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Pilsner (FRS 15-16) Leads Cross-disciplinary Team Examining Fertility Impacts of Male Environmental Exposure

A cross-disciplinary team of scientists, led by Associate Professor of Environmental Health Sciences and Former Family Research scholar Richard Pilsner, will use a three-year, $1.6 million grant from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) to expand research into the impact of phthalate exposure on male fertility. Phthalates are ubiquitous endocrine-disrupting chemicals found in plastics and personal care products, such as deodorant and shaving cream. Virtually all people in the U.S. have some level of phthalate exposure. 

Laura Vandenberg (FRS 15-16) Gives Talk at Plastic Health Summit in Amsterdam

Laura Vandenberg, Associate Professor of Environmental Health Sciences and former CRF Family Research Scholar, recently gave a talk explaining her research on harmful chemicals found in plastic at the first annual Plastic Health Summit in Amsterdam. Her presentation focused on how early life exposure to chemicals and chemical mixtures can predispose individuals to diseases that manifest later in life.

Celebrating CRF Student Research

Over 40 students, mentors, and friends attended the annual CRF Student Research Forum and Awards Reception in May. Our Student Research Awards Program provides funding and support for undergraduate and graduate students as they work closely with faculty mentors on family related research, travel to conferences, and attend our methodology workshops. Our Graduate Student Grant Writing Program supports students in the development of successful graduate fellowship applications.  Our 2019-20 Awardees and our new cohort of Graduate Student Grant Writers were recognized. 

Former FRS Paula Pietromonaco Wins Award From the Society for Personality and Social Psychology

Professor emerita of Psychological and Brain Sciences Dr. Peitromonaco has been selected to receive the 2019 Service to the Field Award from the Society for Personality and Social Psychology (SPSP). Professor Pietromonaco’s research focuses on how basic psychological processes that arise in the context of people’s close relationships such as dating and marital relationships might impact relationship outcomes as well as emotional and physical health over time. 

Laura Vandenberg (FRS '15-'16) Named One of the World’s Most Highly Cited Scientists

London based Clarivate Analytics, owner of the Web of Science, annually identifies influential researchers with high citation marks all over the world. This year, ten UMass Amherst researchers were recognized for their high citation rates including CRF Family Research Scholar, Laura Vandenberg (2015-16). 

Jennifer Whitehill (FRS 19-20) says More Restrictions on Marijuana Advertisement Needed to Protect Teens

Despite restrictions on paid advertising cannabis on social media, most teenagers reported seeing marijuana marketing on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, according to a public health study authored by University of Massachusetts Amherst injury prevention researcher Jennifer Whitehill.

Jennifer Whitehill, a current CRF Family Research Scholar, found that 94% of adolescents surveyed had been exposed to marijuana marketing either on social media, print media or on a billboard. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram prohibit marijuana ads, but cannabis companies can develop a social media presence by establishing a business profile and sharing posts and tweets. 

Nilanjana Dasgupta (FRS '12-'13) and Team Suggests Measures to End Sexual Harassment in STEM Labs

“I think the solutions to sexual harassment and gender bias problems cannot solely rest with individual actors and their good intentions,” says Nilanjana Dasgupta, professor of social psychology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and a two-time former Family Research Scholar. “There have to be structural solutions, policies, procedures, incentives to be fair and checks in the system to ensure that the solutions are working as intended.”

Among many recommendations, the scientists pitched that investigators should be required to disclose harassment findings and settlements to all funding agencies and potential employers. According to a recent survey conducted by the American Physical Society, nearly three-quarters of the 471 undergraduate women who attended Society’s 2017 Conferences for Undergraduate Women in Physics (CUWiP) had experienced sexual harassment at some point over the last two years. The study also found that 73 percent of respondents experienced gender harassment, which is often not categorized as a case of sexual harassment.

Ezekiel Kimball (FRS '16-'17) Publishes Report on a Lag in College Admissions for Rural Students

Ezekiel Kimball, a former Family Research Scholar, and three other UMass researchers,  Ryan Wells, Catherine Manly, Suzan Kommers, published a report on the lack of rural students applying to and going to college. The researchers advocated for further investigation into the subject, especially on the college-going behaviors of rural students. 

Students in rural areas have lower average rates of college enrollment and degree completion compared to nonrural students, according to the findings. As it stands, more than 18 percent of high school students looking at colleges are from rural areas. In the study the researchers noted that there are different opportunities when it comes to rural and nonrural students’ college trajectories, such as rural students having stronger connections to their home communities.

Richard Pilsner (FRS '15-'16) and Team Examines Fertility Impacts of Male Environmental Exposure

A cross-disciplinary team of scientists, led by University of Massachusetts Amherst environmental epigeneticist and former Family Research Scholar Richard Pilsner, will use a three-year, $1.6 million grant from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) to expand research into the impact of phthalate exposure on male fertility. Phthalates are ubiquitous endocrine-disrupting chemicals found in plastics and personal care products, such as deodorant and shaving cream. Virtually all people in the U.S. have some level of phthalate exposure. “This is one half of the equation that has been largely overlooked,” says Pilsner, associate professor of environmental health in the School of Public Health and Health Sciences. 

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