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FA L L 2 0 1 2

newsletter Centennial 1912–2012

This Issue: The Lab Sc h ool: Bui ldi ng a Bett er Chi ld Learn how the Lab School lives up to its motto: “Nurturing roots for life-long learning.”

Love Sic k? Could falling madly in love undemine your health? Tim Loving looks at falling in love, thinking about love, and the stress hormone cortisol.

C el ebrat in g a C en t u ry o f C h a n g e Mary Gearing arrived on the campus of The University of Texas at Austin in 1912. We celebrate her vision as we commemorate our 100th year.

N ew Facult y Our programs continue to grow and flourish as we welcome our newest faculty members. Learn more about how these researchers are changing the world. AND MORE …


Imagine the future

Make an impact

Do the work

Celebrate the past

Message from the Director

Dear Friends, Well, hard to believe, but it has been 100 years since Mary Gearing and her colleagues set things in motion. We will celebrate the School of Human Ecology’s Centennial on November 8–10, 2012. I have seen the program and line-up of festivities; they will be well worth attending. Details will follow, either through the mail or posted on our Web site. I hope you can make it. To celebrate our Centennial, we will be launching the Mary Gearing Society to honor our visionary founder and to ensure that our outstanding programs continue to develop, grow and thrive into the next century and beyond. Details will follow. As we celebrate the past we also engage, imagine and prepare for the future. In Nutritional Sciences, Dr. Linda deGraffenried and Dr. Steve Hursting continue to advance their work on obesity, breast and prostate cancer, and various associated treatments. One of Dr. Hursting’s postdoctoral students, Sarah Dunlap, was featured at the recent San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium for her work on a particular type of aggressive breast cancer, pointing to potential new targets for treatment. In the Department of Human Development and Family Sciences Dr. Karen Fingerman is helping her students better understand aging. Working with a make-up artist from Theatre and Dance, she transformed her students into instant senior citizens, letting them glimpse their own future-faces. When she is not employing novel teaching methods in the classroom, Fingerman is researching how family ties enhance or detract from individual health and well being. A remarkable set of internship programs can be found throughout the School, preparing students and opening doors for careers that lie ahead. These are found in the Coordinated Program in Dietetics as well as in children programs being advanced in the Priscilla Pond Flawn Lab School. The recently launched UT in NYC program is designed to advance these efforts even further. This past year alone, the School of Human Ecology placed 242 students in internship positions in local, state, national and international venues. How quickly can we go from 0 to 60? When it comes to honors programs, the answer is one year. The honors programs in the School of Human Ecology began enrolling students last year and are growing by leaps and bounds as our students seek to be challenged and engaged. With an eye on outreach, Monica Meadows along with several of her colleagues in Nutritional Sciences have teamed up with Susie Jastrow to organize a summer nutritional institute. The initiative will be launched in Summer 2013. Stay tuned. With all this noted, let me close with a brief welcome to our new faculty: Paul Eastwick (HDFS), Jaimie Davis (NTR), and Stefano Tiziani (NTR), who are doing important research in interpersonal relationships (Eastwick), epidemiology and nutrition (Davis), and metabolomics – look it up (Tiziani). Together the School of Human Ecology offers a rich and unique set of programs that are science based and human focused, designed to leave the world a better place than what we found. See you in November. Kind regards,

Change the world

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Sheldon Ekland-Olson, Director, School of Human Ecology


Imagine the future

The Lab School: Building a Better Child There are four places set at a tiny table in the classroom for 4-yearolds at the Priscilla Pond Flawn Child and Family Laboratory (affectionately known as the Lab School). Each place setting includes a shallow blue plastic bucket arranged on top of a folded bath towel. The buckets are filled with a soupy mixture of corn starch and water. Children cluster around the table. The prospect of scooping cool handfuls of white glop, of diving in up to the elbows, is irresistible. There are 16 children in the class; there are only four places at the table. The children will have to navigate a complex and nuanced social situation to find a place at the table. Who goes first? Second? How long is a turn? What happens if a turn is missed? If there is to be order and fairness, there are rules to be followed, boundaries to be respected. The unspoken expectations are inherent to the table’s arrangement, and this entire activity has been carefully orchestrated by the Lab School’s master teachers, who serve as guides while the children sort out the complexities. “Children learn best by doing, by exploring and manipulating their worlds,” says Rhonda Hauser, director of the Lab School. “We focus on building an environment to prepare children to succeed academically but also to build a strong sense of self, to develop the ability to embrace new challenges, and to be active problem solvers. We want children to be prepared to succeed.” Theory to Practice It’s not just the children who are learning by doing. The Lab School, which enrolls 105 children between ages 18 months and 6 years, affords undergraduates at The University of Texas at Austin an opportunity to observe how young children interact and to see the theories they learn in the classroom in action on the playground. Scattered around the Lab School’s classroom for 3-year-olds are undergraduate students from Ted Dix’s honors Child Development class, each recording observations. The undergraduates are conducting a research project to determine whether, at early stages in human development, the same children who engage in altruistic and pro-social behaviors can also be aggressive and dominant, often shifting between the two. With 13 undergraduate students are building a data set “The Lab School that includes 130 hours of observation coded to evalugives our students ate statistically altruistic and aggressive behavior in 3- and an opportunity 4-year-olds. “The Lab School gives our to start thinking students an opportunity to start like social scientists.” thinking like social scientists. They have the opportunity to design and implement a small research study that will connect the theories about how personality and social behavior emerge in young children,” Dix says.

Marci Gleason

Rhonda Hauser

Obesi t y Pr im es t he Pump fo r Tumo r Pro gr ess ion Sarah Dunlap, a postdoctoral fellow working in Stephen Hursting’s laboratory, and her colleagues have discovered that obesity drives tumor progression, from a lower to higher grade, by turning on genes typically only activated during embryogenesis. These genes govern what is called epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition as cells become more specialized.

When the body is in an obese state, the biochemical environment is

primed to foster cell growth and replication. Growth factors, hormones, and inflammatory agents all impact the ways that cells function, and can lead to an environment where tumor cells, should they arise, grow faster without normal regulation.

Dunlap and her colleagues examined the growth of breast cancer cells

implanted in mice who were fed either a control diet, a diet that would induce obesity, or a calorie restricted diet. The researchers found that a calorie restricted diet suppressed tumor progression.

Dunlap says, “Excitingly, this leads us to two conclusions: a lifetime of

moderate caloric restriction can decrease the chances of developing this aggressive cancer, and new targets have been identified for drug development to improve prognosis for obese women with basal-like breast cancer.” Dunlap’s article, “Dietary Energy Balance Modulates Epithelial-to-Mesenchymal Transition and Tumor Progression in Murine Claudin-Low and Basal-like Mammary Tumor Models,” was published in the May 2012 edition of Cancer

Putting the “Lab” in Lab School The Lab School supports the research of faculty members across disciplines. Faculty members from education, psychology, kinesiology

Prevention Research and this article was featured on the journal’s cover. Dunlap was invited to present her research as a platform speaker at the December 2011 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium.

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and human development often use the Lab School for pilot studies intended to eventually examine a broader population. The pilot approach allows researchers to tweak methods and troubleshoot potential problems before embarking on larger-scale work. One such study is Marci Gleason’s Daily Living Project. Gleason, assistant professor in Human Development and Family Science, is interested in how parents’ relationships with their children affect their relationship with each other. She is also exploring how major life transitions—couples expecting the birth of their first child, for example—affect overall couple functioning and relationship satisfaction. Using the Lab School’s waiting list to locate expectant mothers in their third trimester, Gleason and her team piloted a study that was expanded to include the Austin community. “We started with a focus group of Lab School parents. The Lab School opened their rooms to us; we were able to have two focus groups. We had undergraduate research assistants in the booths listening to our discussion,” Gleason says. The support provided by the Lab School enabled her to develop a daily diary questionnaire that became integral to her study. The mothers-to-be and their partners were loaned iPod Touch devices to respond to the questionnaire and to report on their daily activities and moods. This data was collected for three weeks in the third trimester and again at 9 weeks and 14 months postpartum. “We know that having a child, particularly a first child, is a significant transition in a family. It’s a positive transition, but it’s still a stressor. We are interested in taking a snapshot of couple interactions and couple functioning before and after a major life transition,” Gleason says. The study is now entering its final round of data collection, and the results will be published soon. “The Lab School gave me a place to start” Gleason says. The Child and the Scientist Cristine Legare, assistant professor in the Department of Psychology, is interested in identifying the moment in the process of discovery and learning that gives rise to the acquisition of scientific reasoning. At what moment does a child begin to develop hypotheses? To answer this question, Legare developed an experimental situation involving a “discovery box,” a device containing a small light. When an object is placed on the discovery box, the light comes on. After a research assistant demonstrates how to make the discovery box work, preschool children quickly grasp what will make the mechanism light up. Children are then presented with an experimental situation: One of the discovery boxes will not light up when an object is placed in the expected position; this is a moment when the unexpected happens. Children quickly ignore expected results; it’s the unexpected result that draws children’s attention. Legare says, “When faced with an unexpected outcome, the children begin to generate hypotheses. If we give them access to the boxes, children develop tests for their hypotheses. They spontaneously develop six or seven tests—such as flipping the box over, restacking objects and opening objects—in an attempt to find the causal mechanism.” The scientific reasoning process begins with surprise. “We are interested in finding how this process develops in young children. We can then work to harness the power of curiosity and spontaneous discovery.”

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T he S hap e o f T hi n gs to Come: Co n tour 20 1 2 On April 19, 2012, textiles and apparel students demonstrated to a live audience of more than 5,000 (with an additional global audience tuning in via Webcast) the shape of things to come. Our talented students pushed limits of design and delivered an evening full of surprises and delight. Here are some of the eye-catching, mind-blowing designs showcased as part of Contour, The University of Texas at Austin’s 2012 fashion show.

If you are planning ahead, this

year’s fashion show will be on April 18, 2013 and will be simply astounding.

her students to Alison Lowery, a wig and make-up

Growing Old, Instantly, in the 21st Century

specialist in the Department of Theatre and Dance. Lowery asked the questions she would ask actors as they prepared for a role: Was your life happy or sad?

We are living longer. This is, undoubtedly, good news.

What kind of work did you do? How fulfilling were

your relationships? The answers to these questions

Karen Fingerman, professor of human develop-

ment and family sciences, asked students in her

are etched in the skin around the eyes and mouth;

Longevity in the 21st Century course to imagine

the answers determined the course of the transfor-

themselves in 50 to 60 years. She asked her stu-

mation—just as they do over the life course.

dents to imagine what they will look like, how they

will act, and the activities they will engage in when

student to an 80 year-old in the course of an hour.

they reach later life. This is a difficult task for most

college students, so Fingerman recruited help to

one day, be old. Because that time seems so remote

make the task easier.

to them now, older people are seen as ‘other.’ They

now have a new understanding of what they have

In order to illustrate how those extra years shape

and are shaped by life experience, Fingerman brought

Randi Shultz was transformed from a college Fingerman says, “Students sense that they will,

learned.”


Make an impact

Love Sick? Written by Dr. Tim Loving for Science of Relationships (scienceofrelationships.com) Several years ago, I read a journal article in which the researchers reported that individuals who had recently fallen in love (i.e., they were ‘madly, deeply in love’, or experiencing what researchers refer to as passionate love) had higher levels of cortisol than did individuals in long-term relationships or those in no relationship at all.1 If you’re unfamiliar with cortisol, it is one of the human body’s primary stress hormones and affects a host of bodily processes (e.g., metabolism and immune function). Importantly, high levels of cortisol can eventually weaken the immune system and undermine physical health. Admittedly, this finding baffled me. If chronically high levels of cortisol can be bad for health, then how does that explain the overwhelmingly positive impression people have of being passionately in love? I’ve yet to find a Valentine’s Day card that reads, “I love you so much that you make me susceptible to pneumonia.” Importantly, researchers in the original study collected a blood sample (to measure cortisol) from study participants after an intensive interview that was designed to confirm participants were indeed ‘madly, deeply in love’ (and not just crazy). This intrigued me. Falling in love with another person is a major life transition—it may be positive, but it’s a transition nonetheless, and transitions necessitate change. Think about it. When you fall for another person, your selfconcept changes, your daily routines change, your relationships with friends change, and so on. All change requires adaptation, and adapting to any new environment is stressful to some degree. Perhaps just reminding people of falling in love, and the associated changes, was enough to temporarily raise their cortisol levels.

My lab subsequently set out to further investigate this effect.2 We reasoned that falling in love would affect relationship-focused people (i.e., they think a lot about relationships) more than less relationship focused individuals—because all the transitions that come with falling in love should be more salient, or obvious, to more relationshipfocused people. To test this, we asked 29 women, all of whom reported experiencing high levels of passion, to come into our lab and engage in one of two ‘guided imagery’ tasks. Specifically, half of the women relived the moment they realized they were in love with their current partners. They closed their eyes and recreated that moment as vividly as possible, and then talked and wrote about the experience in as much detail as possible. The other half of the women in the control group relived the moment they realized they wanted to be friends with someone who was of the same age and sex as their dating partners. We collected saliva samples before and after the guided imagery tasks so that we could determine whether the mental reflection changed cortisol levels. We also asked all of the women to indicate how much they tended to think about their relationships in general. Cortisol levels increased when women thought about falling in love, but how much they increased depended on how relationship-focused they were: Cortisol levels dropped shortly after the guided imagery if they were ‘low’ relationship thinkers, but cortisol levels continued to rise for up to 30 minutes if they were ‘high’ relationship thinkers. Women in the ‘friendship’ guided imagery session showed no increases in cortisol. In other words, just asking a woman to think about falling in love is enough to cause an increase in cortisol, especially if she is more apt to think about relationships already. Does this mean falling in love is stressful? It would appear so, especially for some more than others. But it doesn’t necessarily mean falling in love is ‘bad stress’. Not all stress undermines health, and there are also other possible reasons for increases in cortisol. For example, increases in cortisol may simply reflect arousal more generally. There’s a reason we say somebody ‘turns us on’, and arousal, attraction, and passion tend to go hand in hand. My students and I, and others, are working to figure all this out. In the meantime, it’s probably safe to assume the passion in your relationship (whether it’s there today or tomorrow) won’t make you sick. 1 Marazziti, D., & Canale, D. (2004). Hormonal changes when falling in love. Psychoneuroendocrinology 29, 931–936. 2 Loving, T. J., Crockett, E. E., & Paxson, A. A. (2009). Passionate love and relationship thinkers: Experimental evidence for acute cortisol elevations in women. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 34, 939–946.

Tim Loving, faculty member in Human Development and Family Sciences, is a founding member of Science of Relationships (scienceofrelationships. com). Science of Relationships is really just that—active and productive researchers in the field of interpersonal relationships writing and discussing their field of expertise. Scienceofrelationships.com has recently been awarded the Society for Personality and Social Psychology’s Media Prize for the best piece or collection of pieces in popular media.

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Internship Impact: The Numbers Speak for Themselves In the School of Human Ecology, we offer an array of internship experiences giving our students real-world experience. While we I n te rn i n g at th e Epice n te r of Ev erything

boast about how incredible an internship experience can be for our students, we don’t often talk about the impact our internships

If there was a place to be in the summer of 2012, London had to be it. The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee followed by the 2012 Summer Olympics

have on the state of Texas. And, until now, we haven’t been able to

focused the world’s attention on London, and right there in the big middle

show just how robust our internship programs are. We owe these

of it all was Alexandra Dieck, a textiles and apparel junior working at

successes to the handful of faculty who have made these programs

Gomez-Gracia as an intern.

what they are. The impact is huge:

However, work came first for Alexandra. She helped Patricia Gomez-

Gracia, the brand’s owner, designer, and CFO, launch new collections, prepared fabric choices and swatches for international buyers, and aided

The School of Human Ecology placed 242 students in internship

in the construction of a one-of-a-kind shift dress.

positions, all of which fulfilled course requirements (and all of our

In addition to gaining real-world experience in the international high-

students were successful in completing their internships).

end apparel market and learning how a small luxury brand works from the

207(or

86%) of those students had direct contact with clients, patients,

bottom up, Dieck had a ring-side seat for this year’s most exciting events.

customers, or entrepreneurs. Our students spent a cumulative

92,928 hours in the 2011–2012 academic year working in internship positions.

P e e r E xc lusion an d Li ttle Lamé Vests There is nothing more elusive than a child in the wild. This is what Suzanne Fanger, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Human Development and Family Sciences, discovered. She designed a novel solution to a methodological dilemma.

Fanger was interested in better understanding early relational aggres-

Do the work

Where were those hours spent? 11% of our students worked as interns on the campus of The University of Texas at Austin; 65%

worked as interns in Austin; 13% worked in the state of Texas; 11% worked elsewhere in the United States. Just one student was

sion. Typically, social interaction and conflict resolution among young

placed in an international internship. Our students, through internship

children took place in a laboratory with an adult observer very close by. In

programs, worked a total of

order to hear and record the children’s interactions, the observer needed to be quite close to the observed children. The proximity of adults impacts how the children interact with one another.

In order to examine gender differences in peer exclusion, a normal

form of relational aggression employed by young children of both genders, Fanger needed to observe the children interacting in the most natural setting available, the comparative chaos of the playground. In order to monitor

81,408 hours in the state of Texas.

While in those internships, our students successfully completed

a total of 10,648 credit hours while gaining invaluable work experience.

the children’s interactions, Fanger designed sparkly gold lamé vests that

And working hard? Our students averaged 32 hours per week at

had wireless microphones and transmitters—about the size of an iPhone—

the site of their internship.

sewn into the lining.

The more active children encountered a small difficulty with the vests’

design; loose fit caused the tranmitters to bounce against the children’s backs as they jumped and ran. Fanger says, “The more active kids were

In addition to on-site effort, our students wrote (a lot). For the 2011–2012 academic year, our students generated, on average,

bothered by the flapping, so a research assistant came up with kid-sized

37.5 pages per student per semester of internship site reports,

backpacks which allowed the kids to run and jump without all the flapping.”

research papers, and reflection papers (this number does not

The observers could record the children’s social exchanges without very

close proximity.

Fanger found that there were differences in how the genders use peer

exclusion, but gender does not tell the whole story. She found that while

include oral reports and presentations). That is a total of

18,150

pages of reports for all students participating in internship programs for the 2011–2012 academic year. That’s a lot of grading.

almost all of the girls excluded their peers, not all boys commonly did so. However, boys who were more liked or powerful amongst peers did exclude more frequently. Suzanne Marie Fanger’s research findings “Peer exclusion in preschool children’s play: Naturalistic observations in a playground setting” was published in the April 2012 Merrill-Palmer Quarterly.

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Our students working in internships require a great deal of supervision and guidance. The School of Human Ecology has

5 faculty members directly supervising the efforts of students. Those faculty members spent a cumulative 1,127 hours per

semester managing and monitoring student placements.


The UPES helps our students achieve the goals they have set for themselves.

Hu man Ecology Boasts Four Unrestricted Pr eside n t’s Endowed Sc holarship (UPES ) Recipi e n ts Four students from the School of Human Ecology will receive the prestigious Unrestricted President’s Endowed Scholarships (UPES) for 2012–2013.

Many of our UPES students will go on to medical school, and at least

one will forge a career in business. The UPES helps our students achieve the goals they have set for themselves. Vish al Jadh av Hometown: Austin, Texas Major: Nutritional Sciences Year: Sophmore What is the most memorable experience you have had at The University of Texas at Austin? Freshman Research Initiative experience in the Biobrick Lab with Dr. Grace Choy. What is the biggest issue facing your generation and what is your role in the solution? Diabetes is the largest problem facing my generation. Being a nutritional science major, I will work on research in this field and increase awareness in my generation. Ru ba Alafifi

Sc hoo l o f H um an Eco lo gy i n Sout h A f r ica, China, I taly, an d I n di a

Hometown: Houston, Texas Major: Human Development and Family Sciences/Premed

By Martha Berry, Program Coordinator for Honors and Special Programs

Year: Senior

in the School of Human Ecology and Jeanne Freeland-Graves, Bess Heflin

What does receiving the UEPS help you do? Besides

Centennial Professor in Nutritional Sciences

financial assistance, UEPS will help highlight my extracurricular accomplishments. I hope that it will emphasize that I have made effort

This summer Jeanne Freeland-Graves led twenty undergraduate nutrition

to not only do well in my coursework, but also broaden my knowledge

students on the adventure of a lifetime across South Africa. Based at the

and experience as much as I can in different disciplines because I

historic Stellenbosch University, set in the lush winelands.

believe that this will ultimately make me a better professional.

The nutrition faculty at the Tygerberg Medical Campus lectured on

food-based dietary guidelines; pediatric and sports nutrition; public health issues and strategies; food history and culture; food security; and HIV, TB Mary Alic e Sallm a n

and diabetes in South Africa.

Hometown: Dallas, Texas

Major: Nutritional Sciences

South Africa and learned the terrible impact of apartheid on society, the

Year: Junior

incredible forgiveness of past horrors by the Truth and Conciliation pro-

What are your plans after graduation? After graduation in May, 2013,

cess, and the intricate development of the current political system.

I plan to attend medical school and receive an M.D. I am considering

pursuing a master’s degree in public health simultaneously. I hope to

visiting community health clinics and a home for children with AIDS and

focus on improving the lives of children, both here in the United States

cancer. The students observed community gardens and job training

and abroad.

programs, learned to make traditional Xhosa cuisine (curries, chakalaka,

Students took a course on the unique culture and political history of

Learning from direct experience, students travelled to Cape Town,

samp and beans), and conducted market basket analysis and noted nutrient labeling at retail food outlets.

In summer 2013 Freeland-Graves will take a new group of adventurous

Ale x Ke lly

students to study international nutrition in Italy with plans to return to

Hometown: Austin, Texas

South Africa in the summer of 2014.

Major: Textiles and Apparel

Year: Sophomore

ness students as they explore China. Students will follow the apparel sup-

Of all the classes you have taken so far, which class has been the

ply chain, from the cotton fields to the department store. Students will be

most interesting? The most interesting class I’ve taken so far has been

immersed in the culture of China, with visits to museums, cultural events,

Culture, Gender and Appearance with Dr. Kay Jay. I have loved learning

and to the Great Wall.

about the history of dress and what people used to wear centuries

Jonathan Chen will lead textiles and apparel, Asian studies, and busi-

In summer of 2014, we have our sights set on India.

ago. What people can wear says a lot about their time, socio-economic status, occupation, gender or beliefs.

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Celebrating a Century of Change

1912 Mary ‘Mamie’ Gearing

1930 The shacks

1933 As a valued member of the Faculty Building

1946 Students were—and still

1962 The Home Economics

was chosen as the first

were hastily

Committee, Mary Gearing (front row, far right)

are—drawn to Gearing Hall’s

faculty gathered for a formal

faculty member of the newly

constructed affairs

placed her thumbprint on the master plan for The

peaceful courtyard and deep

portrait in 1962 to mark the 50

named School of Domestic

that frequently

University of Texas at Austin’s 1925–1937 building

porches. Then as now, the

years on the campus of The

Economy at The University of

leaked.

program. This is the groundbreaking for the Home

courtyard is an ideal space to

University of Texas at Austin.

Economics Building.

gather for study groups.

Texas at Austin.

→→→→→→→→→→→→→→→→→→→→→→→→→→→→→→→→ 1912–1933 Structures left

1930 In spite of the

1934 The Home

1934 Gearing Hall’s plan

1950 For a short time, Dr.

over from WWI, the shacks

less-than-ideal laboratory

Economics

included rooms featuring

Phyllis Richards taught in the

were the first home to Mary

facilities, research

building some

furnishings that date

Lab School’s classroom for

Gearing, her growing faculty,

underpinned the discipline

time shortly after

from the founding of the

3 year-olds. The Lab School

and her students.

from the start.

its completion.

Republic of Texas. Many of

was established in 1927

these exquisite furnishings

making it the first in the state

were given as a gift to The

of Texas.

University of Texas at Austin from Mary Gearing’s own household.

Celebrate the past

Ce le brate Succ ess

8

The Journal of Marriage and the Family (JMF), published

The Texas Campus Career Council (TC3)

by the National Council on Family Relations, has been the

has honored Nancy Prideaux with the

leading research journal on the family for over 70 years. The

2012 Robert Murff Excellence Award for

University of Texas at Austin has been selected to host JMF

outstanding support of career services

for 2012–2016 under the editorship of Sociology’s Kelly Raley.

on the campus of The University of Texas

JMF will strengthen the national visibility of family research

at Austin. In addition to her work with the

programs across campus and provide excellent training op-

Retail Merchandising internship program,

portunities for our students.

Prideaux directs the UT in NYC program.


During her tenure as Chair

1976 Through a

1983 Mary Ellen Durrett

The work continues

The kitchen on the 4th floor

The Priscilla Pond Flawn Lab

Our students took this photograph

of the Department of Home

turbulent time, the

served as department chair

as a new generation

of Gearing Hall underwent a

School, now housed in the

outside of Stellenbosch, South Africa,

Economics in the 1960s and

Home Economics

from 1972–1988. In addition

creates change in

complete renovation in 1999.

Seay Building, continues to

2012. We feel the same way.

1970s, Margaret Eppright

faculty continued

to shaping the Department

the world.

The quantity food laboratory

nurture roots for life-long

crafted the blueprint for the

to grow and thrive.

of Home Economics, Dr.

now fully supports nutritional

learning.

Durrett sustained a vital and

sciences classes.

School of Human Ecology.

robust research career.

→→→→→→→→→→→→→→→→→→→→→→→→→→→→→→→→→→→→→→→→→→ 1964 Lorene Lane Rogers

This building is

circa 1985 The Department

Gearing Hall continues to

In 2008 the Department of

The Dell Pediatric Research Institute (DPRI) opened

(1st row, far left) would go

the heart of the

of Home Economics has been

be the heart of the School

Human Ecology became the

its doors in 2009. The state-of-the-art facility

on to serve as university

School of Human

blessed with the unwavering sup- of Human Ecology. In 2009

School of Human Ecology.

provides a collaborative wet-bench research facility

president in 1974. Rogers

Ecology. The

port of these most astounding

Alumni, donors, and friends

for nutritional sciences and pharmacy faculty,

would become the first

building’s name

women. This support continues to a permanent exhibit space

made this essential transfor-

graduate, and undergraduate students. Researchers

female president of a major

was changed to

the present time. These are truly

for the Historical Textiles and

mation possible.

are addressing the most devastating illnesses of

research university in the

Mary E. Gearing

the “pioneer women of Texas.”

Apparel Collection.

United States.

Hall in 1976.

the Pioneer Room became

childhood: cancer, obesity, and birth defects.

Sheldon Ekland-Olson, director of the School of Human

Marci Gleason, assistant professor in the

Jane Tillman, lecturer in the Department of Nutritional Sciences,

Ecology and the Rapoport Centennial Professor of Liberal

Department of Human Development and

received the College of Natural Sciences’ Outreach Excellence

Arts in Sociology, has been named a 2013 Regents’ Outstand-

Family Sciences, has received the College

Award for 2012–2013. Tillman’s commitment to the National

ing Teaching Award recipient. The award, the highest honor

of Natural Sciences’ Outstanding Teaching

Wildlife Federation was also recognized as she was named 2012

bestowed by the University of Texas System, recognizes

Award for 2012–2013.

Volunteer of the Year for her efforts to make Austin the state’s first

“extraordinary classroom performance and innovation in un-

certified Wildlife Habitat City.

dergraduate instruction.”

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Change the World

10

Paul Eastwick Joins the Department of Human Development and Family Sciences

The Department of Nutritional Sciences Welcomes Dr. Jaimie Davis

Human beings are complex creatures. Nowhere is this complexity more apparent than in the ways we go about choosing romantic partners. Paul Eastwick, a social and evolutionary psychologist, is interested in the difference between the qualities we say are essential in a potential mate and the qualities that ultimately appeal to us in a dating or marriage partner. How does it happen that when we say we would only date a Cary Grant or a Grace Kelly but find ourselves, a bit later, happily married to an Ernest Borgnine or a Lucille Ball? Eastwick has chosen a novel approach to answering this question—he has carefully examined speed dating events to get a clear picture of attraction in action. He has found that once two people meet face-to-face, the qualities people say they want in a partner take a back seat to their gut reactions. “When it comes to romance, face-to-face impression really matters,” says Eastwick. The speed dating structure, with its time limits and established protocols, provides a great laboratory for examining the evolutionary mechanics of attraction. In broader terms, Eastwick is synthesizing evolutionary perspectives to explain what is observed in social psychology and vice versa. He is also interested in the phenomenon of romantic compatibility and the formation of romantic attachments. Eastwick joined the Department of Human Development and Family Sciences in September, 2012. He received his Ph.D. in social psychology from Northwestern University and joins us from the Department of Psychology at Texas A&M University.

If Jaimie Davis could give you two pieces of advice regarding our diet and the diets of our children, that advice would be to eliminate fruit juices from our children’s diets and make certain that we don’t skip meals. The first piece of advice arises from a growing set of studies indicating the harm that the empty calories and the physiological response linked to sweeteners like high fructose corn syrup cause in the body. According to Davis, skipping meals increases visceral adiposity, or belly fat, which in turn raises fasting glucose, an indication of an elevated risk of developing diabetes. Davis says, “Studies have shown that meal skipping impacts the volume of belly fat. An individual who eats only two meals per day will have 40% more belly fat six months later.” Consuming fruit juices containing high fructose corn syrup or other forms of sugar sets in motion a chain of physiological events. In addition to the biochemical chain of events including raising blood insulin levels, Davis speculates that consuming sugar-sweetened beverages triggers a neurological response similar to that found in addiction. Dr. Jaimie Davis joined the faculty of the Department of Nutritional Sciences in January, 2012 as an assistant professor. Davis is building a robust research program focused on developing dietary and physical activity interventions designed to help minority and low socio-economic status infants, children, and adolescents. In addition to population studies, Davis examines the how the interaction of diet and genes influence metabolic disease risk. Davis is a graduate of The University of Texas at Austin, having completed the Coordinated Program in Dietetics and the doctoral program in the Department of Nutritional Sciences. Davis has returned to the Forty Acres after completing a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Southern California in the Department of Preventive Medicine.


Stefano Tiziani Joins the Department of Nutritional Sciences

Wi th Gratitude, We Wi sh a Fo n d Far ew el l

We are honored to have worked

We wish the very best to our much beloved faculty who have retired

Dillon, Ted Huston, and Kay

from The University of Texas at Austin.

Our fingerprints are unique. So are our metabolic profiles. Metabolomics, an emerging field in chemical biology, is concerned with measuring the resultant chemicals as metabolic processes proceed. These chemicals, or biomarkers, indicate the health or disease status of an individual. Our metabolic fingerprints are the result of the air we breathe, the foods we consume, the habits we maintain, and the drugs we take. Because many biomarkers can be measured simultaneously, scientists, like Stefano Tiziani, get a snapshot of what is occurring at the cellular level when disease is present in an individual. This snapshot is invaluable to doctors working to cure a disease like leukemia. Typically, doctors administer standard combinations of theraputic agents and measure their efficacy by examining how the patient seems to be faring. Using the tools of metabolomics, Tiziani can test combinations of different drugs in different doses in an attempt to locate the ideal combination of drugs for a specific patient. In this way, the choices of drugs can more specifically target cancer cells, making cancer treatment less toxic for the body as a whole. By profiling the bone marrow cells that are abnormal and give rise to disease like leukemia, Tiziani can better understand the cell metabolism of these abnormal cells before and during treatment. This will lead to personalized treatment that is less toxic and may diminish instances of resistance or relapse. Tiziani says, “With a metabolomics-based system biology approach, we aim to understand the role of nutrients in regulating cancer metabolism and how to intervene at the nutritional level. That is where health or disease begins.� Stefano Tiziani, an assistant professor, joined the Department of Nutritional Sciences in September, 2012. Tiziani received his Ph.D. from The Ohio State University and joins us from the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute in La Jolla, California.

A r e You O n e o f Us? The School of Human Ecology has gone by many different names (as have our departments and divisions). We deeply honor our past and all those who have helped us become what we are and who have shaped what we will be. We want you to know that you are a valued member of our extended Longhorn family. We have been part of the College of Liberal Arts and part of the College of Natural Sciences, where we are today. We were once known as the Department of Home Economics, but we are now the School of Human Ecology. We once housed the Division of Interior Design. Both the Coordinated Program in Dietetics and the Coordinated Undergraduate Program (CUP) belong here. Our programs included Home Economics Education and Child Development and Family Relationships. If any of those names describe your work as a student at The University of Texas at Austin, you are part of our family. We are so glad you are here.

Suzanne Curtis retires from the Department of Nutritional Sciences

after 10 years of teaching. While she will be missed by her students (and all of us in the School of Human Ecology), we know that she will have an opportunity to spend more time with her adorable grandson Jordan.

Sandi Dillon has been an integral part of the Lab School family for

nearly 23 years. Sandi is a magician of circle time in the 5-year-olds classroom. Her beautiful smile and easy laugh will be missed by faculty, graduate students, and undergraduates.

After nearly 22 years of teaching and research, Ted Huston retires

from the Department of Human Development and Family Sciences. He has guided countless graduate students through the perils of developing a research topic to the final defense of their theses and dissertations. He has truly made an impact on personal relationships research.

There is absolutely nothing about Kay Southworth’s characteristic

energy and enthusiasm that would indicate that she has taught at The University of Texas at Austin for more than 28 years. Her dedication to her students, to the Dietetics programs, to the university has shaped lives and futures.

with Suzanne Curtis, Sandi Southworth.


The University of Texas at Austin | 1 University Station, A2700 | Austin, Texas 78712

What is happening with you? We would like to know about the wonderful work you are doing! Please take a moment to drop us a line. Melissa Tucker, Alumni Relations | melissa.tucker@austin.utexas.edu | 512 475 6710 The School of Human Ecology | The University of Texas at Austin | 1 University Station, A2700 | Austin, Texas 78712

Upcoming Events Wa lter Wi llett Jean Andrews Centennial Visiting Professor, Harvard University October 18, 2012

Centennial Celebration November 8–9, 2012

Fash ion Sh ow April 18, 2013

N u t rit io n a l Sc ien c es Su mm er I n st it u t e Summer, 2013

School of Human Ecology Newsletter 2012  

The School of Human Ecology is on the campus of The University of Texas at Austin and is part of the College of Natural Sciences.

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