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Six Faculty Selected as 2018-19 Family Research Scholars

CRF family research scholars 2018

The Center for Research on Families at the University of Massachusetts Amherst is pleased to announce our class of 2018-2019 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 renown experts, and guidance on funding sources. 

The 2018-2019 cohort represents a wide range of disciplines and research interests, including scholars from six schools and colleges across campus--Social & Behavioral Sciences, Natural Sciences, Nursing, Education, Engineering and Public Health and Health Sciences (SPHHS)--in the departments of Sociology, Psychological and Brain Sciences, Student Development, Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, Nursing and Health Promotion and Policy.

Sarah Fefer, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Student Development, College of Education
​Sarah Fefer's study will address challenging classroom behaviors of children by testing a new intervention that encourages partnerships between parents and teachers that don't create an additional burden on parents. The intervention will use multiple approaches to increase positive parent contact as a way to improve student behavior.

Youngbin Kwak, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, College of Natural Sciences

Youngbin Kwak will investigate how behaviors and neural signals change with advancing age in patients with Parkinson's disease. Her research will contribute to the understanding of motor disabilities with advancing age and disease conditions, which will inform the design of brain-based rehabilitation regimens.

Mark Pachucki, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology, College of Social and Behavioral Sciences
Mark Pachucki will use a genetic risk score for early puberty to test possible associations between early puberty and socioeconomic status (SES) disparities later in life, family composition, and adolescents' friendship. The project seeks to identify modifiable points of leverage - pubertal timing and friendship network dynamics - to improve SES trajectories and reduce SES disparities.

Mary Paterno, PhD, Assistant Professor, School of Nursing
Mary Paterno's research will address the high rates of neonatal opiate exposure and maternal opioid use in rural communities in Massachusetts. She will develop and test a sustainable, community-based peer mentoring program for pregnant and postpartum women who are at high risk of relapse.

Krishna Poudel, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Community Health Education, School of Public Health and Health Sciences
Krishna Poudel will test an intervention to decrease tobacco use in people living with HIV (PLHIV) in Nepal. He is proposing that the intervention will educate PLHIV, boost self-efficacy, and improve quit rates and duration.

Shannon Roberts, Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, College of Engineering
Shannon Roberts will study teenage driving behaviors to determine what differences exist according to socioeconomic status (SES). She will develop and test an intervention designed to improve teenage driving and use social peer influence to reinforce learning. One objective is to mitigate the health disparity between high and low SES teenagers by reducing crash risks and fatalities.

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.