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Health and Human Development News



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Welcome Dear alumni and friends, Two very different phenomena have fuelled my sense of optimism this year. Both embody development and change—our incredibly energetic and vibrant students and the dramatic emergence of the new Biobehavioral Health Building. Throughout this year of grim headlines and unexpected changes, our students have revitalized me. Time with them is almost guaranteed to leave me smiling. An afternoon seminar with our Women’s Leadership Initiative juniors. A lively Conti reception mingling with student members of the Penn State Hotel and Restaurant Society. A poster session hosted by the college’s graduate students. Our students are getting ready to take on the world, and it’s a delight to witness their development firsthand. I spent a week in South Africa recently with Dean Bruce McPherson of the College of Agricultural Sciences; Michael Adewumi, vice provost for global programs; and our own Collins Airhihenbuwa, head of the Department of Biobehavioral Health. Among other visits, we spent time with undergraduate students from across Penn State who were participating in our college’s global health minor. They were completing a six-week summer internship in Limpopo Province where they had been busy shadowing health care providers, visiting public and private clinics, spending time with a traditional healer, and reflecting on health disparities in South Africa and closer to home. It was our privilege to sit in on their final presentations at the University of Limpopo. I couldn’t have been more impressed! These young people are smart, articulate, talented, and gutsy. Their experience in South Africa had convinced several of them to pursue careers in global health. They want to make a difference, and I know they will. Their optimism reignited my hopefulness of a bright future. And our visit left me convinced that time with students can have a rejuvenating effect, at least on deans! The other source of optimism is literally right next door—the new Biobehavioral Health Building under construction. Each morning I have a chance to admire it as I walk from my car in the HUB parking garage to my office in Henderson Building, and each morning I notice new signs of progress. It literally changes every day. I have donned a hard hat several times to walk through the building—an excursion guaranteed to send my spirits soaring. In many ways, for me, the emergent building has come to symbolize the future of the college—the promise of the exciting classes, stimulating research collaborations, and new ideas that lie ahead. This sturdy, elegant building, designed to match Henderson Building’s classic proportions, will host generations of college faculty members, staff members, and students, and it is such a privilege to watch it take shape. I hope you will have a chance to come back to campus and catch up on the many changes that are underway. The students you’ll meet—and the hum of construction—will fill you with optimism about the future. And when you come, please stop by and say hello. I would be delighted to welcome you back. Warmly,

Ann C. Crouter Raymond E. and Erin Stuart Schultz Dean College of Health and Human Development

Dean Bruce McPherson of the College of Agricultural Sciences and Nan Crouter hold lion cubs at a conservation area in Limpopo Province, South Africa



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table of CONTENTS 2 Improving Children’s Lives

2 Improving Children’s Nutrition 6 Helping Children Communicate 10 Improving Children’s Development

21 Center for Sport Concussion Research and Service New HHD center advances research on sport-related concussions and provides services to local athletes.


Ann C. Crouter

Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies and Outreach Anthony D’Augelli

Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Education Neil Sharkey

22 Biobehavioral Health Building Update

24 Alumni Entrepreneurs

Four alumni discuss how they became leaders in their own businesses and firms.

Assistant Dean for Undergraduate Education

28 Alumni News / Awards

Assistant Dean for Alumni and College Relations and Leadership Initiatives

32 Research Briefs

Douglas Ford

Abigail Diehl

Director of Development

Faculty members make research breakthroughs that improve human health and well being.

Maggie Crispell

Magazine Production Design

Dennis Maney

Writing/Editing Sara LaJeunesse

Class Notes

V. Diane Collins

Creative Direction Scott Sheaffer

Articles may be reprinted with permission; for more information please contact the Office of Alumni and College Relations at 814-865-3831 or 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; or visit This publication is available in alternative media on request. Penn State is committed to affirmative action, equal opportunity, and the diversity of its workforce. (HHD13002) U.Ed. HHD 13-002

Helping C hi l d r e n

C o mm u n icat e

It was just after the winter holidays, when Gordon Blood’s 4-year-old son—now 32 years old—was talking with a friend about the gifts they’d received. “I got a He-Man, He-Man, He-Man, He-Man, He-Man, He-Man, He-Man!” the friend stuttered. Blood’s son responded, incredulously. “Wow, you got seven He-Mans?” According to Blood, professor and head of the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, the scenario was a perfect example of how listeners’ perceptions and reactions are a product of learned environmental biases and stereotypes regarding people with disabilities. 2


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“Most of the prejudices and stigmatizing behaviors that we bring to the table as adolescents and adults are probably learned or modeled for us during critical developmental stages,” he says. “Throughout history we’ve laughed at people with communication challenges—think Porky Pig with his famous Looney Tunes farewell line, ‘Th-th-th-that’s all, folks’; the lawyer who stutters severely in the movie My Cousin Vinnie; the abused, suicidal inpatient in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest; or, more recently, Gloria from Modern Family when she orders a box of baby Jesus [baby cheeses]. And so we learn that laughing, feeling sorry for, and assigning labels to people who speak differently is acceptable behavior.” According to Blood, these negative stereotypes and prejudices often translate into perceptions of individuals with communication disabilities—such as stuttering, lisping, or displaying communication problems associated with Asperger’s and Autism Spectrum Disorders—as being nervous, shy, less intelligent, and less likable. “The continual negative responses of potential communication partners can lead people with communication disabilities to be less likely to interact or to actually develop some of the perceived negative characteristics as a way of coping with communicative and social pressure,” says Blood. “In this way, it may become a self-fulfilling prophecy.” Another problem with these negative stereotypes and associated prejudices is that many of these negative characteristics are the same traits that bullies look for when targeting victims.

Bullying Equals Permanent Damage Much of Blood’s research—which he often conducts with his wife Ingrid Blood, professor of communication sciences and disorders—focuses on perceptions of bullying in children who stutter, but they also examine children with hearing loss, children who use cochlear implants, children with autism, specific language impairments, and English language learners. “Children who stutter get bullied and teased on a regular basis,” says Blood. “As a result, more than a third of the children we examined reported increased anxiety, lower self esteem, and feelings of isolation and negativity about their lives. This is a natural outgrowth of what has happened to them. Bullying is a systemic problem. Peer victimization not only has negative severe and long-term effects for the victims, but also for the children who are the bystanders, and even for those who support the bully or the victim. The simple fact is that schools and the learning environment must become bully-proofed.”

Children with communication disabilities have a right to walk into a school and feel safe.

In one of Blood’s research projects, he is examining whether speech-language pathologists (SLPs) who work in schools understand what bullying and teasing is. “Sometimes in a school system the only one-on-one time a child with disabilities has with an adult may be the 15 or 20 minutes they spend in speech therapy,” says Blood. “So these people are in a position to really help these kids.” Blood and his collaborators gave a survey to thousands of SLPs across the country asking them to indicate the types of strategies they offer to children who have been bullied as a result of their communication disorders. “A lot of them said they offered empathy and talked to the children and the parents, but unfortunately a lot of them also said they told kids to ignore the bully, to walk away, and to try to fit in better,” says Blood. “In a strange way, they were saying to the kids, ‘you really stick out with your accent and your problems; why don’t you see if you can work harder in speech therapy?’ These types of responses are unacceptable.” The problem is that SLPs and other school personnel often are not knowledgeable about what they can do to assist children. “Based on our results, one of our major goals is to help SLPs and other school personnel learn the best strategies for dealing with multiple forms of aggression so they can help the children with communication disabilities that they work with,” says Blood. The researchers plan to continue this work by interviewing the SLPs who participated in the first part of the study to discover what cues they use to decide when to intervene during bullying episodes and how they determine the seriousness of a bullying episode. The team also plans to teach SLPs how to appropriately help victims of bullies. Blood says, “Information is power. Simply having a poster that highlights the steps one should take in dealing with such situations—such as: (1) stop the bully, (2) label the behavior, (3) offer assistance to the victim, (4) enforce consequences for the bully, (5) and implement an anti-bullying policy—hanging on a wall in a therapy room lets children know that they are not alone and that some adult is willing to help them.”

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Presentation Examines Causes of Language Impairment Most children become proficient speakers of their native language by the time they enter school. But a small percentage—even though they can hear well, are intelligent, don’t have a brain injury or disease, and don’t have a behavior disorder like autism—do not become proficient as quickly. According to Carol Miller, associate professor of communication sciences and disorders, this condition is known as specific language impairment (SLI). “One hypothesis about the cause of SLI is that children with SLI have difficulty processing auditory information, even non-linguistic information,” she said. Miller discussed her latest research on the topic as a keynote speaker at the Global Conference on Disorders in Auditory Processing, Literacy, Language, and Related Sciences, which was held in Hong Kong in January 2012. There she described how auditory processing hypotheses fit into the larger picture of theories of language development, and suggested that, contrary to what many clinicians believe, many current treatments for those language disorders that are based on auditory processing are not more effective than other approaches. Instead, the most promising avenues for treatment—which may include musical training, for example—are still under investigation. “Treatments that are based on an understanding of how the brain processes auditory information—from musical tones to words—hold promise for helping people with language and literacy disorders,” Miller told an audience of about 280 speech-hearing-language scientists from around the world. Blood and his colleagues also have received funding from the U.S. Department of Education to create a master’s-level training program for SLPs to provide high-quality, evidenced-based services to immigrant children who are English language learners (ELL) with communication and language disabilities. Our recent data, says Blood, show that these children are also at high risk for bullying. “Children with communication disabilities or disabilities in general have an absolute right to be able to walk into a school and feel safe,” says Blood. “We as responsible adults are not doing enough if 30 percent of kids are subjected to bullying in a typical school day. The days of thinking that this was a part of normal child development are gone. Bullying is a form



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Miller went on to discuss the findings of a recent research project in which she performed a crosssectional observational study of 64 children about half of whom had a clinical diagnosis of auditory processing disorder (APD) while the other half were receiving services for SLI. The children completed eighteen behavioral measures of spoken language, auditory processing, reading, memory, and motor speed. Miller used the children’s responses to classify them as affected/not affected with APD and affected/not affected with SLI. Her results revealed that the behavioral profiles of children with APD and SLI were very similar. Miller argued that her findings, and those of other conference speakers, suggest that APD is not fundamentally different from SLI and other languagelearning disorders. This can help explain why specialized treatments for APD have not out-performed more traditional approaches. As researchers continue to learn more about the workings of the auditory system and its relation to language, advances in treatment will be within reach. Back home in State College, Miller, with the help of former graduate student Gerard Poll ʼ07g, ʼ12g CSD, are finding in their research on adults with SLI that accuracy in repeating sentences (a task often used on assessments for language disorders) relies on how many chunks of information a person can hold in mind—a fundamental mental capacity that affects both linguistic and non-linguistic abilities. In addition, she and her graduate student Mona Roxana Botezatu are investigating how bilingual people approach reading in the second language when it differs from their first language in terms of its spelling-sound consistency—for example, the sound of “-air” in “hair” and “pair” is consistent with spelling in both words, whereas the sound of “-ost” in “most” and “cost” is inconsistent with its spelling between the two words. of aggression and does not disappear on its own. If differences are not valued; if civility is not rewarded; if children are afraid to ride a school bus, to enter the lunchroom, or to walk the halls because of the mere fact of having a communication disability or challenge—then we have a lot to do.”

Creating Communication Devices While the Bloods are giving tools to SLPs to help them reduce bullying in their schools, other researchers in the college are giving tools to children with autism, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, and other disorders to help them speak their minds.

Kathryn Drager, associate professor of communication sciences and disorders, is one of them. Her research focuses on augmentative and alternative communication (AAC), or forms of communication—other than oral speech—that are used to express thoughts. According to Drager, sign language, pictures, and specialized communication devices—all forms of AAC—can help young children with disorders, such as autism spectrum disorders (ASDs), Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, and others, increase their participation in social interactions, improve their turn-taking skills, interact socially and share their experiences, acquire a broad vocabulary, and develop the foundations for learning to read and write. In one project, Drager—with Janice Light, the Hintz Family Chair in Children’s Communicative Competence—used various forms of AAC in an intervention to maximize the language and communication development of infants, toddlers, and preschoolers who had ASD, cerebral palsy, or Down syndrome. With each of the children, they provided access to effective means to communicate, such as computers; selected appropriate individualized vocabulary to practice; and used various interaction strategies to support the children’s communication. The intervention consisted of weekly 60-minute-long individualized sessions with the children and their family in their home or preschool. The research is funded by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research. According to Drager, all of the children made substantial gains in their language and communication skills. “They learned to take turns during play and to sustain interactions with others for a longer period of time,” she says. “Also, all of the children demonstrated significant increases in the number of words and ideas they were able to express; some learned to combine concepts to communicate more complex messages; and some entered school as readers.” In a newer project, Drager is focusing specifically on children with ASD.

“One of the kids I’m working with is interested in cartoon characters and another is interested in farm trucks, so I use these topics, along with the AAC system and signing, as vehicles to increase their social interaction and communication skills,” she says. Drager visits with the children, who are ages 3 to 5, in their homes or preschools once a week. There, she uses a combination of visual scene displays (VSDs) and a play-based intervention strategy to help the kids communicate.

Kids don’t do things because they’re good for them; they do things because they’re fun. According to Drager, VSDs are scene-based images on a computer in which the elements in the scenes are linked to sound effects or words/concepts. Drager tailor makes VSDs for each child with whom she works. For example, she may take photos at the child’s birthday party and then create a hotspot on the cake so when the child touches it a voice sings the Happy Birthday song. She also may scan the child’s favorite books and create sound effects and words to go with the characters. “VSDs are fun for any kid, but they may be especially appropriate for children with ASD who are at the beginning stages of communication, some of whom tend to already have an interest in computers and electronics,” says Drager. In addition to using VSDs, Drager, along with Light, also is conducting an intervention in which she provides lots of opportunities for the children to communicate, models the use of AAC as she talks, waits and allows the children time to communicate, and responds to the children’s attempts to communicate. She also is teaching the parents to do these things with their kids.

“Most of us, whether we’re parents or not, can imagine the difficulty of getting a stubborn 2- or 3-year-old to do something they don’t want to do like taking a bath, getting dressed, or sitting down to eat a meal,” says Drager. “But for parents of some children with autism, these tasks can be even more draining because children with autism can be really resistant to doing things in which they find no interest or see no value. Instead, parents need to be creative about finding a window into them, about finding something their children are really interested in to get them to communicate and interact.”

Drager documented the children’s turn-taking and communication skills prior to the intervention, and she has been evaluating their improvements during the intervention. “For all the children I am working with,” she says, “I am seeing very nice gains in the number of turns they are taking with me and in their vocabulary expressed after I implement the intervention and use the AAC system with them.”

Drager uses her own advice when working with the kids in her study.

More information about Drager’s project is on the web at: n

Drager says the most important part of the intervention is to have fun. “Kids learn through play,” she says. “They don’t do things because they’re good for them; they do things because they’re fun.”

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I m prov i n g

Children’s Nutrition

Imagine eating a full meal and then, in the span of just 10 minutes, downing a pint of Ben and Jerry’s vanilla ice cream followed by a full-size Snickers™ candy bar. While some of us may admit to overeating junk food from time to time, most of us would cringe at the idea of consuming 1,200 calories worth of sugar and fat—more than half the recommended daily intake of calories—in one very brief sitting. 6


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Now imagine a 5-year-old child consuming more than half of her daily allotment of calories in the form of junk food in just 10 minutes after already having eaten a full meal and indicating she was full. Leann Birch, Distinguished Professor of Human Development and Family Studies and director of the Penn State Center for Childhood Obesity Research, and Lori Francis, associate professor of biobehavioral health, have seen such a scenario. Using a free-access procedure developed in Birch’s laboratory, they conducted several studies in which they gave children as young as 5 years old a full meal. They then put the kids in a room with a box of toys and a table full of candy, ice cream, potato chips, and other junk foods. “We found that some of the kids took a few bites of the treats and then quickly moved on to playing with the toys, but others gorged themselves on more than 800 calories worth of treats in just 10 minutes!” says Francis, noting that Birch termed the behavior “eating in the absence of hunger.”

The obesity epidemic wasn’t born overnight. A solution will take time as well. According to Francis, many of the children in the study who binged on the snacks had parents who were very restrictive with junk food. “It’s a no brainer,” she says. “If you can’t have ice cream when you’re at home, and you’re at this place where no one’s watching you and you have free range to all the ice cream you could ever want, you’re going to eat a lot of it.” She said that kids tend to overeat the foods they are restricted the most on. In this project and others, Birch and Francis are interested in understanding the factors that contribute to childhood obesity. In fact, several of the college’s researchers are focused on studying what is now seen as an obesity epidemic among children. “As a society, we are just now starting to absorb the extent of the childhood obesity problem,” says Birch. “If we don’t do something soon, our kids won’t even have the life expectancy we have—and the years they have may not be healthy ones.” Birch says the environment is partially to blame. “There’s a lot of marketing of food to adults and to kids, and most of the foods that are intensively

marketed are things that are high in added sugar and fat,” she says. “Also everyone is busy, snacking is acceptable, and relatively inexpensive, unhealthy food is available everywhere 24/7. I think the environment is important and somehow we need to get the food industry engaged in making some changes in terms of promoting healthier food options.”

Childhood Obesity and Poverty In her latest research, Francis is studying one specific environmental factor that affects children’s risk for obesity: poverty. “Many families who are living in poverty have very low access to fresh fruits and vegetables,” says Francis. “That’s because these foods can be expensive, and they also may not be sold in locations that are nearby to low-income families’ homes.” Growing up, Francis lived in the suburbs of Long Island, New York, but her church was in Brooklyn. “Almost every corner in Brooklyn had a little convenience store, and I don’t ever remember seeing fresh fruits or vegetables in any of them,” she says. “People who are living in poverty often don’t have access to transportation to take them to larger grocery stores or farmer’s markets and, because they might be working two or three jobs just to make ends meet, they may not have time to visit such stores and markets. Instead, they end up buying convenience foods at corner jiffy marts.” With funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Pennsylvania Nutrition Education Tracks program Francis and her colleagues are examining the effects of poverty on the ability of families in three Pennsylvania cities—Harrisburg, Lancaster, and York—to access fresh fruits and vegetables. The researchers have asked families in Harrisburg and Lancaster with children ages 4 to 11 to wear small GPS monitors over the course of a week to monitor where they are buying their food. “It’s a ‘tale of two cities,’” says Francis. “In Harrisburg and Lancaster the populations are similar; the individuals are mostly unemployed, and they rely on SNAP, the federal food assistance program. But our group in Harrisburg, which is predominately black, does not, for the most part, have cars, and, as a result, they only have access to small convenience stores. In contrast, our group in Lancaster, which is predominately Hispanic, has cars and there are farmer’s markets everywhere. The one barrier to accessing fresh fruits and vegetables that this group raised was parking!”

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Francis and her colleagues also invited families in Lancaster to participate in the “Family Cooking Project,” a series of sessions in which they exposed the children to novel fruits and vegetables they may not have seen before. “Many of our kids didn’t know what a cucumber was,” she says. The team gave the children ice-cube trays containing twelve different fruits and vegetables and let them choose whether or not they wanted to taste the foods. “We introduced these new fruits and vegetables and we hoped by the fourth session the kids would be more willing to try the foods,” says Francis. “We found that by the second session kids were cutting up cucumber to put in a salad, and as they were cutting they were popping the cucumbers into their mouths. Even that one prior exposure increased their willingness to try the new foods.” In the parent sessions, the team provided guidance to parents on various ways to be responsible with the amounts and types of foods they give their kids. “Parents should have a say in deciding what’s for dinner but kids should have a say in whether they’re going to eat,” says Francis. “If children say they’re not hungry, we want to teach parents to listen and respond to their children’s hunger and fullness cues and allow them to self regulate.”

Chubby Babies Listening to their children’s cues is something Birch would like to see parents of babies do as well. Most people, parents and non-parents alike, would agree that the sound of a crying baby is unpleasant. But while a non-parent can quickly walk out of earshot of a crying baby, a parent must figure out how to soothe the distressed child. According to Birch, such soothing too frequently involves feeding the baby when he’s not hungry. “Babies cry a lot,” says Birch. “Sometimes they’re hungry, but sometimes they’re tired, uncomfortable, or just plain bored. Parents, especially first-time parents, are often too quick to feed them as a way to calm them, and this can lead to babies learning that food is used to regulate and reduce distress, which, in turn, can lead to obesity later in life.” In her latest research, Birch and her colleagues are investigating the ways in which obesity can begin in early infancy. In one pilot project, the team enlisted about 110 mothers and babies to undergo an intervention, which involved teaching the mothers to use alternative soothing techniques, such as the use of swaddling, white noise, movement (rocking, for example), and alternative positioning (face down instead of face up, for example) before us-



Summer 2012

Just one exposure to a new fruit or vegetable can increase kids’ willingness to try it the next time. ing feeding as a first response in cases when they weren’t sure if their baby was hungry. “We saw some pretty positive effects,” says Birch. “The babies who had our intervention slept longer, gained weight more slowly, and weighed less, adjusted for length, at their first birthdays.” In another new project, Birch and her colleagues are investigating the relationship between obesity and the timing and method of introducing solids to infants. In an intervention they asked participants to follow the recommendation of the American Academy of Pediatrics and wait until their babies were 6 months old to introduce solids. They then gave the parents guidance about what foods to introduce and how to help their babies accept new foods. “Most babies will, with a couple of exposures, begin to accept all kinds of things, particularly if they’ve been breastfed because we know a lot of the flavors from the mother’s diet appear in breast milk,” says Birch. “Breastfeeding serves as a kind of ‘flavor bridge’ that makes it easier for babies to transition to solid foods.” The team made recommendations to a treatment group about delaying introducing solids and also about repeatedly exposing babies to foods. A control group did not receive the recommendations. At one year, the researchers offered all of the babies in both groups an unfamiliar food. “What we found was that the treatment group, which had received the recommendations, was significantly less likely to reject that new food than the control group, which hadn’t received the recommendations,” says Birch. The team plans to follow this group until the children are 3 years old. The children’s weights at this age will provide insight into whether delaying the introduction of solids and improving the variety of healthy foods leads to healthier weights. In a third new project, Birch and colleague Cynthia Stifter, professor of human development and

family studies, are examining how babies’ temperaments influence their crying and their responses to soothing strategies, and, ultimately, how these variables affect weight gain. “Babies who are more negative tend to gain more weight over time, perhaps because they are being fed more frequently,” says Stifter. “When parents use food in circumstances unrelated to hunger and sustenance, it may teach children that food has other ‘reward-like’ qualities. So, in deciding to eat, young children, especially temperamentally negative children, may learn to rely on external cues, such as the presence of food, or their own emotional distress, rather than relying on internal cues of hunger or satiety. This compromised ability to self-regulate their food intake may put them at risk for becoming overweight.”

Genes and Scenes Child temperament. Parent Attitude. Poverty. Each of these things alone can influence whether or not a child will grow up to be overweight or obese. But examine these genetic and environmental factors in combination and you get a clearer picture of childhood obesity. Kathleen Keller, assistant professor of nutritional sciences, is focused specifically on understanding the combined effects of genetics and the environment on children’s taste preferences and eating behaviors with a goal of predicting which children will become obese before it happens. “Our goal is to know ahead of time which children are at risk of becoming obese so that we can intervene at an earlier time and thus avoid future health problems,” says Keller. In her studies, Keller brings children and their parents into the Taste and Eating Laboratory at Penn State to investigate genes that may influence their food preferences and eating habits. She does this by collecting saliva samples from the children and extracting DNA fragments to examine the genes contained within those fragments. Her goal is to study several genes that influence taste preferences to see how they interact with the environment to predict obesity risk. “Fat is universally palatable to humans,” says Keller. “But our work has shown that people, including children, who have particular forms of the CD36 gene tend to like higher fat foods more and may be at greater risk for obesity compared to those who do not have this form of the gene.”

Parents are often too quick to calm babies by feeding them, which can lead to obesity later in life. The team also examines other factors that are important in the children’s food environments, such as parenting, exposure to food advertising, and brain response to food advertising. So far, the group has found that genetic differences in taste-related genes interact with children’s access to healthy foods in the environments to influence obesity risk. “Children who have the highest risk have not only the genes associated with higher fat preferences, but they also live in food environments where fast foods are more plentiful and healthy foods are not,” she says. “This is important because it suggests that measuring genes without looking at the environment will only predict a small amount of obesity risk. We really need to measure both to get a complete picture.” In addition, just as commercials for foods like Froot Loops™ trigger kids to ask their parents for junk foods, Keller and her colleagues have found that using food marketing techniques with healthy foods, like fruits and vegetables, may be a good way to get some children to eat those foods as well. Getting children and babies to eat healthy foods is a unifying goal of many of the college’s researchers. “Contrary to the common perception that chubby children are healthy and will naturally outgrow their baby fat, excess weight tends to persist,” says Birch. “This is a national concern because weight-related conditions— such as diabetes and high blood pressure, which once occurred almost exclusively in adults—now are occurring at rising rates among teens and young adults.” But all of the researchers agree that solving the childhood obesity problem will take more than just convincing kids to eat their broccoli. “Parents, child care providers, health professionals, and policymakers should work together to reduce obesity risk by creating healthy environments and implementing positive practices during the crucial early years of development,” says Birch. “It took us a long time to get into this obesity epidemic; I think it’s going to take some time to get out of it.” n

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I m prov i n g C hi l d r e n ’ s Development

Ancient wisdom tells us to “stop and smell the roses” and to “live for the moment.” Given our busy lives, it’s no surprise that this advice is often easier said than done. Many of us multitask not only our physical chores, but our mental ones as well. Says Douglas Coatsworth, Penn State associate professor of human development and family studies, this type of mental multitasking can distract our attention from some of the most important things in life.



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Most of us have driven somewhere in an automobile while so deep in thought that we barely remember the journey, notes Coatsworth. This is a good metaphor for the effect of mental distractedness on the journey of life, including our relationships with those closest to us, he explains. “We think that being mindful—which simply means bringing your attention to what’s happening in the present moment—can have a profound, positive impact on interpersonal relationships,” says Coatsworth. “It can help parents be more patient with their children; it can help teachers maintain a more positive atmosphere in their classrooms; and it can help children deal with the stresses that can lead them to engage in risky behaviors.” Coatsworth and his colleagues Patricia Jennings, research assistant professor of health and human development in the Prevention Research Center, and Mark Greenberg, professor and director of the Prevention Research Center, have established the Program on Empathy, Awareness, and Compassion in Education (PEACE), which is aimed at designing programs to build mindfulness skills and practices for children, parents, and teachers, and at examining the effects of mindfulness on relationships between spouses, between parents and their children, and between teachers and the children in their classes.

Mindful Parents Coatsworth focuses much of his research on promoting mindfulness among parents. “We’ve all had these moments in relationships when you were not heard, when the other person’s attention was somewhere else.” he says. “And it feels bad. It feels like you’re insignificant at that moment. Through the PEACE projects we are trying to bring mindfulness into everyday interactions as a way of helping people to be truly present and, therefore, to enhance the quality of their relationships with each other.” Coatsworth says that meditation is the most commonly known way of becoming mindful, and he encourages parents to engage in it. “Essentially, meditation is a way of practicing bringing your attention to the present moment,” he says. “There is some very good scientific evidence that meditation can reduce stress and the physical and emotional manifestations of that stress, such as anxiety.” Although Coatsworth himself spends about 40 minutes a day meditating, he says that meditating for just a few minutes a day or using other kinds of contemplative practices can bring significant benefits to parents, especially when performed during transitions in daily life, such as just before going into the house after work. Besides formal meditation practice, other informal and less commonly studied techniques also can help parents focus on what’s happening in the present

moment. For example, parents can learn to become aware of less intense emotional states and take actions to prevent the escalation of more intense states. “Imagine that you’re seeing a situation with your kids unfold and you’re beginning to feel that knot form in your stomach,” he says. “You know you are about to explode. What can you do at that lower level of emotion to help you avoid overreacting?”

You’re beginning to feel that knot form in your stomach. What can you do to avoid overreacting? One thing parents can do, Coatsworth says, is take several deep breaths and try to focus on those breaths. This practice, he says, has a natural calming effect. “Our emotional world often overrides our ability to think about options and to respond appropriately,” says Coatsworth. “It floods us in a way that doesn’t allow us to parent or interact with intention in the present moment. My colleagues and I in PEACE believe that if people practice some general mindfulness skills the likelihood of these escalating cycles of negativity happening will be reduced and their relationships with each other will be more positive, loving, and compassionate. We are trying to help people develop those skills and, in the process, we are learning a lot about how we can do that. It all sounds so simple, but the reality may not be that easy.”

Mindful Teachers Creating positive and compassionate relationships with their kids is something teachers strive for as well. But teachers—especially those in high-poverty schools who are more likely to spend significant time dealing with behavior problems—often have a hard time developing such relationships. “Children who are exposed to risk factors, such as poverty, violence, disadvantaged neighborhoods, and family and marital conflict, often misbehave at school because they aren’t getting their needs met,” says Jennings. “They don’t have the kinds of supports at home that they need to learn normal socialization processes. If they have experienced a great deal of trauma or violence, they may learn that the world is not a safe place, which results in the development of hostile attribution biases—they may think their teachers and the other kids are trying to hurt them when they aren’t.”

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According to Jennings, when these kids act out in the classroom teachers have a hard time implementing effective strategies for managing the difficult behavior. “Teachers often have problems managing their own behavior when they get upset by challenging student behaviors,” she says. “When this happens, they may resort to punitive and harsh responses, which can lead to power struggles and derail learning. This kind of response may also reinforce the kids’ defensiveness and the perception that the teacher is trying to hurt them.” Jennings and her colleagues created a professional development program, called CARE for Teachers (Cultivating Awareness and Resilience in Education), in collaboration with the Garrison Institute, with a goal of helping teachers be more mindful so they can better promote student social-emotional well being and academic learning. “We do activities with teachers that help them become aware of their emotions and of how these emotions are altering their perceptions of certain situations,” says Jennings. “Teachers learn to recognize their physical signals of stress and then stop, take a breath, and calm down so they can respond thoughtfully to the situation instead of automatically reacting.”

Poverty stresses kids out. Mindfulness can help. In a pilot study of CARE, Jennings and her colleagues found that teachers reported improved well being; reduced stress; improved self efficacy, emotion regulation, and mindfulness; and improved ability to support autonomy in the classroom. “When teachers get stressed out they resort to being over-controlling and that’s not a good way to promote learning,” she says.



The team will include in its study approximately 256 teachers and over 5,000 students in 32 public elementary schools in New York City.

Mindful Kids Another big city—Baltimore—is the location of an intervention to teach kids how to be more mindful. In this project, Greenberg, Tamar Mendelson of Johns Hopkins University, and partners from the Holistic Life Foundation recruited 97 inner-city 4th and 5th graders to participate in an intervention designed to help them deal with their stress. “Poverty stresses kids out,” says Greenberg, “and if these kids don’t learn to manage their stress, they are more likely to perform poorly in school, drop out of school, become affected by depression and mental health problems, abuse drugs and alcohol, and engage in risky sexual behaviors.” Greenberg’s intervention has three components: yoga-based physical activity, breathing techniques, and guided mindfulness practices. “While the word ‘yoga’ may conjure images of wellheeled suburbanites and superstars doing downward dog pose in designer outfits, the practice is becoming popular among a wider variety of people, and we think it can be extremely useful for highrisk children,” says Greenberg. In a pilot study, Greenberg and his colleagues partnered with yogis at the Holistic Life Foundation to teach kids active yoga poses, breathing techniques, and mindfulness and relaxation techniques. According to Greenberg, at the end of the study the kids were at lower risk for developing anxiety and depression, which the team concluded based on student reports of lower rates of intrusive thoughts and of rumination—or continuing to cycle the same strange thoughts in your mind—as well as improved abilities to regulate emotions.

According to one teacher who participated in the pilot study, “CARE has given me the tools and skills to be more calm and centered. In a particular situation, I can act in response to what is needed in the moment, rather than react to it.”

“When we started the program in West Baltimore, the kids thought yoga was the little guy from ‘Star Wars,’” says Atman Smith, one of the Holistic Life Foundation yogis. “Now they see that yoga is the true meaning of the word ‘respect’—it helps you to see the light in people.”

With a successful pilot project behind them, Jennings and her colleagues now are embarking on a new project—funded with a $3.5-million grant from the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) at the U.S. Department of Education—to determine the efficacy of CARE. Specifically, they will use teacher selfreport questionnaires, observational ratings of teachers and classrooms, teacher reports on students, and student school records to test the direct effects of the CARE program on teachers and classrooms as well as on students’ behavior and academic achievement.

The Penn State-Hopkins team now is conducting a larger study that is funded by the National Institute for Drug Abuse. In this new study, the team is studying the effects of yoga on 5th and 6th graders and will take a more comprehensive look at its effects by examining children’s own reports of their feelings and behavior and teachers’ reports of their students’ behavior. The team also will use computer-based tests to examine the students’ cognitive abilities and inhibitory control as they relate to school success. n

Summer 2012

Health and Human Development

MAGAZINE Special Sections: Biobehavioral Health

Communication Sciences and Disorders Health Policy and Administration Hospitality Management Human Development and Family Studies Kinesiology Nutritional Sciences Recreation, Park, and Tourism Management

New Center Focuses on Sport Concussion Research and Community Service According to the Centers for Disease Control, an estimated 1.3 million people in the U.S. sustain concussions—mild traumatic brain injuries (TBI)—each year, and about half a million children aged 0 to 14 years make visits to the emergency department for all forms of TBIs each year. A new Penn State center—called the Center for Sport Concussion Research and Service—has been established with a goal of advancing research on sport-related concussions and of providing services to local collegiate and child athletes in the form of baseline assessments that can aid in their recovery in the event that they receive a concussion. “Concussions are a silent epidemic because you can’t see the injury; you can’t see the memory problems or headaches that people with concussions have,” said Semyon Slobounov, professor of kinesiology and the new center’s director. “And very little is known about the short- or long-term effects of concussions.”

“Concussion in Athletics: From Brain to Behavior” will be held from October 11-12, 2012 at the Penn State University Park campus. The conference is intended to benefit researchers and students who are interested in kinesiology, psychology, exercise, neuroscience, and sport medicine, as well as medical practitioners, athletic trainers, coaches, athletes, and parents of athletes. To learn more about the upcoming conference, go to:

With funding from the National Institutes of Health, Slobonouv and his colleagues in the center are investigating the effects of concussions on athletes’ cognitive abilities, such as their problem-solving abilities, and motor abilities, such as their balance. In addition to conducting research, the center’s researchers provide baseline-assessment services to local collegiate and child athletes. To do the assessments, they measure the athletes’ brain activities by taking an electroencephalograph (EEG), or a recording of electrical activity along the scalp. They also measure the athletes’ performances on a variety of tests, including written tests and virtualreality tests. If the athletes receive a concussion, they can return to the center and repeat the exercises. The researchers then provide the athletes’ post-concussion performance data, along with their pre-concussion baseline performance data, to the athletes’ physicians for use in creating a recovery plan. “We, at Penn State, are the first to use virtual-reality technology to study the cognitive and motor effects of concussions on athletes,” Slobonouv said. Wayne Sebastianelli, a physician in the Penn State College of Medicine who is affiliated with the center, explained one of the ways center researchers use virtual-reality technology. “We have a scenario in which our research assistants lead the athletes by the hand through a series of hallways in a hospital that the athletes are able to see in 3-D by wearing a pair of specialized glasses,” he said. “The assistants then start the athletes back at the beginning of the ‘maze’ and ask them to find their way back to where they had first been led. The assistants measure the speed at which the athletes get to their destination and the number of wrong turns they make.” “Every day our methods become more and more sophisticated,” said Slobonouv. “This is important because, in sport, due to increased demands for speed and strength, athletes are at a higher risk for concussion then ever before.” To learn more about the research being conducted by the center’s researchers or about obtaining a baseline assessment, go to:

Biobehavioral Health Building Update

Out on a Limb: Alumni Entrepreneurs

Jacob Goldsmith ’05 HRIM

Chief Operating Officer, Billpay Teller Machine

“Many managers of restaurants avoid getting their hands dirty,” says Goldsmith, who has worked as a manager or owner of three restaurants over the last seven years. “But the School of Hospitality Management taught me the importance of being a team player, of participating in all aspects of the work that, in combination, make a company successful.” Goldsmith took this advice to heart. As the managing partner and owner of Goldberg’s Famous Deli & Restaurant in New York’s Westhampton Beach—his most recent restaurant venture—he oversaw the development of a brand-new restaurant; managed a team of over forty employees; and analyzed profit margins. But he also plunged toilets and mopped floors. “My staff respected me because I was willing to do what it took to help the business succeed,” he says. Goldsmith has applied this work ethic to other ventures as well. He has been a manager of the MIXX at Borgata Hotel Casino and Spa in Atlantic City, N.J., and a manager of The Hungry Cat in Hollywood, Calif. But restaurants aren’t the only businesses that interest Goldsmith. In 2011, he teamed up with Penn State alumnus Adam Palmer ’03 MS&IS to create Food For Thought, a mo-



Summer 2012

bile web application designed to help business owners and managers monitor their operations using customer feedback. The web application consists of a QR code placed near the point of sale at a restaurant that directs customers to a survey, upon completion of which wins them a reward that can be redeemed on the spot. Goldsmith’s most recent endeavor, which he pursues from his home in Austin, Texas, involves the management of a kiosk portfolio that customers can use to pay bills and transfer money. “There are roughly forty million households in the United States that do not have sufficient access to bank services,” said Goldsmith. “For whatever reason, these people do not have an easy way to pay their bills. The Billpay Teller Machine allows them to go to the corner gas station or shopping mall and pay their bills through a kiosk that is set up to accept money on behalf of hundreds of companies.” Since 2011, Goldsmith has been deploying kiosks in retail and shopping centers such as Chevron, Circle K, Best Buy, and Simon Malls throughout the southeastern United States. “This business is successful because it’s meeting an important need in the community,” says Goldsmith. “As a student at Penn State, I learned to constantly strive to find ways to give back to the community. With this company, I feel good knowing that I am helping to make people’s lives a little bit easier.”

Photo Credit: Kirk Weddle

Jacob Goldsmith knows the value of picking up a mop, and he says it’s because of his degree in hotel, restaurant, and institutional management from Penn State.

Motivated by the desire to help others, HHD alumni embrace the spirit of entrepreneurship.

Gwendolyn “Jo” Carlberg ‘61 PH ED

Lawyer and Founding Partner, Carlberg Law Firm

Having graduated from high school during a time when most women did not go to college, Carlberg says she didn’t think twice about applying to Penn State. After all, both her parents were educators who had earned master’s degrees. “I chose Penn State because of its reputation for having an excellent physical-education program,” she says, noting that she had always wanted to become a physical-education teacher. “The university also had a reputation for helping to advance women.” But, she says, what impressed her most about what was then known as the College of Physical Education and Athletics was the individualized attention given to each student. “The college made me feel special,” she says. “And it taught me self discipline. Back then you weren’t allowed to miss class. The responsibility to focus was ingrained.” After graduating in 1961, Carlberg was preparing to follow her dream of becoming a physical-education teacher when she received a call from the chairman of the Democratic Party. “He was looking for staff members to serve under a U.S. Senator from my home state of Oklahoma,” she says. “After an interview, I was offered a job on the Senate Space Committee

working for that senator. I took the job because it was a very exciting time. Alan Shepard was about to take a suborbital flight. No one had ever been in space before.” Carlberg quickly noticed that many of the other staff members were lawyers. So she decided to follow suit and pursue a law degree. She started out at the University of Oklahoma and finished at the American University in Washington, D.C.

Photo Credit: Julie Ann Woodford

Jo Carlberg has always “gone against the grain.” At least, that’s how her daughter Jody views her. And looking back at her life, the alumna, who is now 73 years old, says she has to agree.

“I was one of only six women out of 300-some students in the class of 1966,” she says. After passing the Virginia Bar Exam, she started her own law firm in Alexandria, Va., the Carlberg Law Firm, which she still maintains today. Over time, the firm’s focus shifted to family law. “It takes a special kind of person to practice family law,” she says. “The cases are often highly emotional, but I am good at compartmentalizing—at turning it off when I go home.” Carlberg’s husband is a 1961 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy. As a result, her firm has a commitment to representing military members and their spouses. Carlberg credits Penn State, in part, for her success. “For me, Penn State was an important life experience that formed the basis for what I have become.” More information about the Carlberg Law Firm is on the web at:

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Out on a Limb: Alumni Entrepreneurs

Eileen Soisson ’93 R P M

Founder and Director, The Meeting Institute After years of working in the commercial recreation and hospitality industry, Eileen Soisson had too often heard such excuses for why frontline staff needn’t provide highquality service to guests. When she also began hearing these excuses from the directors of recreation agencies she knew it was a widespread, cultural issue. So in 2004, she founded The Meeting Institute, a company based in Myrtle Beach, S.C., that aims to help recreation agencies provide a better standard of service and leadership through effective training and programs. “Our goal is to help agencies create their own in-house training programs that teach staff members how to provide the best possible service to customers,” said Soisson. “We are all about creating training programs that staff members WANT to attend, and as a result, we see a culture change within agencies. We see personal accountability toward doing better in the workplace.” In particular, The Meeting Institute offers educational seminars and workshops, professional training programs, customer service and secret shopping programs, consulting and facilitating services, and personal development programs.



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Prior to founding The Meeting Institute, Soisson worked as a manager of recreation departments for various resorts and hotels including Marriott, Starwood, Bass Hotels, and others. She also worked with the American Hospitality Academy (AHA) for over ten years. There, as director of training and development, she managed over 2,500 interns from all over the world as they fulfilled their recreation and hospitality internships. She also oversaw supervisor and management training programs. “The experience I gained in designing customer service training programs gave me the confidence to start my own business,” she said. A member of the College of Health and Human Development’s Alumni Society Board of Directors for eight years, Soisson credits Penn State for launching her career. “As a recreation, park, and tourism management major, we had to complete a final internship,” she said. “My internship was in Orlando, Fla., running activities programs for resort guests from all over the world. This internship ultimately led to my work with AHA. Had it not been for that internship placement with AHA, my world would be so different today.” More information about The Meeting Institute is on the web at:

Photo Credit: College of Health and Human Development

“We’re just a community center!”

Genevieve Sherrow ’99 BBH

Owner and Founder, Gluten-free Warrior

“I had never before made associations between the foods I ate and the digestive discomfort I experienced,” said Sherrow. “Removing gluten ended up solving some of my problems.” According to Sherrow, three million Americans have celiac disease, a digestive condition triggered by consumption of the protein gluten, which is found in foods containing wheat, barley, and rye. In an attempt to provide education to individuals with celiac disease and gluten intolerance, Sherrow founded in 2010 Gluten-free Warrior, a consulting company based in Philadelphia that specializes in nutrition and culinary education, nutritional counseling, and private chef and catering services. Sherrow also published a gluten-free whole foods cookbook, titled Gluten-free Warrior. “My curriculum approaches gluten-free nutrition and cooking from a natural foods perspective, taking into account the healing properties of foods,” said Sherrow, noting that, since the winter of 2011, she has taught

twenty nutrition and cooking workshops in locations such as natural foods stores, nonprofit organizations, public schools, academic institutions, hospitals, and private homes. Prior to founding Gluten-free Warrior, Sherrow worked as an educator, researcher, program manager, and, eventually, assistant executive director for various nonprofit organizations in Philadelphia that focused on reproductive health and HIV testing and treatment. She switched her focus to nutrition after earning a master’s degree in nutrition at Bastyr University in Seattle, Wash., in 2009.

Photo Credit: Ed Cunicelli

In 2007, after battling severe digestive issues for many years, Genevieve Sherrow was diagnosed with gluten intolerance. Her doctors eventually recommended that she eliminate gluten from her diet.

But whether Sherrow has focused on reproductive health or nutrition, her interests have always been in human health, and, for that, she credits the Department of Biobehavioral Health at Penn State. “Biobehavioral Health gave me the training I needed to understand the intersection of the many factors that influence our health throughout the lifespan: biology, psychology, the environment, economics, and culture,” she said. More information about Gluten-free Warrior is on the web at:

Share your Story These Health and Human Development alumni are just a few of the many who are involved in entrepreneurial activity. One of the most common questions we receive from students considering enrollment in one of our majors is “What types of careers can I pursue after graduation?” We would love to hear about your careers, including entrepreneurial ventures, in fields both traditional and nontraditional, and how your experience in the College of Health and Human Development and at Penn State helped you get there.

Top Left: The Alumni Society hosted a luncheon honoring Alumni Recognition for Student Excellence Award winners in March. Top Right: Randy Coulthard ’07 HPA, president of the Health Policy and Administration Affiliate Program Group (HPA APG), talks with students about networking at the HHD Alumni Society’s networking reception in March. Left: Jared Melzer ’04 KINES gives a presentation about social networking at the networking reception.

Dear alumni and friends, It has been a pleasure to serve as president of the College of Health and Human Development Alumni Society for the past two years. This past year has been an exciting one for the alumni society. Last fall we were honored with the Penn State Alumni Association’s Membership Award, which is given to an “affiliate group that has distinguished itself through an exceptional membership program that supports the membership campaign of the alumni association.” Our Society’s membership committee has worked with the alumni association to increase membership in the Blue & White Society—the student arm of the alumni association—among HHD students. We hope that our efforts will results in these student members becoming actively engaged as alumni. Our society supports students in many other ways, too. Our careers committee has developed networking receptions, held at Penn State’s Bank of America Career Services Building, that aim to teach students the importance of networking and then allow them to practice their networking skills by interacting with alumni. These events, held twice a year in conjunction with our biannual society board meetings, have been expanded to include resume review and mock interview sessions that help prepare students to apply and interview for internships or jobs. We also demonstrate our commitment to students by recognizing outstanding students with awards. At our spring meeting in March, we honored a number of students for outstanding achievements. We presented Alumni Recognition for Student Excellence Awards to one student from each of the college’s academic units, plus the School of Nursing, at an awards luncheon on March 30. Later that day, we presented the Edith Pitt Chace Award to two students—Catherine Hewlett, a nursing student, and James Miller, a recreation, park, and tourism management student. Each of these students receives a $1,000 scholarship as part of the award. We also presented the Student Service Award to Shanttel Liberato, a hotel, restaurant and institutional management major, who was spending the semester studying in Maastricht, the Netherlands. Shanttel accepted her award via a video acceptance speech. I am now turning over the reins to Jason Diaz ’97 R P M and an outstanding group of board members. They will carry on our proud tradition of student support and innovative programs that connect alumni with each other and with the students and faculty and staff members in the College of Health and Human Development. For more information about how to get involved in any of the initiatives I’ve mentioned above, please contact the HHD Office of Alumni Relations at Warmly,

Jennifer Sprankle ’92 NURS President, HHD Alumni Society



Summer 2012

Norwig Receives Alumni Fellow Award John A. Norwig ’79 HP ER, ’84g HL ED received the Alumni Fellow Award, the highest honor bestowed upon alumni by the Penn State Alumni Association, at a special ceremony on Friday, March 30 during the biannual meeting of the HHD Alumni Society’s board of directors. The award was presented by Roger Williams ’73 LIB, ’75g COM, ’88g EDU, executive director of the Penn State Alumni Association. The Alumni Fellow Award is the highest honor bestowed upon Penn State alumni by the alumni association. Norwig is head athletic trainer for the National Football League’s Pittsburgh Steelers. For the past twenty years, he and his staff of trainers have been preventing, recognizing, treating, and rehabilitating injuries to Steelers players, as well as working with players and coaches on training regimens. In addition to his duties with the Steelers, Norwig frequently lectures across the country on topics related to athletic injuries. He was also part of a team that developed cutting-edge tools for use by athletic trainers, including ImPACT, a concussion assessment tool. The Steelers, under Norwig’s leadership, have taken a leading role in the NFL by hiring full-time female athletic trainers. Prior to joining the Steelers, Norwig served as head athletic trainer at Vanderbilt University (1985–1991) and is still involved with college students, serving as a clinical instructor

at Duquesne University and the University of Pittsburgh. He has strongly supported internships with the Steelers for students from Duquesne, Pitt, and Penn State. Norwig is active on numerous NFL committees responsible for the health and welfare of the players. In addition, he is the current president of the Professional Football Athletic Trainers Society (PFATS). In 2009, PFATS named Norwig and his staff the Professional Football Athletic Training Staff of the Year. In 2008, Norwig received the Most Distinguished Athletic Trainer award from the National Athletic Trainers’ Association. Norwig is a consultant with Accelerated Care Plus, an organization that manufactures physical therapy modalities, and Impact Innovative Products, a manufacturer of protective sports equipment. A life member of the Penn State Alumni Association, Norwig and his wife Emily live in Wexford, Pa. They have three children: Erin, Nicholas, and Luke. Since its creation in 1973, the award has been given to select alumni who, as leaders in their professional fields, are nominated by an academic college and accept an invitation from the University president to return to campus to share their expertise with students, faculty, and administrators.

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(L-R): Patrick Slater '83 LIB, '86 PH ED; John Norwig; and Roger Williams at Norwig's ceremony in March.

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College of Health and Human Development and School of Nursing

Alumni Awards Alumni Recognition Award

The Alumni Recognition Award is presented to an alumnus or alumna who has demonstrated professional excellence and exemplary voluntary community involvement in a health and human development field. Geoffrey Godbey ‘68g RC PK, ‘72g PH ED is hailed by those in his field as the “face” of leisure studies. A retired professor of recreation, park, and tourism management at Penn State since 2005, he has, for more than two decades, conducted research on the benefits of parks to their communities as well as the benefits of leisure services to the mental and physical health of the people they serve. For this work, he has been recognized with numerous awards, including a Roosevelt Research Award from the National Recreation and Park Association in 2001, and has been interviewed by several popular media outlets, such as National Public Radio. Godbey continues to lecture worldwide and to conduct research. He also serves as a consultant/invited speaker for agencies such as UNESCO, the National Park Service, the People’s Republic of China, and the Brazilian Federal Government. In addition, Godbey mentors young faculty members in the Department of Recreation, Park, and Tourism Management at Penn State. During the time that he was a professor in the department, he mentored twenty master’s and twenty-one doctoral students. He is the author of several books, including the well-received Leisure in Your Life.

Alumni Service Award The Alumni Recognition Award is presented to an alumnus/alumna who has demonstrated professional excellence and exemplary voluntary community involvement in a health and human development field. Mason Champion ‘98 R P M has worked continuously to serve Penn State, the College of Health and Human Development, and his community. Currently, he is the president-elect for the Penn State Professional Golf Management (PGM) Alumni Group. He also has served as the PGM’s sophomore representative, vice-president, and honorary president. In addition, he is the founder of the Champion Scholarship for Creative Thought at Penn State. As vice president for wealth management for Morgan Stanley Smith Barney in the firm’s Lutherville, Md., office, Champion acts in a fiduciary capacity in overseeing portfolios for his clients, many of whom are professional athletes. Outside of that work, he is the PGA Head Golf Coach at the Boys’ Latin School, where he utilizes a “better men through better golf” mantra to serve and develop the hearts and minds of his students on and off the course. He also serves as the president of the Golfers’ Charitable Association, and he is the founder and past director of Coach for a Cure, a non-profit organization created to aid in the fight against cancer by raising funds through individual and group golf instruction.

Class Notes 40s Eleanor Benfer Lohman ’41 PH ED participated in the National Senior Olympics in Houston, Texas, and won a silver medal in the 100-meter dash track and field event. She won the gold medal in the 100-meter dash at the Rocky Mountain Senior Olympics in 2009. She spent her life teaching physical education, serving in the Navy, and raising three sons.



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70s Larry Emigh ’70 L E C biked 3,415 miles across the United States to raise funds and awareness for the Children’s Dyslexia Center in State College, Pa. He is a retired state trooper and the owner of Growing Tree Toys in State College, Pa. Barbara Heller ’76 RC PK of Heller and Heller Consulting, Inc., consulted for Sasaki Associates in Watertown, Mass., to help develop plans to revitalize parks in Bridgeport, Mass. The plan envisions a connected system of green spaces, in-

cluding parks, community gardens, schoolyards, greened vacant lots, and brownfield sites that spread across the city.

80s Patti Urbanski ’86 NUTR has been named to the Board of Directors of the American Diabetes Association. She is the diabetes program coordinator/nutrition and diabetes specialist for the Duluth Family Practice Center and Family Medicine Residence Program in Duluth, Minn.

Emerging Professional — Undergraduate Degree Award The Emerging Professional—Undergraduate Degree Award recognizes a graduate of the past ten years who has an undergraduate degree and who has demonstrated professional excellence and/or exemplary voluntary community involvement in a health and human development field. James Juran ’03 R P M has proven himself as a skilled and dedicated manager of the largest state park in Pennsylvania: Ohiopyle State Park. Juran began his career as a Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) park manager trainee. He then moved up the ranks through several levels of park manager before becoming the park operations manager at Ohiopyle. Through his work for the DCNR, Juran has been actively engaged with landowners, park visitors, conservation organizations, and local businesses. He and his staff manage major park concession operations, develop park operation strategies that can be supported by challenging budgets, direct law enforcement, and oversee environmental education programs. Juran also is an active member of the Laurel Highlands Conservation Landscape Initiative, a partnership with landowners, community members, non-profit organizations, and other stakeholders to protect natural resources.

Emerging Professional — Graduate Degree Award The Emerging Professional—Graduate Degree Award recognizes an alumnus or alumna who received a graduate degree in the past ten years and who has demonstrated professional excellence and/or exemplary voluntary community involvement in a health and human development field. Tamara Burket ’97, ’04g NURS quickly distinguished herself as a leader at the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, where she has worked as a gerontological clinical nurse specialist since 2005. There, she developed a multidisciplinary team that coordinates and provides care for all geriatric admissions. Within this role, she also has raised awareness of the issues faced by hospitalized older adults and has led a broad educational effort for the hospital’s staff. Burket has worked for Hershey Medical Center in various nursing roles since 1986. Her honors include being designated as a fellow in the Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing in the Geriatric Leadership Academy and receiving the distinguished Pennsylvania Nightingale Award for Advanced Nursing Practice, the National Gerontological Nursing Association’s Innovation in Practice Award, and the Award for Excellence in Gerontological Nursing Practice. Beyond her practice initiatives, Burket has participated as a co-investigator on numerous research projects at Hershey Medical Center. Currently, she is the principal investigator on a project focused on the implementation of a function-focused philosophy of care for elderly trauma patients in the acute-care setting. This approach to care helps nurses to engage patients in functional and physical activity during all care interactions.

00s Matthew Eby ’01 BB H is studying at Australia’s James Cook University to become a physician assistant. Teri Britt Pipe ’00g H P A has been named dean of the Arizona State University College of Nursing and Health Innovation. Pipe, who has been interim dean since June and an adjunct faculty member at ASU since 2002, also has served as director of nursing research and innovation at Mayo Clinic and associate professor of nursing in the College of Medicine at Mayo Clinic.

In Memorium Nora E. Thompson ’45, ’48g H EC died August 13, 2011. She was a member of Alpha Lambda Delta, Omicron Nu, and Phi Kappa Phi. She was a former Michigan Department of Social Services consultant and Hancock, Mich., City Council member.

William Lee ’94 HR&IM, ’99g M E R died November 1, 2011. He had been a senior vice president for HREC (Hospitality Real Estate Counselors) Investment Advisors. He had previously worked for Anglo Irish Bank as an assistant vice president, the Carlton Group as vice president, HVS International as a senior associate, and Merrill Lynch as a financial advisor.

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Research Briefs Antioxidant Spices Reduce Negative Effects of High-Fat Meals Eating a diet rich in spices, like turmeric and cinnamon, reduces the body’s negative responses to eating high-fat meals, according to researchers. “Normally, when you eat a high-fat meal, you end up with high levels of triglycerides, a type of fat, in your blood,” said Sheila West, associate professor of biobehavioral health. “If this happens too frequently, your risk of heart disease is increased.” The team gave some participants a meal containing rosemary, oregano, cinnamon, turmeric, black pepper, cloves, garlic powder, and paprika. Other participants received a non-spiced meal. “We found that adding spices to a high-fat meal reduced triglyceride response by about 30 percent, compared to a similar meal with no spices added,” said West. Other HHD researchers on the paper included Ann Skulas-Ray, former graduate student; Penny Kris-Etherton, Distinguished Professor of Nutrition; and Danette Teeter ’11g NUTR, former research assistant.

People Have Powerful Appeal in Photos College students looking at photographs spent more time gazing at the people in the pictures than the surrounding elements, even when those people were quite small or not centrally located, according to researchers. These findings could help the researchers develop better visual-scene displays (VSDs)—computer-generated images that help people with disabilities learn to communicate. According to Krista Wilkinson, professor of communication sciences and disorders, the team recruited college students to observe photographs in which a human figure appeared near one or more items that might be expected to compete for visual attention, such as a Christmas tree or a table loaded with food. They used eye-tracking technology to obtain precise recordings of the participants’ gazes. “Our study suggests that humans may be key elements that capture and maintain visual attention, even in scenes with many other potential competitors,” said Wilkinson. Janice Light, Distinguished Professor of Communication Sciences and Disorders, also was involved with this research.

Depression May Lead Mothers to Wake Babies Depressed mothers are more likely to needlessly wake up their infants at night than mothers who are not depressed, according to researchers. “We found that mothers with high depressive symptom levels are more likely than mothers with low symptom levels to excessively worry about their infants at night and to seek out their babies at night when the babies did not appear to be in need of parental help,” said Douglas M. Teti, professor of human development and family studies. “This, in turn, was associated with increased night waking in the infants of depressed mothers, compared to the infants of non-depressed mothers.” In contrast, mothers with low levels of worry and depressive symptoms rarely woke their infants out of a sound sleep and hardly went to their infants at night unless the infants were distressed. The team emphasized that if parental depression or worry disrupts both the parents’ and the infant’s sleep, it could have negative consequences for the parentchild relationship over the long term.



Summer 2012

Physical Activity Yields Feelings of Excitement, Enthusiasm People who are more physically active report greater levels of excitement and enthusiasm than people who are less physically active, according to researchers. People also are more likely to report feelings of excitement and enthusiasm on days when they are more physically active than usual. The researchers asked 190 university students to keep daily diaries of their lived experiences, including free-time physical activity and sleep quantity and quality, as well as their mental states, including perceived stress and feeling states. “We found that people who are more physically active have more pleasant-activated feelings than people who are less active, and we also found that people have more pleasant-activated feelings on days when they are more physically active than usual,” said Amanda Hyde ’10g KINES, kinesiology graduate student. “Knowing that moderate and vigorous physical activity generates a pleasant-activated feeling, rather than just a pleasant feeling, might help to explain why physical activity is so much more effective for treating depression rather than anxiety,” added David Conroy, professor of kinesiology.

Preference For Fatty Foods May Have Genetic Roots A preference for fatty foods has a genetic basis, according to researchers who discovered that people with certain forms of the CD36 gene may like high-fat foods more than those who have other forms of this gene. Kathleen Keller, assistant professor of nutritional sciences, and colleagues gave 317 participants Italian salad dressings prepared with varying amounts of canola oil, which is rich in long-chain fatty acids. The participants were then asked to rate their perceptions of the dressings’ oiliness, fat content, and creaminess on a scale anchored on the ends with “extremely low” and “extremely high.” “Fat is universally palatable to humans,” said Keller. “Yet we have demonstrated for the first time that people who have particular forms of the CD36 gene tend to like higher fat foods more and may be at greater risk for obesity compared to those who do not have this form of the gene.” The results help explain why some people struggle when placed on a low-fat diet and may one day assist people in selecting diets that are easier for them to follow. The results also may help food developers create new low-fat foods that taste better.

The College of Health and Human Development The Pennsylvania State University 201 Henderson Building University Park, PA 16802-6501 UpComing Events



22-23 JumpStart (session 1)


11 Commencement

23-24 JumpStart (session 2)

27 Fall Semester Classes Begin


15 Alumni Tailgate, noon to 3:00 p.m., Porter Gardens at Lubrano Park


Pauline Schmitt Russell Distinguished Research Career Award Lecture – Dr. Roger McCarter 4:00 p.m. Bennett Pierce Living Center, 110 Henderson Building

29 Parents and Families Weekend College Open House, Ice Cream Social, 1:00 to 3:00 p.m., 10 Henderson Building

5-7 Penn State Homecoming

2-3 Alumni Society Board Meeting 19-23 Thanksgiving Holiday (no classes)


22 Commencement

January 2013

TBA State of the College Address, BBH Building auditorium

Alumni Tailgate September 15, 2012 Begins three hours prior to kickoff; Noon - 3:00 Porter Gardens, Medlar Field at Lubrano Park

Penn State vs. Navy Free of charge—bring your family and friends!

Penn State Health and Human Development Magazine - Summer 2012