Arku, Attanasio Named 2021-22 Family Research Scholars

SPHHS faculty members Raphael Arku and Laura Attanasio

Raphael Arku (left) and Laura Attanasio

April 26, 2021

Assistant professors Raphael E. Arku (Environmental Health Sciences) and Laura Attanasio (Health Promotion and Policy) have been selected as 2021-22 Family Research Scholars by the University of Massachusetts Amherst Center for Research on Families (CRF).

The CRF chooses six faculty members each year for the program based on their promising work in family-related research. The scholars will 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 renowned experts, and guidance on funding sources. The current group is the eighteenth cohort in the program's history.

Arku will investigate how features of the social and physical environment influence environmental exposures and health in resource-poor settings. His CRF work will fill gaps in research data by quantifying the effects of long-term maternal and early prenatal exposures to air and environmental noise pollution on neurodevelopment in infants and toddlers in Accra, Ghana. Arku’s long-term goal is to generate relevant data in Sub-Saharan Africa settings to make the case for environmental health relevant policies that aim at reducing air and noise pollution and their associated health impacts. He hopes to leverage the accountability and support of the CRF program to develop highly competitive grants to support the above goal.

Attanasio will study quality and equity in women’s reproductive healthcare. Her recent work has examined preferences and attitudes around birth mode, including for women with prior cesarean births, as well as healthcare utilization in the postpartum period. Attanasio plans to investigate reasons for racial and ethnic disparities in chances of vaginal birth after cesarean for women with a prior cesarean delivery who do not have a planned repeat cesarean. The goal of this research is to contribute to a better understanding of the circumstances associated with unplanned cesarean delivery for women with a prior cesarean in order to identify potential interventions to improve the quality of care for this population.

Read about all the 2021-2022 Family Research Scholars here.