Funded Research Projects

CowartHealth Foundation for Western & Central New York $24,942 grant for trauma intervention with children

The Health Foundation for Western & Central New York recently awarded a $24,942 grant to the trauma intervention project, Maternal Child Health Spot Booster, led by Syracuse University’s Falk College Trauma-Informed Scholars in partnership with the Syracuse Trauma Response Team (TRT).

The proposed sustainable intervention strategy aims to help preschoolers in the areas of the Syracuse community most affected by violence and the resulting trauma. Starting this fall, the research team will train Head Start teaching staff and bring mindful yoga intervention to 4- and 5-year-old classrooms at Merrick Head Start, part of the Syracuse City School District and Onondaga County’s federally designated Community Action Agency, PEACE, Inc. The three project phases include:

  • Phase 1: Provide two trauma-informed trainings to teachers and staff in local Head Start centers responsible caring for preschool aged children.
  • The program has been implemented for pre-schoolers from the Peace Incorporated Head Start Merrick School to help children who may have been subjected to violence or trauma and was featured on News Channel 9 as well.

  • Phase 2: Offer mindfulness training, including yoga, to children under age 5 and their families.
  • Phase 3: Falk College Trauma-Informed Scholars and the TRT provide ongoing, sustainable consolidation and follow up.

Project director, Rachel Razza, Ph. D., is an associate professor and graduate director of Human Development and Family Science at Syracuse University Falk College. Her scholarly work focuses on children’s self-regulation—children’s ability to monitor cognitive strategies and adapt behavior to fit situational demands—especially among at-risk children, who are particularly vulnerable to self-regulatory deficits.

“Mindfulness-based practice is being increasing used with teachers and children as a strategy for reducing the negative impacts of stress and trauma,” says Dr. Razza. “Benefits for children include enhanced self-regulation, which has important implications for their school readiness, as well as their future academic and socioemotional competence.”

Falk College Public Health, Food Studies and Nutrition associate professor Dessa Bergen-Cico, Ph.D., and Falk Family Endowed Professor of Marriage and Family Therapy Linda Stone Fish M.S.W., Ph.D., are co-investigators on the project.

CowartGenesis Health Project launches Alzheimer’s Disease, dementia caregivers support program

A $500,000 grant from the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) will fund programming to deliver Alzheimer’s Disease and caregiving support to the African American community in Syracuse —including respite care and connections to community resources—as part of the Genesis Health Project. This initiative, led by Syracuse University’s Falk College, is part of the NYSDOH’s Alzheimer’s Disease Program, which implemented a $25 million strategy in 2015 to support people with Alzheimer’s Disease and other dementias and their caregivers.

The goals of the African American Alzheimer’s Dementia Caregivers Support Program (AADCS) are to provide Alzheimer’s and dementia education to inner-city African Americans and increase use of available resources to diminish caregiver stress. The programs include educational seminars and cultural competency training for community-based partners. A 12-Week Healthy Living Program will launch August 13 and runs through October 29, 2016 from 9-11:30 a.m. at the Living Water Church of God in Christ, 121 Huron Street. The Healthy Living program encompasses Alzheimer’s Disease and nutrition education, exercise sessions and yoga and meditation. Required registration and orientation for this free program will be held on August 13 starting at 9:00 a.m. All individuals must be 18 years of age to participate.

BrooksGumpGump receives grant to study how past and current vacationing behavior impacts physical and psychological health

Recent years have seen a decline in the American Vacation with many workers in the United States failing to fully utilize the paid time off from work that is available to them. The Vacationing and Health Study is a one-year project funded by Project Time Off that aims to examine the psychological, social, and physical well-being changes that occur as a result of vacationing as well as the potentially costly effects of not taking time off from work. The study consists of three appointments at Syracuse University. All three appointments involve a venous blood draw, questionnaires regarding stress and psychological functioning, a blood pressure and heart rate fluctuation reading, and body measurements (such as waist circumference) as well as a hair sample.
Dr. Brooks Gump, Principal Investigator for this study and Falk Family Endowed Professor of Public Health at Syracuse University states “We frequently research the health effects of stressors and negative events, surprisingly, there is very little research on the potential health effects of positive events and activities. This study will be one of the first to address the question – do vacations affect our health? And, if so, which kinds of vacations?” Recruitment for the study is ongoing with a target goal of collecting data from 65 full time employed adults eligible for paid time off.

BrooksGumpGump to continue leading Undergraduate Program for Trauma Research with Veterans with newly awarded NSF grant

Falk Family Professor of Public Health, Brooks Gump, Ph.D., M.P.H., will continue leading a program this summer for undergraduate veterans and non-veterans (five openings for each) 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 ran this Research Education for Undergraduates (REU) program in 2012 and 2013. As one of several on-going interdisciplinary collaborations in the Falk College, the REU program includes faculty members Keith A. Alford, Ph.D., ACSW, associate professor of social work and Dessa Bergen-Cico, Ph.D., CHES, CAS, assistant professor, public health. The $297,135.00 grant recently awarded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) will support the REU program for two more years, which is now recruiting undergraduate veterans and non-veterans to participate. Students can earn $3,000 for participating in an intensive four-week summer program from June 5-29, 2017 at Syracuse University.

KatherineMcDonald2McDonald receives NIH grant to study intellectual disability research ethics

Katherine McDonald, associate professor of public health in the David B. Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics and faculty fellow in the Burton Blatt Institute, has received a grant from the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. The research project, “Stakeholder Views on Intellectual Disability Research Ethics,” is expected to have significant ethical and public health implications. Robert S. Olick, associate professor of bioethics and humanities at Upstate Medical University, will serve as co-investigator on the project.

Adults with intellectual disabilities (ID) face significant physical and mental health disparities. Ethical challenges may discourage their inclusion in research and hinder scientific advancements to reduce these health disparities. Five core groups—adults with ID, individuals who provide informal support to adults with ID, individuals who provide services to adults with ID, ID researchers and Institutional Review Board (IRB) members—have noteworthy stakes in the research participation of adults with ID. Little is known about these stakeholders’ opinions on how to ethically include adults with ID in research. Increasing this knowledge base, especially by inviting input from groups whose opinions are rarely examined, is critical to helping the scientific community devise and deploy sensitive and responsive practices and encourage research to reduce pressing disparities.

BrooksGumpGump leads NIH study aimed to improve children’s cardiovascular health

The Falk College’s Department of Public Health, Food Studies and Nutrition at Syracuse University is seeking participants for a new research study aimed to improve children’s cardiovascular health. The Syracuse Lead Study, funded by the National Institutes of Health, will examine environmental toxins that collect in the human body, such as lead, to understand their impact on stress response and cardiovascular health. By identifying cardiovascular risk factors, this research study will offer valuable information to improve child and adult health in communities throughout the country. The Syracuse Lead Study is a four-year project focused on children ages 9, 10 or 11, who live in the 13202, 13203, 13204, 13205, 13206, 13207, 13208, 13210, 13244 zip code areas and identify their race as black or white. Participants and their parents/guardians will be compensated for their time with a stipend of up to $120. The study consists of two appointments at Syracuse University. The first appointment involves a venous blood draw to measure lead levels and questionnaires regarding stressors and support systems. The second appointment requires two echocardiograms and the completion of several computer games in a laboratory setting. Time commitment is approximately five-hours on campus.

RickWelshFalk professor to study anaerobic digesters for small-scale dairy farms

Falk College professor of Food Studies, Rick Welsh, and Stefan Grimberg and Shane Rogers, two environmental engineers from Clarkson University, have received a competitive grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute for Food and Agriculture to develop educational and outreach materials related to smaller-scale anaerobic digesters.

In the U.S., anaerobic digesters have been seen as larger farm technologies since the more manure produced on a farm, the greater the amount of biogas produced too. This biogas is captured and burned to produce heat that can be used to keep parlors warm or to produce steam to turn a turbine and produce electricity. Excess electricity can be sold.

Tanya_HoracekFalk College nutrition professor, Tanya Horacek, part of team awarded $4.9 million USDA grant for childhood obesity prevention

Falk College associate professor of nutrition, Tanya Horacek, R.D., Ph.D., and Syracuse University are part of a 14-university team that has received a $4.9 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to empower college students to create obesity prevention programs for their peers as well as students in elementary and high schools.

The campaign, which will launch in August, is entitled, “Get Fruved.” It will harness the peer-to-peer interactions of more than 1,000 students who will work together to create interventions so students become more physically active. “Fruved” is a term that refers to fruits and vegetables. The behaviors students will address include healthy eating and physical activity as well as managing stress, emotional well-being, and the importance of positive social support systems. The students will also be advocates for environmental change on their campuses to support positive health behaviors. This project purposefully uses a non-diet approach to weight management and instead focuses on promoting healthy behavior and positive healthy body images.

MSWNewMSW students selected for program focused on mental, behavioral health needs of veterans, military personnel and their families

Syracuse University’s School of Social Work has announced four advanced standing MSW students have received Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) grant awards as a part of the Upstate New York Mental and Behavioral Health Education Consortium (UNY-MBHEC). This new initiative’s focus is to increase the capacity of the social work profession in upstate New York to serve the mental and behavioral health needs of veterans, military personnel and their families, and residents of medically underserved rural communities.

RickWelshWorking toward wetland restoration

In the St. Lawrence River watershed in northern New York, two creatures struggle to hang on in the complex ecosystem of restored wetlands. The Blanding’s turtle and the golden-winged warbler can thrive in the shallow pools of water and adjacent dense shrubby vegetation typical of the swampy marshes. The recovery of these two specific species is an important indicator for an interdisciplinary team of researchers, including two from Syracuse University, assessing the viability of public-private partnerships to restore wetlands. Their work is providing answers to ensure conservation efforts that benefit both human and animal in this region—and possibly beyond.

“We know it’s successful because there’s a lot of enrollment and a lot less controversy than wetland regulation, which creates pushback and resentment in rural and agricultural communities and hadn’t worked very well,” says Richard Welsh, a sociologist and professor of food studies in Falk College, who is a co-investigator. “But we don’t know if the outcomes regarding these kinds of natural capital—biodiversity, water quality—and social and economic impacts have been successful. That’s what we’re trying to find out.”