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Nilanjana Dasgupta (FRS '12-'13) and Team Suggests Measures to End Sexual Harassment in STEM Labs

“I think the solutions to sexual harassment and gender bias problems cannot solely rest with individual actors and their good intentions,” says Nilanjana Dasgupta, professor of social psychology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and a two-time former Family Research Scholar. “There have to be structural solutions, policies, procedures, incentives to be fair and checks in the system to ensure that the solutions are working as intended.”

Among many recommendations, the scientists pitched that investigators should be required to disclose harassment findings and settlements to all funding agencies and potential employers. According to a recent survey conducted by the American Physical Society, nearly three-quarters of the 471 undergraduate women who attended Society’s 2017 Conferences for Undergraduate Women in Physics (CUWiP) had experienced sexual harassment at some point over the last two years. The study also found that 73 percent of respondents experienced gender harassment, which is often not categorized as a case of sexual harassment.

Ezekiel Kimball (FRS '16-'17) Publishes Report on a Lag in College Admissions for Rural Students

Ezekiel Kimball, a former Family Research Scholar, and three other UMass researchers,  Ryan Wells, Catherine Manly, Suzan Kommers, published a report on the lack of rural students applying to and going to college. The researchers advocated for further investigation into the subject, especially on the college-going behaviors of rural students. 

Students in rural areas have lower average rates of college enrollment and degree completion compared to nonrural students, according to the findings. As it stands, more than 18 percent of high school students looking at colleges are from rural areas. In the study the researchers noted that there are different opportunities when it comes to rural and nonrural students’ college trajectories, such as rural students having stronger connections to their home communities.

Richard Pilsner (FRS '15-'16) and Team Examines Fertility Impacts of Male Environmental Exposure

A cross-disciplinary team of scientists, led by University of Massachusetts Amherst environmental epigeneticist and former Family Research Scholar Richard Pilsner, will use a three-year, $1.6 million grant from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) to expand research into the impact of phthalate exposure on male fertility. Phthalates are ubiquitous endocrine-disrupting chemicals found in plastics and personal care products, such as deodorant and shaving cream. Virtually all people in the U.S. have some level of phthalate exposure. “This is one half of the equation that has been largely overlooked,” says Pilsner, associate professor of environmental health in the School of Public Health and Health Sciences. 

Paula Pietromonaco (FRS '03-'03 and '15-'16) Selected for SPSP Award

Paula Pietromonaco was a CRF Family Research Scholar from 2003-2004 and 2015-2016. A professor emerita of psychological and brain sciences, she has been selected for the 2019 Service to the Field Award from the Society for Personality and Social Psychology (SPSP).

Pietromonaco’s research focuses on how basic psychological processes that appear within people's close relationships might impact relationship outcomes as well as emotional and physical health over time. Pietromonaco has served as a SPSP executive board member and SPSP representative to the American Psychological Association (APA) council of representatives.

Public Engagement Project Invites Faculty Fellowship Applications

The Public Engagement Project invites applications from tenure-track faculty for its spring 2020 Public Engagement Fellowships.

Public Engagement Faculty fellows will develop a fellowship plan tailored to their expertise and aspirations for reaching broader publics. They will receive technical training in communicating with non-academic audiences, cultivate networks to reach those publics and workshop their policy brief, blog, op-ed or other public engagement products.

Faculty Fellows will meet throughout the 2020 spring semester, attending panels and skill-building workshops offered by faculty, communications experts from University Relations and others experienced with public engagement. Fellows will also have the opportunity to work in small groups and receive peer mentoring tailored to their engagement plan, as well as to present their research to Massachusetts lawmakers.

In addition to opportunities for skill development, networking, and outreach, Public Engagement Faculty Fellows will receive a $1,000 stipend for their research account.

Scholar Feature: Ian George Barron (FRS '19-'20) Study looks at the Efficacy of Intensive EMDR Therapy with Youth in Juvenile Detention

“It is my hope that trauma-specific interventions will become routine for children in juvenile detention,” says Dr. Ian George Barron, Director of the Center for International Education and Professor in Student Development in the College of Education and current Family Research Scholar at the Center for Research on Families (CRF).

Dr. Barron’s study aims to identify the efficacy of intensive Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy with youth in juvenile detention compared to treatment as usual using a randomized control trial. Using intensive EMDR, a cost-effective, short-term intervention, Dr. Barron expects to ameliorate the effects of trauma and trauma related symptoms for youth while reducing treatment time, increasing client tolerance of treatment, and reducing drop-out rates. Dr. Barron would also like to use the study to establish the economic benefits of intensive EMDR therapy versus treatment as usual in juvenile detention, expecting the benefits of EMDR to traditional treatments to be less costly and more effective.

M.V. Lee Badgett (FRS '04-'05) Releases New Study on Poverty and LGBT people in the US

A new study by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law finds that 21.6 percent of LGBT people in the U.S. experience poverty, compared to 15.7 percent of cisgender straight people. M.V. Lee Badgett, a former CRF scholar, was the lead author on this study and a Williams Institute Distinguished Scholar. Badgett stated, "Our study shows that all subpopulations of LGBT people fare the same or worse than cisgender straight people. As a whole, LGBT people have at least 15 percent higher odds of being poor than cisgender straight people."

Jeffrey Starns (FRS '17-'18) tests Inference Crisis

Jeffrey Starns, a 2017-2018 Family Research Scholar at CRF has been featured in the news regarding an important finding in his research. Starns, working with professor Caren Rotello and doctoral student Andrea Cataldo, says that attention is not being paid to theoretical conclusions made in research studies. While many scientists and researchers work to unpack the 'replication crisis', time is not spent focusing on the harm that inferences can have on research conclusions. Starns says that testing whether scientists can make valid theoretical inferences by analyzing data is important to the validity of research. “Some incorrect conclusions are unavoidable with noisy data, but [those in the study] made those incorrect inferences with way too much confidence," Starns says.

Elizabeth Bertone-Johnson (Stress Group) Appointed Chair of Health Promotion and Policy

The School of Public Health and Health Sciences has announced the appointment of Professor Elizabeth Bertone-Johnson as Chair of the Department of Health Promotion and Policy. Bertone-Johnson is a member of the CRF Stress Research Group and a Principal Investigator. ​Beginning as an assistant professor in the Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, she has taken on numerous leadership roles within the department prior to her role as interim chair of Health Promotion and Policy.

Kathleen Arcaro (FRS '12-'13) and team awarded $3.1 million NIH grant for breast cancer risk study

Kathleen Arcaro (FRS '12-'13) as well as a UMass research team has received a $3.1 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to measure the impact of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables on the breast cancer risk of lactating women.

The New Moms Wellness Study will use breastmilk to assess whether eating at least eight to ten daily servings of deeply pigmented and nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables reduces biomarkers of breast cancer risk. The researchers hypothesize that fruit and vegetable consumption may reduce inflammation during lactation and weaning, thus lowering the Pregnancy Associated Breast Cancer (PABC) risk.

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