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Current News

Scholar Feature: Krystal Pollitt’s Innovative Wristbands and Necklaces Uncover Environmental Exposures in Springfield

Krystal Pollitt, PhD, P.Eng., Assistant Professor of Environmental Health Sciences and 2017-18 CRF Family Research Scholar, plans to study the ways in which cumulative environmental factors impact disease, with the ultimate goal of developing strategies for people to better avoid certain exposures and the negative health outcomes associated with them. Pollitt’s team developed a low-cost wearable wristband that will gather extensive data about personal environmental exposures. Pollitt’s proposed research will focus on mother-child dyads from low-income Hispanic families in Springfield.

Nilanjana Dasgupta (FRS '06-'07 & '12-'13) Speaks to Gender Gap in STEM Fields

Eureka!, a partnership between UMass Amherst and Girls Inc. of Holyoke is a program designed to address the gender gap in the STEM fields. Nilanjana Dasgupta was interviewed by WWLP regarding her related research, “There’s a real social justice reason to try and take the kids who are interested in science and see if they would be interested in pursuing it as majors and careers, because it would reduce both the gender disparity in income and the race disparity in income.” Every year, a group of around 30, 8th grade girls enroll in the program. The girls attend a month long summer program at UMASS, where they are taught by UMASS professors and graduate students. The program recently graduated its first group of girls. Read the article here.

Holly Laws Joins CRF as New Methodology Director, Plans Opportunities for Growth

Holly Laws CRF

The Center for Research on Families (CRF) is pleased to welcome Holly Laws, PhD, an expert in analyzing and interpreting data for family-related research, as the new Director of CRF’s Methodology Consulting Program (MCS). She plans on expanding methodological supports to researchers both on campus and in the wider community. and aims to position the center as a national leader in family research analysis across multiple disciplines. 

Student Spotlight: Chaia Flegenheimer, Recipient of $10,000 CRF Dissertation Award, Hopes to Lessen Gender Disparities in STEM fields

Chaia Flegenheimer

Chaia Flegenheimer, recipient of a 2017-18 Graduate Family Research Dissertation Fellowship, studies the behavioral and neural effects of implicit stereotype threat on task performance and engagement in young women. She hopes her work will help educators better understand stereotype threats and lessen gender disparities in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) fields.

Rick Pilsner's Research Shines a Spotlight on Expectant Fathers

Richard Pilsner

Early results from a larger, ongoing study led by Assistant Professor of Environmental Health Sciences and 2015-16 Family Research Scholar Richard Pilsner suggest that phthalate levels in expectant fathers have an effect on couples’ reproductive success via epigenetic modifications of sperm DNA. Details appear in the current issue of Human Reproduction, a monthly journal of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology published by Oxford Journals.

Rodrigo Domínguez-Villegas Authors Report for Migration Policy Institute on Lack of Protections for Deported Children

Rodrigo Dominguez Villegas

Rodrigo Domínguez-Villegas, recipient of a CRF Graduate Family Research Fellowship in 2016-17, recently authored a report for the Migration Policy Institute that explores the recent spike in the apprehension of unaccompanied children in Mexico as they travel from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras on their way to the United States.

Linda Tropp (FRS ’09-’10) Quoted in Time Magazine

Linda Tropp (FRS '09-'10) was quoted in Time magazine that explores the link between the culture of anger in the United States and mass shootings. "Social norms play incredibly important roles in shaping our behavior. We look to others in our social environment to learn whether to respond to events with violent or peaceful actions, with hatred or friendliness." Linda Tropp is a professor of social psychology in the Psychology of Peace and Violence Program at Umass Amherst. During her year as a Faculty Research Scholar, Dr. Tropp examined how family members and peers influence adolescents' positive interactions with other ethnic groups. Read the article here.

Nilanjana Dasgupta’s Research (FRS '06-'07 & '12-'13) Referenced in Article in Forbes

Nilanjana Dasgupta’s research on the impact mentorship has on women in STEM fields was recently referenced in an article in Forbes, “Three Things You Must Do To Get Diversity Right," by Shannon Huffman Polson. The author uses Dr. Dasgupta’s findings to illustrate the critical role that mentorship plays in supporting underrepresented groups as they navigate academic and professional settings. Read the article here.

Laura Vandenberg (FRS '15-'16) Recognized as "Pioneer in Environmental Public Health"

Laura Vandenberg

Collaborative on Health and the Environment (CHE), a San Francisco-based nonprofit dedicated to educating people on the ways in which the environment affects human health and well-being, has named University of Massachusetts Amherst environmental health scientist Laura Vandenberg as one of its “20 Pioneers Under 40 in Environmental Public Health” recognizing her “exceptional levels of accomplishment in work that is rigorous, dynamic and builds critical knowledge.”

Rebecca Spencer (FRS '11-'12) Receives $2.64 Million from NIH for Preschooler Sleep Study

Rebecca Spencer has received a five-year, $2.64 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to investigate the cognitive and emotional benefits of mid-day napping in young children. Improving a child’s experience in early education can enhance child development and school readiness, aiding physical and mental health later in life.