SPHHS Doctoral Students Chosen for CRF Awards, Grant Writing Program

SPHHS graduate students Susan Park, Monika Roy, Jennifer Carroll, and Sam Zeff

Top row (left-right): Susan Park and Monika Roy
Bottom row (left-right): Jennifer Carroll and Sam Zeff

May 21, 2021

The Center for Research on Families (CRF) at UMass Amherst has selected four SPHHS doctoral students for its 2021 awards and programs. Susan Park and Monika Roy have received Dissertation Awards; Jennifer Carroll has received a CRF Summer Methodology Scholarship; and Sam Zeff has been selected to join the 2021-22 cohort of the Graduate Student Grant Writing Program.

The $500 Dissertation Awards are given to PhD students enrolled at UMass Amherst who have demonstrated superior potential in any area of family research. Advanced doctoral students who are in the process of defending their prospectus and/or dissertation and working on their doctoral research are eligible to apply.

The SPHHS recipients are:

Susan Park is a PhD candidate in Epidemiology working under the mentorship of Professor and Chair Lisa Chasan-Taber. Park is currently the Project Manager for an NIH-funded study which aims to use novel tools to validate the Pregnancy Physical Activity Questionnaire. Her dissertation will use data from Estudio Parto, a randomized controlled trial, to examine the impact of a pregnancy lifestyle intervention, including physical activity and diet, on adverse birth outcomes in at-risk Hispanic women.

Monika Roy is a PhD candidate in Environmental Health Sciences and a member of Associate Professor Alicia Timme-Laragy’s developmental toxicology laboratory. Her research focuses on characterizing a prevalent environmental contaminant, PCB-11, which is a byproduct of industrial manufacturing and is detected in humans, including in pregnant women. Roy has published the first two chapters of her dissertation work, which utilize the zebrafish model to examine PCB-11’sinteractionswith an important liver enzyme that helps metabolize environmental pollutants. This research also includes modeling chronic developmental exposures to examine metabolic-related endpoints at a juvenile stage. Most currently, her research involves the use of a mutant zebrafish line to investigate the role of Nrf2, a master regulator of oxidative stress, under PCB-11 exposures. Her work was funded through a 2-year NIH T32 training grant through the UMass Amherst Biotechnology Training Program, and she is currently funded as an NIH F31 Predoctoral Fellow. She has presented her work at both the Society of Toxicology (SOT) and the Society of Environmental Toxicology & Chemistry (SETAC) and has received several awards such as a “Paper of the Year” award and a prestigious “Women in Toxicology” award.

Additionally, epidemiology doctoral student Jennifer Carroll has received a CRF Summer Methodology Scholarship. The full scholarship will cover the cost of registration to attend the CRF Summer Methodology Workshop: Stress Biomarkers: Why, What, Where, and How.

Sam Zeff joins the 2021-2022 cohort of the CRF Graduate Student Grant Writing Program, a highly competitive 9-month program which supports students through the development of NIH, NSF, Ford Foundation, and similar pre-doctoral fellowship proposals. The students will receive mentoring and support from faculty, staff, and peers throughout the grant development process, including the refinement and communication of their research ideas, their approach, methodology, and submission process.

Zeff is a PhD student in the Kinesiology department working under the mentorship of Professor Richard van Emmerik. His current research is focused on the effects of sport-related injuries on visual perception and how that may impact sport performance. Zeff is also interested in the long-term consequences of sport-related injuries on the quality of life in former athletes. He is currently trying to better understand the impacts of anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction on visual task performance and osteoarthritis development in collegiate athletes to help improve rehabilitation strategies.

Learn more about the 2021 award recipients here.

Learn more about the 2021-22 Graduate Grant Writing Program Cohort here.