The University of Massachusetts Amherst
University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Current and Past Family Research Scholars

Associate Professor in the School of Public Health and Health Sciences

Research:

Sarah Goff, MD. Ph.D., is an Associate Professor in
Health Promotion and Policy. A practicing pediatrician and internist, Goff specializes in maternal-child health care quality, organizational behavior, communication in health care, implementation science, and healthcare equity. Some of her recent studies examined the relationship between organizational factors and pediatric health care quality, identifying barriers to effective implementation of evidence-based guidelines for perinatal depression in pediatric practices, and determining whether Medicaid accountable care organizations improve asthma outcomes for children at high risk for disparate care and outcomes.
 
Dr. Goff plans to investigate the barriers to care for Parental Prenatal Mood Disorders, (PMD) such as depression and anxiety. She will develop a grant to fund a randomized trial of strategies to implement effective screening and referral protocols in pediatric practices serving vulnerable populations.

Assistant Professor of Civil & Environmental Engineering

Research:

Emily Kumpel, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. Dr. Kumpel has over a decade of experience conducting research on topics including intermittent water supply, water quality in distribution systems, water access and equity, water quality monitoring, and use of information and communication technologies in water delivery systems. She has conducted extensive field research in India, Kenya, Senegal, and Nigeria, and collaborated on research projects in more than a dozen other countries throughout Africa and Asia.

Dr. Kumpel plans to  define, characterize, and measure household water portfolios through her CRF proposal. She seeks to understand and measure these complex mechanisms of household water access to enable the design of engineered systems that control risks to health and enable provision of safe, sustainable water supplies. The study will be carried out in Nairobi, Kenya, Mysore, India, and the Pioneer Valley in Massachusetts.

Assistant Professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences

Research:

Tara Mandalaywala, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences and  lead researcher for the Cognition Across Development (CAD) Laboratory which explores the development of social cognition across human and nonhuman primates. Her research examines how young individuals make sense of and cope with the complex social world around them. Dr. Mandalaywala is interested in how people from low socioeconomic (SES) families exhibit resilience even in the face of adversity. 

As a CRF Scholar, she plans to explore how early-emerging such as one's beliefs about social mobility, might predict relative risk or resilience to economic disadvantage. She hopes this knowledge will serve to develop low-cost interventions to improve health outcomes among at-risk populations. 

 

Assistant Professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences

Research:

Bruna Martins-Klein, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of Psychological and Brain. Her research 
explores the psychological and biological mechanisms that support
emotional resilience in late-life. She also studies poor emotion regulation brain networks in disorders such as PTSD, anxiety, and adjustment to chronic illness.

Dr. Martins-Klein plans to investigate the formation of connections between current stressors and previous life experiences, and how they may facilitate coping and reinterpreting stressful situations. Her team will look at how adapting thoughts/beliefs, attention, awareness of physical sensations, and recalling life experiences (autobiographical memory) can help regulate emotions and build resilience. She hopes to inform intelligent design of late-life therapy interventions to address emotion dysregulation, geriatric mood disorders, and promote longevity. 

Assistant Professor of Biology

Research:

Stephanie Padilla, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of Biology. Her lab studies the neural basis of behavior and physiology using a combination of mouse and viral reagents. With targeted light delivery, her team can study how distinct neurons impact mouse behavior. Her research is focused on:1) Understanding how sex hormones impact behavioral decisions and emotional state and 2) Resolving the neural circuitry underlying sex differences in body weight regulation.

Dr. Padilla plans to develop a proposal to investigate the neural mechanisms of postpartum depression. In a recent study, her team found that estrogen-sensitive Kiss1 neurons in the hypothalamus can influence mood and motivational states in mice. Dr. Padilla aims to establish a circuit diagram to describe how Kiss1 neurons influence depression and anxiety in response to circulating estrogen and progesterone. This will provide potential targets for interventions to help alleviate postpartum depression in mothers.

 

Associate Professor in the School of Public Health and Health Sciences

Research:

Alicia Timme-Laragy, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Environmental Health Sciences. Her research looks at oxidative stress, an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants within a body and the impacts it has on embryonic development. Early life exposures to environmental pollutants can alter an embryo's development and lay the foundation for later-life disease. Using zebrafish as a model system, Dr. Timme-Laragy’s research aims to explain cellular and molecular mechanisms of toxicant-induced oxidative stress in embryonic development, and identify later-life consequences of embryonic exposure to oxidative stress.

During her year with CRF, Dr. Timme-Laragy plans to study maternal exposures to PFAS (per and polyfluoroalkylated substances) before conception as a critical window that impacts the growth of the fetus and later-life health.