008. The Evelyn R. Saubel Faculty Award recognizes faculty members for service to students. Among its criteria are a commitment to human service; accessibility as an adviser; and a caring, professional style. The award was established in honor of Evelyn Saubel ’35 H EC, a longtime assistant to the dean in the former colleges of Home Economics and Human Development.
Steven Zarit Named Distinguished Professor Penn State has named Steven Zarit, head of the Department of Human Development and Family Studies, a distinguished professor for his record of research, teaching, and service. Described as a pioneer and a founder of the field of clinical gerontology, Zarit was one of the first researchers to study the effects on caregivers of family members with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. In addition to his illustrious research career, he has a strong commitment to undergraduate and graduate education and has provided extensive service to the University community.
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Grad student receives grant to explore stress relief for caregivers In high school, Amanda Leggett spent much of her time working as a waitress at an assisted living facility. There she encountered people with sweet, jovial, and friendly personalities, but she also met people who were grumpy, reclusive, and sad. Leggett said these interactions motivated her to study psychology with an emphasis on adult development and aging. Now, as a doctoral student in HDFS working with Department Head Steven Zarit, she is examining depression among caregivers of older adults who have dementia and attend adult day services (ADS) several days a week. In particular, she is examining the association between the stress hormone cortisol and ADS usage on caregivers’ levels of depression and anger. To conduct this work, Leggett received a 2012 Beth Meyer-Arnold Dissertation Fellowship from the National Adult Day Services Association (NADSA). “We hypothesize that ADS usage will be associated with more normal cortisol patterns and reduced levels of depression and anger among caregivers,” she said.
Grad student receives Alumni Association Dissertation Award Kaylin Greene, graduate student in HDFS, was awarded the Alumni Association Dissertation Award. The award is considered to be one of the most prestigious and competitive University awards for graduate students. It recognizes outstanding scholarship and professional accomplishment. Greene’s dissertation project, “Too Much Time on Their Hands? College Students’ Time Use and Well-Being,” uses a within-person design to examine how the time students spend in extracurricular and employment activities is associated with health behaviors and academic behaviors. She examines these associations over fourteen days using intensive daily diary data and longitudinally across seven semesters of graduate school. Her advisers for her dissertation project are Kate Hynes, assistant professor, and Jennifer Maggs, professor.
Judith Newman, associate professor of human development and family studies at the Penn State Abington campus, has published a book, titled Against Their Will. In the book, which was published by Palgrave Macmillan and released in June, she and her co-authors reveal the little-known history of unethical and dangerous medical experimentation on children in the United States through rare interviews with patients and renowned medical investigators. Read an excerpt from the book.
Against Their W ill The secret history of Medical ex perimentation on Children in cold war A merica
Eugenics and the Devaluing of Institutionalized Children “ T he Elimination of D e fe ctives” During the spring and summer of 1929, three of the nation’s most eminent scientists would plan and carry out the deliberate castration of a thirteen-year-old “Mongoloid dwarf ” at a state asylum for the “feebleminded” just outside New York City. The use of vulnerable institutionalized children for exploratory procedures, investigative treatments, and experimental preventives was common in the 1920s. America’s leading eugenicists like Davenport branded those imprisoned in poorly funded and inadequately staffed county and state asylums, hospitals, and orphanages as devalued members of the tribe, reviled castoffs from the human race and therefore eminently worthy of study for their peculiarities. Some in the eugenics community found them equally useful as “material” for scientific research—research that was not necessarily related to their conditions.
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Department of Human Development and Family Studies
Adult day services for dementia patients provide stress relief to caregivers Family caregivers of older adults with dementia are less stressed and their moods are improved on days when dementia patients receive adult day services (ADS), according to Penn State researchers. “Caregivers who live with and care for someone with dementia can experience extraordinary amounts of stress,” said Steven Zarit, head of the Department of Human Development and Family Studies. “The use of adult day services appears to provide caregivers with a muchneeded break that can possibly protect them from the negative health effects caused by chronic stress.” The researchers conducted eight daily telephone interviews on consecutive days with 173 family caregivers of individuals with dementia who use an ADS—a service
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that is designed to provide social and some health services to adults who need supervised care outside the home during the day. The researchers found that caregivers had lower exposure to care-related stressors and more positive experiences on days when their family members with dementia used ADS. On these days, caregivers also were exposed to more non-care stressors. Yet the overall effect of the use of adult day services on caregivers was lowered anger and reduced impact of non-care stressors on depressive symptoms. The results appeared in a recent issue of The Gerontologist. Other authors on the paper include Laura Cousino Klein, associate professor of biobehavioral health, Kyungmin Kim, postdoctoral scholar; Elia E. Femia, research associate; and David Almeida, professor—all in human development and family studies. n
HDFS student-athlete honored as Big Ten Distinguished Scholar Megan Boyer (senior), a student-athlete participating in throws from the Department of Human Development and Family Studies, was among 68 Penn State student-athletes to have been selected for the Big Ten Distinguished Scholar Award for earning a grade-point average of 3.7 or higher during the 2012-13 academic year. Boyer was one of the few to earn a perfect 4.0 grade-point average.
Affiliate Program Group (APG) Update The HDFS APG is pleased to welcome its new officers and board members: Lee Ann Cook ’93, president; Tim Zaprazny ’12, vice-president; and Michael Linn ’03 and Celeste Alfieri ’76, members-at-large. They join existing members Pamela Murphy ’78, Dana Davis ’89, and Karen Johnston ’86. In November, several members of the APG presented at the “Pathways to Your Ideal Career” event, sponsored by the HDFS Undergraduate Student Organization. The HDFS APG continues to support the College of Health and Human Development’s Mentoring Program. To learn more about the mentoring program and/or to become a mentor to an HDFS undergraduate student, visit www.hhd.psu.edu/alumni/careers.html. The HDFS APG is committed to honoring outstanding alumni, faculty members, and students. At the recent HHD Alumni Awards Ceremony held on October 25 during the alumni society’s board meeting, three HDFS alumni were honored. Patty Hillkirk ’82, founder and director of Camp Dreamcatcher, received the Alumni Recognition Award and was the speaker for the college’s Distinguished Alumni Speaker Series; Megan Patrick ’05g, ’08g, research assistant professor at the University of Michigan’s Survey Research Center, received the Emerging Professional–Graduate Degree Award; and Matthew Arch ’06, program manager for regional community initiatives at the University of Pittsburgh
Medical Center for Inclusion, received the Emerging Professional–Undergraduate Degree Award. The College of Health and Human Development Alumni Society is currently seeking nominations for its alumni awards. For more information on the awards and to nominate deserving HDFS alumni, visit www.hhd.psu.edu/awards. The APG, along with the HDFS department, sponsored its second annual HDFS Alumni Ice Cream Social on campus during Arts Festival 2013. During Arts Festival 2014, the ice cream social will be held on Saturday, July 12, from 1:00-3:00 p.m. in 110 Henderson Building. Mark your calendars! John Soubik ’85, APG past president, delivered the 2013 de Lissovoy lecture on October 10. The lecture, titled “The Seven Cs of Working in Child Protection Services: Reflections of a Child Welfare Investigator,” focused on child abuse and neglect prevention.
Please be sure to keep your contact information updated with the Penn State Alumni Association at alumni.psu.edu/about_us/contact_us/update_info. Connect with the HDFS APG at alumni.hhd.psu. edu/hdfs and on LinkedIn at “Penn State: HDFS Alumni, Students, and Faculty”. To learn more about HUMAN DEVELOPMENT the HDFS APG, contact the president, Lee Ann AND FAMILY STUDIES Cook ’93, at firstname.lastname@example.org. AFFILIATE PROGRAM GROUP
HUMAN DEVELOPMENT AND FAMILY STUDIES AFFILIATE PROGRAM GROUP
HDFS HUMAN DEVELOPMENT AND FAMILY STUDIES
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Older adults learn to Skype with help from Penn State students The moment she laid eyes on her beautiful great-granddaughter Sallee Wilkins knew she was in love…with Skype. “My great-granddaughter lives in Italy, and I only get to see her maybe once a year,” said Wilkins, “but with Skype I can watch her grow up.” Wilkins is one of 26 residents of The Village at Penn State, a State College retirement community, to receive a Skype lesson from volunteers Amanda Gresh, undergraduate student in health policy and administration, and Courtney Polenick, graduate student in human development and family studies, since January 2013. The student volunteers decided to teach older adults at The
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Village to use Skype after learning of their interest in such help from Amy Lorek, research and outreach associate with the Center for Healthy Aging. The center conducts and supports research, outreach, and educational activities focused on promoting health and well-being from early adulthood into later-life. “It’s important to stay connected, whether it is with family or by participating in the community,” said Lorek. “Students and older adults have much to teach each other. Student volunteer opportunities help facilitate conversations between generations and strengthen our connection and sense of community. We can be a happier, healthier community with that exchange. This project helps to connect students to community members while also connecting community members with their families.”
< Penn State students Amanda Gresh (left) and Courtney Polenick (right) help Annetta Pierce (middle), a resident at The Village at Penn State, learn to Skype. Lorek introduced Gresh and Polenick to Kellie Vogt, a resident of The Village and self-described “techy,” who helped the students to train other interested residents. “I’ve always had a knack for solving tech-related problems,” said Vogt. “When dining with fellow residents, I often hear comments like, ‘I can’t get my email,’ or ‘My daughter replaced my old printer with a new one, but I don’t know how it works.’ I leave the meal thinking, ‘I could fix that.’” Vogt’s own children and grandchildren live out of state, so she has experienced firsthand the joy of visiting with them via Skype. “Since my oldest son, his wife, and his three children moved to Wyoming last year, I’ve toured their new home and visited with them on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and birthdays, all via Skype,” she said. “The face-to-face conversation that Skype enables is superior to a phone call, text message, or email.”
Nancy Gamble, a resident at The Village at Penn State, talks about how her lessons in Skype enabled her to talk with family members while they were on vacation in Mexico.
Room Service Since January, the team has been meeting with residents of The Village in their homes to give them one-on-one tutorials in Skype. In March, Gresh and Polenick met with Annetta Pierce and Mary Gundel ’46 PH ED, ’53 M.Ed., the twenty-fifth and twenty-sixth residents to receive the training. The students were greeted at the door of the apartment by the women’s toy poodle and were quickly welcomed inside. Pierce, a former Harrisburg School District guidance counselor, was particularly interested in using Skype to talk with her nephew and his family in Camden, Maine. “We visit him in Maine from time to time, but it would be so nice to see him more frequently,” she said. The Penn State students quickly got to work showing Pierce how to operate Skype. They then helped her practice dialing out and receiving calls. When they were finished with the lesson, they left the women with a handout containing step-by-step instructions and an invitation to contact them if they had questions.
and we couldn’t go, so we Skyped with them. They could pick up their laptops and show us around the apartment where they were staying and around the pool and beach. One daughter I talk to almost every week by Skype.” “I thought I couldn’t learn how to do it,” said Wilkins, “but slowly I am learning, and if I can learn anybody can.” But of all those involved, the students have, perhaps, benefitted the most. “Skype opens up the opportunity for people to have more face-to-face communication with their families,” said Polenick, who is studying adult development and aging with a focus on family relationships. “By participating in this volunteer work I hope to understand the potential for Skype to assist in maintaining and enhancing family relationships.” Gresh, too, is interested in working with older adults in her future career. Her goal is to become a nursing home administrator. “I’ve always felt at home working with older adults,” she said. “I really appreciate the wisdom they have to share.”
The residents who have participated with Gresh, Polenick, and Vogt in the Skype program each have their own story to tell about how they have benefitted.
Both students, as well as Vogt, plan to continue to help other residents of The Village learn to use Skype.
“I have used it to reconnect with a couple of my high school friends,” said Nancy Gamble ’52 H EC, ’55g CD FR. “Also, at Christmas time, our kids were going to Mexico
“The program is such a wonderful way for older adults to stay connected with their families,” said Gresh. “It feels really good to be able to help them do this.” n
Winter 2013-14 | 25
Biobehavioral Health Building Dedication Food, music, and cheerful chatter filled the halls and meeting spaces of the Biobehavioral Health Building on September 12, when faculty and staff members, alumni, and friends gathered to dedicate the new building. The event began with remarks from Ann C. Crouter, Raymond E. and Erin Stuart Schultz Dean of the College of Health and Human Development; Rodney A. Erickson, president; and Paul H. Silvis â€™06g BUS, vice chair of the Board of Trustees. Following the presentations, guests were given a chance to tour the building, peruse posters describing faculty and student research, and listen to live music by the band Pure Cane Sugar. Photos taken by Paul Hazi Photography
Edna Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center Dedication Philanthropist Edna Bennett Pierce ’53 H EC has supported prevention research at Penn State for nearly two decades. The college recently honored her transformational support by naming the Prevention Research Center in her honor. A dinner was held on September 13, 2013, to commemorate the dedication of the Edna Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center. Bennett Pierce’s longstanding support of the center began in 1994 when she and her late husband, C. Eugene Bennett ’52 SCI, endowed the Edna Peterson Bennett Faculty Chair in Prevention Research, held by Mark T. Greenberg, founding director of the center. Edna continued her support by establishing the Bennett Endowment for Children and Adolescents and the C. Eugene Bennett Chair in Prevention Research. The Edna Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center serves as a catalyst for the development and implementation of collaborative projects among Penn State faculty and Pennsylvania community members. The Prevention Research Center’s purpose is to promote healthy social and emotional development and to prevent problems Ann C. Crouter, dean, Ednafailure Bennett and Mark Greenberg, founding of social and academic in Pierce, children and youth.
director of the Prevention Research Center.
A. Duer “Bud” Pierce and Edna Bennett Pierce
Celebration of Scholarship Recipients On September 15, the College of Health and Human Development celebrated its student scholarship recipients and the generous donors who are responsible for making these scholarships available. Around 125 students participated in the event, which included a breakfast and a presentation by Suzanne Martin ’74 CRS. “My mom struggled financially to enable me to finish school,” said Martin, who created the Joanne Durrwachter Finke Memorial Trustee Scholarship. “When I graduated, I promised myself I would pay her back. I never got the chance because soon after I graduated, she died of a rare auto-immune disease. Shortly after her death, I started giving to Penn State as a way to honor her memory.” Students at the celebration had the opportunity to talk with donors and share their gratitude for the financial assistance that has made it possible for them to pursue their dreams. “Meeting Ricardo Ortiz, who is a current recipient of my scholarship, was exciting,” said Martin. “With his Penn State education, Ricardo will be wellequipped to make a difference in the lives of others.”
SHM students, donors, and faculty members
Adam Fenton, Janet Atwood, and Mary Grace Hill
Dean Crouter addresses the group
Development Council Update
Mary E. Good (left) and Elizabeth J. Susman (right)
Scholarship recipient Jasmyn Franklin
Dear Friends, The people supporting For the Future: The Campaign for Penn State Students are inspired to give for a variety of reasons—a professor whose mentoring steered them toward a successful career; the financial aid that enabled them to receive a Penn State education; the opportunity to help the college attract the best and brightest junior faculty; or the chance to support research to improve the lives of children, youth, and families. While individual motivation for giving may vary, the overarching reason our alumni and friends support this campaign is simple—they believe in Penn State.
Stan Mayers talks with scholarship recipient Nicholas Santone
The top priority of the campaign has been to increase scholarship support, making a Penn State education a possibility for all students, regardless of economic background. As the campaign comes to a close this spring, we hope that if you have not had the opportunity to participate, you will join us. A commitment to the For the Future campaign is a commitment to ensuring generations to come will have the opportunity to experience the Penn State we all know and love. For the Glory, Mary E. Good ’85 I F S Elizabeth J. Susman ’71 I F S, ’73g, ’76g HD FS Campaign Committee Co-Chairs
For more information on how you can lend your support to the campaign, contact Kathleen Rider at email@example.com or 814-865-1064.
Christina Ellis, Alyssa Hischak, Nicole Phillips, and Valerie Katulka Photos taken by Jennifer N. Sloss, Blink of an Eye Photography
Health and Human Development New Faculty Sy-Miin Chow
Associate Professor of Human Development and Family Studies
Assistant Professor of Recreation, Park, and Tourism Management
Sy-Miin Chow’s research focuses on study methodology, with particular emphasis on investigating the development and adaptation of modeling and analysis tools that are suited to evaluating linear and nonlinear dynamical systems models, including longitudinal structural equation models and state-space modeling techniques. Prior to joining the faculty at Penn State, she was an assistant professor of psychology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill from 2007 to 2012. She earned a Ph.D. degree in quantitative psychology at the University of Virginia.
In his research, Carter Hunt investigates tourism-supported biodiversity conservation, sustainable community development, impacts of tourism on both destination communities and on travelers, and environmental anthropology. He earned a bachelor’s degree at the University of Kentucky and master’s and Ph.D. degrees at Texas A&M University. He conducted postdoctoral research at Stanford University.
Christopher Engeland Assistant Professor of Biobehavioral Health
Christopher Engeland’s research focuses on how factors such as stress, age, gender, and hormones affect immunity, inflammation, and health. He also examines the feasibility of biomarkers for predicting health outcomes. Prior to joining the faculty at Penn State, Engeland was an assistant professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago since 2008. He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Carleton University in Ontario and a Ph.D. degree at the University of Western Ontario.
Naleef Fareed Assistant Professor of Health Policy and Administration
Naleef Fareed’s research focuses on health care topics related to organizational theory, information technology, and patient safety. He earned a bachelor’s degree in management at Hartwick College, a master of business administration degree in health care management at Union Graduate College, and a Ph.D. degree in health services organization and research at Virginia Commonwealth University.
Helen Kamens Assistant Professor of Biobehavioral Health
In her research, Helen Kamens seeks to identify genetic mechanisms that contribute to complex behaviors with a special emphasis on alcohol and tobacco use. She was an assistant research professor at the University of Colorado from 2012 to 2013. She earned a bachelor’s degree in biobehavioral health at Penn State and a Ph.D. degree in behavioral neuroscience at Oregon Health & Science University.
Ji Min Lee Assistant Professor of Communication Sciences and Disorders
Ji Min Lee’s research goal is to examine and expand the foundational research on speech production and clinical application of that research to speakers with speech disorders. In particular, she examines the relationship between articulatory acoustics and kinematics, the development of various speech subsystems and their control in children with and without motor speech disorders, and identification of comprehensive production variables that predict speech intelligibility in young children with speech disorders. She received a Ph.D. degree at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2010.
Assistant Professor of Nutritional Sciences
Associate Professor of Hospitality Management
Alison Gernand’s research focuses on micronutrient deficiencies, pregnancy, fetal and placental growth, and child growth. She received a master of public health degree at the University of Texas at Houston’s School of Public Health in 2003 and a Ph.D. degree at the John’s Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health in 2011.
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Seoki Lee’s research focuses on corporate social responsibility, internationalization, and financial distress and equity valuation. Before coming to Penn State, he served on the faculty at Temple University. He earned bachelor’s and master’s degree at Michigan State University, and a Ph.D. degree at Penn State.
Assistant Professor of Hospitality Management
Associate Professor of Nutritional Sciences
Larry Martinez’s research examines employee diversity and employee retention and turnover. Specifically, he investigates stigmatization, prejudice, and discrimination across the spectrum of employment experiences, particularly from the target’s perspective. He also researches the role of non-stigmatized allies in reducing discrimination. He earned bachelor’s, master’s, and Ph.D. degrees at Rice University.
In his research, Gregory Shearer seeks to understand disease-related functional changes in lipid mediators—bioactive metabolites of dietary fatty acids that act on tissues to alter many disease-related functions, including the stiffness of blood vessels and the body’s response to stress. He uses lipid mediators to identify markers of disease and better ways to prevent or manage disease. He earned a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry at the University of California, Riverside, and master’s and Ph.D. degrees in human physiology and nephrology, respectively, at the University of California, Davis.
Assistant Professor of Kinesiology
Kristina Neely’s research focuses on understanding how the central nervous system organizes the preparation, execution, and inhibition of skilled, purposeful actions. She is especially interested in how the brain mediates precision grasping by the hand. Neely earned a bachelor’s degree at the University of Minnesota, a master’s degree at Indiana University, and a Ph.D. degree at the University of Western Ontario. She conducted postdoctoral research at the University of Florida.
Peter Newman Professor and Head of Recreation, Park, and Tourism Management
Peter Newman’s research focuses on the human dimensions of natural resource management and social carrying capacity decision making in the context of protected areas management. In particular, he studies visitor management in protected areas, soundscape/acoustic management in parks, transportation management and planning, and efficacy and communication of “leave no trace” principles. He earned a bachelor’s degree in political science at the University of Rochester, a master’s degree in forest resource management at the State University of New York, and a Ph.D. degree in natural resources at the University of Vermont.
Jennie Noll Professor of Human Development and Family Studies
Jennie Noll’s research examines the bio-psychosocial consequences of childhood sexual abuse, pathways to teen pregnancy and high-risk sexual behaviors for abused and neglected youth, the long-term adverse health outcomes for victims of sexual abuse, and the propensity for abused and neglected teens to engage in high-risk internet and social media behaviors. She received a Ph.D. degree in developmental psychology and statistical methodology from the University of Southern California. She then spent eight years at the National Institutes of Health in Washington, D.C., before going to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, where she spent ten years as a professor of pediatrics.
Chad Shenk Assistant Professor of Human Development and Family Studies
Chad Shenk focuses on longitudinal pathways from child maltreatment to the onset of psychological disorders in childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood. He also conducts experimental and observational research to identify the mechanisms of various psychological disorders in the child maltreatment population across multiple levels of analysis. From 2010 to 2013, Shenk was an assistant professor of pediatrics at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. He earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology at Penn State and a Ph.D. degree in clinical psychology at the University of Nevada, Reno.
Matam Vijay-Kumar Assistant Professor of Nutritional Sciences
In his research, Matam Vijay-Kumar examines host metabolic adaptations to inflammation, innate immunity-gut microbiotal interactions in metabolic diseases, and iron homeostasis in inflammation. Before joining the faculty at Penn State, he was an assistant professor of biology at Georgia State University. He earned a Ph.D. degree in biochemistry at the Central Food Technological Research Institute in Mysore, India, in 2002.
Photos by Paul Hazi (12) and Chuck Fong, Studio2 Photography (2)
Winter 2013-14 | 31
Benedick Brothers Pay it Forward
Jeff (left) and Jim (right) Benedick created the Benedick Family Scholarship in the College of Health and Human Development and the College of Engineering with the goal of helping students to realize their academic dreams, just as others helped them. The Benedick Family Scholarship in the College of Health and Human Development and the Benedick Family Scholarship in the College of Engineering will provide recognition and financial assistance to outstanding undergraduate students in those colleges. “I wanted to give other young people an opportunity to move forward with their lives,” said Jeff ’72 CRS. “But I also wanted to honor my family and everyone who raised me and gave me the encouragement and guidance to move on with my life and have it be wonderful.” Jeff credits his education at Penn State with preparing him to establish a successful and rewarding career in interior design. For 25 years, he ran Saddleback Homes, an interior design company specializing in model homes for builders. Today, he enjoys creating interior designs for high-end private residences internationally. “Being from York, Pa., back in the late 1960s, I thought that was all there was,” said Jeff. “I was somewhat isolated. At Penn State, being exposed on the university campus to different cultures and different ways of living was eye opening for me. Now I’ve been all over the world, which is way beyond what I ever expected in my life and career.” “My brother and I did not come from an affluent family, but we managed a most important achievement:
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to get a degree from Penn State,” added Jim ’66 ENG. “I have been very fortunate in my education, career, and life, and now it is our desire to assist others to achieve their aspirations and dreams.” Jim, the chief operating officer for ProFun Management Group—which specializes in the management and operation of theme parks, entertainment centers, visitor centers, World Expos, and other leisure-time projects—added, “The opportunity to attend Penn State exposed me to individuals and cultures that empowered me to think way beyond my presumed limits. During my time there I grew tremendously and my excellent education helped propel me into a world that I had never imagined.” Jim’s first job out of college was with the Apollo Moon Program. “I like to say ‘I helped to put a man on the moon!’” he said. His second job was as an industrial engineer at Disneyland. “Since those wonderful experiences, I have had the opportunity to travel the world, consulting with and operating numerous entertainment facilities. I could never have done all of these things without my first major step—getting a great education from Penn State.” Learn more about planned gifts and other ways to support Penn State at www.gftpln.org/Home. do?orgId=5701.
University’s history, and more than 500,000 alumni and friends have already joined in. Have you? For the Future: The Campaign for Penn State Students ends on June 30, 2014, so please give now. We’re counting down, and every gift counts.
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