Spring 2011

Faculty News


Online Nutrition courses found to be equally effective as on-campus counterparts

An article in the March/April issue of the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior by researchers Nancy Cohen, Elena Carbone and Patricia Beffa-Negrini of the Nutrition Department is being promoted by the magazine’s publisher, Elsevier, for its finding that most nutrition courses are as valuable online as they are face-to-face. JNEB is the official journal of the Society for Nutrition Education.

The publisher's promotional release “Online Nutrition Courses: Fad or Growing Trend?” focuses on Cohen, Carbone and Beffa-Negrini's article titled “The Design, Implementation, and Evaluation of On-line Credit Nutrition Courses: A Systematic Review.”

The journal summarizes Cohen and colleagues’ findings this way: “Findings from this study reveal four quasi-experimental studies that indicated no differences in nutrition knowledge or achievement between online and face-to-face learners. Results were inconclusive regarding student satisfaction, motivation or perceptions. Since nutrition courses meet general education science requirements and professional education needs in dietetics, medical nursing, and other allied health curricula, nutrition is among the many postsecondary subjects commonly taught online.”

The nutrition educators examined nine online nutrition courses and report that although many components of nutrition education have been successfully included in online courses, there are still areas needing improvement. Cohen is quoted as saying that students can gain knowledge in online as well as in face-to-face nutrition courses, but satisfaction is mixed. Online learning has advantages such as overcoming time and distance barriers, capacity to share resources among colleges and universities to wide audiences, and the ability to use innovative multimedia and virtual instructional methods.

“However, if online courses are designed in such a way that traditional face-to-face methods like textbook readings, lectures and examinations are published on the Internet without considering social isolation, de-individualized instruction, and using technology for the sake of technology, effective learning may not occur,” she adds.

The journal points out that there is limited research available on the effectiveness of online nutrition education, but such courses may represent an excellent opportunity to reach people of college age, especially because they often have poor eating habits. Further investigation is also needed to make sure students are being educated effectively.

The journal editors state that according to the Babson Survey Research Group, enrollment in online courses is growing faster than overall higher education offerings, perhaps due to the economic downturn among other reasons. The authors points out it is important to present and publish experiences with online courses in general, not just nutrition education courses, to build the knowledge base in this growing field.

Burns appointed to Topics in Language Disorders editorial board

Frances A. Burns, assistant professor in the Department of Communication Disorders, has been appointed to the editorial board of the journal Topics in Language Disorders. Topics in Language Disorders is a double-blind peer-reviewed journal that has as its major purposes: (1) bringing together professionals who have a clinical interest in language and its disorders while transcending disciplinary concerns; (2) clarifying the application of theory to practices in the treatment, rehabilitation and education of individuals with language disorders; and (3) providing relevant information to practicing professionals dealing with the language disabled.

Previously, Burns co-edited the April/June and July/September 2010 issues of the journal. Both issues focused on children learning African American English (AAE) as a first language. In the first issue titled Research with Implications for Assessing the Language of African American English Speakers, contributing authors suggest new pathways for understanding how young AAE speakers who are suspected of having a language disorder can be assessed with the least amount of linguistic bias. The articles in the second issue, Language Intervention and AAE Speaking Children: Issues and Preliminary Data, address factors that should be taken into consideration when providing speech and language-based treatment for young AAE speakers and provide some guidelines for choosing appropriate intervention targets, as well as guidelines for reading instruction.

Wiist authors articles in the American Journal of Public Health, Medical Care

William H. Wiist, clinical professor in the online MPH in Public Health Practice program, has authored “Citizens United, Public Health, and Democracy: The Supreme Court Ruling, Its Implications, and Proposed Action.” The article, which was published online ahead of print on March 18, 2011 in the American Journal of Public Health, examines the ramifications of the Supreme Court’s ruling allowing unlimited contributions to election advocacy advertising and its impact on public health and health policy. The article can be found online at:

Wiist has also penned an online follow-up article for the Corporations and Health Watch website. That article can be accessed at:,Article.

Wiist also co-authored with Mayer Brezis a series of articles appearing in the journal Medical Care. The article “Vulnerability of Health to Market Forces” reviews adverse influences of for-profit enterprises on health care and public health, and examines significance for public policy. Dr. Catarina Kiefe (University of Massachusetts Worcester), the editor of Medical Care – one of the top 10 health administration journals – said that the article by Brezis and Wiist was “so important and so controversial” that she used it to inaugurate a new “Point,” “Counterpoint,” and “Reply” series and web blog in the usually data-driven journal.

Brezis’ and Wiist’s “Vulnerability of Health to Market Forces,” “Point” and “Reply” articles are found in Vol. 49 (3): 232-239, & 245-247, in the March 2011 issue of Medical Care. The editor’s introduction of the series and the “Counterpoint” articles are on pp. 231, & 240-244, respectively. The journal can be found online at:

Zilberberg pens commentary for the Journal of the American Medical Association

Dr. Marya Zilberberg, adjunct associate professor of Epidemiology, has authored a commentary for the current issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association. In the commentary, Dr. Zilberberg discusses the repercussions of the overwhelming volume of published clinical research in relation to the relative scarcity of solid evidence for everyday interventions. The commentary titled “The Clinical Research Enterprise: Time to Change Course?” appears in the February 9, 2011 issue of the journal. Her commentary can be read online at

Dr. Zilberberg is the Founder, President and CEO of EviMed Research Group, LLC, in Goshen, Massachusetts. In addition to her position with UMass Amherst’s School of Public Health and Health Sciences, she also serves as a Senior Fellow at the Jefferson School of Population Health at the Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia.

Kinesiology among most popular "Active Voice" columns

In its year-end roundup of the 10 most popular “active voice” columns published in 2010, the ACSM’s Sports Medicine Bulletin includes three columnists with ties to the Department of Kinesiology: alumnus John Porcari, PhD ’89, associate professor Barry Braun, and postdoctoral fellow Dinesh John. Read more...

Nutrition faculty member updates classic diet text

Reed Mangels, lecturer in the Department of Nutrition, along with co-authors Virginia Messina and Mark Messina, have completed a new edition of the classic text The Dietitian’s Guide to Vegetarian Diets: Issues and Applications, Third Edition. The Third Edition, recently released by Jones and Barlett Learning, provides the most up-to-date information on vegetarian diets.

Written for dietitians and other health care professionals, the Third Edition includes case-studies, sample menus and counseling points to help readers apply material to the real world. The text addresses diets throughout the lifecycle with chapters devoted to pregnancy and lactation, infants, children, adolescents, and the elderly, and highlights the benefits of using vegetarian diets in the treatment of hyperlipidemia, hypertension, type 2 diabetes and obesity.

“Dietitians and other health professionals who work in the area of vegetarian nutrition have to be knowledgeable about many topics. Not only do they need to provide vegetarians or people interested in vegetarian diets with current information about key nutrients, but they also need to know about life-cycle issues, prevention and treatment of chronic diseases, and vegetarian meal planning," says author Reed Mangels. “We wrote this book in order to give practitioners a comprehensive resource that includes the latest research on vegetarianism as well as practical recommendations.”

Full of vital information on vegetarian nutritional needs and healthier, more satisfying diets, the Third Edition can be used as an aid for counseling vegetarian clients and those interested in becoming vegetarians, or serve as a textbook for students who have completed introductory coursework in nutrition.

Beffa-Negrini collaborates on new workbook

Patricia Beffa-Negrini, research associate professor and program coordinator for the Online MPH in Nutrition, in collaboration with her students, has prepared the new Workbook for Community Nutrition in Action: An Entrepreneurial Approach, 5th Edition. Updated in 2010 and published by Cengage Learning, Community Nutrition in Action, by authors Marie A. Boyle and David H. Holben, is a widely used nutrition textbook. Patricia Beffa-Negrini’s new workbook for this edition complements the text and provides opportunities to apply text concepts through case-study-based exercises.

Calabrese awarded certificate of recognition by Elsevier

Edward J. Calabrese, professor in the Environmental Health Sciences Division in the Department of Public Health, was awarded a Certificate of Recognition by the publisher Elsevier. Calabrese's article, Biological stress response terminology: Integrating the concepts of adaptive response and preconditioning stress within a hormetic dose-response framework, is one of Elsevier's Top Ten cited articles on SCOPUS for the calendar years 2007-2008. The article appeared in the July 1, 2007 issue of the journal Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology, published by Elsevier.

The article offers a set of recommendations to achieve greater conceptual harmony of biological stress terminology across the broad spectrum of biological disciplines within a hormetic dose-response context.


In This Issue

School News

Dean's Welcome

The SPHHS Celebrates Its History
Kinesiology Earns Top Rankings
SPHHS Welcomes Fulbrights

Faculty News

In the Spotlight: New Faculty
Conferences & Appearances
Honors & Awards
Grant News


Student News

Creating a Healthier World
Teleconference Therapy
Career Fair
Around the School

Alumni News

Alumni Profile: David Blake
Alumni News Briefs

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