News and Events in College of Health and Human Development

Probing Question: Is outsourcing of health care services bad?
Healthcare worker holding up X-ray
In recent years, call centers staffed by non-native English speakers have been the butt of jokes about outsourcing. But do these jibes reflect a real problem, especially when it comes to health care services? According to Jonathan Clark, assistant professor of health policy and administration at Penn State, it depends. Clark notes that outsourcing in the health care industry is becoming increasingly common. "If you've had an X-ray taken at a hospital in the past decade, the chance that it was read by a radiologist elsewhere in the world is pretty high," he says. "That's because around 90 percent of hospitals in the United States now outsource some portion of their radiology services."
Nancy Gonzales to present 2013 Bennett Lecture in Prevention Science
Nancy Gonzales
Nancy Gonzales, Arizona State University Foundation Professor and director of the Prevention Research Center at Arizona State University, will give the 2013 Bennett Lecture in Prevention Science. The lecture, titled "The Role of Culture in Prevention Science: Past Progress and Future Challenges," will be held from 4 to 5 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 12, in the Bennett Pierce Living Center, 110 Henderson Building. The lecture is sponsored by the Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center for the Promotion of Human Development, through the Bennett Endowment to the center.
Fun at work promotes employee retention but may hurt productivity
smiling chef holding whole tomatoes in front of his eyes
Within the hospitality industry, manager support for fun is instrumental in reducing employee turnover, particularly for younger employees, according to a team of researchers. However, manager support for fun also reduces employee productivity, which can negatively impact sales performance. "In the hospitality industry, employee turnover is notoriously high because restaurant jobs are highly substitutable -- if you don't like your job at Chili's you can go to TGI Friday's down the street," said Michael J. Tews, assistant professor of hospitality management, Penn State. "High employee turnover is consistently quoted as being one of the problems that keeps managers up at night because if you're involved with recruiting and training constantly, then you can't focus on effectively managing your existing staff and providing a high-quality service experience."
MHA program earns seven-year accreditation
The Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education (CAHME) announced on Nov. 12 the seven-year accreditation of the Penn State Master of Health Administration program in the Department of Health Policy and Administration. CAHME reviewers performed their site visit of the program during the past spring semester. MHA Executive Director Jonathan Clark explains that the successes of the program and its graduates are possible because of a strong foundation on which the program has grown. “This accreditation is a great achievement for our program. Under Karen Volmar's leadership, and Michael Meacham's before that, the program has flourished and gained national prominence, and this recognition only serves to underscore that,” Clark says, adding that the CAHME decision to accredit the program for a full seven years is another testament to the program’s success.
Patricia Greene to give talk on what it means to be entrepreneurial
Patricia Greene
Penn State alumna Patricia Greene, Paul T. Babson Chair in Entrepreneurship at Babson College, will present a lecture, titled "What do you do with entrepreneurship? Everything," at 4 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 20, in the Ruth Pike Auditorium (22 Biobehavioral Health Building) on the Penn State University Park campus. The talk, which is co-sponsored by the College of Health and Human Development and the Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center for the Promotion of Human Development, is part of the Schreyer Honors College's "Shaping the Future Summit” and Global Entrepreneurship Week. According to Greene, entrepreneurship is increasingly recognized as the necessary approach for identifying and solving economic and social problems around the world. "This approach only works if entrepreneurship is taught, learned and practiced as a mindset and specific skill set," she said. "In this talk, I will use the framework of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Initiative in the United States and United Kingdom and the 10,000 Women Program, which has reached women in 42 developing countries, to talk about what it means to be entrepreneurial and how entrepreneurial behaviors reach from the development of individual businesses to addressing health and prevention challenges, and even changing economic and social structures."
Carter Hunt gives talks at Zhejiang University in China
Carter Hunt
Carter Hunt, assistant professor of recreation, park and tourism management (RPTM), gave two guest lectures in October at the Asia Pacific Center for the Study of Leisure (APCL) at Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, China. The lectures focused on Hunt's field-based research in Latin America and his work on word cloud analysis of tourism journal article titles and keywords. "I had lively discussions after both presentations with the APCL graduate students," said Hunt. "It was a rewarding experience for me." According to Hunt, Zhejiang University is a member of the World University Network, which also includes Penn State. In addition, emeritus professor of recreation, park and tourism management at Penn State Geoffrey Godbey is working there temporarily as a scholar-in-residence.
Huddle with the Faculty: “Travel Becomes You” | Nov. 23, 2013
Deb Kerstetter
Consider the travel experiences that have made you feel good, brought you closer to friends and family, or given meaning to your life. Did you try a new activity? Were you bowled over by a beautiful scene? Did you develop new friendships with other travelers? Kerstetter will discuss the benefits individuals have accrued through their involvement in leisure activities, including travel. She’ll share the results of projects she has conducted in the U.S. and Europe. Deb Kerstetter teaches about and conducts research related to the underlying factors affecting individuals’ travel decisions. She also studies the cultural and social impacts of travel on individuals and communities. Her nearly 100 manuscripts have been published in highly respected journals such as the Annals of Tourism Research, the Journal of Travel Research and the Journal of Sustainable Tourism. She also has written multiple chapters for books devoted to the study of tourism and has been invited to present the results of her research at conferences around the world.
Professor Molenaar receives Sells Award for Distinguished Mulitvariate Research
Peter Molenaar
Peter C.M. Molenaar, distinguished professor of human development in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies, has received the 2013 Sells Award for Distinguished Mulitvariate Research from the Society of Multivariate Experimental Psychology (SMEP). The Sells Award is given annually to recognize an individual who has made distinguished lifetime achievements in multivariate experimental psychology. The award represents the highest honor bestowed by the society in recognition of contributions to the field. Molenaar's research focuses on the application of mathematical theories to solve substantive psychological issues. An important aim of psychology is to describe, explain and guide processes occurring at the level of individual subjects. Molenaar's research has shown that the appropriate methodology required for realizing this aim has to be based on person-specific analyses of intra-individual variation, such as time-series analysis. His new person-specific methodology is being applied to a variety of psychological processes, including mother-child interactions, personality development, cognitive aging and brain imaging.
U.S. citizenship increases women's odds of receiving mammograms, cancer tests
Citizenship, particularly for non-U.S. natives, largely determines a woman's odds of having a mammogram and being screened for cervical and colorectal cancer, according to researchers at Penn State. The research which was released today at the American Public Health Association's 141st annual meeting in Boston found that foreign-born female non-citizens living in the United States for less than five years have 69 percent lower odds of being screened for colorectal cancer within the previous five years, and foreign-born non-citizens who have lived in the United States for at least five years have 24 percent lower odds, compared to U.S-born citizens. Additionally, foreign-born non-citizens have significantly lower odds of receiving breast and cervical cancer screening.
Public health anthropologist uses ethnography to improve farmworker safety
Amy Snipes
We rely on them for virtually all of the fruits and vegetables that grace our tables. Yet our country's farmworkers are among the poorest of the working poor. Often living in sub-standard conditions and with little access to healthcare, many travel from job to job, chasing the harvest across America's heartland. Working long hours in the fields, they are constantly exposed, not just to hardship and severe weather but to dangerous pesticides. As Amy Snipes puts it, "Farmwork is more than an occupation. It is a condition of risk." Snipes should know. An assistant professor of biobehavioral health at Penn State, she spends months at a time with farmworker families, observing and recording their lives and concerns as she works alongside them in the field. Trained as an anthropologist, Snipes has built her career on the use of ethnography as a means for improving farmworker health.
Professor receives grants to examine children's temperament
Cynthia Stifter, professor of human development and family studies in the College of Health and Human Development at Penn State, has received two grants, totaling nearly $2 million to investigate the relationship between children's temperament and their risk of becoming obese as well as the relationship between children's temperament and their abilities to experience joy. In the first grant, Stifter received $1.5 million from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. The grant will enable her to examine the relationships between preschool children's temperament, their reactions to parents use of food to control or reward behavior and children’s weight outcomes.
Former nutrition professor uses soybeans to expand traditional Ugandan cuisine
Ugandan soybean workshop
In June, Dorothy Blair, a retired assistant professor of nutrition at Penn State, spent a month in Masindi, Uganda, as a nutritionist, helping soy farmers and farm educators realize the cooking possibilities for soybeans. Blair went at the request of the Masindi Seed and Grain Growers Ltd., a friendly, small-scale cooperative that stores and grinds the region’s major crop — maize — mostly for the U.N. Food Program. Blair’s work with them was supported by the U.S. Agency for International Development-funded Farmer-to-Farmer program of CNFA, an international development agency based in Washington, D.C. Soybeans had been introduced to the Masindi area just two years earlier as an oil seed and as a rotational crop for maize to help maintain soil fertility. The beans grew well, but came without cooking instructions. Upon arrival, Blair learned from Solomon Kahuma, the marketing manager at the co-op, that two, four-day cooking workshops had already been scheduled, each with 20 women farmers and farming educators.
Participation in mindfulness-based program improves teacher well-being
Teacher well-being, efficacy, burnout-related stress, time-related stress and mindfulness significantly improve when teachers participate in the CARE (Cultivating Awareness and Resilience in Education) for Teachers program, according to Penn State researchers. CARE is a mindfulness-based professional development program designed to reduce stress and improve teachers' performance and classroom learning environments, developed by the Garrison Institute, a New York-based non-profit organization that applies the transformative power of contemplation to today's social and environmental concerns. CARE combines emotion skills instruction, mindful awareness practices and compassion-building activities to provide teachers with skills to reduce their emotional stress and improve the social and emotional skills required to build supportive relationships with their students, manage challenging student behaviors, and provide modeling and direct instruction for effective social and emotional learning. The intensive 30-hour program is presented in four day-long sessions over four to six weeks, with intersession phone coaching and a booster session held approximately two months later.
Penn State child care center awarded LEED Platinum certification
Child Care Center at Hort Woods
“The trees behind the Child Care Center at Hort Woods are naturally 10 degrees cooler. A little weather station in the woods tracks the temperature and sends the director an email suggesting that now would be a good time to cool the building. Green lights in the classrooms alert the kids to open their little sliding doors. Their doors are located at the perfect height for the tykes to take control of their own ventilation. Their actions activate the automatic opening of upper windows and turn on the overhead fans. The children just love knowing that they can participate in running the building.” Katie Rountree, the OPP construction service representative for Hort Woods loves explaining how the ventilation system works.
Distinguished speaker to discuss journey helping HIV/AIDS-impacted youth
Catching a Dream: My Journey Helping HIV/AIDS-Impacted Youth poster
Patricia Hillkirk, a 1982 graduate in health and human development and founder/director of Camp Dreamcatcher, will give a presentation, titled "Catching a Dream: My Journey Helping HIV/AIDS-Impacted Youth," at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 24, as part of the College of Health and Human Development Distinguished Alumni Speaker Series. The talk, which is sponsored by the College of Health and Human Development Alumni Society, will be held in the Bennett Pierce Living Center, 110 Henderson Building on the University Park campus. It is free and open to the public.
Hillkirk has worked with at-risk youth for more than 30 years. She spent many years working with teenagers in residential treatment centers and then as a counselor with survivors of trauma. She established a private psychotherapy practice in 1990, specializing in work with trauma survivors and people with special needs.
Jim Abrahamson named 2013 Hospitality Executive of the Year
Jim Abrahamson
Jim Abrahamson, chief executive officer for Interstate Hotels & Resorts, has been named the 2013 Hospitality Executive of the Year by the Penn State Hotel & Restaurant Society (PSHRS). Abrahamson will receive the award during the 52nd Hospitality Executive of the Year Award reception, which will take place Nov. 10, in conjunction with the annual International Hotel, Motel and Restaurant Show in New York. As part of the honor, Abrahamson also will be inducted into the Penn State Hospitality Hall of Fame, located at The Nittany Lion Inn on Penn State’s University Park campus. Abrahamson joined Interstate Hotels & Resorts from InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), where he was president of the Americas region, that company's largest operating unit, and also was an executive director of IHG's board of directors. Previously, he held key leadership positions in the areas of operations, development, and franchising with Hyatt Corporation, Marcus Corporation, and Hilton Worldwide.
Penn State forms task force on child care to look University-wide at operations
A task force to examine the operations of all University-affiliated child care centers across Penn State has been formed and will begin its work with a goal of making recommendations on operations, policies, quality and affordability to President Rodney Erickson by the end of December. Jacqueline Edmondson, associate vice president and associate dean of Undergraduate Education, has been named to chair the 14-member Presidential Task Force on Child Care comprised of a broad cross-section of parents, faculty, staff and administrators from across Penn State. Edmondson, who before her University career was a child care teacher and administrator, also previously served as associate dean in the College of Education, most recently as the associate dean for undergraduate and graduate studies.
Undergraduate Ryan Cusack receives USA Today Student Leadership Award
Ryan Cusack with breakdancing group Ill-Abilities
James Jay Edward Thomas Jr. never let his disability hold him back from his love of sports. The former member of Penn State's Ability Athletics wheelchair basketball team passed away in September 2012, just shy of his 40th birthday. To honor Thomas's life, Ryan Cusack, a kinesiology major and president of the Penn State Adaptive Outreach Club, organized the first annual Jay Thomas Memorial Wheelchair Basketball Tournament, which was held in December 2012. For his effort with the tournament as well as his other work helping people with disabilities, Cusack received the 2012-13 USA Today Student Leadership Award.
Kinesiology Club to promote active living during Exercise is Medicine Week
participants on exercise bikes
The Penn State Kinesiology Club, with the support of faculty members in the Department of Kinesiology, will hold its second annual Exercise is Medicine event during the week of Oct. 14 to 17. The event will consist of campus-wide activities that will encourage Penn State students, and the entire campus community, to "get moving" so they can enjoy a healthier, more physically active lifestyle. “Not getting enough daily physical activity as a result of insufficient exercise and prolonged periods of sitting is the fastest growing public health problem in the United States, and is widely prevalent even among college-age individuals," said David Proctor, professor of kinesiology and physiology and one of the faculty organizers for the annual event.
Professor Graefe receives national park and recreation award
Alan Graefe
Alan Graefe, professor of recreation, park and tourism management at Penn State, has been selected by the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) to receive the 2013 Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt Award for Excellence in Recreation and Park Research. NRPA will present the award to Graefe at a special reception at the association’s 2013 Congress & Exposition in Houston on Wednesday, Oct. 9. "It's wonderful to see Alan Graefe receiving such a prestigious, national award," said Ann C. Crouter, the Raymond E. and Erin Stuart Schultz Dean of the College of Health and Human Development. "His research tackles important issues at the intersection of human activity and the natural environment -- a key issue for the nation's parks, forests and other public lands. Alan has also been very committed to training the next generation of park and recreation scholars, ensuring that his ideas will have ripple effects for years to come."
Downs receives $1.8M to prevent weight gain among overweight pregnant women
Danielle Symons Downs
Danielle Symons Downs, associate professor of kinesiology and obstetrics and gynecology, has received a five-year, $1.8-million grant from the National Institutes of Health Heart, Lung and Blood Institute to develop an intervention to reduce gestational weight gain among overweight and obese pregnant women. "Managing gestational weight gain offers lifelong health benefits to both mothers and their offspring," said Downs. "Because overweight and obese pregnant women often exceed gestational weight gain guidelines and have difficulty with managing weight, there is a critical need to identify effective weight management interventions for this population. An individually tailored intervention that provides support for managing weight gain on a weekly basis and adapts to the unique needs of overweight and obese pregnant women may be a highly promising way to prevent high gestational weight gain." Downs has integrated methods from the behavioral sciences and control systems engineering to develop an individually tailored behavioral intervention to manage gestational weight gain in overweight and obese pregnant women.
Older adults learn to Skype with help from Penn State students
Students help resident learn to Skype
More than two dozen residents of The Village at Penn State, a State College retirement community, have received a Skype lesson from two student volunteers from the College of Health and Human Development. 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.
Kris-Etherton to join President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition
Penny Kris-Etherton
Penny Kris-Etherton, distinguished professor of nutrition at Penn State, has accepted an invitation to join the Science Board of the President's Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition. Her three-year term on the Science Board will begin on Jan. 1, 2014. The President’s Council, which was established through an executive order by the president of the United States, engages, educates and empowers all Americans to adopt a healthy lifestyle that includes regular physical activity and good nutrition. The council is made up of athletes, chefs, physicians, fitness professionals, and educators who are appointed by the president and serve in an advisory capacity through the secretary of health and human services.
Peter Newman named head of Recreation, Park, and Tourism Management
Peter Newman
Peter Newman, the former associate dean of academic affairs in the Warner College of Natural Resources at Colorado State University, has assumed the role of head of the Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Management at Penn State. He is replacing Garry Chick, who served as head of the department for four years. "This department has a rich legacy of graduate and undergraduate alumni who have become faculty in park and tourism programs and practitioners across the globe," said Newman. "Today, I believe, we have a lot to contribute on issues in the nexus of protected area management, tourism, human health and environmental sustainability.”
Deirdre McCaughey publishes book chapter, gives keynote address
Deirdre McCaughey
Deirdre McCaughey, assistant professor of health policy and administration at Penn State, has co-authored a chapter in the book "Advances in Health Care Management," published by Emerald Group Publishing Limited in August. The chapter, titled "Safety Leadership: Extending Workplace Safety Climate Best Practices Across Health Care Workforces," examines the relationship between safety leadership and hospital injury rates. "Hospitals within the United States consistently have injury rates that are over twice the national employee injury rate," said McCaughey. "Hospital safety studies typically investigate care providers rather than support-service employees. Compounding the lack of data for this understudied population is the scant evidence that is available to examine the relationship of support-service employees’ perceptions of safety and work-related injuries. To examine this phenomenon, we conducted a study to investigate support-service employees’ perceptions of safety leadership and social support as well as the relationship of safety perception to reported injury rates."
Mark Feinberg to share ideas at Champions of Change event in the White House
Mark Feinberg, research professor in the Prevention Research Center for the Promotion of Human Development at Penn State, has been invited to attend a Champions of Change event at the White House on Sept. 10 to discuss and evaluate the federal government's prevention and public health efforts. The White House holds weekly Champions of Change events in which it invites Americans from across the country who are doing extraordinary things in their communities to share their ideas. On Sept. 10, White House and Department of Health and Human Services officials will participate in a discussion with a group of "champions," including Feinberg, to learn more about how their prevention and public health efforts may have lasting effects on the health of Americans.
Sibling relationships is topic of 2013 Schmitt Russell Research Lecture
Susan McHale, professor of human development and family studies and director of the Social Science Research Institute at Penn State, will present the 2013 Schmitt Russell Research Lecture. Her lecture, “Love, Hate, Tolerate: The Puzzles of Sibling Relationships,” will be given at 4 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 15, in the Bennett Pierce Living Center, 110 Henderson Building. The event, sponsored by the College of Health and Human Development, is free and open to the public. McHale's research focuses on family relationships, particularly sibling relationships. She examines the complexity of family systems by using sophisticated longitudinal and intervention research designs, within-family comparisons and daily data on family life. She is the first researcher to study gender socialization in families using longitudinal data that allow her to compare how brothers versus sisters are treated by their parents and whether and how these processes differ depending on the birth order of the son and daughter. She has found that there is some privilege inherent in being a firstborn son, particularly in families in which parents hold traditional gender attitudes. She also has found that parental differential treatment of siblings occurs more often in families in which parents are less happy in their marriages. Her work has shown that parents' differential treatment of siblings is often linked to negative outcomes such as depression, especially for the less favored child.
Penn State program teaches how to cook like a chef at home
fruit tarts
Have you ever wanted to learn how to cook delicious dishes just like a professional chef? The College of Health and Human Development and the Department of Nutritional Sciences are pleased to offer Home Chef: The Basics with chef Kristi Branstetter. This hands-on program in Room 7 of the Henderson Building will inspire you to cook like a chef at home. Choose between Saturday, Sept. 28, from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. or Friday, Oct. 18, from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Participants will learn the basic techniques of searing, roasting and braising, as well as an introduction to creating their own sauces. “These interactive, hands-on classes are the best way for people to learn professional techniques and what it really means when a recipe says to sauté or braise,” said Branstetter.
De Lissovoy Lecture to focus on work in child welfare
child skipping
John Soubik, Health and Human Development Class of 1985, adjunct instructor at the University of South Dakota and former county child welfare investigator, will present the annual de Lissovoy Lecture at 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 10, in the Bennett Pierce Living Center, 110 Henderson Building, on the Penn State University Park campus. The presentation, which is free and open to the public, is titled "The Seven Cs of Working in Child Protection Services: Reflections of a Child Welfare Investigator." A reception with refreshments will follow the presentation. In his talk, Soubik will explore seven critical skills for working in child welfare. He will discuss how the College of Health and Human Development provided him with the necessary framework for working with those less fortunate and in need, and he will illustrate his points with real-world examples.
Wilkinson named editor of American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology
Krista Wilkinson
Krista Wilkinson, professor of communication sciences and disorders at Penn State, has been named editor of the American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology (AJSLP). The mission of AJSLP, which has been online-only since 2010, is to report peer-reviewed, primary research findings concerning an array of clinically oriented topics transcending all aspects of clinical practice in speech-language pathology. Wilkinson’s research focuses on language development, and augmentative and alternative communication intervention in individuals with severe intellectual/developmental disabilities. In much of her early work, she examined how vocabulary instruction can be improved through an understanding of processes of early word learning in children with and without disabilities.
Spouses lose sleep over partners' chronic pain, study finds
Spouses whose partners suffer from chronic pain may sleep poorly, according to researchers at Penn State, Duke University, the University of Pittsburgh and Kent State University. The researchers also found that the effect of chronic pain on spousal sleep is worse for couples with the closest relationships. "We know that pain affects the spouse's emotional well being, and that over time it takes a toll on the relationship, but until now we did not know the extent to which pain affects spouse sleep," said Lynn Martire, associate professor of human development and family studies, Penn State. "Getting adequate sleep is important for maintaining long-term health."
Savannah Lennertz, Student Marshal for Summer 2013 Commencement
Savannah Lennertz
Savannah Lennertz, daughter of Carl Lennertz and Julie Andrews of New York City, NY, will serve as the student marshal at the August 10, 2013, commencement ceremony for the College of Health and Human Development at Penn State. She is receiving a bachelor's degree in health policy and administration. While at Penn State, Lennertz made the dean's list for eight semesters. For two years, she was the co-president of GlobeMed, an organization that aims to empower students and communities to work together to improve the health of people living in poverty around the world. Through GlobeMed she travelled to Chiapas, Mexico, to work with rural community health workers. Lennertz also studied abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where she studied Argentine history and film and worked with a local non-profit organization to support a maternal health clinic in an urban slum in Buenos Aires. In addition, she participated in the Global Leadership Initiative.
Brothers and sisters learn to build positive relationships in SIBS Program
kids sitting together
Little is known about how sibling relationships impact child and family functioning, but Penn State researchers are beginning to shed light on intervention strategies that can cultivate healthy and supportive sibling relationships. Parents frequently rank their children's sibling rivalry and conflict as the number one problem they face in family life. "In some other cultures, the roles of older and younger, male and female siblings are better defined, and in those more-structured family relationships, there is not much room for bullying and disrespect," said Mark Feinberg, research professor in the Prevention Research Center for the Promotion of Human Development. "In the United States, and Western culture more generally, there are few guidelines for parents about how to reduce sibling conflict and enhance bonding and solidarity among siblings.
Fifteen HHD Student-Athletes Honored as Big Ten Distinguished Scholars
Nittany Lion
Fifteen student-athletes from the College of Health and Human Development are among 68 Penn State student-athletes to have been selected for the Big Ten Distinguished Scholar Award for earing a grade-point average of 3.7 or higher during the 2013-13 academic year. Megan Boyer, a junior majoring in human development and family studies and participating in women's track and field, and Kathleen Rodden, a senior majoring in health and human development and participating in women's cross country/track and field, earned a perfect 4.0 grade-point average during the 2013-13 academic year.
Neil Sharkey named interim vice president for research
Neil Sharkey
Penn State President Rodney Erickson has announced the appointment of Neil Sharkey, associate dean for research and graduate education in the College of Health and Human Development, as interim vice president for research; and Regina Vasilatos-Younken, senior associate dean for the Graduate School, as interim dean for the Graduate School, both effective Aug. 1. “Penn State is fortunate to have strong and experienced leaders in Drs. Sharkey and Vasilatos-Younken to step in and guide the University’s nationally-acclaimed Graduate School and research enterprise during this period of transition,” Erickson said. “Dr. Sharkey, as associate dean for research and graduate education, brings a long track record of success in academic and research leadership to the Office of the Vice President for Research, and Dr. Vasilatos-Younken, as senior associate dean, is the perfect choice to serve as interim leader for the Graduate School, its exemplary faculty and high-quality degree programs.”
Taskforce to study child care issues; temporary hold on Bennett Center changes
Penn State officials have moved back the prospective start date to April 1 for new management to take over one of its University Park child care centers and will create a task force to look at the broader range of child care issues across the University.
Dip, dip, hooray — kids eat more veggies with flavored dips
close of up carrots
Many parents have a difficult time persuading their preschool-aged children to try vegetables, let alone eat them regularly. Food and nutrition researchers have found that by offering a dip flavored with spices, children were more likely to try vegetables — including those they had previously rejected. Read more about how kids eat more veggies with flavored dips. "Less than 10 percent of 4- to 8-year-olds consume the USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture) recommended daily servings of vegetables," said Jennifer S. Savage, associate director of the Center for Childhood Obesity Research at Penn State. "Even more striking is that over one-third of children consume no servings of vegetables on a typical day. We wanted to figure out a way to increase vegetable consumption."
New management firm to oversee University child care centers on campus
Bennett Family Center
A Pennsylvania firm already managing several Penn State child care centers, will take on a second center on the University Park campus through a partnership with the University’s College of Health and Human Development. The college will still retain oversight of both facilities. Hildebrandt Learning Centers, a leading management firm of on-site employer-related child care centers with headquarters in Dallas, Pa., will begin managing the Bennett Family Center on Aug. 19. The two facilities together currently serve nearly 300 children. Hildebrandt is already managing the Child Care Center at Hort Woods on campus through a 2010 arrangement with the College of Health and Human Development. Hildebrandt also operates the child care center at Penn State Harrisburg. “Hildebrandt is a quality provider of early childhood care and education and their work at Hort Woods has been outstanding. Hildebrandt also is widely recognized for its expertise in managing child care centers,” said Ann C. Crouter, dean of Penn State’s College of Health and Human Development. “While the college has done an excellent job of managing operations for our two centers, it makes more sense for the college to focus on our strengths in educational programming, quality of care, research and teaching, and leave the day-to-day management, such as scheduling, payroll and other logistics up to a company that has broad experience in these areas.”
Dennis Shea named associate dean in College of Health and Human Development
 Dennis Shea
Dennis Shea, professor and head of the Department of Health Policy and Administration (HPA), has been named associate dean for undergraduate programs and outreach in the College of Health and Human Development. "Dennis brings considerable administrative experience to his new role," said Ann C. Crouter, Raymond E. and Erin Stuart Schultz Dean of the College of Health and Human Development. "He has not only been an effective academic unit head but has made critical contributions in guiding HPA’s efforts to create and launch the college’s first online degree program." Shea said he is excited about the new position because he believes the next several years will be a fascinating period for the College of Health and Human Development and for undergraduate and outreach education in general.
Whole walnuts and their extracted oil improve cardiovascular disease risk
Consumption of whole walnuts or their extracted oil can reduce cardiovascular risk through a mechanism other than simply lowering cholesterol, according to a team of Penn State, Tufts University and University of Pennsylvania researchers. "We already know that eating walnuts in a heart-healthy diet can lower blood cholesterol levels," said Penny Kris-Etherton, Distinguished Professor of Nutrition, Penn State. "But, until now, we did not know what component of the walnut was providing this benefit. Now we understand additional ways in which whole walnuts and their oil components can improve heart health."
Purdum named recipient of IFMA Silver Plate Award
James Purdum, general manager for Hospitality Services at Penn State, has been named the recipient of the 2013 International Foodservice Manufacturer’s Association (IFMA) Silver Plate Award in Hotels and Lodging. IFMA’s Gold and Silver Plate Awards, the highest possible operator awards in the foodservice industry, acknowledge outstanding operators in the industry each year. Winners are chosen by a rigorous process that includes evaluation by a jury of immediate past winners, chief editors from leading foodservice publications, and industry experts. “The awards allow us to pay tribute to outstanding individuals whose contributions advance their individual segments and the foodservice industry as a whole,” says Larry Oberkfell, president and CEO of IFMA. Purdum, who received a bachelor’s degree in 1977 from Penn State in food services and housing administration, is honored by the award and credits his team of colleagues for their professionalism and commitment. “This award is a tribute to the hard work, dedication, and commitment to excellence by the entire Hospitality Services team,” he says. “It’s also a recognition of the support and commitment our hotels have had from our leadership, our guests, and the many colleagues we are fortunate to work with each day to support the mission of this great University.
Rebecca Miller, College of Health and Human Development Student Marshal for Spring 2013 Commencement
book cover
Rebecca Miller, daughter of Karl and Mary Ann Miller of Hazle Township, Pennsylvania, is receiving a bachelor’s degree in communication sciences and disorders and minors in human development and family studies and in dance. During her undergraduate years at Penn State, she maintained a 4.00 grade-point average. She also received a President’s Freshman Award, a President Spark’s Award, an Evan Pugh Junior Award, and an Evan Pugh Senior Award from Penn State.
Handbook on psychology, sexual orientation wins award
book cover
The "Handbook of Psychology and Sexual Orientation," co-edited by Anthony D'Augelli, associate dean for undergraduate programs and outreach in Penn State's College of Health and Human Development and professor of human development in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies, has received the 2013 Distinguished Book Award from the Society for the Psychological Study of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Issues, a division of the American Psychological Association. The annual award is given to a book that has made a significant contribution to the field of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) psychology.
New model of how brain functions are organized may revolutionize stroke rehab
Overlap images showing locations of lesions
A new model of brain lateralization for movement could dramatically improve the future of rehabilitation for stroke patients, according to Penn State researcher Robert Sainburg, who proposed and confirmed the model through novel virtual reality and brain lesion experiments. Since the 1860s, neuroscientists have known that the human brain is organized into two hemispheres, each of which is responsible for different functions. Known as neural lateralization, this functional division has significant implications for the control of movement and is familiar in the phenomenon of handedness. Understanding the connections between neural lateralization and motor control is crucial to many applications, including the rehabilitation of stroke patients. While most people intuitively understand handedness, the neural foundations underlying motor asymmetry have until recently remained elusive, according to Sainburg, professor of kinesiology and neurology and participant in the neuroscience and physiology graduate programs at the University's Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences.
Better coordination necessary to reduce hospital readmission rates
Achieving widespread reductions in preventable hospital readmissions among Medicare beneficiaries may take longer than many health care professionals originally anticipated, according to researchers at Penn State, the Weill Cornell Medical College and the University of Pennsylvania. "Studies show that one in five Medicare beneficiaries returns to the hospital within 30 days of discharge at an annual cost of $18 billion to the program, and many of these readmissions are thought to be preventable with better care," said Jessica Mittler, assistant professor of health policy and administration, Penn State. As a result, in the fall of 2012, Medicare began financially penalizing hospitals with excessive hospital readmissions for heart attacks, congestive heart failure or pneumonia." The researchers examined the results of the first two years of the State Action on Avoidable Rehospitalizations (STAAR) initiative, which aims to reduce hospital readmissions in Massachusetts, Michigan and Washington by 20 to 30 percent. Specifically, they analyzed 52 interviews with national program leaders, state STAAR directors, improvement advisers, hospital participants, post-acute care providers, members of professional associations and health-care policy leaders.
Neighborhood park renovations enhance visitor behaviors and experiences
bridge before and after
Renovating public parks enhances visitor behaviors and experiences, according to researchers at Penn State, who surveyed park visitors in Allentown, Pa., about their use of a neighborhood park after it was renovated. "It may seem obvious that park renovations benefit communities, but funders are increasingly demanding more scientific evidence, beyond anecdotal stories, that demonstrate the impact of park renovations," said Andrew Mowen, associate professor of recreation, park and tourism management. "Such information can help state and local government agencies assess the value of their financial investments in parks." The researchers examined visitor perceptions of a major capital renovation that was completed at Allentown's 110-acre Cedar Creek Parkway in 2010. Renovations to this park included building a 25,000-square-foot destination playground, paving the multi-purpose trails, installing new exercise stations, refurbishing the flower garden, upgrading picnic areas and improving stream quality with a riparian buffer.
Penn State to offer human development and family studies degree online
For those interested in understanding human behavior, in learning how people relate to one another and about how to make a difference in their lives, Penn State’s new online bachelor of science in human development and family studies (HDFS) offers an excellent opportunity to prepare for a variety of rewarding careers. Offered by the Department of Human Development and Family Studies in the College of Health and Human Development, the HDFS program is delivered online through the World Campus. The HDFS bachelor of science degree prepares students to work in human services with many different types of people — from infants to the elderly — and in a variety of settings, from public and nonprofit agencies to business and government. The degree also prepares students to develop new ways to prevent and treat social and mental health problems and to become advocates for new social programs and policies. Graduates of the program work in a variety of professional fields, including counseling, social work, education, policy advocacy, nonprofit administration, human resources, law and government, health care services and administration, and research. The HDFS major also is excellent preparation for graduate school for advanced training in these fields.
Penn State Professors Create Fund to Support Graduate Students
Penn State Professors Elizabeth J. Susman and Gerald I. Susman have created two new endowments to support graduate students in the College of Health and Human Development and the Smeal College of Business, their respective colleges.
The Gerald I. Susman Enhancement Fund in the Department of Management and Organization in the Smeal College of Business and the Elizabeth J. Susman Enhancement Fund in Biobehavioral Health in the College of Health and Human Development will provide annual support for graduate students in the academic departments where the Susmans have spent their distinguished academic careers.
Monounsaturated fats reduce metabolic syndrome risk canola oil
Canola oil and high-oleic canola oils can lower abdominal fat when used in place of other selected oil blends, according to a team of American and Canadian researchers. The researchers also found that consuming certain 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 Penny Kris-Etherton, Distinguished Professor of Nutrition, Penn State. 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, 2000-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 and triglycerides that increase the risk of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes. The researchers repeated this process for the remaining four oils.
Smoking immediately upon waking may increase risk of lung and oral cancer
The sooner a person smokes a cigarette upon waking in the morning, the more likely he or she is to acquire lung or oral cancer, according to Penn State researchers. "We found that smokers who consume cigarettes immediately after waking have higher levels of NNAL -- a metabolite of the tobacco-specific carcinogen NNK -- in their blood than smokers who refrain from smoking a half hour or more after waking, regardless of how many cigarettes they smoke per day," said Steven Branstetter, assistant professor of biobehavioral health. According to Branstetter, other research has shown that NNK (4-(methylnitrosamino)-1-[3-pyridyl]-1-butanone) induces lung tumors in several rodent species. Levels of NNAL (4-(methylnitrosamnino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanol) in the blood can therefore predict lung cancer risk in rodents as well as in humans. In addition, NNAL levels are stable in smokers over time, and a single measurement can accurately reflect an individual's exposure.
Unhealthy eating can make a bad mood worse
woman eating
Taking part in unhealthy eating behaviors may cause women who are concerned about their diet and self-image to experience a worsening of their moods, according to Penn State researchers. In a study, college-age women who were concerned about their eating behaviors reported that moods worsened after bouts of disordered eating, said Kristin Heron, research associate at the Survey Research Center. "There was little in the way of mood changes right before the unhealthy eating behaviors," said Heron. "However, negative mood was significantly higher after these behaviors." According to Heron, who worked with Joshua Smyth, professor of biobehavioral health, Stacey Scott, research associate in the Center for Healthy Aging, and Martin Sliwinski, professor of human development and family studies, people who experience disordered eating patterns may exhibit behaviors such as binge eating, loss of control over eating and food intake restriction.
A. Catharine Ross edits new book 'Modern Nutrition in Health and Disease'
A new textbook, titled "Modern Nutrition in Health and Disease, 11th Edition," was published this month by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. A. Catharine Ross, professor of nutritional sciences and Dorothy Foehr Huck Chair, is the senior editor. "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."
Martin Sliwinski to give talk on the science of healthy aging
Healthy Aging Lecture Series
Martin Sliwinski, Penn State professor of human development and family studies and director of the Center for Healthy Aging, will present a talk, titled "The Science of Healthy Aging," at 10:30 a.m. Thursday, April 18, at the auditorium at Foxdale Village, located at 500 E. Marylyn Ave. in State College. The talk is the first in the 2013 Healthy Aging Lecture Series, which is sponsored by the Center for Healthy Aging in the College of Health and Human Development at Penn State, the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Penn State, Foxdale Village, The Village at Penn State and Mount Nittany Medical Center. Sliwinski's talk will focus on "What is healthy aging?" and "What does it mean to age successfully?" The talk will draw on Sliwinski's research, which examines how aging, health and disease can influence a person’s ability to memorize, reason and concentrate, as well as his work on how daily stress leads to long-term changes in mental, physical and cognitive health.
Light recognized with President’s Award for academic integration
Janice Light, Hintz Family Endowed Chair in Children’s Communicative Competence in the College of Health and Human Development, has been awarded the 2013 President’s Award for Excellence in Academic Integration. The award is given to a full-time faculty member who has exhibited extraordinary achievement in the integration of teaching, research or creative accomplishment, and service. Since coming to Penn State in 1990, Light has focused her research on improving communication outcomes and enhancing quality of life for individuals who have significant speech and language impairments and require augmentative and alternative communication (AAC), such as signs, communication boards or speech generating assistive technologies. She is involved in a series of multidisciplinary, collaborative research projects designed to enhance language development, improve literacy outcomes and enhance communicative competence for people who require AAC, and to improve the design of AAC technologies for individuals with significant speech and motor impairments.
2013 Pattishall Research Lecture, "Alcohol...What is it Good For?Jennifer Maggs explores positive and negative consequences of alcohol in 2013 Pattishall Research Lecture
Jennifer Maggs, professor of human development and family studies, will present the 2013 Pattishall Research Lecture. Her lecture, titled "Alcohol, What is it Good For?" will be given at 4:00 p.m., Thursday, April 4, in the Bennett Pierce Living Center, 110 Henderson Building. The event, sponsored by the College of Health and Human Development, is free and open to the public. Maggs' research bridges the fields of lifespan developmental science and substance use. In particular, she focuses on understanding the short-term and long-term consequences of alcohol use, using measurement burst designs that include both daily diary and longitudinal data. This work broadly contributes to research on the causes and consequences of adolescent risk behaviors."
Pre-college talk between parents and teens lessens college drinking
College students are significantly more likely to abstain from drinking or to drink only minimally when their parents follow the recommendations suggested in a parent handbook developed by Robert Turrisi, professor of biobehavioral health, Penn State. "Over 90 percent of teens try alcohol outside the home before they graduate from high school," said Turrisi. "It is well known that fewer problems develop for every year that heavy drinking is delayed. Our research over the past decade shows that parents can play a powerful role in minimizing their teens' drinking during college when they talk to their teens about alcohol before they enter college."
College enrollment does not lead to problem drinking in adulthood
Despite the high levels of binge drinking that take place on college campuses, college enrollment does not lead to substance abuse problems later in adulthood, and it may actually prevent adult substance abuse among youth who would not be expected to attend college, according to researchers at Penn State.
"College is often perceived as a risky environment for problem drinking, but seldom have people looked at the long-term consequences of attending college on substance-use patterns," said Stephanie Lanza, research associate professor of health and human development.
Will Martin
Information session to be held for Penn State College of Medicine Physician Assistant Program
Christine H. Bruce, MHSA, PA-C, program director, invitesstudents join her for an overview of the new Penn State Physician Assistant Program, which is currently being developed with an anticipated start date in May, 2014, and a question and answer period following the presentation.
The session will be held Tuesday, March 19, 2013 at 6:00 p.m. See details of the physician assistant program information session.
Collins to challenge traditional approaches to developing behavioral interventions in NIH talk Linda Collins
Linda M. Collins, director of the Methodology Center and professor of human development and family studies and of statistics at Penn State, will give a talk at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Washington, D.C., on March 26, about a new way to develop behavioral interventions -- such as those used in programs of smoking cessation, drug abuse prevention, treatment of obesity and promotion of physical activity.
The seminar is part of the NIH's lecture series, titled "Medicine: Mind the Gap," which explores issues at the intersection of research, evidence and clinical practice -- areas in which conventional wisdom may be contradicted by recent evidence. The goal of the series is to engage the NIH community in thought-provoking discussions to challenge what they think they know and to think critically about their role in helping to guide today’s research environment.
It's not about THON—at least, not only
Will Martin
If you ask Will Martin what he's up to right now, chances are he's sorting out last-minute details for THON weekend—now less than two weeks away. For example, he may be investigating who will provide security at the dance marathon, how frequently the bathrooms will be cleaned, or which donors plan to visit. Then again, he could be meeting with President Erickson to give the latest updates on preparations for THON weekend, attending a meeting of the advisory board of the Four Diamonds Fund, or talking with reporters about his hopes for this year's fundraising effort.
As overall chairperson for the world's largest student-run philanthropy, Martin has had these types of tasks and more to deal with this past year. Yet through all of the meetings, some of which extended into the wee hours of the morning, and all of the myriad fundraising tasks, he has managed to excel outside of THON—in his courses, in his research, and in his preparations for the future.
Steven Zarit named distinguished professor
Steve ZaritPenn State has named Steven Zarit, head of the department of human development and family studies, a distinguished professor for his record of research, teaching and service. Described as a pioneer and a founder of the field of clinical gerontology, Zarit was one of the first researchers to study the effects on caregivers of family members with Alzheimer's disease or dementia. He has shown that it is possible to predict the onset of disability through the use of psychological measures, and he has developed clinical models that are aimed at improving health care and living conditions for older adults. He has published over 260 papers, chapters and books on these topics.
Join the College of Health and Human Development, the School of Nursing, and the HHD Alumni Society Board for PinkZone 2013
PinkZone 2013
The College of Health and Human Development (HHD) and the School of Nursing (SON) are continuing our proud tradition of supporting the annual “Pink Zone” Women’s Basketball Game, which raises funds for and highlights the importance of preventing and treating breast cancer. Our Alumni Society Board also is supporting the event and encouraging alumni to attend. We hope faculty and staff members, students, alumni, and friends will join us for the game and related events. This year’s special activities will take place on Sunday, February 24, 2013 at the Penn State vs. Michigan game to be played at the Bryce Jordan Center. Tip-off is at 1:00 p.m. It should be a great game!
Percussionists to transform scientific data into music on February 4
Robyn and Joey
Renowned percussionists Robyn Schulkowsky and Joey Baron will present a concert, titled "Playing the Archive: Experiencing Data Through Visual and Sonic Immersion," in which they will translate scientific data and document archives generated by Penn State researchers into music. The event — which is free and open to the public — will take place on Monday, February 4, 2013, at 7:30 p.m. in the Ruth Pike Auditorium, 22 Biobehavioral Health Building. According to Nilam Ram, co-director of StudioLab, which is organizing the concert, when music meets scientific data something beautiful — and, perhaps, even a little weird — happens.
Outsourced radiologists perform better reading for fewer hospitals
Reading a CT scan of brain
Experience working for a particular hospital matters when it comes to the performance of radiologists who work for outsourcing teleradiology companies, according to a team of researchers, whose finding could have important implications, given the growing use of telemedicine. "More than half of all hospitals now use teleradiology services," said Jonathan Clark, assistant professor of health policy and administration, Penn State. "Hospitals send their X-rays, CT scans, MRIs and other images to outsourcing companies who then forward the images to individual radiologists. Over the course of time, these radiologists gain a tremendous amount of experience by reading images from hundreds, or in some cases thousands, of customers."
True Strength: An alumna of the Department of Human Development and Family Studies finds light through darkness
Grace Hakizimana
A personal account by writer/editor Sara LaJeunesse.
Each morning when I drop my daughter off at the Penn State Child Care Center at Hort Woods, Grace Hakizimana '12 HDFS is there to greet us. The preschool teacher smiles at my baby girl—now 16 months old—as we come through the door. She speaks to her softly. She helps her find her favorite stuffed squirrel. She treats her as if she is her own. On the outside, Grace radiates warmth. But on the inside, there is darkness. When Grace was just 16 years old, her life in her home country of Rwanda was turned upside down. All around her people were murdered in a genocide that would last 100 days and leave 800,000 people dead.   Nine years later, after witnessing unspeakable acts and fearing daily for her life, she was admitted to the United States as a refugee. Alone in a country in which she did not speak or understand the language, she eventually made her way to State College, where former friends of her parents were living. With Penn State at hand, she decided to pursue her dream of attending college.
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