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College Research Center

Welcome to the
David B. Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics Research Center

The Research Center helps foster a vibrant disciplinary and inter-disciplinary research community within the College, and facilitates individual and collaborative scholarly research by faculty.

Our faculty engages in a wide variety of research activities that impact the lives of individuals, families, organizations and the community. Their fields of expertise include child and family studies, marriage and family therapy, public health, food studies and nutrition, social work and sport management.

Recent topics of funded projects include: environmental toxicants, race, and cardiovascular disease risk in children, training veterans to conduct trauma research with fellow veterans, age-specific prevalence of specific psychiatric disorders, intellectual disabilities research ethics, mental health services and crossover to justice system involvement, wetland restoration project’s benefiting wildlife, children’s self-regulation in an urban environment, the economic security of disadvantaged and at-risk families through Social Security reform, bullying and domestic partner violence, and reduction of health disparities and promoting health and healthy lifestyles among minority communities.

Faculty Research Highlights
Dr. Chantal Line Carpentier

Falk Research Center welcomed Dr. Chantal Line Carpentier presenting “Negotiating a Global Sustainable Development Agenda: The View from the UN Conference on Trade & Development”

Chantal Line Carpentier, Ph.D., was the featured guest speaker on Friday, February 13 as part of The Research Center's Spring 2015 Research Brown Bag Series. Dr. Carpentier focused on the most pressing sustainable development issues and initiatives from her perspective as chief of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), as well as ongoing collaborations to address these issues.

Elif Dede Yildirim and Jaipaul Roopnarine

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services awards Elif Dede Yildirim, Jaipaul Roopnarine $100,000 grant to investigate relationships between child development outcomes and paternal engagement

Child and family studies Ph.D. student, Elif Dede Yildirim, working with Jaipaul Roopnarine, Ph.D., the Jack Reilly Endowed Professor of Child and Family Studies, has received a $100,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Administration for Children and Families. The research project, "Paternal Factors and Childhood Outcomes: The Mediating Role of Relationship Quality and Support Networks," offers great promise for state and local agencies that focus on preventing developmental risks to children that are attributed to challenging home and neighborhood environments.

Luvenia Cowart and Maria Brown photos

Falk College Faculty Awarded Komen Foundation Grant for Breast Cancer Awareness, Education Programming

Maria Brown

Public health professor of practice, Luvenia Cowart, working with Maria Brown, assistant research professor, School of Social Work, has received a $47,293 grant from the Susan G. Komen for the Cure New York Foundation to support the project, “Breast Cancer Awareness and Education Program for African American Women in Underserved Communities.” The project’s aim is to reduce disparities in breast cancer and its associated health risks, and to promote participation in mammography and early detection services for African American women in the Syracuse community.

Ken Corvo Photo

Professor Ken Corvo Receives FHL Foundation Grant to Advance Domestic Violence Research

School of Social Work associate professor, Ken Corvo, has received a three-year, $50,000 grant from the Frederick H. Leonhardt (FHL) Foundation. This latest grant from the FHL Foundation follows Dr. Corvo’s decade-long professional collaboration with Frederick Leonhardt, foundation president and a former therapist. Corvo recently received an invitation from a team of psychologists at the University of Granada to participate as co-investigator in a research project award made by the Spanish government for the study, “Neuropsychological and brain functioning in Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) perpetrators.”

Ambika Krishnakumar and Lutchmie Narine Photos

Study Identifies Key Components for Prevention, Intervention Programs for Adolescent Smoking in China

Falk College professors, Ambika Krishnakumar (Child and Family Studies) and Lutchmie Narine (Public Health) authored “Parenting practices and adolescent smoking in mainland China: The mediating effect of smoking-related cognitions,” which appeared in the August 2014 edition of the Journal of Adolescence. In collaboration with Dr. Yan Wang, Drs. Krishnakumar and Narine examined the direct and indirect associations of general and smoking-specific parenting practices with Chinese adolescents' smoking behaviors. Results suggest that parenting practices and smoking-related cognitions are critical components to be incorporated in prevention and intervention programs for adolescent smoking in China.

Bringing Theory to Practice Logo

Falk College Seed Grants awarded for 2014-15

Each year, the David B. Falk College Research Center, in collaboration with the Dean’s Office, awards seed grants on a competitive basis to assist faculty with completing preparatory work for research projects that have a high likelihood to compete for external funding. The 2014-15 seed grant recipients include:

  • Development and evaluation of a mind-body awareness intervention to enhance self-regulation as a mechanism to promote healthy weight among young children.
    Dessa Bergen-Cico, assistant professor, Public Health
    Rachel Razza, assistant professor, Child and Family Studies
  • Cultivating food justice: using photovoice to document the outcomes of a pilot food system intervention program for youth
    Evan Weissman, assistant professor, Food Studies
  • Housing and LGBTQ youth
    Maria Brown, professor of practice, School of Social Work and Aging Studies Institute
    Deborah Coolhart, assistant professor, Marriage and Family Therapy
  • How do Iraqi refugees experience and make sense of family relationships as they resettle in a host country?
    Rashmi Gangamma, assistant professor, Marriage and Family Therapy

  • Learn more about these projects and the award recipients

Bringing Theory to Practice Logo

Bringing Theory to Practice project headed to SU, other campuses

Several courses within the Falk College will benefit from a Bringing Theory to Practice grant aimed at studying the psychological and social well-being of college students. The Bringing Theory to Practice Project (BTtoP) awarded more than $700,000, including campus matching grants, to the colleges to address two key questions: How does learning on college campuses support the psychosocial development of students, and how and why does intentional commitment to the well-being of all students positively affect their learning and civic involvement?

Among the courses to be evaluated and studied are two courses offered through Falk College: SPM 101—Personal and Social Responsibility taught by associate professor of sport management, Jeff Pauline and HTW 405/HTW 605—Cognitive Behavioral Approaches to Stress Reduction, taught by assistant professor of public health, Dessa Bergen-Cico. Additionally, SOC/WGS/CFE 230—Intergroup Dialogue, which focuses on women’s issues, race, gender, ethnicity, and sexual orientation, taught by Gretchen Lopez from the School of Education, is included in the project.


Larsen focuses research on Malaria elimination in Zambia

In the Amazon port city of Belem, Brazil, David Larsen came to understand the luxury of a few pennies. Larsen, an assistant professor of public health in the Falk College, worked among the people living in extreme poverty in the favelas, while a missionary from 2002-04. “We’d be knocking on doors and saw very close up the devastating effects of the lack of health care, clean water and sanitation,” he says. “They literally had nothing.” And the simplest of measures—such as an ordinary antibiotic worth a few cents—could have a profound impact.

Launch of the Right to Food and Nutrition Watch 2013: Alternatives and Resistance to Policies that Generate Hunger

Falk College Participates in Global Efforts to Educate, Engage Grassroots Efforts to Alleviate Hunger

SU’s Falk College is a worldwide launch site for the 2013 edition of the Right to Food and Nutrition Watch, an international publication in English, Spanish and French, that explores global issues surrounding the right to food and nutrition. Unveiled Oct. 8 across the world, the Watch provides grassroots organizations confronted by violations to the right to adequate food and nutrition examples of how civil society groups have taken action at the local, regional, and international levels. “This year’s Watch launch marks an ongoing, six-year effort to bring the human rights framework alive by providing a platform for public interest civil society voices--as rights holders to hold national states--as duty bearers accountable to realize progressively the right to adequate food and nutrition,” says Anne C. Bellows, Ph.D., Watch editorial board member, contributor, and professor of food studies in the Falk College at Syracuse University.

Person with Disabilities

Public health study seeks participants who have family member, friend with intellectual disability

There are 4.3 million adult Americans with intellectual disabilities who experience substantial health disparities. Consequently, they are at increased risk for preventable mortality, infections, asthma, cardiovascular disease, violence victimization, and mental health problems. A new research study conducted through the Department of Public Health, Food Studies and Nutrition is currently seeking participants who have a family member or friend with an intellectual disability. Group interviews will be at Syracuse University and will last approximately two hours. Individuals will receive $40 and transportation costs for their participation. For more information, and to sign up to participate, call (315) 443–5981 or e-mail

Deb Coolhart

Psychology Progress features Coolhart’s Work on Therapy with Transsexual Youth & Families

Deborah Coolhart, Ph.D., assistant professor, Department of Marriage and Family Therapy, explored therapeutic issues specific to transsexual youth and families and presented a clinical assessment tool for determining transsexual youth’s readiness for medical treatments in a recently published article. “Therapy with Transsexual Youth and Their Families: A Clinical Tool for Assessing Youth’s Readiness for Gender Transition,” was published in the Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, Volume 39, Issue 2, pages 223–243, April 2013, with Amanda Baker, Sara Farmer, Meaghan Malaney, and Dara Shipman.

It is currently featured as a key research article on the web site of Psychology Progress. Key research articles are selected from a wide variety of peer-reviewed journals and are judged to be of major importance in their respective fields. Psychology Progress provides its readers with the latest and most significant research in all areas of psychology. It offers a medium through which new innovations in psychology can emerge, challenging conventions and ideas regularly. It is focused on increasing recognition and visibility to researchers in the international field of psychology.

Jaipaul Roopnarine

Falk College Professor Rick Welsh Receives 2013 Fred Buttel Outstanding Scholarly Achievement Award

The Rural Sociological Society (RSS) honored Rick Welsh, Ph.D., professor of food studies in the Falk College’s Department of Public Health, Food Studies and Nutrition, for exceptional contributions to the field of rural sociology with the 2013 Fred Buttel Outstanding Scholarly Achievement Award. This distinguished honor recognizes excellence in scholarly work in the same spirit exemplified by the late Fred Buttel, a prominent scholar of the sociology of agriculture and environmental sociology. In addition to 2013 Buttel Scholarly Achievement Award, Welsh recently received a grant from the University of Michigan’s Water Center for the project, “Wetlands for Wildlife: Understanding Drivers of Public-Private Partnership Restoration Success.” This project is one of six projects led by multidisciplinary teams that received funding from the Water Center to support and enhance restoration and protection efforts of the Great Lakes basin.

Jaipaul Roopnarine

Psychology Today spotlights research of Dr. Jaipaul Roopnarine

An invited Q and A with Dr. Jaipaul Roopnarine, the Reilly Professor of Child and Family Studies and director of the Jack Reilly Institute in the Department of Child and Family Studies, was featured by Psychology Today. The blog explores how fatherhood differs across cultures and through time. The Q&A highlights the work of Dr. Roopnarine, an international researcher and expert on father-child relationships across cultures, Caribbean families and childhood outcomes, early childhood education in international perspective, children's play across cultures, immigrant families and schooling in the U.S. He is currently the editor of Fathering Journal and recently published, Issues and Perspectives in Early Childhood Development and Education in Caribbean Countries.

Training Veterans to Conduct Research with Fellow Veterans

Training Veterans to Conduct Research with Fellow Veterans

Professor of public health Brooks Gump, Ph.D., M.P.H., will continue leading a program this summer for undergraduate veterans interested in becoming trauma researchers. Gump was one of six faculty from three upstate New York universities (Syracuse University, SUNY Upstate, and SUNY Oswego) who participated in the Research Education for Undergraduates (REU) program as a mentor in 2012.

Sponsored by the National Science Foundation, REU is now recruiting undergraduate veterans and a limited number of non-veterans who can earn $3,000 for participating in an intensive four-week summer program from June 3-28, 2013 at SUNY Oswego.

The program involves coursework, mentored student-faculty interaction, and development of a research project. After the program's summer component is complete, the second phase continues the following semester with research conducted under the continued mentorship of REU faculty.

Ultimately, the research findings are submitted for presentation at a national or international conference.


Public Health Faculty Study Gang Activity As Behavioral Addiction

The appeal of street life and gang activity for some individuals may be an addiction, which is the focus of soon-to-be-published research resulting from a Falk College-Syracuse community collaboration. Sandra D. Lane, professor, public health and anthropology, and Dessa Bergen-Cico, assistant professor, public health, along with community members Arnett Haygood-El and Timothy Jennings-Bey who work for the Southwest Community Center and United Way, respectively, created a research studyAddiction Research & Theory to better understand gang involvement by speaking with men who have histories of gang affiliation and street crime. While behavioral addictions, such as substance abuse and gambling, are well documented in research, studies on gang violence behaviors through the framework of addictions are limited. "Street Addiction: A Proposed Theoretical Model for Understanding the Draw of Street Life and Gang Activity," will be published in the Journal of Addiction Research and Theory in March. The  video clip above gives an overview of how the research was developed, along with highlights of findings.


Social Work Grant

School of Social Work Partners with UAlbany, Upstate Consortium to Support Veterans' Health

The Syracuse University School of Social Work is part of a consortium of upstate New York schools, led by the University at Albany’s School of Social Welfare, to support behavioral health initiatives for veterans. Under the umbrella of the Upstate New York Mental and Behavioral Health Education Consortium (UNY-MBHEC), the partners include the University at Buffalo, University at Binghamton, University at Brockport, Nazareth College of Rochester and Roberts Wesleyan College, in addition to the School of Social Work in SU’s Falk College and UAlbany.

The project, which is supported by a three-year, $480,253 competitive grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), is intended to increase social workers’ capacity to address the mental and behavioral health needs of veterans, military personnel and their families, and residents of medically underserved rural communities.

Karen Kirkhart

School of Social Work Professor Works with the American Evaluation Association

Karen Kirkhart, professor, School of Social Work served as a writing team member at the American Evaluation Association, a resource for program evaluation and other related inquiry.  The team developed a statement on cultural competence in evaluation, identifying definitions and expectations for cultural competence, guiding both evaluators and the funders of evaluation.

The statement is significant because it identifies how those designing and carrying out evaluations conduct themselves and their work and also what the public should expect of evaluators.

Approved by the American Evaluation Association board in March, the statement was supported by the full membership in April, it is available on the American Evaluation Association’s website, and through the David B. Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics’s Research Center.  

Deb Monahan

Deborah J. Monahan Associate Dean of Research

Research Brown Bag Forums