Student News

Student Clubs Host Bistro Night

From left: Young alumni panelists Ingrid Ludwig, Kayleigh O'Connor, and Zac Lamb

The undergraduate student clubs in the School of Public Health and Health Sciences, including the Public Health Club, the Kinesiology Club, the UMass Nutrition Association, and the UMass chapter of the National Student Speech Language Hearing Association, hosted the SPHHS Bistro Night on February 1, 2012, in the Campus Center’s Amherst Room. Bistro Night was supported through a student grant awarded by the Student Alumni Association to Jessica He, an undergraduate Public Health Sciences major. Ms. He co-organized the event along with Public Health Club president Catie Piccolo and vice president Sarra Sabouri.

Bistro Night served as an informal career and information resource for students pondering life after graduation. The event drew students from within and outside the SPHHS considering careers in public health or the health sciences. Numerous student groups and organizations, including representatives from each of the four SPHHS student groups, service and philanthropy clubs, Career Services, the International Programs Office, the American Cancer Society, the Pre-Med Society, EMS, and Habitat for Humanity, tabled the event to provide an opportunity to talk with students informally and to answer questions.

Bistro Night’s featured event was a young alumni panel discussion. Recent alumni from each of the four undergraduate majors fielded questions from the student audience.

The young alumni panelists included:

  • Abbie Doucette, ’11, Public Health Sciences
  • John Kleschinsky, ’04, Kinesiology, ’07MPH, Public Health
  • Laura Hutchinson, ’04, ’08PhD, Nutrition
  • Ingrid Ludwig, ’09, Communication Disorders
  • Kayleigh O’Connor, ’10, Communication Disorders
  • Zac Lamb, ’10, Kinesiology
  • Rebecca Thibault, ’11, Kinesiology

The alumni panelists shared their various experiences upon life after graduation, including career options and choices, applying for internships and graduate school, and volunteering for community-based service organizations.

Around the School

SPHHS students awarded Center for Research on Families Grants

Three students in the School of Public Health and Health Sciences have been awarded grants from the UMass Amherst Center for Research on Families.

Talia Grossman, an undergraduate in Communication Disorders, received one of two Family Research Undergraduate Assistantships. The assistantship enables an undergraduate to work with a faculty member on a family research project through a grant of $3,000. Grossman was awarded for her proposal titled “The Impact of Developmental Disabilities on Family Relationships.” She will conduct her research with faculty mentor Mary Andrianopoulos, Associate Professor of Communication Disorders. Her research with Dr. Andrianopoulos will examine sibling relationships in families with developmentally disabled or delayed children.

Eden Ketema, a recent Public Health Sciences graduate, received one of four Family Research Honors Thesis/Capstone Awards. This spring, Ketema worked with a group of SPHHS students and Square One, a non-profit organization in Springfield, MA, through internships provided by the Western Massachusetts Public Health Training Center. Ketema and her cohort worked on an assessment of the organization’s childcare services.

In addition, Shanshan Chen, a doctoral student in Public Health-Nutrition concentration, was selected for one of eleven Family Research Graduate Travel Awards.

For more information on the Center for Research on Families Award Recipients, click here.

Kinesiology students receive American Kinesiology Association Awards

From left: Amanda Libertine, Jeffer Sasaki, Stephen Foulis

Five students from the Department of Kinesiology, including three graduate and two undergraduate students, were named recipients of American Kinesiology Association (AKA) awards for 2012.

Doctoral student Stephen A. Foulis and Master’s student Amanda Libertine were selected as National Graduate Scholars for 2012. The AKA Scholar Awards “honor a select number of students whose academic and leadership records are distinctive.”

Jeffer Sasaki, a doctoral student, was chosen for a Student Writing Award. This award recognizes select graduate students who have published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals. Sasaki was awarded for his publication “Validation and comparison of ActiGraph activity monitors”, which appears in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport.

Salim Zerriny and Michael V. Cavaliere were named as National Undergraduate Scholars for 2012. This award recognizes the “professional competence and dedication of academically accomplished undergraduate students.”

Kinesiology student Michaela Butler named UMass Winter Scholar-Athlete

Michaela Butler, a Kinesiology major, was selected as the female UMass Winter Scholar-Athlete for 2011-12. UMass Athletics recently honored her at a weekly Sports Luncheon.

A member of the UMass Amherst diving team, Butler was also named the 2012 Atlantic 10 Women's Most Outstanding Diver of the Year after winning gold medals in both the one- and three-meter dives at the A-10 Championship meet. She went undefeated during the regular season on the boards and competed in the NCAA Zone A Championship, a qualifier for the individual NCAA Women’s Swimming and Diving Championship.

Butler, who sports a 3.4 GPA, plans to become an orthopedic surgeon. “The Kinesiology major is really helpful for a pre-med student,” said Butler. “I’m learning a lot about the human body, which sets me apart from a biology or chemistry major.”

Butler cites Eliza Frechette, Lecturer in the Kinesiology Department, as one of her academic influences. “Professor Frechette makes sure we’re on task and learning, but she makes it fun at the same time.”

“It’s a pleasure to have a student like Michaela in my class,” said Frechette. “She has a great attitude and works well with her peers. More importantly, she implements and demonstrates the skill sets we want to foster in our student-athletes. She has excellent communication skills, she understands time management, and she takes responsibility for her learning. She doesn’t expect a grade to be handed to her. She earns it.”

For Butler, there’s little time for rest. In addition to her Kinesiology studies, she trains daily throughout the year. “My goal for next season is to qualify for the NCAA women’s diving championship.”

Butler has two years of eligibility remaining after taking a redshirt season last year. The 2012-2013 diving season begins in October.

Communication Disorders' Tompkins receives William H. Ross Memorial Scholarship

Stephanie Tompkins, a recent Communication Disorders graduate, received one of four William H. Ross Memorial Scholarships awarded for 2012. The award is made in memory of William H. Ross, former Professor of Physics at UMass Amherst.

Dr. Ross began as an instructor in 1933 and would eventually receive his full professorship in 1956. He was named UMass Amherst’s first Distinguished Teacher of the Year in 1962. Dr. Ross was also a charter member of both the University of Massachusetts Senate and Faculty Club.

The William H. Ross Memorial Scholarship is open to juniors or seniors enrolled as a full-time student at UMass Amherst. Students must be in good academic standing, be registered in a major program, demonstrate financial need, and present a written paper on the subject “What I plan on doing after graduation that will help society as a whole.”

Tompkins recently finished her Honors Capstone Thesis, in which she investigated an alternative method to cochlear implants for those with high frequency hearing loss. The alternative device is similar to a hearing aid. Tompkins will enroll in the Doctor of Audiology (Au.D.) degree program in the Communication Disorders department at UMass Amherst, where she will continue to aid those with hearing loss to improve their quality of life.

Wickham awarded Food Safety Student Challenge Scholarship

Catherine Wickham, a doctoral student of Public Health in the Nutrition concentration, was selected as one of nine winners of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation/ConAgra Foods Food Safety Student Challenge Scholarship. Ms. Wickham received the $5000 award based on the program plan she designed to help educate college students on the importance of home food safety.

The Food Safety Student Challenge centers around the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ (formerly the ADA) Home Food Safety campaign, which provides home food safety statistics, information about food borne illness (also known as food poisoning), and safe food handling information and tips. Together with ConAgra Foods, the Academy developed four simple and easy-to-follow home food safety messages, drawn from government recommendations and the Academy’s positions:

  • Wash Hands Often
  • Keep Raw Meat and Ready-to-Eat Foods Separate
  • Cook to Proper Temperatures
  • Refrigerate Promptly Below 40° F

The Food Safety Student Challenge aims to educate and improve food safety for those living on campus focusing on these four key areas. The program emphasizes the unique opportunity campus living provides to educate college students on the importance of food safety.

Ms. Wickham’s proposal incorporated these messages through a blog titled Dorm Food Safety. The blog linked to resources on and other sites such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and addressed issues specific to college students living in a dorm environment. In addition posters with the four key messages were developed and displayed on-campus and in dorm kitchens. The posters included a quick response code (QR code) which linked back to the blog and to

“The latest CDC statistics indicate that 1 in 6 Americans will become sick with a foodborne illness each year,” notes Ms. Wickham. “Students who store food in their dorm rooms or cook in dorm kitchens may be at an increased risk due to their unique environments. For example, small room refrigerators do not hold foods to proper temperature, or they may lack experience in safe food-handling practices – like leaving pizza out all night and eating it for breakfast!”

Ms. Wickham implemented the program over an eight-week period. Each week a new blog post covering a different key message or topic was available. Students had the opportunity to take a short questionnaire at the end of each week’s blog and be entered into a raffle to win gift certificates.

Communication Disorders announces scholarship recipients

The Department of Communication Disorders announced the recipients of its annual scholarship awards at the Department’s Senior Farewell Night held this year on April 22, 2012. The 2012 scholarship recipients are:

Kimberly Ann Soucy Scholarship

Stephanie Tompkins

Miriam P. Romo Award

Megan Cronin

Gilbert C. Tolhurst Senior Scientist Award

Samantha Downie

Henry B. Peirce Service Award

Angela Costanzi
Megan Skerry

National Student Speech-Language-Hearing Association

Angela Costanzi

SPHHS recognizes 2012 Research Day award winners

From left: Dr. Christine Rogers, Stephen Bell, Shanshan Chen, Andrea Morand, Daniel Feldman, Associate Dean for Research Elaine Puleo, Dr. Aline Gubrium, Nina Moore, Ling Xin, Dean Marjorie Aelion

Dean Marjorie Aelion recently honored the winners of the 15th Annual Research Day faculty-juried poster competition held this year on April 3, 2012. Posters were judged based on content and presentation and awarded in two distinct categories: Research and Practice. One student was also presented with the Delta Omega Honor Society Award, which is given annually based on the poster abstract submission.

Dean Aelion welcomed the winners and their faculty advisors at an afternoon reception held in Arnold House, where the participants had the opportunity to discuss their research among faculty and peers in a more informal setting.

The 2012 Research Day Award winners were:

Delta Omega Honor Society Award:

Andrea Morand (MS, Kinesiology). "Providing further construct validity for a newly developed measure of functional-living in older adults: Movement and Activity in Physical Space (MAPS)."

Research Award, 1st Place:

Nina Moore (PhD, Kinesiology). "Smokers exhibit blunted changes in muscle NFkB activity after strenuous work."

Research Award, 2nd Place:

Shanshan Chen (PhD, Public Health-Nutrition). "Stunting is inversely associated with dietary zinc intake among adolescent girls aged 10-19 years."

Research Award, 3rd Place:

Ling Xin (PhD, Kinesiology). "Botanical supplement effects on nuclear factor Kappa B (NF-kB) DNA-binding activity following eccentric exercise."

Practice Award, 1st Place:

Daniel Feldman (MPH, Public Health). "Tobacco-free communications group."

Practice Award, 2nd Place:

Stephen Bell (MPH, Public Health). "Healthy Environment, Healthy Springfield: Comparative risk assessment for ranking environmental health issues in Springfield, MA."

The annual SPHHS Research Day is co-sponsored by the School of Public Health and Health Sciences & The Rho Chapter, Delta Omega Honorary Public Health Society.

SPHHS students participate in annual Undergraduate Research Conference

More than 800 students from nearly all of the state's public university and community college campuses presented their research at the 18th annual Statewide Undergraduate Research Conference held on April 27, 2012, in the Campus Center. Numerous SPHHS undergraduates participated in the conference.

Students reported on thesis or capstone projects, independent study, community service and study abroad, and lab group work. Some delivered oral presentations, while others showed posters to explain their research, share their findings and respond to questions.

"This conference is a display of the tremendous academic talent of students and their faculty mentors. Students not only conduct meaningful research and contribute knowledge to their fields of study but also present their work among peers and the public--that's an invaluable opportunity," says Priscilla M. Clarkson, dean of Commonwealth Honors College.

The conference is co-sponsored by Commonwealth Honors College and the Massachusetts System of Public Higher Education, composed of 15 community colleges, nine state universities and the five UMass campuses.

UMass Amherst Alumni Association's 2012 award winners announced

The UMass Amherst Alumni Association recently announced its 2012 Student Awards recipients. Each year, the Alumni Association presents more than 100 scholarships and over $90,000 to worthy students.

Once again, students in the School of Public Health and Health Sciences were very well represented among the award-winning group of students. SPHHS students were chosen as the Alumni Merit-Based SAA Scholarship awardee, as Senior Leadership Award recipients, and as William F. Field Alumni Scholars.

The Alumni Merit-Based Scholarship recognizes a Student Alumni Association member who demonstrates outstanding leadership in the Student Alumni Association and within the larger university community. This year, only one student was selected to receive this honor:

  • Jessica He, Public Health

The Senior Leadership Award recognizes graduating seniors who have demonstrated outstanding leadership and service to the UMass Amherst community. Award recipients have distinguished themselves through important contributions to student organizations and campus jobs, through academic excellence, and through public and community service. This year, four of the twenty-five recipients came from the School of Public Health and Health Sciences:

  • Jessica He, Public Health
  • Elizabeth Lundy, Nutrition
  • Summer Moukalled, Kinesiology
  • Thony Tran, Nutrition

Finally, five SPHHS students – a pre-determined number proportional to the size of the School – were chosen as William F. Field Alumni Scholars. The William F. Field Alumni Scholars Program was established in 1976 to recognize and honor third-year students for their academic achievements at UMass Amherst. The program was named in honor of William F. Field, the university’s first Dean of Students, for his outstanding support of academic excellence and his personal commitment to bringing out the best in every student.

The SPHHS William F. Field Alumni Scholars for 2012 were:

  • Megan Colwell ’13, Kinesiology
  • Decia DeMaio ’13, Communication Disorders
  • Molly Flynn ’13, Public Health Sciences
  • Jeffrey Larnard ’13, Nutrition
  • Jennifer Russell ’13, Communication Disorders

The Alumni Association honored these students at a Scholarships & Awards Reception held on April 1, 2012 in the Marriott Center. For a complete list of recipients of the UMass Amherst Alumni Association’s 2012 Scholarships and Awards Recipients, click here.

Communication Disorders group organizes aphasia awareness walk

Graduate students in the Department of Communication Disorders, in association with the UMass Police Department, held The Third Annual Walk and Roll for Aphasia on April 14, 2012, in Amherst, MA. In addition to raising awareness of stroke and aphasia, the walk raised funds for the department's aphasia research, outreach, and support services. The 2.6-mile Walk and Roll for Aphasia began on the Amherst Town Common.

Aphasia is a language disorder brought about by brain damage, most often following a stroke. It can impair the ability to use or understand spoken or written language. Aphasia is not a disorder of intelligence, but it can greatly limit a person’s participation in social, vocational or recreational activities, say organizers of the event. In spite of the millions of people affected by stroke and aphasia, public awareness remains relatively low, they say.

This year, the group raised over $4000 in donations. For more information, visit the website or contact

Public Health student Pena Mejia awarded 2012 Gilman Scholarship

Digna Pena Mejia, an undergraduate Public Health Sciences major, was awarded a 2012 Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarship. She joined 14 other UMass Amherst students who received the scholarship award in 2012, which places the university third nationally.

Sponsored by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State, the Gilman scholarship program broadens study abroad participation for those in need of financial assistance. Each Gilman scholar is offered a scholarship between $2,500 and $5,000 to study abroad.

Ms. Pena Mejia’s award supported her studies this spring in Thailand.

Upon returning to UMass Amherst, Ms. Pena Mejia hopes to encourage other students, especially those in the Public Health major, to pursue studies abroad and discover new cultures.

Kinesiology students help train U.S. Women’s National Rugby team

Kinesiology students Justin Brown, Matt Pilla and Jordan Marks helped train U.S. Women's Rugby National Team hopefuls. The athletes participated in a set of fitness and training tests at UMass, aided by the kinesiology department's Body Shop Fitness Center interns.

Read the Daily Collegian article.