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Department of Nutritional Sciences NEWs  page 12

Health and Human Development News



an d


| Winter 2013-14

you& your health

College of Health and Human Development Dean

Ann C. Crouter

Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies and Outreach Dennis Shea

Interim Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Education Kathryn Drager

Greetings from the College of Health and Human Development At its heart, our college is focused on improving the quality of human health and the quality of life for people of all ages and backgrounds, as well as training the next generation of leaders in this important area. You can find our faculty members in their laboratories where they might be studying exercise physiology or developmental neuroscience, out in the community where they might be examining quality of life for cancer survivors or conducting an intervention to prevent diabetes, or in the classroom where they share their knowledge every day with future speech pathologists, physicians, experts on children and youth, physical therapists, community health leaders, outdoor educators, hoteliers, dietitians, and hospital administrators. The stories in this magazine will give you a flavor for the wide variety of research going on in the college. We’ve created eight versions with sections specifically tailored to each of our academic units to give readers an opportunity to learn more about what is going on in the part of the college that they remember best. All of the versions of the magazine are available on the web, so if you are curious about what the graduates of other majors are reading, please go to: A magazine is no substitute for what you can learn by returning to campus. Please schedule a visit to Penn State—and to our college—for 2014. You would be welcome to tour our facilities, sit in on a class or two, and soak up the energetic, rejuvenating spirit that Penn State’s incredible students bring with them to everything they do. I look forward to welcoming you back!

Assistant Dean for Undergraduate Education



Douglas Ford

Director of Development Kathleen Rider

Assistant Dean for Alumni Relations and Special Projects Abigail Diehl

Assistant Director of Alumni Relations Kristi Stoehr

Director of Communications and Creative Services Scott Sheaffer

Senior Designer


Dennis Maney

Science Writer/Editor Sara LaJeunesse

Communications Specialist Jennifer Hicks

Alumni Mentoring Program Coordinator and Staff Assistant for Alumni and College Relations


V. Diane Collins

Warmly, Articles may be reprinted with permission; for more information please contact the Office of Alumni and College Relations at 814-865-3831 or

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

For general correspondence, please write to the Office of Alumni and College Relations, College of Health and Human Development, The Pennsylvania State University, 201 Henderson Building, University Park, PA 16802-6501; e-mail; 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. (HHD14032) U.Ed. HHD 14-032


Special Section: News From Your Department  page 12

you & your fitness nutrition health care relationships


YOU & YOUR Fitness

Exercise for Life

Sayers John Miller, III, assistant professor of kinesiology and former athletic trainer for the San Francisco 49ers, gives tips on how to prevent exercise-related injuries and maintain fitness throughout life. Got knee pain? Plantar fasciitis? IT-band syndrome? Achilles tendinitis? Chances are, if you’re suffering from one of these overuse injuries, you have weak hips, glutes, or abdominals—or all three. According to Miller (featured in the images), weaknesses in these major muscle groups can lead to knees that collapse inward during exercise, a habit that can wreak havoc on the body. “Once you’ve damaged cartilage or torn ligaments, they’re never quite the same,” says Miller. “One of the things we commonly

see is knee, ankle, and lower back pain, and one of the common causes of these types of pain is the inability to control the lower extremities.” To avoid injuries that can squash our hopes of maintaining fitness into old age, Miller says we should regularly dedicate time to strengthening the muscles—hips, gluteals, and abdominals—that control our lower extremities.

Double-Leg Squats

Squats Variations

Keep the knee over the foot and the beltline parallel to the ground (image A) while squatting. A band (image A) can help prevent the knees from collapsing inward (image B).

As you develop strength, begin to do single-leg squats (image C). Another variation is to place an exercise ball against a wall and hold a static squat position (image D).


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Clamshell Leg Lifts

Clamshell Leg Lifts With Band

Lie on your side with knees at right angles. Lift the top knee up, then lower it. This exercise strengthens the glutes and the external rotators of the hip.

When you become stronger, a band can provide additional resistance.

Leg Presses

Leg Presses With Band

Extend one leg at a time while lifting the gluteals and lowering them. This exercise strengthens the gluteal, hamstring, and abdominal muscles.

Doing a leg press with a band around the knees forces you to pull the knees out at the same time you are moving up and down, which emphasizes external rotation of the lower extremity, rather than internal rotation.

Plank Rotations To strengthen the abdominals, position your body parallel to the floor with upper body resting on elbow and forearms and lower body resting on toes. Hold.

To do a side plank, rest on one hand while raising the opposite hand in the air. Balance on sides of feet.

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YOU & YOUR Fitness and Nutrition

I’m Pregnant.

Is it Safe to Exercise? Research consistently shows that exercising while pregnant delivers tremendous health benefits, yet many women avoid exercising because they worry about falling. In a recent study, Danielle Symons Downs, associate professor of kinesiology and obstetrics and gynecology, and Jinger Gottschall, assistant professor of kinesiology, examined whether and how pregnant women’s gaits change as they transition between level and hill surfaces, such as when walking or running outside.

“Most people alter their gait to avoid tripping when walking on uneven ground, but we found that pregnant women adopt an exaggerated gait strategy compared to non-pregnant adults,” says Gottschall. The team concludes that although pregnant women do exaggerate their gaits, walking or jogging outside are generally safe activities. However, if pregnant women do not feel comfortable walking outside, a treadmill or a track are good alternatives.

Visit a Park for Your Health Want to become more physically fit? Head to your local park, says Andrew Mowen, associate professor of recreation, park, and tourism management. “Studies show that people exercise more when they have access to parks,” he says. “They also are less stressed and have fewer anxiety disorders when they visit parks.”

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“Work Out” Your Hot Flashes Menopausal women who exercise may experience fewer hot flashes in the 24 hours following physical activity, according to Steriani Elavsky, associate professor of kinesiology, and colleagues. “Some people think that performing physical activity could increase hot flashes because it increases body temperature,” says Elavsky. “But our research shows that this is not true. On average, the women in our study experienced fewer hot flash symptoms after exercising.”

Binge-Eating Disorders Roughly four million Americans regularly binge eat to the point of feeling sick. Repeated bingeing on fatty food may change patterns of neural signaling in the brain in a manner similar to that which occurs during drug use, according to research on rats conducted by Professor of Nutritional Neuroscience Rebecca Corwin. “These changes in the brain could perpetuate the bingeing behavior and may explain why binge-eating disorder is so difficult to treat,” she says. “What’s particularly interesting is that only rats with restricted access to a fatty treat a few times a week will binge on the treat. Rats that get to eat a little of the treat every day don’t binge and don’t show the same changes.”

Symptoms of Binge-Eating Disorder Provided by the Mayo Clinic

• Eating unusually large amounts of food • Eating even when you’re full or not hungry • Eating rapidly during binge episodes • Eating until you’re uncomfortably full • Frequently eating alone • Feeling that your eating behavior is out of control • Feeling depressed, disgusted, ashamed, guilty, or upset about your eating • Losing and gaining weight repeatedly, also called yo-yo dieting If you or a loved one has any symptoms of binge-eating disorder, seek medical help as soon as possible.

For Healthy Weight Loss, Ditch the Diet The Atkins Diet, the Paleolithic Diet, the Cabbage Soup Diet. Some of us have tried every fad diet out there in an attempt to lose weight and keep it off. Yet, according to Penny Kris-Etherton, Distinguished Professor of Nutrition, people might have better success if they think NOT in terms of dieting, but rather on eating healthful foods over their lifetime. “That means eating a lot of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, skim-milk dairy products, lean meats, and a small amount of liquid vegetable oil,” says Kris-Etherton. “It also means avoiding high-calorie snacks. Certainly they can be incorporated in small amounts in a healthy diet, but if you focus on eating the healthier foods, you might naturally eat fewer sweets and treats.” Kris-Etherton says if you feel you really need the structure of a diet, check out the research-based DASH Diet, which emphasizes eating healthful foods in three meals and two snacks a day. Kris-Etherton recently served on a panel of scientists that ranked the diet at the top of the list in a U.S. News & World Report diet ranking.

Take a dip Can’t get your kids to eat their vegetables? Try offering the veggies with a side of dip. Research by Jennifer Savage Williams, associate director of the Center for Childhood Obesity Research, showed that more kids like vegetables when they are paired with a yummy dip compared to vegetables without a dip. “Just because children refuse to taste a vegetable doesn’t mean they don’t like it,” Savage says. “It’s foreign—the key is to try to get them to taste it in a positive light.”

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YOU & YOUR Nutrition

Nutrition Concerns in your

20s, 40s, & 60s As we age, our calorie needs and nutrient requirements change. Lynn Parker Klees, instructor in the Department of Nutritional Sciences, shares tips on how to eat healthfully in your 20s, 40s, and 60s.

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You may be working long hours, making new friends and dating, and possibly getting married and having children. Life is unpredictable, yet grabbing meals on the go often means taking in more calories and fewer nutrients. • When eating in restaurants, take half of the portion home. • Aim to have fruits and vegetables constitute half of your plate at lunch and dinner. • Substitute fruit for dessert most of the time. • When you need a quick meal, pick up healthy convenience foods like rotisserie chicken, instant brown rice, and frozen vegetables. • Reduce sugar-sweetened beverages and substitute water or no-calorie beverages. • Moderate alcohol consumption—one serving per day for women and two servings per day for men.


Life is hectic and you may not notice your metabolism starting to slow down. Watch out for increased belly fat as a result of dropping estrogen levels for women and long hours sitting for both men and women. • Find ways to add movement during the day. Get up early to go to the gym, take off during your lunch break to walk or bicycle, or jog or walk around the soccer field during your kids’ games. • Add strength training to slow the inevitable loss of muscle mass with aging. • Calorie needs drop as we get older. Cut 100 calories a day from your pre-40 diet. For every decade after 40, we need about 1 percent fewer calories, or the equivalent of a cookie. • Limit extra fats and sugars to about 100-150 calories per day.


You may be looking forward to increasing your physical activity in retirement or you may be slowing down due to injuries or chronic health problems. Despite your fitness level, your calorie needs have decreased while your nutrient needs have stayed the same or increased. • If you live alone, try to halve recipes or freeze in small portions for later use to avoid eating spoiled leftovers. • As we age, our thirst mechanism decreases but our fluid needs are maintained. Drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration. • People in their 60s need more protein to maintain their muscles. Choose lean meats, fish, beans, nuts, and tofu, and eat them throughout the day. • Beware of losing too much weight. People who are underweight and undernourished don’t fare as well when faced with illness and injury.


Percentage of Americans who are overweight.


Percentage of Americans who are projected to be obese, not just overweight, by 2030.

Source: Gordon Jensen, professor and head of the Department of Nutritional Sciences

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YOU & YOUR Health care

The Affordable Care Act: A Primer One in seven Americans does not have health insurance. When they do, the average family’s health insurance costs more than $15,000 per year. The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), which was signed into law in 2010, promises to increase and improve health insurance coverage and reduce the cost of health care. How will this benefit you? According to Pamela Farley Short, professor of health policy and administration, it depends on who you are. Below, Short summarizes the primary provisions of Phase I and II of the Affordable Care Act, as it has evolved with Supreme Court decisions, stateby-state decisions about participation, and the Obama administration’s interpretation and implementation of the law.

Phase I (now in effect ) Insurer Limitations Preventive Care Prescription Drugs Young People Small Businesses Lifetime Limits Pre-Existing Conditions High-Risk Patients

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Insurers are limited in how they spend premium dollars; if too little goes into health care for their customers, they must give some of it back through rebates. No additional costs for preventive care, like screenings and vaccinations, for anyone with health insurance. People on Medicare who use a lot of prescription drugs pay less for them. Young people can stay on their parents’ policies up to age 26. Some small businesses get tax breaks to help them buy insurance for their employees. No more lifetime limits on health insurance. Insurance companies can’t turn kids down because of pre-existing conditions, like asthma and diabetes. High-risk pools supported by the government were set up to cover the sickest of the uninsured, even before the big expansions in health insurance scheduled for 2014.

Phase II (effective as of January 1, 2014) Medicaid

States have the option of expanding Medicaid to cover all low-income people, with the federal government picking up the entire cost for three years and then slowly shifting 10 percent to the states by 2020. Because of the Supreme Court ruling, states also have the option of leaving Medicaid unchanged and poor people uninsured.

Low-income Families

Tax credits are available to offset health insurance costs of anyone without Medicaid or access to affordable employment-based health insurance if their family income is between 100 percent and 400 percent of the federal poverty line (between $23,000 and $94,000 for a family of four). Lower-income families in this range get more help than higher-income families.

Marketplace Exchange

People with no option to get health insurance through work can buy it through an online marketplace, organized by their state or by the federal government on behalf of their state.

No Rejections

Insurers cannot turn people down or charge them more if they are sick.

Insurance Requirement Large Businesses

Everyone is required to have insurance. Those who don’t must pay a special tax that is relatively small in 2014 but increases in subsequent years. Starting in 2015, larger businesses will pay special taxes if they don’t insure their full-time workers.

The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation was an important source of information in compiling these lists.

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YOU & YOUR Relationships

How to connect with kids at any age Greg Fosco, assistant professor of human development and family studies and the Karl R. and Diane Wendle Fink Early Career Professor for the Study of Families, explains two of the most important ways parents can connect with their kids. Focus on positive behavior—Rather than focus on corrective feedback and nagging, parents can praise their kids’ good behavior, notice their successes, and make a point of helping them understand when they are meeting expectations or behaving appropriately. Strive for a ratio of three praises for every one corrective statement. Be a good listener—Children’s disclosures provide a range of opportunities for parents, such as problem-solving difficult peer interactions or learning about challenges their children are having with classwork. Parents are wise to take advantage of any opportunity to learn with whom their children are spending time and what happens while they are unsupervised. The most skillful parents are non-reactive listeners who ask questions like, “What happened next?” or “How did you respond?” or “Was that scary?” which can help kids open up.

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“Should I allow my teenager to drink alcohol at home?”


“Many parents believe if they provide alcohol early it takes the mystery away and their kids are less likely to drink outside the home, but research shows that when the first drink is provided within the home, kids are more likely to drink more heavily and frequently,” says Robert Turrisi, professor of biobehavioral health.

39.8 million

Caring For Older Family Members 39.8 million. That’s the number of Americans over age 15 who provided unpaid care to someone over age 65 during a three-month period in 2012, according to a Bureau of Labor Statistics report. Distinguished Professor and Head of the Department of Human Development and Family Studies Steven Zarit gives some tips on how to manage the stress of caring for aging family members: • Get the information you need. Information about your relative’s condition and the options you have for providing care will help a lot. • Connect with other caregivers in a support group or on-line chat, share ideas about what works, and give support to one another. • Ask for help when you need it. • Get regular breaks from caregiving. My research has shown that adult day service programs have therapeutic benefits for their clients, while also reducing stress and improving well-being of caregivers. • If you feel upset and don’t know what to do, a social worker or psychologist with training in caregiving can be very helpful.

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Department of Nutritional Sciences

Are local foods really best? By Melissa Beattie-Moss

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A visit to the supermarket used to seem pretty straightforward. Need some fish or chicken? Buy some. Out of bananas? Toss a bunch in the cart. Running low on coffee? Grab a canister. Sounds simple? Not so these days. Today’s health-conscious and eco-friendly shoppers are often armed with information (and a smartphone app or two) to decipher the complex politics of the plate. Beyond the choice to be an omnivore or vegetarian, many people are questioning whether the food they’re reaching for is cage-free or free range, wild-caught or farm-raised, organic, enriched, non-GMO, sustainable, or Fair Trade. Add one more question to the list: Is what you’re eating locally grown or raised? The local food movement and the “locavores” who support it claim that eating food grown locally in season has many benefits, some that seem like common sense (fresher food tastes better) and some that are more debatable (eating local reduces GHGs, or greenhouse gas emissions.) But how do you define “local” itself? It’s tough to find consensus, says Dorothy Blair, assistant professor of nutritional sciences. “The U.S. Department of Agriculture points out that there really isn’t an agreed-upon definition of local food,” she notes. “Locavores in Vermont defined it as a 100-mile radius from which they would access their food. But 100 miles is rather arbitrary, and actually this didn’t work. They didn’t even have the local oats needed to make granola.”

research indicates that, despite the fact that food typically travels 1,500 miles from farm to consumer in the U.S., fossilfuel transportation is far from the greatest offender when it comes to the environmental price of our food system. Studies show that agricultural production contributes 83 percent of the food system’s greenhouse gas emissions, before the food even leaves the farm, and suggests that “shifting less than one day per week’s worth of calories from red meat and dairy products to chicken, fish, eggs, or a vegetable-based diet achieves more GHG reduction than buying all locally sourced food.” Along these lines, the international campaign called Meatless Monday, launched by the Johns Hopkins’ Bloomberg School of Public Health, encourages people to not eat meat on Mondays to improve their health and the health of the planet. Blair says organic farmers build their soil. Local farmers can also be organic, though many are not, she clarifies. “Also, many farmers do not declare themselves organic due to the costs of certification but are using these techniques. At least as a local buyer, one can ask. The buyer should be knowledgeable about what techniques make food environmentally sound and animal-friendly, and then talk to the farmer.”

“If you can, walking to your backyard garden to pick fresh vegetables is the best lowenergy food decision and good for your waistline as well.”

Explains Blair, the definition used to be based on a common watershed, and later on regions and supply chains. “I think the public tends to define ‘local’ as the farmer’s markets and Community Supported Agriculture cooperatives (CSAs) in their county, but a county line is actually an arbitrary notion of local,” she adds. “A regional definition makes more sense, as it provides a longer harvesting season for crops such as broccoli, corn, and strawberries.” There are some very good reasons to eat local when you can, notes Blair, including “enlarging the civic space and improving the economy, as dollars circulate locally rather than moving away.” But reducing “food miles”—the term used to describe how far food has traveled before you buy it—may be one of the movement’s weaker arguments. “The term ‘food miles’ is somewhat misleading,” says Blair. “Unless you can walk or bike to your local food source, get it from your garden, or carpool, the extra mileage you put on your car to access local food negates the advantage.” Recent

“Another big issue is the impact of chemicals used in conventional production,” says Blair. “I personally see organic food as a more important choice than local, because of the energy embedded in pesticides, nitrogen fertilizers, mined phosphorus (an endangered nutrient), and potassium. Organic techniques sequester carbon in soil. They don’t allow run-off of chemicals or loss of topsoil. Look what is happening in dead zones around New Orleans or in the Chesapeake Bay.”

Although it’s not the solution in and of itself, says Blair, “people who want to eat local become politicized by the process of seeking alternatives to supermarket food,” and are taking steps “toward thinking more broadly about the effect of their consumption habits on the earth.” The smartest way to eat local? “If you can, walking to your backyard garden to pick fresh vegetables is the best lowenergy food decision,” says Blair, “and good for your waistline as well!” ■ This story first appeared as a “Probing Question” feature hosted by the Penn State University Relations Research Communications office.

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Department of Nutritional Sciences

Effects on Childhood Obesity


either genes nor the environment alone can predict obesity among children, but when considered together a strong relationship emerges, according to Kathleen Keller, the Mark T. Greenberg Early Career Development Professor, and colleagues. The researchers found that children who have a genetic variant that makes them less sensitive to the taste of certain bitter compounds, also called “non-tasters,” were significantly more likely to be obese than children who were “tasters” of these compounds—but only when they lived in an unhealthy food environment. “Eating behaviors and obesity are influenced by genes and the food environment, but few studies have investigated how both of these variables interact to influence eating behavior and obesity,” said Keller. “We have found that sensitivity to the bitter taste of compounds, like 6-n-propylthiouracil (PROP), alone does not have a strong impact on obesity, nor does the food environment alone, but when examined together, their influence on obesity was very strong. In fact, non-taster children who lived in unhealthy food environments were obese on average.”

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According to Keller, around 70 percent of the U.S. Caucasian population is sensitive to the taste of PROP, a bitter-tasting compound similar to those found in cruciferous vegetables like cabbage and broccoli, while thirty percent are considered to be nontasters. For many years, researchers have debated findings that non-tasters may also be more prone to obesity because they have fewer taste buds than tasters and because of this, they have reduced sensitivity to many tastes and textures. “We have found that people who have reduced ability to taste dietary fat may be prone to overeating it,” said Keller. “However, no previous studies have taken into account the importance of access to foods in the environment in modifying the influence of PROP status on diet, but when you do, the results become much clearer. We know even less about this relationship in children.” The researchers examined 120 ethnically diverse children between the ages of 4 and 6 who lived in New York City. The children and their parents attended four laboratory visits conducted during dinnertime. The parents completed a series of questionnaires in which they were asked about the types and quantities of foods they typically offered to their children. Researchers worked one-on-one with the children to measure food likes and dislikes, body weight, and ability to taste PROP. The team assessed food acceptance in the children by showing them photographs of common foods, including healthy foods—such as strawberries, bananas, spinach, and broccoli—and unhealthy foods—such as doughnuts, cookies, French fries, and hot dogs. The researchers asked the children to identify the foods in the pictures and to report whether or not they liked the foods. To examine the children’s food environments, the researchers used specialized software, called Geographic Information Systems (GIS), to map the number of establishments that sold healthy foods (fruits and vegetables) and unhealthy foods (high calorie, low-nutrient foods and fast foods) within a one-half-mile and one-mile radius around the children’s homes. They then divided children into two groups based on whether they had more healthy or unhealthy food stores in walking distance around their homes. The results showed that neither PROP status nor the food environment, when considered alone, explained differences in children’s reported liking of fruits or vegetables or obesity status. However, the interaction between PROP status and the food environment did significantly affect children’s liking of vegetables and their body weights.

Kathleen Keller receives Professorship McDonald’s knows it. Even Colgate knows it. Kids respond positively to products with their favorite cartoon characters. Could this little trick work to get children to eat more vegetables? Kathleen Keller is trying to find out. As the Mark T. Greenberg Early Career Development Professor, she is testing a variety of creative packaging techniques for vegetables—including packaging them with children’s favorite cartoon characters—to see if they will encourage greater vegetable consumption and prevent the development of obesity. In addition, she is asking parents in the study to present vegetables as the primary option at snacks or meals. Children can opt for an alternative, higher calorie snack, but they have to wait to get it. “Combining these simple changes in packaging and presentation with weekly support and education has doubled fruit and vegetable intake in children who consumed fewer than two servings per day of these foods at baseline,” said Keller. Keller credits the Mark T. Greenberg Early Career Development Professorship with allowing her laboratory to continue these studies. The professorship is a three-year award that was established by Edna Bennett Pierce in honor of Mark Greenberg, professor of human development and family studies and former director of the Edna Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center.

“On average, non-taster children living in healthy food environments liked more vegetables and disliked fewer vegetables than taster children living in the same environment,” said Keller. “On the other hand, non-taster children living in unhealthy food environments had higher levels of obesity compared to all other groups of children. Non-tasters who lived in unhealthy food environments had average body mass indexes over the 95th percentile, which is in the obese range. It is possible that nontasters may have a tendency to like high-fat foods more, and when they are placed in an environment where these foods are plentiful, this may hasten the path to obesity. These findings also give us insight into the importance of our food environment in overcoming our genetic risk factors.” The results appeared in a recent issue of the journal Obesity. In the future, the team plans to investigate whether an interaction exists between genes and the food environment in people living in a “car culture” in central Pennsylvania. “If you can walk someplace, there’s a higher likelihood you’ll frequent that place for your nightly shopping,” said Keller. “But we don’t know yet if that applies in a place that is primarily a ‘car culture’ in which a person can choose to drive past an unhealthy food outlet to reach a healthy one or vice versa.” ●

Kathleen Keller (right) greets Mark Greenberg and Edna Bennett Pierce at the Biobehavioral Health Building dedication ceremony in September 2013.

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Is Being Overweight Really So Bad?

Fat. Sugar. Salt. Americans have a love-hate relationship with these ingredients. We know we should consume them in moderation. After all, we’ve been told again and again that being overweight or obese can cause health problems. But they make foods taste so darn good! Can being overweight really be so bad? According to Gordon Jensen, head of the Department of Nutritional Sciences, the answer may be “no”—at least for those of us who are lucky enough to live to the grand old age of 75 and beyond. For seniors over 75, being overweight or mildly obese does not necessarily appear to be detrimental to health and it may actually offer benefits. “More than a third of Americans are overweight, and by 2030, nearly as many are projected to be obese, not just overweight,” says Jensen. “While they are at increased risk for associated medical conditions, it’s simply not true that all of these people are destined to suffer major health problems as a result.” Jensen and colleagues have conducted extensive research on the nutritional needs of older adults and have found that for people ages 75 and up, eating diets high in sugar and fat may not adversely affect their health outcomes. Their research has shown that older adults who followed diets high in fat and refined sugar did not die at a higher rate than older adults who followed more healthy diets. “For people who live to be this old, being overweight or mildly obese appears potentially to help them survive during times of infection, illness, or injury,” Jensen says. “The extra weight may act as a reserve for older people when their bodies are stressed. In addition there are likely other potential benefits for older persons following healthy diets that have not been addressed in this research.” However, adds Jensen, “It is important to emphasize that severe obesity most certainly does not offer health or mortality benefits.” Jensen notes that these findings provide further evidence that putting overweight or obese adults of this age group on overly restrictive therapeutic diets may not be of much benefit. “You don’t take frail older persons and place them on highly restrictive diets to treat their excess weight,” he said. “Geriatricians and nutritionists have recognized this for a long time.” However, in younger seniors ages 60 to 70 who are overweight or obese, Jensen and his colleagues have found that losing weight may result in dramatic improvements. “By losing moderate weight, these ‘young’ older people can often lower blood sugars; lower their blood pressure; and reduce metabolic syndrome, at least over the short run; and improve functioning in terms of physical performance,” he explains. For the vast majority of us, it seems there is still a need to watch our diets and our weights—that is, if we value our physical health. But for those of us who live long enough, there may come a day when we can drop some of our vigilance—talk about delayed gratification! ● This story first appeared as a “Probing Question” feature hosted by the Penn State University Relations Research Communications office.

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Department of Nutritional Sciences

Consuming Oils Reduces Belly Fat? Yes, it’s true, at least when it comes to canola oil and high-oleic canola oils. These oils do lower abdominal fat when used in place of certain other oil blends, according to Penny Kris-Etherton, Distinguished Professor of Nutrition, and colleagues. In their study, the researchers also found that consuming the vegetable oils may be a simple way of reducing the risk of metabolic syndrome, which affects about one in three U.S. adults and one in five Canadian adults. “The monounsaturated fats in these vegetable oils appear to reduce abdominal fat, which in turn may decrease metabolic syndrome risk factors,” said Kris-Etherton. In the randomized, controlled trial, 121 participants at risk for metabolic syndrome received a daily smoothie containing 40 grams (1.42 ounces) of one of five oils as part of a weight maintenance, heart-healthy, 2,000-calorie per day diet. Members of the group had five risk factors characterized by increased belly fat, low “good” HDL cholesterol and above-average blood sugar, blood pressure

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and triglycerides that increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. The researchers repeated this process for the remaining four oils. The results were presented at the American Heart Association’s EPI/NPAM 2013 Scientific Sessions in New Orleans on March 21, 2013. Results showed that participants who consumed canola or high-oleic canola oils on a daily basis for four weeks lowered their belly fat by 1.6 percent compared to those who consumed the flax/safflower oil blend. Abdominal fat was unchanged by the other two oils, which included a corn/safflower oil blend and high-oleic canola oil enriched with an algal source of the omega-3 DHA. Both the flax/ safflower and corn/safflower oil blends were low in monounsaturated fat. According to the American Heart Association, many of the factors that contribute to metabolic syndrome can be addressed by a healthy diet, exercise and weight loss, which can significantly reduce health risks of this condition. “It is evident that further studies are needed to determine the mechanisms that account for belly fat loss on a diet high in monounsaturated fatty acids,” said Kris-Etherton. “Our study indicates that simple dietary changes, such as using vegetable oils high in monounsaturated fatty acids, may reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome and therefore, heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.” Other Penn State authors on the paper include Sheila West, associate professor of biobehavioral health; Xiaoran Liu, graduate student in nutritional sciences; Jennifer Fleming, research assistant in nutritional sciences; and Cindy McCrea, graduate student in biobehavioral health. n

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Department of Nutritional Sciences

Chuck Fong/Studio 2 Photography

Barbara Rolls, professor and Helen A. Guthrie Chair of Nutritional Sciences (left), and A. Catharine Ross, professor of nutritional sciences and Dorothy Foehr Huck Chair (right).

American Society for Nutrition honors professors Two nutritional sciences faculty members, A. Catharine Ross and Barbara Rolls, are the recipients of awards from the American Society for Nutrition (ASN). The faculty members received their awards in a ceremony during the ASN Scientific Sessions and Annual Meeting at Experimental Biology 2013, which was held in April in Boston, Massachusetts. Ross, professor of nutritional sciences and Dorothy Foehr Huck Chair, was named a Fellow of ASN. To be inducted as a Fellow of the society is the highest honor ASN bestows. Ross’s research focuses on vitamin A/retinoid metabolism, hepatic retinoid function and gene expression, vitamin A in infection and immunity, and vitamin A and lung development in the neonatal period. 

A. Catharine Ross edits new book “Modern Nutrition in Health and Disease” A. Catharine Ross, professor of nutritional sciences and Dorothy Foehr Huck Chair, is the senior editor of a new textbook, titled “Modern Nutrition in Health and Disease, 11th Edition,” that was published in April 2013 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. “The book is a complete authoritative reference on nutrition and its role in contemporary medicine, dietetics, nursing, public health, and public policy,” said Ross. “Distinguished international experts provide in-depth information on historical landmarks in nutrition, specific dietary components, nutrition in integrated biologic systems, nutritional assessment through the life cycle, nutrition in various clinical disorders, and public health and policy issues.” The book also covers nutrition’s role in disease prevention, international nutrition issues, public health concerns, the role of obesity in a variety of chronic illnesses, genetics as it applies to nutrition, and areas of major scientific progress relating nutrition to disease.

“It is a pleasure to welcome Dr. Ross as an ASN Fellow, the highest honor the Society bestows,” said John E. Courtney, executive officer of ASN. “This recognition honors her career as a scholar, teacher, mentor, and innovator.”   Rolls, professor and Helen A. Guthrie Chair of Nutritional Sciences, received the David Kritchevsky Career Achievement Award. The award is presented in recognition of a career devoted to promoting interaction among, support for, and assistance of outstanding nutrition researchers in governmental, private, and academic sectors resulting in the application of fundamental knowledge to delivery of better nutrition products and information to the public. Rolls’s research examines the importance of energy density in the control of satiety and food intake. She is the author of five books, including “The Volumetrics Weight-Control Plan,” “The Volumetrics Eating Plan,” and “The Ultimate Volumetrics Diet,” in addition to over 200 journal articles. “Dr. Rolls has a distinguished career in nutrition,” said Courtney. “Her body of work has shifted the way scientists think about food intake regulation and has influenced policy debate at the national level.” Established in 1928, ASN is the publisher of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, The Journal of Nutrition, and Advances in Nutrition. It has more than 4,900 members. ■

Winter 2013-14 | 21


Department of Nutritional Sciences

Graduate Student’s Hass Avocado Research Poster Wins Awards Li Wang, graduate student in nutritional sciences, has won first prize in two American Society for Nutrition Scientific Sessions at Experimental Biology (EB) competitions for her poster based on a study of the effects of eating one Hass avocado every day on risk factors for cardiovascular disease compared to a similar moderate-fat diet without avocados, an average American diet, and a low-fat diet. The two competitions were the Student Interest Group (SIG) Travel Award competition and the Aging and Chronic Disease Research Interest Section (RIS) Graduate Student Poster competition. The SIG and RIS awards are annual prizes awarded to Ph.D. students based on their abstracts and presentations at EB. Ab-

stracts were assessed on scientific merit, research design, experimental methodology, conclusions, and significance of findings to scientific knowledge. “Initial findings from our research show that inclusion of one avocado a day, as part of a healthy moderate-fat diet, may contribute to greater benefits on cardiovascular risk factors than a moderate-fat diet that provides the equivalent fatty acid profile,” said Wang. “While more studies are needed, this research suggests that there may be something unique about the avocado, beyond its monounsaturated fat content.” Penny Kris-Etherton, Distinguished Professor of Nutrition and Wang’s dissertation adviser, also is an author on the study. ■

Ann Atherton Hertzler Creates Early Career Development Professorship in Nutrition Ann Atherton Hertzler ‘57 H Ec established the Ann Atherton Hertzler Early Career Development Professorship in Nutrition, which will support entry-level faculty members to get a jumpstart on their research and expedite reporting of their results. The professorship is intended to provide the holder with financial support and encouragement during the critical first ten years of his or her career. Hertzler’s motivation to establish this gift comes from her personal and professional belief that nutrition is at the core of many of the academic disciplines in the College of Health and Human Development. This professorship will support junior

22 | Health and Human Development

faculty members whose research is interdisciplinary, possibly including topics in nutrition, fitness, wellness, and family. “The college has excellent departmental outreach in projects for the elderly, for children, and for many other diverse groups,” said Hertzler, a professor emerita at Virginia Tech. “I love the applicability of the college’s research findings to everyday life. With this gift, I hope to encourage more interdisciplinary research across departments and help researchers share their findings with students and professionals across the nation and world.”

Nutrition student-athlete honored as Big Ten Distinguished Scholar Megan Siverling, student-athlete from the Department of Nutritional Sciences, was among 68 Penn State studentathletes to have been selected for the Big Ten Distinguished Scholar Award for earning a grade-point average of 3.7 or higher during the 2012-13 academic year. Megan Siverling (senior), Women’s Swimming and Diving

Laura Stocker Waldhier

Affiliate Program Group (APG) Update The NDAS APG continues to support the College of Health and Human Development’s Mentoring Program. To learn more about the College’s Mentoring Program and/or to become a mentor to a nutritional sciences undergraduate student, visit The Awards Committee continues its commitment to honoring outstanding alumni, faculty members, and students. If you would like to nominate deserving nutritional sciences alumni for one of the various college- or APG-level awards, please contact NDAS president Jennifer Lynn-Pullman ’98 at or visit

The 2014 NDAS Brunch will be held on Sunday, April 6 from 11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. at the Nittany Lion Inn. The featured speaker will be Michael Taylor, deputy commissioner for food and veterinary medicine at the Food and Drug Administration. His topic will be “Protecting Public Health in the Food Arena: FDA’s Agenda” and will cover implementation of the landmark Food Safety Modernization Act, improvements in nutrition labeling, efforts to reduce sodium intakes, and challenges posed by caffeine and other food additives. On Saturday, April 5, 2014, the Graduate Nutrition Student Association will host its annual Iron Chef Competition in the Henderson Building.

Please be sure to keep your contact information updated The NDAS APG’s annual NDAS Brunch was held on with the Penn State Alumni Association at alumni.psu. April 14 at the Nittany Lion Inn. More than 75 alumni, edu/about_us/contact_us/update_info. Connect with the students, and faculty members attended. Gordon JenNDAS APG at, on LinkedIn sen, professor and head of the department, gave a deat “The Pennsylvania State University Nutrition and partment update and Barbara Rolls, Helen A. Guthrie NUTRITION AND Alumni DIETETICS Dietetics Society”, and on Facebook at “Penn Chair in Nutrition and Professor of Nutrition, gave a SOCIETY State Nutritional Sciences Alumni”. To learn more about presentation titled “Feeling Full on FewerALUMNI Calories.” A PENN STATEtheAFFILIATE GROUP NDAS APG,PROGRAM contact the president, Jennifer LynnPullman ’98 at



Older adults learn to Skype with help from Penn State students The moment she laid eyes on her beautiful great-granddaughter Sallee Wilkins knew she was in love…with Skype. “My great-granddaughter lives in Italy, and I only get to see her maybe once a year,” said Wilkins, “but with Skype I can watch her grow up.” Wilkins is one of 26 residents of The Village at Penn State, a State College retirement community, to receive a Skype lesson from volunteers Amanda Gresh, undergraduate student in health policy and administration, and Courtney Polenick, graduate student in human development and family studies, since January 2013. The student volunteers decided to teach older adults at The

24 | Health and Human Development

Village to use Skype after learning of their interest in such help from Amy Lorek, research and outreach associate with the Center for Healthy Aging. The center conducts and supports research, outreach, and educational activities focused on promoting health and well-being from early adulthood into later-life. “It’s important to stay connected, whether it is with family or by participating in the community,” said Lorek. “Students and older adults have much to teach each other. Student volunteer opportunities help facilitate conversations between generations and strengthen our connection and sense of community. We can be a happier, healthier community with that exchange. This project helps to connect students to community members while also connecting community members with their families.”

< Penn State students Amanda Gresh (left) and Courtney Polenick (right) help Annetta Pierce (middle), a resident at The Village at Penn State, learn to Skype. Lorek introduced Gresh and Polenick to Kellie Vogt, a resident of The Village and self-described “techy,” who helped the students to train other interested residents. “I’ve always had a knack for solving tech-related problems,” said Vogt. “When dining with fellow residents, I often hear comments like, ‘I can’t get my email,’ or ‘My daughter replaced my old printer with a new one, but I don’t know how it works.’ I leave the meal thinking, ‘I could fix that.’” Vogt’s own children and grandchildren live out of state, so she has experienced firsthand the joy of visiting with them via Skype. “Since my oldest son, his wife, and his three children moved to Wyoming last year, I’ve toured their new home and visited with them on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and birthdays, all via Skype,” she said. “The face-to-face conversation that Skype enables  is superior to a phone call, text message, or email.”

Nancy Gamble, a resident at The Village at Penn State, talks about how her lessons in Skype enabled her to talk with family members while they were on vacation in Mexico.

Room Service Since January, the team has been meeting with residents of The Village in their homes to give them one-on-one tutorials in Skype. In March, Gresh and Polenick met with Annetta Pierce and Mary Gundel ’46 PH ED, ’53 M.Ed., the twenty-fifth and twenty-sixth residents to receive the training. The students were greeted at the door of the apartment by the women’s toy poodle and were quickly welcomed inside. Pierce, a former Harrisburg School District guidance counselor, was particularly interested in using Skype to talk with her nephew and his family in Camden, Maine. “We visit him in Maine from time to time, but it would be so nice to see him more frequently,” she said. The Penn State students quickly got to work showing Pierce how to operate Skype. They then helped her practice dialing out and receiving calls. When they were finished with the lesson, they left the women with a handout containing step-by-step instructions and an invitation to contact them if they had questions.

and we couldn’t go, so we Skyped with them. They could pick up their laptops and show us around the apartment where they were staying and around the pool and beach. One daughter I talk to almost every week by Skype.” “I thought I couldn’t learn how to do it,” said Wilkins, “but slowly I am learning, and if I can learn anybody can.” But of all those involved, the students have, perhaps, benefitted the most. “Skype opens up the opportunity for people to have more face-to-face communication with their families,” said Polenick, who is studying adult development and aging with a focus on family relationships. “By participating in this volunteer work I hope to understand the potential for Skype to assist in maintaining and enhancing family relationships.” Gresh, too, is interested in working with older adults in her future career. Her goal is to become a nursing home administrator. “I’ve always felt at home working with older adults,” she said. “I really appreciate the wisdom they have to share.”

The residents who have participated with Gresh, Polenick, and Vogt in the Skype program each have their own story to tell about how they have benefitted.

Both students, as well as Vogt, plan to continue to help other residents of The Village learn to use Skype.

“I have used it to reconnect with a couple of my high school friends,” said Nancy Gamble ’52 H EC, ’55g CD FR. “Also, at Christmas time, our kids were going to Mexico

“The program is such a wonderful way for older adults to stay connected with their families,” said Gresh. “It feels really good to be able to help them do this.” n

Winter 2013-14 | 25

Biobehavioral Health Building Dedication Food, music, and cheerful chatter filled the halls and meeting spaces of the Biobehavioral Health Building on September 12, when faculty and staff members, alumni, and friends gathered to dedicate the new building. The event began with remarks from Ann C. Crouter, Raymond E. and Erin Stuart Schultz Dean of the College of Health and Human Development; Rodney A. Erickson, president; and Paul H. Silvis â&#x20AC;&#x2122;06g BUS, vice chair of the Board of Trustees. Following the presentations, guests were given a chance to tour the building, peruse posters describing faculty and student research, and listen to live music by the band Pure Cane Sugar. Photos taken by Paul Hazi Photography

Edna Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center Dedication Philanthropist Edna Bennett Pierce ’53 H EC has supported prevention research at Penn State for nearly two decades. The college recently honored her transformational support by naming the Prevention Research Center in her honor. A dinner was held on September 13, 2013, to commemorate the dedication of the Edna Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center. Bennett Pierce’s longstanding support of the center began in 1994 when she and her late husband, C. Eugene Bennett ’52 SCI, endowed the Edna Peterson Bennett Faculty Chair in Prevention Research, held by Mark T. Greenberg, founding director of the center. Edna continued her support by establishing the Bennett Endowment for Children and Adolescents and the C. Eugene Bennett Chair in Prevention Research. The Edna Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center serves as a catalyst for the development and implementation of collaborative projects among Penn State faculty and Pennsylvania community members. The Prevention Research Center’s purpose is to promote healthy social and emotional development and to prevent problems Ann C. Crouter, dean, Ednafailure Bennett and Mark Greenberg, founding of social and academic in Pierce, children and youth.

director of the Prevention Research Center.

A. Duer “Bud” Pierce and Edna Bennett Pierce

Celebration of Scholarship Recipients On September 15, the College of Health and Human Development celebrated its student scholarship recipients and the generous donors who are responsible for making these scholarships available. Around 125 students participated in the event, which included a breakfast and a presentation by Suzanne Martin ’74 CRS. “My mom struggled financially to enable me to finish school,” said Martin, who created the Joanne Durrwachter Finke Memorial Trustee Scholarship. “When I graduated, I promised myself I would pay her back. I never got the chance because soon after I graduated, she died of a rare auto-immune disease. Shortly after her death, I started giving to Penn State as a way to honor her memory.” Students at the celebration had the opportunity to talk with donors and share their gratitude for the financial assistance that has made it possible for them to pursue their dreams. “Meeting Ricardo Ortiz, who is a current recipient of my scholarship, was exciting,” said Martin. “With his Penn State education, Ricardo will be wellequipped to make a difference in the lives of others.”

SHM students, donors, and faculty members

Adam Fenton, Janet Atwood, and Mary Grace Hill

Dean Crouter addresses the group

Suzanne Martin

Development Council Update

Mary E. Good (left) and Elizabeth J. Susman (right)

Scholarship recipient Jasmyn Franklin

Dear Friends, The people supporting For the Future: The Campaign for Penn State Students are inspired to give for a variety of reasons—a professor whose mentoring steered them toward a successful career; the financial aid that enabled them to receive a Penn State education; the opportunity to help the college attract the best and brightest junior faculty; or the chance to support research to improve the lives of children, youth, and families. While individual motivation for giving may vary, the overarching reason our alumni and friends support this campaign is simple—they believe in Penn State.

Stan Mayers talks with scholarship recipient Nicholas Santone

The top priority of the campaign has been to increase scholarship support, making a Penn State education a possibility for all students, regardless of economic background. As the campaign comes to a close this spring, we hope that if you have not had the opportunity to participate, you will join us. A commitment to the For the Future campaign is a commitment to ensuring generations to come will have the opportunity to experience the Penn State we all know and love. For the Glory, Mary E. Good ’85 I F S Elizabeth J. Susman ’71 I F S, ’73g, ’76g HD FS Campaign Committee Co-Chairs

For more information on how you can lend your support to the campaign, contact Kathleen Rider at or 814-865-1064.

Christina Ellis, Alyssa Hischak, Nicole Phillips, and Valerie Katulka Photos taken by Jennifer N. Sloss, Blink of an Eye Photography

Health and Human Development New Faculty Sy-Miin Chow

Carter Hunt

Associate Professor of Human Development and Family Studies

Assistant Professor of Recreation, Park, and Tourism Management

Sy-Miin Chow’s research focuses on study methodology, with particular emphasis on investigating the development and adaptation of modeling and analysis tools that are suited to evaluating linear and nonlinear dynamical systems models, including longitudinal structural equation models and state-space modeling techniques. Prior to joining the faculty at Penn State, she was an assistant professor of psychology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill from 2007 to 2012. She earned a Ph.D. degree in quantitative psychology at the University of Virginia.

In his research, Carter Hunt investigates tourism-supported biodiversity conservation, sustainable community development, impacts of tourism on both destination communities and on travelers, and environmental anthropology. He earned a bachelor’s degree at the University of Kentucky and master’s and Ph.D. degrees at Texas A&M University. He conducted postdoctoral research at Stanford University.

Christopher Engeland Assistant Professor of Biobehavioral Health

Christopher Engeland’s research focuses on how factors such as stress, age, gender, and hormones affect immunity, inflammation, and health. He also examines the feasibility of biomarkers for predicting health outcomes. Prior to joining the faculty at Penn State, Engeland was an assistant professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago since 2008. He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Carleton University in Ontario and a Ph.D. degree at the University of Western Ontario.

Naleef Fareed Assistant Professor of Health Policy and Administration

Naleef Fareed’s research focuses on health care topics related to organizational theory, information technology, and patient safety. He earned a bachelor’s degree in management at Hartwick College, a master of business administration degree in health care management at Union Graduate College, and a Ph.D. degree in health services organization and research at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Helen Kamens Assistant Professor of Biobehavioral Health

In her research, Helen Kamens seeks to identify genetic mechanisms that contribute to complex behaviors with a special emphasis on alcohol and tobacco use. She was an assistant research professor at the University of Colorado from 2012 to 2013. She earned a bachelor’s degree in biobehavioral health at Penn State and a Ph.D. degree in behavioral neuroscience at Oregon Health & Science University.

Ji Min Lee Assistant Professor of Communication Sciences and Disorders

Ji Min Lee’s research goal is to examine and expand the foundational research on speech production and clinical application of that research to speakers with speech disorders. In particular, she examines the relationship between articulatory acoustics and kinematics, the development of various speech subsystems and their control in children with and without motor speech disorders, and identification of comprehensive production variables that predict speech intelligibility in young children with speech disorders. She received a Ph.D. degree at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2010.

Alison Gernand

Seoki Lee

Assistant Professor of Nutritional Sciences

Associate Professor of Hospitality Management

Alison Gernand’s research focuses on micronutrient deficiencies, pregnancy, fetal and placental growth, and child growth. She received a master of public health degree at the University of Texas at Houston’s School of Public Health in 2003 and a Ph.D. degree at the John’s Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health in 2011.

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Seoki Lee’s research focuses on corporate social responsibility, internationalization, and financial distress and equity valuation. Before coming to Penn State, he served on the faculty at Temple University. He earned bachelor’s and master’s degree at Michigan State University, and a Ph.D. degree at Penn State.

Larry Martinez

Gregory Shearer

Assistant Professor of Hospitality Management

Associate Professor of Nutritional Sciences

Larry Martinez’s research examines employee diversity and employee retention and turnover. Specifically, he investigates stigmatization, prejudice, and discrimination across the spectrum of employment experiences, particularly from the target’s perspective. He also researches the role of non-stigmatized allies in reducing discrimination. He earned bachelor’s, master’s, and Ph.D. degrees at Rice University.

Kristina Neely

In his research, Gregory Shearer seeks to understand disease-related functional changes in lipid mediators—bioactive metabolites of dietary fatty acids that act on tissues to alter many disease-related functions, including the stiffness of blood vessels and the body’s response to stress. He uses lipid mediators to identify markers of disease and better ways to prevent or manage disease. He earned a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry at the University of California, Riverside, and master’s and Ph.D. degrees in human physiology and nephrology, respectively, at the University of California, Davis.

Assistant Professor of Kinesiology

Kristina Neely’s research focuses on understanding how the central nervous system organizes the preparation, execution, and inhibition of skilled, purposeful actions. She is especially interested in how the brain mediates precision grasping by the hand. Neely earned a bachelor’s degree at the University of Minnesota, a master’s degree at Indiana University, and a Ph.D. degree at the University of Western Ontario. She conducted postdoctoral research at the University of Florida.

Peter Newman Professor and Head of Recreation, Park, and Tourism Management

Peter Newman’s research focuses on the human dimensions of natural resource management and social carrying capacity decision making in the context of protected areas management. In particular, he studies visitor management in protected areas, soundscape/acoustic management in parks, transportation management and planning, and efficacy and communication of “leave no trace” principles. He earned a bachelor’s degree in political science at the University of Rochester, a master’s degree in forest resource management at the State University of New York, and a Ph.D. degree in natural resources at the University of Vermont.

Jennie Noll Professor of Human Development and Family Studies

Jennie Noll’s research examines the bio-psychosocial consequences of childhood sexual abuse, pathways to teen pregnancy and high-risk sexual behaviors for abused and neglected youth, the long-term adverse health outcomes for victims of sexual abuse, and the propensity for abused and neglected teens to engage in high-risk internet and social media behaviors. She received a Ph.D. degree in developmental psychology and statistical methodology from the University of Southern California. She then spent eight years at the National Institutes of Health in Washington, D.C., before going to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, where she spent ten years as a professor of pediatrics.

Chad Shenk Assistant Professor of Human Development and Family Studies

Chad Shenk focuses on longitudinal pathways from child maltreatment to the onset of psychological disorders in childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood. He also conducts experimental and observational research to identify the mechanisms of various psychological disorders in the child maltreatment population across multiple levels of analysis. From 2010 to 2013, Shenk was an assistant professor of pediatrics at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. He earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology at Penn State and a Ph.D. degree in clinical psychology at the University of Nevada, Reno.

Matam Vijay-Kumar Assistant Professor of Nutritional Sciences

In his research, Matam Vijay-Kumar examines host metabolic adaptations to inflammation, innate immunity-gut microbiotal interactions in metabolic diseases, and iron homeostasis in inflammation. Before joining the faculty at Penn State, he was an assistant professor of biology at Georgia State University. He earned a Ph.D. degree in biochemistry at the Central Food Technological Research Institute in Mysore, India, in 2002. 

Photos by Paul Hazi (12) and Chuck Fong, Studio2 Photography (2)

Winter 2013-14 | 31

Benedick Brothers Pay it Forward

Jeff (left) and Jim (right) Benedick created the Benedick Family Scholarship in the College of Health and Human Development and the College of Engineering with the goal of helping students to realize their academic dreams, just as others helped them. The Benedick Family Scholarship in the College of Health and Human Development and the Benedick Family Scholarship in the College of Engineering will provide recognition and financial assistance to outstanding undergraduate students in those colleges. “I wanted to give other young people an opportunity to move forward with their lives,” said Jeff ’72 CRS. “But I also wanted to honor my family and everyone who raised me and gave me the encouragement and guidance to move on with my life and have it be wonderful.” Jeff credits his education at Penn State with preparing him to establish a successful and rewarding career in interior design. For 25 years, he ran Saddleback Homes, an interior design company specializing in model homes for builders. Today, he enjoys creating interior designs for high-end private residences internationally. “Being from York, Pa., back in the late 1960s, I thought that was all there was,” said Jeff. “I was somewhat isolated. At Penn State, being exposed on the university campus to different cultures and different ways of living was eye opening for me. Now I’ve been all over the world, which is way beyond what I ever expected in my life and career.” “My brother and I did not come from an affluent family, but we managed a most important achievement:

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to get a degree from Penn State,” added Jim ’66 ENG. “I have been very fortunate in my education, career, and life, and now it is our desire to assist others to achieve their aspirations and dreams.” Jim, the chief operating officer for ProFun Management Group—which specializes in the management and operation of theme parks, entertainment centers, visitor centers, World Expos, and other leisure-time projects—added, “The opportunity to attend Penn State exposed me to individuals and cultures that empowered me to think way beyond my presumed limits. During my time there I grew tremendously and my excellent education helped propel me into a world that I had never imagined.” Jim’s first job out of college was with the Apollo Moon Program. “I like to say ‘I helped to put a man on the moon!’” he said. His second job was as an industrial engineer at Disneyland. “Since those wonderful experiences, I have had the opportunity to travel the world, consulting with and operating numerous entertainment facilities. I could never have done all of these things without my first major step—getting a great education from Penn State.” Learn more about planned gifts and other ways to support Penn State at do?orgId=5701.

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