Public Health News
Syracuse University’s Falk College Announces Master of Public Health (MPH) Degree
MPH degree prepares students to have a global impact by reducing health disparities produced by economic, social, and environmental inequalities.
Syracuse University’s Falk College today announced a Master of Public Health (MPH) available beginning this semester, Fall 2019. The MPH is a 42-credit hour graduate program providing students with core knowledge, research, and practice skills in evidence-based public health.
Providing a field-based learning opportunity is an integral part of the Falk College MPH curriculum. Through this opportunity, students apply global health competencies through direct experience in an international setting, providing cross-cultural experience and understanding of global health policies and practices in the field. These purposeful opportunities provide students valuable hands-on experience that translates well into future professional roles in global health. Faculty and staff advisors have extensive connections in the global health field, which translates into tremendous international networking opportunities for students.
The global perspective of the program is invaluable for graduate students interested in meeting the needs of the increasingly diverse population of New York State and the United States. The program’s combination of theory and practice allows students to work in policy, research, and service settings.
Unique features of the program include:
- Understanding multi-faceted challenges (environmental, physiological, social, psychological) on health
- Ecological and cultural contexts of health/well-being and relationship to health practices
- A global perspective to understanding public health and implementing public health programs
- Understanding how to develop international partnerships for practice
- Opportunity to engage in global health practice with established SU and world partners
- Collaborative research projects are funded by numerous grants from multiple agencies, including the National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR), and New York State
The MPH program at Falk College at Syracuse University is an applicant for accreditation by the Council on Education for Public Health. The accreditation review will address the BSPH, MPH, and the BSPH/MPH. Other degrees and areas of study offered by this institution will not be included in the unit of accreditation review.
Please contact the Falk College Office of Admissions at (315) 443-5555 or email@example.com, for more information about the MPH as well as other programs in Falk College’s Department of Public Health, including a Bachelor of Science in Public Health (BSPH), Master of Science in Public Health (MSPH), accelerated BSPH/MSPH and BSPH/MPH programs in which both the bachelor’s and master’s degrees may be earned in 5 years, and a Certificate of Advanced Studies in Global Health.
Public health degree leads to emergency response management opportunities
After graduating from Falk College in 2014 with a degree in Public Health, Jennifer Molina joined the Peace Corps and traveled to Guatemala as a maternal and child health volunteer. One of her major accomplishments was developing, implementing, and evaluating a six-month behavior change seminar with local health professionals. She also organized a health coalition, led by volunteers, to develop an emergency birth plan to prevent maternal death during childbirth. That experience awakened an interest in emergency management and led her to work as an emergency management specialist with the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA).
At the GSA, she coordinated the reconstitution of the federal government in the event of an emergency, as well as support the recovery efforts of FEMA’s Logistics team. Her team won Federal Employee of the Year for its dedication to GSA and all federal agencies after Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands in 2017. “I personally spent two months deployed working with FEMA and GSA’s deployment teams,” says Molina.
“I still remember that day when I walked into my professor’s office asking to be a public health major. Full disclosure I had no idea what public health was until I got to Syracuse and it just seemed like the perfect fit for me after I talked to her.”
Class of 2020 Falk Convocation and Syracuse University Commencement Ceremony update
Due to complex construction projects underway on campus, specifically the Stadium Project, various Commencement Weekend 2020 ceremonies will occur at alternative locations and at different times than in recent years. Specifically:
- Commencement 2020 will take place Sunday, May 10, 2020 at 9:30 a.m. on the Shaw Quadrangle.
- There are no changes to the Falk College Convocation ceremony, which will take place Saturday, May 9, 2020 at 4:30 p.m. in Manley Field House, as in previous years. Plans are already underway to celebrate the Class of 2020 during Falk’s Convocation with many special traditions, including each graduate being individually announced by name to walk across the stage. Tickets are not required. Parking is free. Family and friends who are unable to attend in person can watch the Convocation live online. Questions specific to Falk Convocation can be directed to Annette Hodgens firstname.lastname@example.org
- All pertinent details for Commencement Weekend 2020 will be made available on commencement.syr.edu as they are announced.
The Stadium Project is one of several University projects underway as part of the Campus Framework, a visionary roadmap meant to guide future campus planning and development for the next 20 years. For more information about current projects, visit the Campus Framework website.
Dean Murphy welcomes Falk students to campus
Dear Falk Students,
Welcome back to campus, returning Falk students! Let’s give a very special welcome to the Class of 2023, as well as new transfer and graduate students. We are thrilled to have you join us. I hope you each enjoyed an adventurous and restful summer.
What a special time to be at Syracuse! There are plenty of exciting events planned on campus this semester, including a very special Orange Central homecoming and reunion on September 12-15, which will commemorate 150 years of Syracuse University history.
As we jump right into the Fall 2019 semester, I would like to remind you of some important information that will help you as you begin—or continue—your studies here at Falk College.
Falk College Student Services is your support system. Student Services counselors are here to provide you with confidential academic advising and help you meet your requirements and goals. In addition, they are your resource for confidential social and emotional support. If you have any concerns throughout your academic career, please contact Student Services or visit Suite 300 MacNaughton Hall in the Falk Complex.
I encourage you to connect with the staff at Falk Career Services, who can help you prepare for life after college through career exploration, internship and job searching, professional networking, and more. They are also located in Suite 300 MacNaughton Hall, or you can search for opportunities through Handshake, the University’s job search and professional events portal.
In addition, you can connect to spiritual life on campus at Hendricks Chapel, as well as health and counseling services now open in the Barnes Center at the Arch. Visit news.syr.edu to keep up with Schine Student Center renovations and other important University updates.
The Student Lounge, located in Falk 216, is available to you anytime the Falk Complex is open. The lounge has a microwave, refrigerator, and vending machines for student use. Across the hall is the Falk Café on 2, open 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. In addition to smoothies, make-your-own salads, and wraps, the Café has a grill for sandwiches, hamburgers, veggie burgers, and many other items. Just down the hall is Falk 229, the quiet student lounge.
There are several computer labs in the Falk Complex. Falk 113 is a PC lab, Falk 253 is a Mac lab. Both are available to students at any time. Falk 400 and 407 are PC labs that are also used as teaching classrooms. When class is not in session, they are open for student use. You may check their schedule of availability using the Orange Events website. You may also use the quick-print stations in Falk 216 and 229 for printing and email. These stations log out automatically after 15 minutes of use.
The Student Involvement Fair will be held Wednesday, September 4 on the Quad from 11:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. (Rain location: Goldstein Auditorium in Schine Student Center). With more than 300 student organizations on campus, you are sure to find something that interests you. I highly encourage each of you to attend.
Syracuse University email is the primary communication method at the University. Your professors and University offices will contact you with important information using your Syracuse University email address (ending in “@syr.edu”), not your personal email address. So, it is essential to read your University email at least once every day.
While I hope this list is helpful, there are many other resources available to you at Syracuse University. Please visit syracuse.edu/life/students to review a more inclusive listing of valuable student resources to enhance your experience at Syracuse.
With that, I wish you the very best for the upcoming Fall 2019 semester. Once again, welcome to Falk College and the Syracuse University family.
Diane Lyden Murphy, M.A., M.S.W., Ph.D.
Bridging the gap between water access and its improved quality
Public health major Brianna Howard on winning 2019 Invent@SU team
Syracuse University students Brianna Howard (Public Health) and Nikita Chatterjee (Economics), co-founders of PAANI, are working to bring clean water to a neighborhood where it is direly needed in the heart of Mumbai, India. Their concept is for a water filter made from resources that are readily available in Dharavi, as well as an educational program to improve public health and the quality of life through community engagement. Learn more about the PAANI project.
Through the Invent@SU program, undergraduate students are transformed into inventors as they design, prototype and pitch original devices. Students learn about design, ideation and intellectual property, then conceive an original invention, prototype the invention and refine it in response to weekly feedback from diverse audiences of guest evaluators.
During the six-week Invent@SU program in 2019, Chatterjee and Howard designed and built a prototype for an invention combining a traditional sari with advanced water filters built in. Their PAANI device is simple, familiar and practical for families who already use sari cloth for filtering.
“They had this intuitive method that did work for them, though just not as efficiently as it should. And I think we wanted to enhance that but still keep that familiarity for them,” said Chatterjee.
When the filters in the PAANI device are used up, henna dye produces an “X” symbol on the cloth.
“The ‘x’ we choose because everyone knows ‘x’ means stop. There doesn’t have to be a language barrier,” said Chatterjee.
Howard and Chatterjee were one of ten teams to participate in the Invent@SU invention accelerator during the Syracuse University campus session. Each week the teams presented their work to guest evaluators during seven-minute presentations, and at the end of the program, a panel of judges voted on the top inventions. PAANI took first place and a $5,000 prize.
“This is something that is not only what we are doing right now, but it is bigger than us,” says Howard.
The Invent@SU award is not the only support the project has received. PAANI participated in the 2019 RvD iPrize Competition winning $3,000 and the Hunter Brooks Watson Spirit Award for an additional $2,500 in funding. Howard and Chatterjee also traveled to Albany, NY on May 26, 2019 for the 10th annual New York Business Plan Competition (NYBPC) organized by the Upstate Capital Association of New York in Albany and was awarded the MWBE Excellence Award for an additional $2,000 in funding.
Public health major Brianna Howard is a first-generation college student from Queens, NY who has always known what it means to work hard. “It’s quite ironic that the field I want to go into is the field of public health, knowing that I grew up in a district that received little to no funding for health promotion and prevention,” she says.
“My passion stems from the exact factors that were placed against me, so to me there are no limits to what I can accomplish and achieve,” notes Howard. “I chose the field of health because I have a passion for working with communities and understanding the ways in which health can be improved as a community instead of through individual impact. I love working with children because I truly believe that the impact that is made within them is an impact made for future generations to come. For this reason I work as a tutor in an elementary school located in the Syracuse City District, twice a week.”
Together, the team is working on a global impact project, in which they were given the opportunity to make a change in a community through Women Entrepreneurs Make a Difference in Communities, a program developed by Capital One Bank. The program is designed to given women entrepreneurs the opportunity to develop and refine their skills to help contribute to the economic and social strength of a community. The Future Edge initiative has given grants to students thrive in creating programs to help communities and their economies.
Working with local mentors and water quality experts, Chatterjee and Howard are working on the concept of a tangible water filter. They are hopeful that their innovation will not only enhance water quality, but will give women (who often travel for hours to carry fresh water to their homes and communities) a chance to become more entrepreneurial by freeing up time to pursue other ventures, including small businesses.
Falk College welcomes new faculty and staff
Syracuse University’s Falk College is pleased to announce the appointment of new staff members who have joined Falk College in the past academic year, including Karen Goebel, office coordinator in the School of Social Work; Meredith Groman, administrative assistant and Jamie Rhoades, assistant teacher in the Bernice M. Wright Child Development Laboratory School; Kevin McNeill, internship placement coordinator in the Department of Sport Management; Megan Myers, assistant director of development in the Office of Advancement; Kathleen Nasto, office coordinator in the Department of Human Development and Family Science; Jessica Pitcher, career advisor and David Sly, associate director of career services in the Office of Student Services; Laura Sauta, administrative assistant and Megan Snow, internship placement coordinator in the Department of Public Health, and; Zachary Schuster, assistant director of undergraduate admissions and recruiting in the Office of Admissions.
It also welcomes five new faculty members, Justin Ehrlich, Chandice Haste-Jackson, Jeremy Losak, Stefanie Pilkay, and Xiafei Wang.
Assistant Professor, Department of Sport Management
Justin Ehrlich joins Syracuse University’s Falk College Department of Sport Management as a tenure-track assistant professor in Fall 2019, where he will teach in the area of sport analytics.
Prior to joining Syracuse University, Ehrlich taught as an associate professor at Western Illinois University, School of Computer Sciences, since 2010 in Macomb, IL. There, he specialized in data visualization, visual analytics, sport data computation and analysis, machine learning, computer graphics, virtual reality, server-side development, languages and technology. He taught several courses such as Topics of Computer Science: Data Visualization, Operating Systems, Advanced Computer Graphics, Server-Side Development, and served as chair of the Council for Instructional Technology and chair of the IT Governance Executive Committee. He previously worked as an AViSSS (Animated Visual Supports for Social Skills) lead software developer for the University of Kansas and has held roles such as ASP.net developer for Nomise Systems and lead developer for HSSportsTV.net, both in Wichita, KS.
Ehrlich has published several papers in sport data visualization and analysis in Public Choice, Mathematical Social Sciences, Games, and the Journal of Quantitative Analysis in Sport. He has conducted many talks and live demonstrations on sport data computation, visualization, and analysis that incorporate use of Tableau (with VizQL), R, Python, and D3.
Ehrlich’s research has received support from the U.S. Department of Education, the U3E, and from Falk College. He was awarded the Moore Best Ph.D. Dissertation Award from the University of Kansas School of Engineering, the Provost’s Award for Academic Excellence in Teaching with Technology from Western Illinois University, and several awards from WIU’s College of Business and Technology.
Ehrlich earned a Ph.D. in computer science from the University of Kansas in 2010. His dissertation was titled, “The Effect of Desktop Illumination Realism on Presence and Generalization in a Virtual Learning Environment.” He also holds a computer science M.S. earned in 2007 from Wichita State University, and an accounting and business administration B.B.A., earned in 2004 from Friends University in Wichita, KS.
Associate Teaching Professor, Department of Human Development and Family Science
Chandice Haste–Jackson is an associate teaching professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Science beginning Fall 2019.
In addition to working as internship coordinator in Falk College since 2016, Haste-Jackson has served as adjunct faculty in the Department of Human Development and Family Science since 2005, teaching courses such as Intimate Relationships and Gender Roles, Family Development, and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. She has also taught as adjunct faculty for Onondaga Community College and the American Public University/American Military University System Department of Human Development and Family Science. She previously served in Syracuse University’s School of Education as director of the Liberty Partnerships Program and has held positions at the Chadwick Residence, Inc., the Dunbar Association, and Syracuse Model Neighborhood Facility, Inc.
Haste-Jackson serves on the School Counselor Advisory Board for the Syracuse City School District and is a consultant for My Brother’s Keeper Syracuse initiative founded by President Obama.
Haste-Jackson has presented for the Society for Research on Adolescence in San Francisco, CA and the National Council on Family Relations in Orlando, FL. She has given presentations for the U.S. Department of Education Office of Innovation and Improvement in Washington, DC, the New York State Education Department Empire State Youth Summit in Albany, NY, Ethiraj College and Women’s Christian College in Chennai, India, as well as for the National Diversity Council’s Upstate New York College Diversity Summit in Syracuse, NY, among others.
Haste-Jackson’s work in urban youth development, vulnerable families, cross-cultural family dynamics, and diversity education has received support from the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, New York State Office of Temporary Disability Assistance, New York State Legislature-Joan Christensen, Onondaga County Department of Long-Term Care and Aging Services, Onondaga County Youth Bureau, Onondaga County Department of Health, Onondaga County Department of Social Services, United Way of Central New York, and Syracuse University.
Haste-Jackson earned a Ph.D. in child and family studies from Syracuse University in 2013. Her dissertation was titled, “Strengths and Risk Factors for Romantic Relationships: Perspectives of African American Women.” She also holds a M.S. in behavioral sciences with a concentration in psychology, earned from Cameron University in 1999, and a B.A. in cultural anthropology, earned from Syracuse University in 1996.
Assistant Professor, Department of Sport Management
Jeremy Losak joins Syracuse University’s Falk College Department of Sport Management as a tenure-track assistant professor in Fall 2019, where he will teach in the areas of sport management and sport analytics.
Prior to joining Syracuse University, Losak was a graduate assistant in the John E. Walker Department of Economics at Clemson University. His teaching experience includes positions as teaching assistant for Sport Economics, teaching assistant and later head teaching assistant for Undergraduate Principles of Microeconomics and Principles of Macroeconomics, and teaching assistant for Managerial Economics. In the sports industry, he was a baseball analytics consultant for Wasserman Media Group, marketing analytics consultant for The Madison Square Garden Company, and analytics intern for the Auburn Doubledays.
Losak’s research focus is in sports economics, particularly sport labor markets and betting markets. He is published in Managerial Finance and in the Academy of Economics and Finance Journal. He has given several presentations at venues such as the 2019 Eastern Economic Association Conference in New York, NY; the 2018 Southern Economic Association in Washington, DC; the 2018 Missouri Valley Economic Association’s Sports Economics Session in Memphis, TN, and; the Center for Research in Sports Administration’s Sports, Data, and Journalism Conference at the University of Zurich in Switzerland.
Losak is the recipient of a Junior Researcher Award for the 2018 Sports, Data, and Journalism Conference at the University of Zurich and the Distinguished Student Paper Award at the 2018 Missouri Valley Economic Association Conference. He is also the recipient of travel grants from the Institute for Humane Studies Hayek Fund and Clemson Graduate Travel Grant Service. He was named a 2016 Falk College Class Marshal and a Falk College Scholar while at Syracuse University.
Losak earned a Ph.D. in economics from Clemson University in 2019 where he was a Koch Fellow in the John E. Walker Department of Economics. He also earned a B.S. in sport management from Syracuse University’s Falk College in 2016.
Assistant Professor, School of Social Work
Stefanie Pilkay joins Syracuse University’s Falk College School of Social Work as a tenure-track assistant professor in Fall 2019.
Before joining Syracuse University, Pilkay served as an adjunct lecturer at both Yeshiva University’s Wurzweiler School of Social Work in New York, NY since 2018 and the University of Tennessee, College of Social Work in Knoxville, TN since 2015, teaching research methodology, trauma theory and practice, lifespan and neurophysiological development, and human behavior in the social environment. She was also a postdoctoral fellow at the Emory University School of Medicine, Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics in Atlanta, GA since 2017. She has served as a court-appointed special advocate for Anderson County Tennessee Juvenile Court. In 2014, she was a forensic social worker for the Community Law Office, Knox County Public Defender’s Office. Specific to her research experience, Pilkay has served since 2018 as an early investigator trainee on “Developmental Origins of Health and Disease,” an international cross-discipline research study with collaborations between Canada and the U.S.
Pilkay’s research interests include trauma, early-life adversity, inter-generational transmission of adversity, adversity and trauma mechanisms for risk and resilience in human development. She is published in the Journal of Social Work Education, the Journal of Social Service Research, and has given several peer-reviewed presentations, most recently at the 64th Annual Program Meeting of the Council on Social Work Education in Orlando, FL, Connecting for Children’s Justice Conference in Murfreesboro, TN, the International Congress on Child Abuse and Neglect in Prague, Czech Republic, and the 73rd Annual Scientific Meeting of the Society of Biological Psychiatry in New York, NY. Pilkay’s work has been supported by the National Institute of Health/National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities and the University of Tennessee Health and Science Center.
Pilkay earned a Ph.D. in social work with a minor in graduate statistics from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville in 2017. She holds a M.S. in social work, an evidence-based interpersonal practice major with trauma treatment graduate certification, and a B.S. in social work with majors in honor’s social work and psychology, earned in 2014 and 2013, respectively, from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
Assistant Professor, School of Social Work
Xiafei Wang joins Syracuse University’s Falk College School of Social Work as a tenure-track assistant professor in Fall 2019.
Prior to joining Syracuse University, Wang served as a research assistant on “Evaluation of Chinese National Working Committee on Children and Women & the United Nations Children’s Fund Joint Child Friendly Spaces Project in China,” funded by the United Nations Children’s Fund: China since 2017, and on “Improving Child and Adolescent Mental Health and Health Outcomes: Integrative Family and Systems Treatment (I-Fast) Integrated Episode of Care Model” since 2014, funded by the Ohio Department of Mental Health & Addiction Services and Department of Developmental Disability.
Wang has published peer-reviewed articles in Social Work Research, Journal of Social Service Research, The Journal of Health Disparities Research and Practice, Children and Youth Services Review, Journal of Developmental Behavioral Pediatrics, PsyCh Journal, Community Mental Health Journal, Child Psychiatry and Human Development, Child Abuse & Neglect, and Social Work in Mental Health, as well as multiple book chapters.
Wang recently presented at the 32nd Annual San Diego International Conference on Child and Family Maltreatment in San Diego, CA, the Council of Social Work Education 64th Annual Program Meeting in Orlando, FL, National Association of County and City Health Officials 2018 Annual Meeting in New Orleans, LA, the Joint World Conference on Social Work, Education and Social Development 2018 in Dublin, Ireland, ResilienceCon 2018 in Nashville, TN, and the Society for Social Work and Research 22nd Annual Conference in Washington, D.C., among other presentations.
Wang’s work has received support from the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues, Big Cities Health Coalition, Central Benefits Health Care Foundation, and the Ohio State University College of Social Work.
Wang earned a Ph.D. from The Ohio State University in 2019. Her dissertation was titled, “Breaking the Cycle of Intergenerational Trauma: A Mixed-Methods Study.” There, she also earned her M.S.W. in 2015. She earned a M.A. in social work and social policy from Peking University in 2012 and a L.L.M. from the Peking University Law School & The Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law in Beijing, China and Lund, Sweden in 2011, where she was named valedictorian. She also earned a B.A. in social work from Peking University in 2009.
Welcome Class of 2023!
Falk College welcomes the Class of 2023 including 307 first-year and 20 transfer students who join 140 graduate students who are new as well. Welcome back to all Falk students who, this year, represent 40 states and 30 countries!
The entire welcome week schedule for new students can be found by visiting the Syracuse Welcome 2019 Guide.
Falk College, REU Program Host Discussion Series for PTSD Awareness Month in June
To educate the local community about issues related to Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Syracuse University’s Falk College, is offering a discussion series during the month of June, which is designated as National PTSD Awareness Month. PTSD is a psychiatric disorder that can occur following the experience or witnessing of life-threatening events, such as military combat, natural disasters, terrorist incidents, serious accidents, or physical or sexual assault.
The discussion series to raise public awareness of PTSD and its effective treatments is free and open to the public. It takes place in conjunction with the Trauma Research Education for Undergraduates program, a joint effort by Syracuse University, SUNY Upstate Medical University and SUNY Oswego to improve access to research experiences for groups typically underrepresented in research.
The project, “Training Diverse Undergraduate Teams of Veterans and Non-Veterans to Conduct Trauma Research with Veterans,” is directed by Brooks B. Gump, Falk Family Endowed Professor of Public Health and co-directed by professor Karen Wolford, who also coordinates the interdisciplinary graduate certificate program in trauma studies at SUNY Oswego.
The discussion series includes:
Monday, June 3 at 1:30, Falk 335
Thom deLara, Professor of Practice and Chair of the Department of Marriage and Family Therapy at Syracuse University “Systems Theory, Trauma and Research”
Friday, June 7 at 1:30 pm, Falk 200
Kyle Possemato, clinical research psychologist, Syracuse VA Center for Integrated Healthcare, “Clinical Research with Military Veterans with PTSD and Substance Abuse”
Wednesday, June 12 at 1:30, Falk 335
Roland Van Deusen MSW ’67, G’75, U.S. Navy veteran and retired psychiatric social worker and drug counselor, “Searching for Ways to Reduce Veteran Suicide”
Tuesday, June 18 at 1:30 pm, Falk 335
Scott Aubin, U.S. Air Force veteran, PTSD awareness instructor, “Dealing with unrecognized PTSD”
Supported by a National Science Foundation Research Education for Undergraduates grant and the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF), this REU program spans one year, including an intensive six-week summer program in June. This program provides research training to increase skills in conducting trauma research while increasing a student’s ability to gain admission to competitive graduate programs.
“Through a competitive national review process, we have selected a group of student-Veterans and traditional students to complete this research training this summer,” says Wolford. “The students will be paired on teams with mentors to research PTSD and will later present their research at national conferences”.
“As part of this research training, we invite guest speakers who have expertise in the area of PTSD to inform our research trainees on cutting edge developments on traumatic stress research. We open these expert talks to the community as part of the June Posttraumatic Stress awareness month, which is an ongoing national effort to educate about PTSD,” Wolford adds.
For more information about the speakers or REU program, contact Moise Laub at email@example.com.
Veterans, health and society
A recent edition of WCNY’s Connect New York, “Beyond PTSD: Veterans, Health & Society,” interviewed visiting teaching professor Kenneth Marfilius. The session, led by broadcast journalist Susan Arbetter, focused on the mental health challenges of veterans. Besides Dr. Marfilius, experts included Derek Coy, a Veterans’ Health Officer with the New York State Health Foundation, Melissa Spicer, President, CEO and Co-Founder of Clear Path for Veterans, and Dr. Tanya Bowen, a Licensed Clinical Psychologist at the Syracuse VA Medical Center.
Active veterans often do not seek help because they fear a mental health diagnosis that could lead to a Fit for Duty examination and possibly to a discharge. Active duty mental health therapists can also have a difficult job of balancing the needs of the military and the mission as well as those of the individual on active duty service. These challenges can lead individuals on active duty to not speak up when they have a problem. Sometimes the feeling of not being able to talk about mental health carries over into their civil lives once they are out of the service.
While active duty, Marfilius served in the U.S. Air Force Biomedical Science Corps in multiple roles: active duty clinical social worker, mental health therapist, family advocacy officer in charge, and as manager of the alcohol and drug prevention and treatment program. He was commissioned in 2013 and was discharged in 2016 having obtained the rank of captain. At the Barksdale Air Force Base, Marfilius served in a variety of mental health roles related to sexual assault prevention and response, suicide prevention, and traumatic stress. Marfilius has also worked for the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs at the Syracuse VA Medical Center in the Healthcare for Homeless Veterans Program.
Community groups are key in engaging veteran populations and providing a sense of belonging and purpose. One example of this is the Clear Path K-9 program, which has helped to shed light on the importance of animal-assisted intervention for health. Veterans dealing with depression, anxiety and chronic health issues sometimes have a hard time acknowledging the need for help and can be mistrustful of the system depending on their experiences. During the WCNY edition, Melissa Spicer explained that Clear Path was founded on building trust within the veteran’s population. The organization originally started with a K-9 service dog program.
The K-9 Dogs2Vets program, provides emotional support to veterans with post-traumatic stress, military sexual trauma, or physical impairments by establishing a reliable relationship between them and a canine companion. Dogs are selected from shelters and matched with veterans based on specific needs and interests; some veterans bring their own dog.
The program is getting results. Veterans have become less isolated and more interactive, less hypervigilant and more physically active. The program has witnessed increases and reemergence of sense of humor, decreased levels of anxiety, increases in levels of trust and higher levels of confidence among participants. Participants have to problem solve and make important decisions with respect to their canine partners, and this spills over into decision making in other aspects of their lives.
Falk College’s Dessa Bergen-Cico and Brooks Gump, professors of public health and Yvonne Smith, assistant professor of social Work have all worked with Clear Path’s Dogs2Vets program doing research that seeks to quantify the gains, measuring things like post-traumatic stress, quality of life, and negative thoughts among participants in the program. Initial results of the program assessment looked good, including a marked decrease in PTSD symptoms and negative thoughts and increased quality-of-life scores—the opposite of outcomes observed in a control group waiting to enroll in Dogs2Vets.
Further research has reported significant reductions in PTSD symptoms, as well as reductions in perceived stress, isolation, and self-judgement, and significant increases in self-compassion when comparing the veterans that participated in the Dogs2Vets program over a 12-month period to veterans that were on the waiting list to receive a dog during that time period.
Falk College has been committed to helping veterans through research and educational opportunities:
The Undergraduate Trauma Research Training program is a National Science Foundation (NSF) Research Education for Undergraduates (REU) opportunity directed by Brooks B. Gump, a professor of Public Health in Falk College. This program brings together veterans and non-veterans in a safe environment to pursue trauma research activities.
The program, now in its eighth year, draws on personal experiences of veterans who understand the nature and context of traumatic events. The program has many successful stories to share that has impacted the lives of veterans and their families.
Falk College supports many other active research projects and has many veteran’s students currently getting an education. If you are a veteran or individual interested in joining an educational program doing research with the veteran population, reach out to our Admissions team to find opportunities that fit your passions.
Falk College’s many academic programs focus on touching the lives of individuals and making an impact within our community.
Congratulations 2019 Falk Student Research Celebration Winners
Falk College congratulates the following winners of the 2019 Falk Student Research Celebration:
Name: Bridget Clark
Kelly Brown, BS; Heather Brubacker, MS, Dietetic Intern; Laura Brown, MS, RD; Baylee Carroll, BS, Dietetic Intern; Elizabeth Gardner; April Hill; Sarah Mihalko, BS; Katie Obojkovits, BS, Dietetic Intern; Madeline Peck; Tanya Horacek, PhD, RD, Professor; Syracuse University, Syracuse NY.
Program/Major: Nutrition Science
Faculty Research Mentor: Tanya Horacek
Title: Process Evaluation of the Healthy Campus Environmental Audits
Name: Olivia Cullen
Madeline Peck; Tanya Horacek, PhD, RD, Professor; Syracuse University, Syracuse NY.
Program/Major: Nutrition Science
Faculty Research Mentor: Tanya Horacek
Title: Assessing Food Insecurity Rates and Effects on a Sample of Undergraduate Students
Name: CB Garrett
Program/Major: Sport Analytics
Faculty Research Mentor: Rodney Paul
Title: Impact of Birthplace on Player Performance in Different Weather Conditions
Name: Jennifer Guzzy
Program/Major: Master of Social Work (MSW)
Faculty Research Mentor: Ryan Heath
Title: Extracurriculars and Teachers as a Substitute for Parents: Do they support strong academic outcomes in students without parental involvement?
Name: Madeline Hilton
Program/Major: MSPH Global Health
Faculty Research Mentor: David Larsen
Title: Indoor Residual Spray Campaigns in Community Protection Against Malaria
Name: Ying Zhang
Program/Major: Human Development and Family Science
Faculty Research Mentor: Rachel Razza
Title: Positive Development in Adolescence: the Reciprocal Relationships Between Facets of Self-Compassion and Self-Regulation
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