Four HHD graduate students honored by the Graduate School

Four graduate students in the College of Health and Human Development were among the recipients of awards presented by the Graduate School at Penn State. Lacy Holowatz and Larissa Duncan received Penn State Alumni Association Dissertation Awards, and Kelly Davis and Molly Countermine received Outstanding Teaching Awards.

The dissertation awards were given to just thirteen students University-wide in recognition of outstanding achievement in scholarship and professional accomplishments. These awards, considered to be among the most prestigious available to Penn State graduate students, provide funding to full-time doctoral students who have passed their comprehensive exams and have received approval of their dissertation topics, or to M.F.A. students in their final year. Each student received a $5,000 award and was recognized at the Graduate School Alumni Society's Spring Social and Recognition Program held on March 24. 

Holowatz, a Ph.D. candidate in Kinesiology who is advised by Dr. W. Larry Kenney, is writing a dissertation entitled, "Cutaneous Vasodilation: Influence of Healthy Aging and Vascular Pathology." Her thesis work examines age-related changes in cardiovascular function in human essential hypertension, a prominent disease states that affect blood vessels. Her research will focus on blood flow to the skin as a model to study the mechanisms through which each of these insipid diseases alter blood flow. Lacy has authored or co-authored articles in over a dozen peer reviewed publications, and has presented or co-presented at scientific meetings and lectures. She has received a number of grants and awards, most recently, the Caroline Tum Suden Award from the American Physiological Society in 2006 and 2007.

Duncan, a Ph.D. candidate in Human Development and Family Studies who is advised by Drs. Mark T. Greenberg and J. Douglas Coatsworth, is writing a dissertation entitled, "Mindfulness in Parenting: Measurement and Relation to Adolescent Adaptive Functioning and Problem Behavior." Her thesis introduces an innovative parenting construct, "mindful parenting," which is intended to represent the cognitive-affective interface for parents during interactions with young teens. Larissa has presented her research at numerous professional conferences and is co-author on five peer-reviewed publications. She is the first author of multiple journal manuscripts to be submitted in the next several months, including an invited conceptual paper based upon her research. The recipient of several honors, awards and fellowships, she most recently earned the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) Pre-doctoral Training Fellowships from the Prevention Center and Methodology Center at Penn State from 2005 to 2007.

Kelly Davis, and Molly Countermine, both Ph.D. candidates in Human Development and Family Studies, were two of just ten students University-wide to receive the Outstanding Teaching Award, which is presented in recognition of outstanding teaching performance. To be eligible for nomination for an award, a graduate student must have served as a graduate teaching assistant for at least two semesters within the last two years. Davis has taught HDFS 239, Adolescent Development, on two occasions. She is interested in the links between work conditions and family relationships and well-being across the life span. Countermine has served as an instructor for six different 200- and 400-level courses and serves as a teaching assistant for an additional three. She also conducts research for the Study of Infant’s Emerging Sleep Trajectories (Project SIESTA).

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