2017-18 Family Research Scholars Named

Clockwise from top left: Jamie Rowen, Krystal Pollitt, Jeffrey Starns, Aline Gubrium, Kalpana Poudel-Tandukar, Ning Zhang.
Clockwise from top left: Jamie Rowen, Krystal Pollitt, Jeffrey Starns, Aline Gubrium, Kalpana Poudel-Tandukar, Ning Zhang.

The Center for Research on Families has announced the 2017-18 Family Research Scholars, six faculty members selected for their promising work in family-related research.

The group includes scholars from the colleges of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Natural Sciences and Nursing and the School of Public Health and Health Sciences.

The scholars are: Aline Gubrium, community health education; Kystal Pollitt, environmental health sciences; Kalpana Poudel-Tandukar, nursing; Jamie Rowan, legal studies/political science; Jeffrey Starns, psychological and brain sciences; and Ning Zhang, public health.

Aline Gubrium, director of the community health education program, 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, Commonwealth Honors College professor in environmental health sciences, is a 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 exposure 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, nursing, 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 Immigrants,” she aims to promote empowerment of immigrant individuals and families living in western Massachusetts to have a greater control over their mental health.

Jamie Rowen,legal studies, has proposed the project “Thank You for Your Service: Veterans in the Criminal Justice System” to 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 these new courts conceptualize the relationship between war, trauma and family violence.

Jeffrey Starns, psychological and brain sciences,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 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, public health, 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 unskilled caregivers’ (primarily family members) ability to maintain injured older adults in their home, given that research shows that 80 percent 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.

Each academic year six faculty participate in this 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.

CRF is an endowed interdisciplinary research center of the College of Natural Sciences and the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences.

For more information on the Family Research Scholars Program or the Center for Research on Families, contact associate director Gisele Litalien at glitalien@umass.edu or 413/545-2335.