The University of Massachusetts Amherst
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Current News

New Video Highlights Impact of Environmental Health Science Research of Current and Former Faculty Research Scholars

Current and former Faculty Research Scholars Laura Vandenberg '15-'16, Richard Pilsner '15-'16, and Krystal Pollit '17-'18 speak to the critical need for ongoing research into environment health science in new video from the UMass School for Public Health and Health Sciences.

Brigitte Holt and Students Study Medieval Skeletal Remains from Coastal Italy

In an anthropology lab in Machmer Hall, University of Massachusetts Amherst senior Emma Berthiaume uses an osteometric board to measure a human femur. She is the very first person to study this bone, buried in the cemetery of San Paragorio church in Noli, Italy, sometime between the years 1000 and 1400.

Berthiaume is making the most of a remarkable educational opportunity: it is highly unusual for an American university to have access to medieval skeletal remains. The bones arrived at UMass Amherst in September through the efforts of Associate Professor of Anthropology Brigitte Holt.

Rick Pilsner Awarded $2.26 Million Grant to Extend Phthalate Research

Richard Pilsner, assistant professor of environmental health sciences at the School of Public Health and Health Sciences (SPHHS), recently received a five-year, $2.26 million grant from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences to extend and replicate findings in an animal study of his earlier investigation into the effects of phthalate levels on sperm epigenetics and reproductive success in humans.

Pilsner says, “Once again we’ll be looking at paternal preconception phthalate exposures and how these influence sperm epigenetics and subsequent offspring health and development in mice. Specifically, we’ll be studying sperm and oocyte epigenetics in offspring to determine the effect of dads’ preconception exposures on the reproductive capacity of offspring.”

Video: Vanderbilt University Professor, Steven Hollon Presents on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Questions the Efficacy of Antidepressant Medications

Tay Gavin Erickson Lecture Series — The Center for Research on Families welcomed Steven Hollon, PhD, who presented "Is Cognitive Therapy Enduring or are Antidepressants Iatrogenic?" on Monday, 12/11/17.

Does the addition of antidepressant medications to cognitive therapy (CT) have an iatrogenic effect that interferes with CT's known enduring effect on depression? Might the combination possibly prolong the length of the underlying episode?  In his talk, Dr. Hollon presented his research findings, which raise concerns that cognitive therapy provided in combination with medication does little to prevent recurrence of depression. Read more about the presentation here.

Video: Berkeley Professor Calvin Morrill Presents on Youth Resilience in High Poverty Schools

Tay Gavin Erickson Lecture Series — The Center for Research on Families welcomed Calvin Morrill, PH.D, who presented "Navigating Conflict: How Youth Handle Trouble in a High-Poverty School" on Friday, 12/8//17.

The presentation focused on the social ingenuity with which teens informally and peacefully navigate strife-ridden peer trouble. Based on 16 years of ethnographic fieldwork in an multi-ethnic and multiracial, high-poverty school in the American southwest, the research complicates our vision of urban youth, along the way revealing the resilience of students in the face of the carceral disciplinary tactics.  Read more about the presentation here.

Jamie Rowen (FRS '17-'18) Weighs in on Recent Lecture About Nuclear Prohibition Treaty

Jamie Rowen recently responded to the presentation from Richard Moyes, co-founder of the non-profit organization Article 36, as well as member of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, who presented a lecture concerning international weapons law in the Commonwealth Honors College Events Hall on 12/5/17, saying the presentation was very “thought provoking,” and that it was very good for students to hear. Rowen also reflected on the effect of the nuclear prohibition treaty on the movement to remove nuclear weapons from our society. “We should celebrate every achievement,” Rowen said, “but also maintain a self-perspective about what the effects of the treaty are.” The lecture, titled, “Deciding How We Are Allowed to Kill Each Other: Controlling Weapons in International Law,” explored the process in creating the recent Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, a piece of legislation recently passed in the United Nations. Read more about the presentation here

Michelle Budig (FRS '06-'07) Referenced in Article in The Guardian

Michelle Budig’s research on the fatherhood bonus – in which employers reward fathers because they perceive fatherhood as a sign of a worker's commitment, stability and “deservingness”, was recently referenced in an article in The Guardian. The article highlights the inequity between men and women in the workplace when they become parents, and also exposes when this trend breaks down including “a generalized hostility to offering anyone, male or female, the flexibility parenting takes”. Read the article here.


CRF Announces Recipients of Fall Travel Awards

The Center for Research on Families is excited to announce the recipients of this year’s Fall Travel Awards. Every semester CRF provides funding for graduate students to present their family research at an academic conference. CRF’s award helps offset the costs of travel and allows students the opportunity to meet and present with other researchers in their field. Since we began to offer the award in 2010, CRF has helped dozens of students from a wide range of disciplines attend national and international academic conferences.


Brigitte Holt (FRS '16-'17) Featured in NPR Article on Working Moms in Ancient History

Brigitte Holt was featured in the NPR article, "Working Moms Have Been A Thing Since Ancient History" in which findings were released that disprove the popular perception that ancient women were relegated to domestic work around the home. The study examined the strength of 89 shinbones and 78 upper arm bones from women who lived in Europe about 7,500 years ago. The findings from the study revealed that the upper arm bones showed evidence of extreme manual labor. In response to these findings Holt was surprised by one part of the study: "Just how strong these women were. The strength in their bones means they were starting this manual labor at a very young age. And that is a big deal." Read the article here.