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Six Faculty Selected as 2017-18 Family Research Scholars

2017-18 FRS

The Center for Research on Families at the University of Massachusetts Amherst is pleased to announce the 2017-2018 Family Research Scholars. These faculty members were selected to participate in the fifteenth cohort of the FRS Program based on their promising work in family-related research.

Each academic year six faculty participate in an intensive year-long seminar that provides concrete skills for successful grant submission, peer and faculty feedback on their developing proposals, individualized methodology consultation with CRF faculty and renowned experts, and guidance on funding sources.

The 2017-2018 cohort represents a wide range of disciplines and research interests, including scholars from four colleges—Social & Behavioral Sciences (CSBS), Natural Sciences (CNS), Nursing, and the School of Public Health and Health Sciences (SPHHS)—in the departments of Community Health Education, Environmental Health Sciences, Legal Studies/Political Science, Psychological and Brain Sciences and Public Health Sciences.

Aline Gubrium, Ph.D., Associate Professor & Program Director, Community Health Education, SPHHS

Aline Gubrium’s research focuses on "narrative intervention" to address health inequities and social inequality in the lives of marginalized young parents and families. Her proposed project “Testing an Enhanced Storytelling Intervention for the Prevention of Postpartum Depression (PPD) in Adolescents” addresses intervention gaps by focusing on African-American and Latina pregnant adolescents, and incorporating digital storytelling as a community-based intervention. The intervention leverages participants’ voiced experiences in a group and peer-based context with a goal of preventing PPD, potentially leading to increased family stability.

Krystal Pollitt, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, The Commonwealth Honors College Professor in Environmental Health Sciences, SPHHS

Krystal Pollitt is chemical engineer with interdisciplinary training in exposure science and environmental epidemiology. Her proposed project, “Low Level Arsenic Exposure and Risk of Cardometabolic Disease in Post-Menopausal Women,” will evaluate the effects of chronic low-level arsenic exposures on women’s health. Pollitt also hopes to increase the understanding of chemical exposures through food products that impact women’s health and the health of their families.

Kalpana Poudel-Tandukar, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Nursing, College of Nursing

Kalpana Poudel-Tandukar studies the factors that increase immigrant stress and depression and focuses on developing and implementing community-based strategies to address these factors. Through her proposed project, “Impact of Stress Reduction Intervention on Stress and Depression in Bhutanese Immigrants” she aims to empower 4,000 Bhutanese immigrant individuals and families living in Springfield, MA to have a greater control over their mental health.

Jamie Rowen, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Legal Studies, Department of Political Science, CSBS

Jamie Rowen’s proposed research “Thank You for Your Service: Veterans in the Criminal Justice System” will shed light on the relationship between families, the military, and the criminal justice system. Her study has important implications for efforts to redress and prevent violence within families by showing how courts balance the rights of offenders and victims of family violence, as well as how courts conceptualize the relationship between war, trauma, and family violence.

Jeffrey Starns, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Psychological & Brain Sciences, CNS

Jeffrey Starns investigates event memory, decision making and statistical reasoning. The primary goal of his proposed project “Bayesian Reasoning as a Life Skill” is to improve individuals’ skills in translating information accurately, so that they can make good decisions. Students will be taught a visualization technique to see whether they retain the ability to solve problems, and whether these skills generalize to new contexts and improve the student learning experience.

Ning Zhang, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Public Health, SPHHS

Ning Zhang’s research focuses on long term care and health economics. Her proposed grant, “Home-based vs. Skilled Nursing Facility Care to Reduce Recurrent Falls in Older Adults” examines the importance of improving an unskilled caregiver’s’ (primarily family members’) ability to maintain injured older adults in their home, given that research shows that 80% of senior citizens want to remain in their homes after an event like a fall. Her project also aims to identify how the home environment can be modified to improve at-home patient care by these informal caregivers.

CRF is an endowed interdisciplinary research center of the UMass Amherst College of Natural Sciences and the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences. CRF’s programs provide lectures and consultation from national experts, methodological training and expertise, grant-writing support and research funding to faculty and students from these diverse backgrounds at all stages of their academic careers. CRF is committed to investing in each faculty member and student’s research career for the long term.

For more information on the Family Research Scholars Program or the Center for Research on Families, please contact Associate Director Gisele Litalien at or (413) 545-2335.