News and Events in College of Health and Human Development
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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 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
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 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
- 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
- Penn 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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.