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Faculty of the Year Awards

Falk College Honors Faculty for Excellence in Service, Teaching, Research

Awardees Kenneth Marfilius, David Meluni and Latha Ramalingam.
Kenneth Marfilius, David Meluni and Latha Ramalingam were honored with 2022 Falk College Faculty of the Year awards for excellence in service, teaching, and research, respectively. The honorees were nominated by their peers for outstanding teaching, scholarship, and internal and professional service contributions and announced by the Falk Faculty Council in late April.

Matthew Mulvaney, an associate professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Science and chair of the Faculty Council, thanked all faculty members who submitted nominations and the nominees who provided documentary support for the council’s consideration.

“This is both one of the most rewarding and one of the challenge parts of serving on the Faculty Council,” Mulvaney said. “We had a large number of nominations that came in, all of them were excellent, and all (faculty members) are making very important contributions to the college. It’s always a hard decision and this year was no exception.”

Here’s a look at the 2022 honorees with comments from their award presenters:

Kenneth Marfilius

Director of Online and Distance Education and assistant teaching professor in the School of Social Work
Falk Faculty of the Year Award for Excellence in Service

From presenter Yvonne Smith, associate professor in the School of Social Work:

“In 2021 Dr. Marfilius simultaneously served as director of the Undergraduate Social Work Program and the Online Master of Social Work Program, roles which, in their own right, require extraordinary vision, dedication, organization, and time. In light of his exemplary service, he was named Director of Online and Distance Education. This new position—a first for Falk College—puts him at the helm of five rapidly growing online programs that make Falk College’s graduate curricula increasingly accessible to students across the nation and around the world.

“The significant challenge of designing, staffing, and managing these nascent programs is hard to overestimate. Dr. Marfilius, a veteran of the United States Air Force, has proven to be a steady, competent pilot who can, as we often say at Falk College, ‘build the plane as we fly it.’ In 2021, Dr. Marfilius’ exemplary service was recognized with the Syracuse University Center for Disability Resources 2021 Faculty Recognition Award and the Syracuse University One University Assessment Award for best use of results.

“But his achievements in college and departmental leadership roles are only some of the ways Dr. Marfilius has served our community. He routinely mentors students and serves as a liaison to the D’Aniello Institute for Veterans and Military Families. Notably, Dr. Marfilius has emerged as a leading public voice on the mental health needs of returning veterans and their families. He has done all of this while teaching graduates and undergraduates and serving as PI (principal investigator) or co-PI on multiple research and training grants.”

David Meluni

Assistant teaching professor in the Department of Sport Management
Evan Weissman Memorial Faculty of the Year Award for Teaching Excellence

From presenter Jane Burrell, associate teaching professor in the Nutrition Science and Dietetics program:

Dave Meluni is a teacher who consistently receives excellent student evaluations. He is at the forefront of innovations in teaching, both in terms of classroom practices and course development, to meet emerging trends in the field. He also is exceptionally strong at developing collaborations with high-profile industry leaders to complement course content and provide students with real-world engagement opportunities.”

“In 2021 Dave taught seven courses. As his nomination letter highlights, Dave is an exceptional teacher ‘specializing in courses that are challenging to find qualified faculty to teach.’ Dave teaches students to connect to real-world experiences in sales and marketing that prepare graduates to obtain highly competitive and lucrative employment opportunities. Dave is ahead of the curve in teaching and innovation. A prime example includes the rapid development of a new course, Name, Image, and Likeness, which he created in response to the NCAA’s 2021 ruling that enables student-athletes to monetize their name. This was the first and only such course in the country that provides guidance and tangible skills that will prepare student athletes and their advocates to benefit from their name and talents.

“Dave also brings his expertise to bear outside of the classroom by overseeing the sales club, which was very successful in the National Collegiate Sales Competition. As a teaching professor, preparing highly qualified students and graduates is essential. Dave’s experience in the profession, his infectious enthusiasm, and his willingness to help his students grow and interact with industry make him an exceptional teacher.”

Latha Ramalingam

Assistant professor in the Nutrition Science and Dietetics program
Falk Faculty of the Year Award for Excellence in Research

From presenter Patrick Walsh, associate professor in the Department of Sport Management:

Dr. Ramalingam, who is in her second year in Falk College, had an extremely productive 2021. She published eight peer-reviewed articles, several of which are in top-tiered journals in nutrition and one in a highly respected journal in the field of cardiovascular sciences. In addition, she co-authored five conference presentations and was invited by Syracuse University’s Department of Biology to give a research talk titled ‘Early life programming of obesity.’ On top of the publications and presentations, Dr. Ramalingam submitted five internal research grants as PI (principal investigator) totaling $48,000, all of which were funded, and submitted an impressive eight external research grants totaling over $1 million.

“Her commitment to research is also evident through the mentoring of students. Her mentorship as advisor to two master’s students in Nutrition Science and nine undergraduate students in her research lab has led to student publications, SOURCE grant funding, and a Pre-Doctoral Fellowship award from the American Society of Nutrition–the first time a Nutrition Science student at Syracuse University has received this honor.

“Dr. Ramalingam notes that her work ‘focuses on the role of bioactives, specifically fish oil, in preventing maternal and paternal obesity. Approximately 30% of the women of reproductive age suffer from obesity. Dietary intervention during this critical fetal developmental window might provide opportunities to decrease the burden of metabolic disease later in life.’ It is Dr. Ramalingam’s research goal is to provide additional scientific evidence to reduce/prevent obesity using non-pharmacological approaches.”

And the Winners Are…

Nine Posters Selected Among a Record 66 Entries in the 2022 Falk Student Research Celebration.

Two students stand in front of a research poster

Graduate student Abigail Picinich (right) submitted one of the winning posters for this year’s Falk Student Research Celebration. She’s standing in front of her poster with faculty mentor Sara Vasilenko.


With a record 66 poster submissions, picking the winners of the sixth annual Falk Student Research Celebration was more difficult than ever.

“I have to thank the (Research Celebration) committee–that was a tough job to decide,” says Sara Vasilenko, the committee chair and an assistant professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Science. “The incredible participation shows the vitality of the research that’s being done at Falk.”

Held virtually March 29, the Research Celebration highlighted students’ research collaborations with their faculty mentors. Undergraduate, master’s and doctoral students who are enrolled in a Falk degree, minor or CAS (Certificate of Advanced Study) submitted electronic posters of completed or in-progress empirical, exploratory, policy analytic, systematic review, or hypothesis-driving research projects using qualitative, quantitative, or mixed methods for display.

The committee selected nine winners – three each in the undergraduate, graduate and doctoral categories (the winners are listed at the end of this story). Kathryn Gratien, research operations specialist in the Falk College Research Center and a member of the Research Celebration committee, says the winning posters are displayed on the third floor of White Hall in the Falk Complex, across from the Research Center (Room 344).

“Congratulations to all the students and faculty mentors for an outstanding virtual display of research projects,” Gratien says. “We are so excited that the interest and participation in the Falk Student Research Celebration keeps growing each year and thank you to all the students and their mentors for their hard work and high-quality poster submissions.”

The posters were judged by the Research Celebration committee, which is comprised of faculty and staff. Faculty mentors who are on the committee did not participate in rating their students’ posters.

“I want to thank all of the faculty members who were involved in mentoring the students,” Vasilenko says. “There’s so much great research happening at Falk involving students, and that’s something the faculty should be really proud of.”

Two students pose next to their poster.

The poster from Samantha Jezak (left) and Olivia Templeton was selected as one of the three winners for undergraduate students. Their faculty mentor is Jessica Garay.


2022 Falk Research Celebration Winners

Undergraduate Student Poster Winners

Accumulative Effects of Novel Biomarkers on Identification of Individuals at Increased Risk for Type 2 Diabetes (T2D)
Names: Nathan Redmond, Jared Rosenberg and Professor Joon Young Kim
Program/Major: Health and Exercise Science
Faculty Research Mentor: Professor Joon Young Kim

The Effect of a 3-month Lacto-Ovo Vegetarian Diet Intervention on Diet Quality
Names: Olivia Templeton and Samantha Jezak
Program/Major: Nutrition Science
Faculty Research Mentor: Professor Jessica Garay

Association between Cognitive Function and Metabolic Syndrome in US Firefighters: Does Metabolic Syndrome (MetSyn) Matter?
Names: Sewina Yu, Professor Joon Young Kim and Myong-Won Seo
Program/Major: Health & Exercise Science
Faculty Research Mentor: Professor Joon Young Kim

Two students are posed with two professors in front of a research poster

Graduate student poster winners Mariana Perez Lugo (left) and Akriti Shrestha (second from left) with their faculty mentor Latha Ramalingam and Department of Nutrition and Food Studies Chair Lynn Brann (right).


Graduate Student Poster Winners

Risks and Protective Factors for Veterans’ PTSD, Mental Well-being, and Substance use During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Names: Jacqueline Allen, Professor Xiafei Wang and Professor Ken Marfilius
Program/Major: Social Work
Faculty Research Mentor: Professor Ken Marfilius

Interparental Conflict in Early Childhood as a Predictor of Adolescent Depression and Anxiety
Name: Abigail Picinich
Program/Major: Human Development and Family Studies
Faculty Research Mentor: Professor Sara Vasilenko

Paternal Obesity and Effect of Fish Oil Supplementation on Offspring Metabolic Health
Names: Akriti Shrestha, Mariana Perez Lugo and Professor Latha Ramalingam
Program/Major: Nutrition Science
Faculty Research Mentor: Professor Latha Ramalingam

Doctoral Student Poster Winners

Cardiac Autonomic Modulation in Healthy Young Adults With and Without History of COVID-19
Names: Burak Cilhoroz, Sydney Brackett, Leah Rozumov, Sophia Luchs, Zachary Greely and Professor Kevin Heffernan
Program/Major: Exercise Science
Faculty Research Mentor: Professor Kevin Heffernan

Examining Cardiometabolic Disease Risk in Normal Weight (NW) and Overweight/Obese (OB) Individuals: Results from 2017-2020 NHANES
Names: Lindsey Clark, Myong-Won Seo and Professor Joon Young Kim
Program/Major: Exercise Science
Faculty Research Mentor: Professor Joon Young Kim

The Effect of SARS-CoV-2 Infection on Cardiorespiratory Function
Names: Andrew Heckel, Danielle Arcidiacono, Kailee Coonan, Jacob DeBlois, Alaina Glasgow and Professor Kevin Heffernan
Program/Major: Exercise Science
Faculty Research Mentor: Professor Kevin Heffernan

About the Falk College Research Center

The Falk College Research Center promotes a robust, collaborative research community in which students play an active role. At Falk, graduate and undergraduate students have the opportunity to work directly with faculty to collect data, analyze findings and draw conclusions on relevant topics surrounding public health, food studies, nutrition, sport management, human development and family science, social work, exercise science, and marriage and family therapy.

Earning four degrees with six children and working full-time

“If you can dream it, you can do it. If this mom can do it, you can too.”
A family is posed in front of a house
The Trendowski family, pictured from left, Mike, Ed, Ray, Shirley, Andrea, Tom, Matt and Joe.

When Shirley Trendowski ’05, ’07 (C.A.S.) G’08 was raising her family, everyday life took very careful planning.

Trendowski and her husband, Ray, are the parents of six children. In 1995, after being a stay-at-home mom for 15 years, Shirley came to work for Food Services at Syracuse University with the goal of earning a college degree. She took advantage of the University’s dependent tuition benefit and began taking courses that interested her, two classes per semester. Her youngest child was 2 years old at the time.

A lifelong learner and lover of education, Trendowski didn’t stop there. She went to the University’s Career Services and took a test to determine what career would be best for her. She took that first step and never looked back. Over the next 12 years, she went on to earn that associate’s degree (2001) and bachelor’s (2005) and master’s (2008) degrees in social work from Falk College and a certificate of advanced studies in women’s and gender studies (2007) from the College of Arts and Sciences. She also completed social work internships at Rosewood Nursing and Rehabilitation Center and the Syracuse Veterans Administration Hospital. And she did it all while working full-time—she has worked in every dining hall and snack bar operation at the University over the past 26 years—and raising six very active, involved children. For many years, Shirley and Ray (who coached baseball and basketball) worked opposite shifts to make it all work.

Trendowski overcame many obstacles over the years—working multiple jobs in food service and changing her shifts five different times—to complete her degree. “I was not going to be deterred from my goal,” she says. She was a pioneer and believes she was the first person in Food Services to receive a master’s degree after starting from scratch with no college credits.

“I planned out what classes I was going to take each year and how I was going to fit them into my schedule,” Trendowski says. “I would have a calendar on my wall to indicate when assignments were due.” Not a moment was ever wasted during the day. Trendowski took her textbooks to her kids’ sporting events and to study during the 30-minute wait time after the administration of allergy shots. “I also made sure never to miss work,” she says.

Impacting the Whole Family

Coworkers are posed in a cafe
Shirley Trendowski, second from left, is pictured with Otto and her colleagues at Eggers Café.

All six of her children earned bachelor’s degrees through Syracuse University, all while watching their mom make so many sacrifices to earn her own degrees. “I offered my kids $50 for any semester they could beat my grade point average, and I gladly only paid twice,” she says. Her son, Joseph, skipped his own graduation for his bachelor’s degree so he could attend his mother’s graduation in Syracuse.

Trendowski is every bit the proud mom when she talks about her children and their chosen life journeys—she is particularly proud that all have gravitated toward education and service to others, calling it the “mind, body, soul connection.” They have even co-authored papers together across different disciplines.

Her oldest son, Edward, earned a bachelor’s degree in French from Hartwick College. He earned a master’s degree in religion from St. Joseph’s College and a Ph.D. in theology and religious studies from Catholic University (completing it after 10 years and six children). He is the director of faith formation for the Diocese of Providence, Rhode Island, and teaches part-time at St. Joseph’s College.

Her second son, Joseph, earned a bachelor’s degree in business and an MBA at Alfred University, and a Ph.D. in business management and international business at Old Dominion University. He currently teaches at DePaul University in Chicago.

Michael, her third son, earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Alfred University and a master’s degree from the State University of New York (SUNY) at Cortland. He is a high school chemistry and physics teacher and track coach who has led his athletes to state and regional championships (even during the COVID pandemic). He is married to Newhouse alumna and Emmy Award-winning reporter Isabel Sanchez G’17, a reporter at Channel 10 in Philadelphia (the No. 4 media market in the nation).

Trendowski’s daughter, Andrea, tripled majored in communications, psychology and business at Clarkson University. She is a stay-at-home mom of three children, and until recently was a local leader in MOPS International, an organization for stay-at-home mothers.

Her fifth child, son Thomas, earned a bachelor’s degree in physical education and health from Syracuse in 2012, in the first year of the combined major. He went on to earn a master’s degree and Ph.D. in kinesiology at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Thomas played football at tight end for the Orange, was on the Big East All-Academic Team several times and was a member of the 2011 Pinstripe Bowl winning team. Thomas’ affiliation with Syracuse began early—in second grade, he took part in research in remedial reading led by Professor Benita Blachman in the School of Education and participated in a follow-up study 10 years later.

Her youngest child, Matt, earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from the College of Arts and Sciences in 2014 in three years, earning the Donald G. Lundgren Memorial Award, the biology department’s highest honor. He received his master’s degree and Ph.D. in cancer biology at the University of Chicago, where he has also earned awards for his research and for volunteering. He is a second-year medical student at Wayne State University. He started his body of research as an undergraduate at Syracuse, presented abroad as an undergraduate and has 31 publications in medical journals on his research.

Trendowski says that she and her husband consistently emphasized the importance of education to their children. “Your education is something that no one can ever take from you,” she told them. They also underscored the importance of understanding that actions have consequences, and it’s your actions and choices that affect your future. “My kids are not smarter than anyone else’s—it’s just that they work hard. Tom came home after a long day of teaching at SUNY Cortland and was also finishing his Ph.D. and looked at my husband and said, ‘It’s your fault I have this work ethic.’ What a great compliment.”

A Strong Work Ethic

Her oldest son, Edward, says his mother instilled values, a strong work ethic and a strong faith in him and his siblings. “When she decided to pursue further education, she did so while still having many young children at home, on top of her hard work at Syracuse University and her domestic responsibilities,” he says. “Through her work, studies and other obligations, she continued to be present to us children and care for us, and others, exhibiting the virtue of charity. Now, with six children of my own, I look to my mother for guidance and wisdom. I certainly drew inspiration from her as I pursued my own studies. But the greatest gift my mom handed onto me was the gift of faith, something that lasts even when fame and fortune vanish.”

Her youngest son, Matt, says his mom is perhaps the hardest worker he knows.

“Whenever my mom went to one of our sporting events, she would watch us when we were playing in the game, and then study for the rest of the time. It is truly amazing how devoted she was in continuing her education while working a grueling and sometimes erratic schedule as a food service employee,” he says. “She always emphasized the importance of an education, and how it could ensure a bright future. The example that she provided to my siblings was truly inspiring and is reflected in the career paths we chose.

“As a fellow alumnus of SU, I am grateful my mom’s sacrifices gave me the opportunity to pursue an education, and it is without question that her guidance and wisdom enabled me to reach the level of success I have attained,” he says.

Trendowski’s maternal nature has extended over the years to the students she comes in contact with through her job and to the student-athletes she tutored in the past. “Three of the football players I tutored were in the National Football League and one has a Super Bowl ring,” she proudly says.

Trendowski and her husband now have 10 grandchildren, ages newborn to 13, to whom they extend the same hopes and dreams they had for their own children.

“Syracuse University has been a great place to work and has offered myself and my children many opportunities,” she says. “My education has broadened my sense of self and community. My life has been intertwined with Syracuse University on many levels, whether I was doing initial personal patient intakes at the VA Hospital, working on a dementia floor with patients at Rosewood, tutoring and mentoring Syracuse University students, or just greeting my customers, I am the same person and treat everyone with a smile.”

Her advice to others? “If you can dream it, you can do it. If this mom can do it, you can too.”

Adapted from a Syracuse University News story by Kelly Homan Rodoski originally published on Tuesday, October 12, 2021.

Falk College welcomes new faculty and staff


Syracuse University’s Falk College is pleased to welcome four new staff members who have joined Falk College in the past academic year: Stephen Bonomo, Director of Information Technology; Deborah Golia, Director of Admissions; Kailyn Jennings, Sport Management Internship Placement Coordinator; Danielle Jones, Social Work Internship Placement Coordinator; Donna Sparkes, Budget Associate, and; Emily Williams, Human Development and Family Science Internship Placement Coordinator.

In addition, Falk College is pleased to announce the appointment of six new faculty members, Lastenia-Francis, Catherine García, Esteli JimenezKevin McNeill, Joey Merrin, and Fei Pei.

Lastenia Francis portrait

Lastenia Francis

Assistant Teaching Professor (Online), Department of Marriage and Family Therapy

Lastenia Francis (she/her/hers) joins the Department of Marriage and Family Therapy in the Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics as an Assistant Teaching Professor (Online) in fall 2021. She will teach courses on family systems theories and practice.

Francis is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and a certified trauma therapist. She has been practicing since 2014 with an attention to helping minority populations. Francis has provided clinical services in an outpatient clinic in the South Bronx working with low-income communities and communities of color, an intensive preventative program, at the Veterans Affairs as a Readjustment Counselor, and built a private practice that focuses on building strong families in communities of color. Francis previously taught at Mercy College in the Marriage and Family Therapy Program and continues to act as a mentor to developing Marriage and Family Therapists as an American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) Approved Supervisor.

Francis continues to have an insatiable appetite for helping people of color maximize their potential in how they relate to themselves, their spouse, and their family and demonstrates that in her research interest. Dr. Francis was drawn to academia through her passion for training more social justice clinicians to help strengthen families especially those in minority and underserved communities. Her dissertation research focused on the reintegration experiences of Black veterans and their families.

Francis is the Founder of Meaningful E-Motion Private Practice, Assistant Editor of the American Family Therapy Academy (AFTA) blog, and a member of the AAMFT and the AFTA.

Francis Earned a Ph.D. in Marriage and Family Therapy from Northcentral University in 2021, a M.S. in Marriage and Family Therapy from Mercy College in 2015, and a B.A. in Psychology and Sociology from Stonybrook University in 2013.
Catherine Garcia portrait

Catherine García

Assistant Teaching Professor, Department of Human Development and Family Science/Aging Studies Institute

Catherine García (she/her/hers) joins the Department of Human Development and Family Science in the Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics as an Assistant Professor in fall 2021. At Syracuse University she will teach classes in Midlife Development and Gerontology.

Prior to joining Syracuse University, García was an Assistant Professor of Sociology and core faculty member of the Minority Health Disparities Initiative (MHDI) at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln where she taught quantitative methods and served as a faculty mentor for the MHDI Summer Research Program.

García’s research focuses on Latina/o/x aging and health in the United States and Puerto Rico, applying multidisciplinary approaches to understand how the interaction of biological, environmental, and social factors influence the disease process among older Latina/o/x adults. Her research work has led to 15 peer-reviewed publications and two book chapters, including multiple manuscripts in The Gerontologist and The Journals of Gerontology, Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences.

Her research has been supported by the National Institute on Aging (NIA) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), including an R36 Aging Research Dissertation Award to Increase Diversity from 2018-2020 and an R01 Research Supplement to Promote Diversity in Health-Related Research from 2021-2023. Her research has led to several awards, including the Emerging Scholars and Professional Organization (ESPO) Interdisciplinary Paper Award, the ESPO Poster Award, and the Minority Issues in Gerontology Poster Award from the Gerontological Society of America.

Currently, she serves as a steering committee member for the Network for Data-Intensive Research on Aging (NDIRA) at the University of Minnesota and is a committee member of the Minority Issues in Gerontology Advisory Panel (MIGAP) of the Gerontological Society of America. In addition, she will serve on the editorial board for the Journal of Health and Social Behavior beginning in January 2022.

She earned a Ph.D. in Gerontology in 2020 from the University of Southern California, an M.S. in Sociology from Florida State University in 2014, and a B.A. in Sociology with a minor in Human Complex Systems from the University of California – Los Angeles (with college and departmental honors) in 2010.

Estelí Jimenez-Soto portrait

Estelí Jimenez-Soto

Assistant Professor, Department of Nutrition and Food Studies

Estelí Jimenez-Soto (she/hers) joins the Department of Nutrition and Food Studies in the David B. Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics as a tenure-track assistant professor of food studies in fall 2021. At Syracuse University, she will teach classes in Agriculture and the Environment, including Agroecology, and Climate Change and the Food System. She joins the Syracuse Cluster Initiative in Energy and Environment.

Prior to joining Syracuse University, Jimenez-Soto was a postdoctoral scholar at the University of California Santa Cruz in the Department of Community Studies from 2020-2021, and in the Department of Environmental Studies from 2019-2020, where she taught principles of sustainable agriculture and worked on socioeconomic barriers and opportunities to adopt sustainable practices in strawberry production.

Her research uses interdisciplinary engagements, bridging the fields of agroecology and political ecology to examine environmental problems at the nexus of food, agriculture and the environment in both the U.S. and Latin American contexts. She has published in journals including Ecology and Evolution, Bioscience, and Journal of Peasant Studies and her work has been highlighted in publications such as The Economist.

Her research has been supported by UC-MEXUS, El Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnologia (CONACyT), the Organization for Tropical Studies (OTS) and P.E.O International. In 2020 she was a recipient of a Peter Ashton Award by Biotropica, a Gentry Student Award by the Association of Tropical Biology and Conservation in 2017, and a Mildred Mathias Award for best dissertation proposal by the UC-MEXUS in 2015.

She is an active member of the Ecological Society of America (ESA), the American Association of Geographers (AAG), the Latin American Studies Association (LASA), New World Agriculture and Ecology Group (NWAEG) and The Alliance for Women in Agroecology (AMA-AWA).

Jimenez-Soto earned her Ph.D. in Environmental Studies with an emphasis in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, and a M.A. in Environmental Studies from the University of California Santa Cruz in 2018 and 2014 respectively; and an B.S. with honors in Agroecology in 2012 from Universidad Autonoma Chapingo in Mexico. She is originally from San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas, México.

Kevin McNeill Portrait

Kevin McNeill

Assistant Teaching Professor, Department of Sport Management

Kevin McNeill has been a member of the Department of Sport Management since 2019 in the David B. Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics and will serve as assistant teaching professor beginning in the fall 2021. At Syracuse University, McNeill will teach classes in Sport Technology and Technologies in Game Day Operations.

McNeill previously served as an Internship Placement Coordinator in Sport Management and provided advising for undergraduate students in academics and career exploration. He assisted students through the senior Capstone process and taught classes in Professional Development in Sport Management.

Previously, McNeill worked at Le Moyne College as Associate Athletic Director in the Department of Athletics for 12 years as well as served Syracuse University Athletics as the Marketing Coordinator from 2004 to 2007.

While at Le Moyne, McNeill oversaw the marketing and communications for the Division II athletic program. In that role, he led programming in brand development, revenue generation, digital media, video production, corporate sponsorship, and game day management. In addition to serving on the athletic department leadership team, he co-chaired the College’s strategic plan marketing committee, participated in the College’s integrated marketing committee, and instructed in the Madden School of Business.

Serving as the Marketing Coordinator at Syracuse University Athletics, McNeill supported the department’s broad-based marketing initiatives with a focus on game day promotions, marketing campaigns, ticket sales, advertising, and graphic design.

McNeill earned a Master of Science, Sports Administration and Master of Business Administration from Ohio University in 2004 and a Bachelor of Science, Business Administration from Le Moyne College in 2002.

Joey Merrin

Joey Merrin

Assistant Professor, Department of Human Development and Family Science

Gabriel “Joey” Merrin (he/him/his) joins the Department of Human Development and Family Science in the Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics in fall 2021. At Syracuse University, Merrin will teach courses in Child and Adolescent Development and Advanced Statistical Methods.

Merrin was most recently an assistant professor in Human Development and Family Sciences at Texas Tech University from 2019-2021 and taught graduate-level statistic courses where he focused on reproducible research, programmatic programming, and transparent designs using open science frameworks and guidelines. Before Texas Tech University, he held two post-doctoral fellowships, one in the Department of Psychology at the University of Victoria in British Columbia and the other in the Department of Health Management and Informatics at the University of Central Florida.

Trained as a developmental psychologist and applied methodologist, Merrin’s research seeks to clarify developmental processes through which adolescents’ experiences with their families, peers, teachers, and communities influence development of problem behaviors and experiences with identity-based harassment and victimization throughout adolescence and in the transition to young adulthood. He is particularly interested in the development of these behaviors among various minoritized and oppressed groups. His work focuses on translating and mobilizing knowledge to inform intervention and prevention efforts to improve the school experience for young people by using applied research designs, leveraging practical implications, and intentional school and community engagement.

His research has been supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, National Institute of Health, and most recently, Merrin and his colleagues at Boston University launched a three-year National Institute of Justice funded study to examine bias-based harassment among adolescents to identify risk and protective factors across multiple levels of the social ecology.

Merrin was recently awarded the 2020-2021 New Faculty Award at Texas Tech University and selected into the Society of Prevention Research Early Career Prevention Scientists Training Program. Merrin currently serves on the editorial board for Prevention Science and Psychology of Violence.

Merrin earned a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology in 2017, an Ed.M. in Human Resource Development in 2011, and a B.A. in Sociology in 2009, all from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

Fei Pei portrait

Fei Pei

Assistant Professor, School of Social Work

Fei Pei (she/her/hers) joins the School of Social Work in the David B. Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics as a tenure-track assistant professor of social work in fall 2021. At Syracuse University, Fei will teach Social Welfare Policy and Services.

Prior to joining Syracuse University, Fei was a Ph.D. candidate at the Ohio State University College of Social Work where she also served as a graduate instructor and research assistant, teaching research methods, lifespan development, and social welfare.

The overarching goal of Fei’s research is to promote healthy development among vulnerable children, including maltreated and immigrant youths by identifying neighborhood disparities. In particular, her research focuses on community health and child development. She published over 20 peer-reviewed papers in rigorous academic journals including Child Abuse & Neglect, Children and Youth Services Review, Family & Community Health, Journal of Community Psychology, Journal of Interpersonal Violence, and Trauma, Violence & Abuse.

Fei was trained in all aspects of grant-funded and investigator-initiated research projects, ranging from university-funded projects to federal-funded studies (e.g., NIH funded and UNICEF funded projects). Her research has been acknowledged and funded by various institutions and scholarships such as the 2021 Merriss Cornell Distinguished Researcher Award, 2019 Kempe Interdisciplinary Summer Research Institute, 2018 International Peace Scholarship, Seed Funding for 2016 Clinton Global Initiative University, and 2015 New Brunswick Chancellor’s Scholarship.

Fei actively participated in professional and community services. She was a volunteered social worker for the local agency, Asian American Community Services in Columbus, OH and the president of the College of Social Work’s Doctoral Student Organization. She also serves as an ad hoc peer reviewer for multiple academic journals.

Fei earned a Ph.D. in 2021 from The Ohio State University, College of Social Work, a MSW in 2016 from Rutgers University – New Brunswick, and a LL.B. and a B.S. (double degree) in 2014 from Shanghai University and East China Normal University.

June PTSD Awareness Month


Falk College, National Science Foundation(NSF) 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:

Wednesday, May 26 at 2:00, Virtual
Scott Aubin, U.S. Air Force veteran, PTSD awareness instructor, “Dealing with unrecognized PTSD”.

Wednesday, June 2 at 2:00 pm, Virtual
Kyle Possemato, clinical research psychologist, Syracuse VA Center for Integrated Healthcare, “Novel Interventions to Engage Veterans with Unmet Mental Health Needs in Care”.

Monday June 9 at 2:00 pm, Virtual
Thom DeLara, Professor of Practice and Chair of the Department of Marriage and Family Therapy at Syracuse University “Systems Theory, Trauma and Research”.

Wednesday, June 16 at 2:00 pm, Virtual
Keith Alford PhD, Syracuse University Chief Diversity Officer, “Racial, cultural and ethnic response differences to PTSD”.

Wednesday June 23 at 2:00, Virtual
Lt Col. Ian Stewart MD, FACP, FASN, U.S Air Force, Medical Corps, Bethesda, MD. “Long-term mental and physical health after combat trauma”.

Wednesday June 23 at 3:00, Virtual
Jeffrey T. Howard, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Public Health, College for Health, Community and Policy, University of Texas at San Antonio, “Military Exposures and Accelerated Aging: Understanding Trauma as a Chronic Disease.”

Register to attend!

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 or visit

Online Master of Social Work Opens Doors to Career Changers, Working Professionals


The School of Social Work will welcome its first cohort of online master’s students in May, and Professor Ken Marfilius is excited.

“We are already seeing strong applications for our first cohort of 50 students. I think the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated acceptance of online learning,” Marfilius says. “The flexibility that this program offers is appealing to working professionals, including active duty military and veterans. It will serve anyone who wants to work for social and economic justice in the digital age and beyond.”

Carrie Smith, professor and interim director of the School of Social Work in Falk College, agrees and notes that ubiquitous technology is only part of the equation.

“What has happened with COVID is that it has created this giant pause for the country and the world,” Smith says. “People have fewer distractions, they have been stilled and are seeking information. A lot of that information has been unsettling, frustrating and has impacted lives in unanticipated ways.

“Historically, when there have been times of crisis, depression, despair or economic change, people decide they are going to change careers and do something to give back,” Smith adds. “Social work is one of the original giving back professions.”

The online M.S.W. incorporates the same social and economic justice approach as Syracuse’s existing social work programs. Developed in partnership with 2U, the 60-credit degree can be completed in 36 months, including 1,000 hours of field placements, and students with a bachelor’s in social work can pursue an accelerated track consisting of 36 credits that can be completed in 24 months with 500 hours of field placement.

Students can choose from two tracks: The advanced clinical practice concentration prepares mental health clinicians for practice as a licensed clinical social worker (L.C.S.W.), and the advanced integrated practice concentration prepares students for direct practice and leadership in a wide range of human services organizations. All of these options are accredited by the Council on Social Work Education and prepare students to sit for the Association of Social Work Boards licensing examination.

“Having earned my master of social Work at Syracuse University, I am proud that we will be offering this fully integrated online M.S.W.,” says Diane Lyden Murphy, dean of the David B. Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics. “The program maximizes access to the social work profession and flexibility for many of our interested students. The online M.S.W. offers entrance to a lifelong socially responsible career where professionals engage and guide people through mental health, behavioral health and social challenges.

“The School of Social Work is a legacy program, recognized for its excellent graduates, high licensing pass rates and alumni practicing across the nation,” Murphy adds. “We are pleased to continue our strong tradition of professional education for online students.”

Marfilius says that the University’s social work faculty are excited about the opportunity to reimagine how courses are delivered and the opportunities that students will have to do their fieldwork close to home. There are live class sessions and asynchronous learning elements that faculty have designed to work together seamlessly.

“People are doing more online, it’s less intimidating,” says Smith, “but our faculty are also very focused on ensuring that we maintain the human connection in the context of the technology.”

Students will also experience the human connection through field placements in their own geographic area. Marfilius, who has experience with online education while in the military, says, “Social work needs leaders. We know that prospective students—as I saw when I was in the Air Force—want to give back to and support their communities while gaining additional leadership skills.”

Tracy Walker, director of field relations, agrees.

“Ideally, we want students to complete their field work within 60 miles of where they reside. Each student will be working with placement specialists to determine their interests and goals,” Walker says. “We are building partnerships with a wide range of organizations including government, not-for-profit, health care and the Veterans Administration.”

Walker says that students get support at all phases of the program, and adds, “The field team will interact with the students and their field sites just like they are in our community. It is a priority for us to be available and responsive.”

Student internships provide progressive learning, with a virtual field experience in the first semester building to a generalist approach, then moving into each student’s professional focus. This virtual anchor course helps students engage in risk management, intervention strategies and ethical decision-making in a setting that simulates what students may encounter in practice.

“Research shows that the use of simulation can be really important to developing direct practice skills,” Walker says. “Students engage with standardized patients – actors who are trained to simulate clinical situations and typical client interactions – and receive feedback on their approach before they work directly in an organization.”

There are also field seminars, where students and faculty have broad and open discussions integrating what students learn in the classroom with what they experience in their internships. This structure was piloted in Fall 2020 for current residential program students with positive feedback.

“It’s become abundantly clear that the future holds more need for social workers. The quality of education we provide prepares these students to make a connection person-to-person, build trust and problem-solve with clients,” Smith says. “With the expanded use of technology to connect people with resources and extend the reach of human services professionals, we’re expanding the tool set that MSW graduates will have to respond to people in need of resources.”

~ A Syracuse University News story by Ellen de Graffenreid originally published on March 8, 2021.

Falk College welcomes new faculty and staff


Syracuse University’s Falk College is pleased to welcome four new staff members who have joined Falk College in the past academic year: Donna Fecteau, Administrative Assistant in the Department of Exercise Science; Julia Fuqua, Office Coordinator in the Department of Exercise Science; Heather Mauro, Internship Placement Coordinator in the School of Social Work, and; Melissa Tobin, Counselor, Academic Services in the Office of Student Services.

In addition, Falk College is pleased to announce the appointment of six new faculty members, Bernard Appiah, Maria Erdman, Kenneth Marfilius, Miriam Mutambudzi, Latha Ramalingam, and Maryam Yuhas, in addition to six faculty who join Falk College with the Department of Exercise Science, Tiago Barreira, Tom Brutsaert, Keith DeRuisseau, Kevin Heffernan, Joon Young Kim, and Kristen Konkol.

Bernard Appiah PortraitBernard Appiah

Assistant Professor, Department of Public Health

Bernard Appiah joins the Department of Public Health in Falk College as Assistant Professor in Fall 2020.

Prior to joining Syracuse University, Appiah was Assistant Professor at Texas A&M University’s School of Public Health in the Departments of Environmental and Occupational Health and Public Health Studies. He was the Founding Director of the Research Program on Public and International Engagement for Health. Previously, Appiah served as a Drug Information Pharmacist/Publications Manager at the National Drug Information Resource Centre (NDIRC) for the Ministry of Health in Ghana. He has taught courses such as environmental and occupational health communication, social context of population health, and comparative global health systems.

Appiah’s research interests lie in socio-behavioral approaches for exploring public health issues, global health and environmental health with emphasis on socio-behavioral change communication, public/community engagement interventions, and dissemination of information/knowledge through culturally appropriate communication channels. He is published in several journals, including Psychiatry Research, BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies, Journal of Medical Internet Research (JMIR) mHealth and uHealth, and authored book chapters, technical reports, and many articles for mass media. He has presented at the International Workshop for Practitioners of Engagement Between Health Researchers and Schools in Kilifi, Kenya, the West African Society of Pharmacologists (WASOP) Conference in Ghana, and the Academy for Future International Leaders (AFIL) Open Session Seminar on Global Health Issues.

Appiah’s research has received support from the Wellcome Trust, UK, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Grand Challenges Canada, USAID Ghana, and Texas A&M University. Among the most recent supporters of his research is the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) of the National Institutes of Health. Appiah is the recipient of numerous teaching and research fellowships and other honors including being named as a Carnegie African Diaspora Fellow in 2018 and 2016. He currently serves as Head of Capacity Building and Research Programmes for the Pan-African Network for Popularization of Science and Technology and Science Communication (African Gong); member of the Healthcare Safety and Quality Expert Committee of the U.S. Pharmacopeia, and; reviewer for Public Understanding of Science.

Appiah earned his Dr.PH in Health Promotion and Community Health Sciences in 2013 and his M.S. in Science and Technology Journalism from Texas A&M University’s School of Public Health and College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, respectively. He earned his master’s in Development Communication from the University of the Philippines Open University (UPOU) and his B.Pharm in Pharmacy from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) in Ghana.

Tiago Barreira Portrait

Tiago Barreira

Assistant Professor, Department of Exercise Science

Tiago Barreira joins Falk College as Assistant Professor in the Department of Exercise Science in Fall 2020. He teaches courses such as systemic physiology and exercise, research methods in exercise and sports science, measurement and evaluation in exercise science, physical activity and public health, and obesity and body composition.

Prior to joining Falk College in 2020, the Department of Exercise Science was positioned within Syracuse University’s School of Education, where Barreira has served as Assistant Professor since 2014. Barreira is also the Director of the Kinesmetrics Laboratory at Syracuse University. Prior to joining Syracuse, he completed a Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center. Barreira’s research focuses on the measurement of physical activity: establishing validity and reliability evidence of physical activity measurement tools; determining how to use physical activity measurement tools to obtain reliable and accurate information on physical activity patterns; the use of physical activity measurement tools as a motivation to promote increased physical activity levels, and; investigating the relationship between physical activity and cardiovascular disease risk factors. His work is published in several journals, most recently in International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, the Journal of Aging and Physical Activity, Disability and Rehabilitation, Artery Research, and the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness among others. He has given presentations for the International Biometric Conference, The American College of Sports Medicine, and the International Conference on Ambulatory Monitoring of Physical Activity and Movement, among others.

Past research has received support from the National Institutes of Health, American Heart Association, Institute for Educational Sciences SHAPE America, Fight for Hearts, among others. Barreira is a journal editor for the Physical Activity section of Measurement in Physical Education and Exercise and is a manuscript reviewer for several journals and publications. He currently serves as Co-Chair of the Measurement and Evaluation Special Interest Group from SHAPE America and a member of the American College of Sports Medicine Mid-Atlantic Chapter Research Committee.

Barreira earned his Ph.D. in Human Performance with a concentration in Kinesmetrics in 2010 from Middle Tennessee State University, where he also earned his M.S. in Exercise Science. He also earned a B.A. Physical Education and B.S. in Business Administration from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.

Tom Brutsaert PortraitTom Brutsaert

Professor, Department of Exercise Science

Tom Brutsaert joins Falk College as Professor in the Department of Exercise Science in Fall 2020. In the department, he teaches courses such as energy metabolism and exercise, physiology of exercise, environmental physiology, high altitude physiology and biology, and human biological variation.

Prior to joining Falk College in 2020, the Department of Exercise Science was positioned within Syracuse University’s School of Education, where Brutsaert has served as Professor since 2016 and previously as Associate Professor since 2009. At Syracuse, Brutsaert is the Director of the Altitude Simulation Laboratory, holds a courtesy appointment in the Department of Anthropology, and helps to coordinate the Human Performance Laboratory. Before joining Syracuse University, he held several positions at SUNY Albany. There, he was a Fellow in the Center for Social and Demographic Analysis, and was Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology from 2005 to 2009 after being promoted from Assistant Professor. He also served as Co-Director of the Human Biology Program from 2003 to 2004. He completed an NIH Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of California at San Diego’s School of Medicine in the Division of Physiology.

Brutsaert has broad research interests in how gene and environment interact to produce variation in human athletic ability and health and disease. His work is published in several publications, most recently in Frontiers in Genetics, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, European Journal of Applied Physiology, the American Journal of Physical Anthropology, and International Journal of Molecular Sciences, among others. He has given presentations at the International Conference on Genomics, Leh High Altitude Symposium, World Congress on High Altitude Medicine and Physiology, for the Center for Physiological Genomics, and others.

Past research has received support from the National Science Foundation (NSF Division of Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the National Geographic Foundation, and a Fulbright Specialist Award. Brutsaert serves on the Advisory Editorial Board for Sports Sciences for Health and the Editorial Board for High Altitude Medicine and Biology, and previously served in editorial and reviewer roles for other journals, books, and grants.

Brutsaert earned his Ph.D. in Biological Anthropology in 1977 from Cornell University, where he also earned his M.S. in Human Nutrition and M.A. in Biological Anthropology. He earned his B.A. in Biology from Northeastern University.

Keith DeRuisseau

Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Exercise Science

Keith DeRuisseau joins Falk College as Associate Professor in the Department of Exercise Science in Fall 2020. He is currently the Chair of the department and teaches courses such as introduction to exercise science, physiology of exercise, and skeletal muscle physiology.

Prior to joining Falk College in 2020, the Department of Exercise Science was positioned within Syracuse University’s School of Education, where DeRuisseau has served as Associate Professor since 2012 and previously as Assistant Professor since 2006. Before joining Syracuse University, he was a Postdoctoral Associate in the Department of Applied Physiology and Kinesiology at the University of Florida.

DeRuisseau’s research investigates potential mediators of skeletal muscle dysfunction under conditions that include disuse, aging, and trisomy (a model of Down syndrome). An emphasis is placed on how iron, oxidants, and antioxidants contribute to skeletal muscle mass and functional responses. He is published in several journals, most recently in Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, the Journal of Applied Physiology, International Journal of Molecular Sciences, European Journal of Sport Science, and Respiratory Physiology & Neurobiology. He has presented his work at Experimental Biology annual meetings and for the American College of Sports Medicine.

Past research has received support from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) and National Institute on Aging (NIA), the Diabetes Group of the Hill Collaboration on Environmental Medicine, the Syracuse University Gerontology Center, and others. DeRuisseau is a 2015-16 Fulbright U.S. Scholar Grant awardee for the Fulbright-Saastamoinen Foundation Grant in Health and Environmental Sciences. He is a member of the American Physiological Society and invited manuscript reviewer for publications such as Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, and the Journal of Applied Physiology, among others.

DeRuisseau earned his Ph.D. in Movement Science from Florida State University in 2002. He earned his M.S. and B.S. in Exercise Science, both from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

Maria Erdman PortraitMaria Erdman

Associate Teaching Professor, Department of Nutrition and Food Studies

Maria Erdman joins the Department of Nutrition and Food Studies in Falk College as an Associate Teaching Professor in Fall 2020. At Syracuse, Erdman will teach in the nutrition program.

Prior to joining Syracuse University, Erdman was employed at Morrison Healthcare at Upstate University Hospital as a Clinical Outpatient Dietitian at the Upstate Cancer Center since 2014. Prior to that time, she was a Clinical Inpatient Dietitian. Previously, she was a Graduate Research and Teaching Assistant at Syracuse University, and also worked as a Laboratory Manager and Research Technician at UC Davis, Yale College, and Syracuse University.

Erdman’s research on nutrition on college campuses is published in Public Health Nutrition and Health Promotion. She has presented at the Food and Nutrition Conference and Exposition of the American Dietetic Association (2010) and NYSDA Annual Meeting (2009). She has given many nutrition lectures and educational sessions at Oasis/Healthlink Learning Center at Upstate Medical University, Upstate Cancer Center, Upstate Healthlink On Air Radio Program, and Upstate Medical University Physical Therapy, among others.

She is the recipient of several awards, including the Upstate Cancer Center Nutrition Services Fund, a grant from the Upstate Foundation to pay the nutrition counseling bills of cancer patients at Upstate Cancer Center, as well as the 2016 President’s Employee Recognition Award, Clinical Team of the Year. She also received the 2010 Outstanding Dietetics Student Dietetic Internship Award from the New York State Dietetic Association (NYSDA) and the Outstanding Graduate Student in Nutrition Science from Syracuse University. She has served in several volunteer positions for the CNYDA, including president, and has served in volunteer roles at the Crouse Hospital Clinical Dietetics Department, Syracuse City School District, and Community Supported Agriculture of Central New York, among others.

Erdman earned a M.S. in Nutrition Science at Syracuse University in 2009, where she also completed her Dietetic Internship, and a B.S. in Genetics at the University of California, Davis.

She earned certifications as a Board Certified Specialist in Oncology Nutrition (CSO) 2015-20 and a Board Certified Nutrition Support Clinician (CNSC) 2012-17.

Kevin Heffernan PortraitKevin Heffernan

Associate Professor, Department of Exercise Science

Kevin Heffernan joins Falk College as Associate Professor in the Department of Exercise Science in Fall 2020. In the department, he teaches courses such as exercise and aging, cardiac rehabilitation, and advanced cardiovascular exercise physiology.

Prior to joining Falk College in 2020, the Department of Exercise Science was positioned within Syracuse University’s School of Education, where Heffernan has served as Dean’s (Distinguished) Associate Professor since 2011. He currently serves as the Director of the Human Performance Laboratory at Syracuse University. Previously, he completed a Post-Doctoral Fellowship at the Tufts Medical Center, Molecular Cardiology Research Institute and the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging from 2008 to 2011.

Heffernan’s research examines the interaction of diet, nutritional supplementation and exercise, with an emphasis on resistance exercise, on vascular function in health, disease and disability throughout the human lifespan. His work is published in several journals, most recently the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, JAMA Cardiology, and the Journal of Applied Physiology. He has presented recent work on exercise and cardiovascular health at the American College of Sports Medicine and the North American Artery Society scientific conferences as well as work related to health disparities in cardiovascular disease risk to members of the Congressional Black Caucus. He is Past-President of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Chapter of the American College of Sports Medicine.

Past research has been funded by the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Heart Association. Current work is funded by the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities, part of the National Institutes of Health. Heffernan serves on the Syracuse University Institutional Review Board, Interdisciplinary Neuroscience Faculty, is an Aging Studies Institute Research Member and a Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion Faculty Fellow.

Heffernan earned his Ph.D. in Kinesiology/Exercise Physiology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2008. He holds a M.S. in Applied Physiology and Nutrition from Columbia University, and a B.S. in Exercise Science from the University of Scranton.

Joon Young Kim PortraitJoon Young Kim

Assistant Professor, Department of Exercise Science

Joon Young Kim joins Falk College as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Exercise Science in Fall 2020. In the department, he teaches courses such as pediatric obesity and systemic physiology and exercise.

Prior to joining Falk College in 2020, the Department of Exercise Science was positioned within Syracuse University’s School of Education, where Kim has served as Assistant Professor since 2019. He currently leads the Clinical Research Laboratory at Syracuse University. Previously, he was a National Institutes of Health-supported T32 Postdoctoral Scholar at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and Postdoctoral Associate at the UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh from 2015 to 2019.

Kim is a Ph.D.-scientist and a clinical researcher in exercise physiology with specific focus on childhood obesity, metabolism, and type 2 diabetes. His research focuses on pathophysiology of youth-onset prediabetes/type 2 diabetes, identification of novel phenotypic biomarkers and genetic targets of obesity and type 2 diabetes, and effects of lifestyle intervention on type 2 diabetes risk in obese youth. His work is published in several high-impact journals including Diabetes Care, Diabetes, and the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. He has given presentations at the American Diabetes Association, American College of Sport Medicine, Endocrine Society, and others.

Past research has been funded by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases and the Arizona State University Research Support Program. He has received scholarships and awards from Yonsei University and Arizona State University, as well as the International Society for Pediatric and Adolescent Diabetes and the Endocrine Society. He currently serves as an Advising Member for the American Diabetes Association’s Exercise Physiology Interest Group Leadership Team, an Organizing/Scientific Committee Member for the World Obesity and Weight Management Congress, and an Editorial Board Member for the Journal of Obesity and Metabolic Syndrome.

Kim earned his Ph.D. in Kinesiology/Exercise Physiology from Arizona State University in 2015. He holds a B.S. in Physical Education from Yonsei University in South Korea.

Kristen Konkol PortraitKristen Konkol

Assistant Teaching Professor, Department of Exercise Science

Kristin Konkol joins Falk College as an Assistant Teaching Professor in the Department of Exercise Science in Fall 2020. She has a dual appointment in the School of Education. In the department, she teaches courses such as structural kinesiology for performance enhancement and injury prevention, structural kinesiology, scientific principles of conditioning, and concepts of fitness. She also runs the internship and experience credits for the department.

Prior to joining Falk College in 2020, the Department of Exercise Science was positioned within Syracuse University’s School of Education, where Konkol has served as Assistant Professor since 2018, and formerly as part-time faculty. Previously, Konkol was an Assistant Professor in the Department of Human Performance, Exercise Science/Physiology at the Minnesota State University, Mankato, where she taught courses such as individualized exercise, aerobic conditioning, and concepts of fitness, among others. She also held an adjunct faculty position there, as well as coaching positions at the Gustavus Adolphus College. At the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal in South Africa, Konkol held several titles, including lecturer, lab instructor, manager in the Human Performance Laboratory, and performance specialist for professional athletes.

Konkol’s research interests include sport specific training; speed, agility, and quickness training; athletic performance testing; strength and conditioning; exercise immunology; and global perspectives in human performance. Konkol’s work is published in the Cardiovascular Journal of Africa, Sport Sciences for Health, Children, Sports and Exercise Medicine Open Journal, and International Journal of Exercise Science.

Konkol currently serves at Syracuse University as the I-Move Program Coordinator and Dance Minor Coordinator. From 2004 to 2006, she served as a United States Peace Corps Volunteer in Guyana and South America. Konlol is a Certified Performance Enhancement Specialist through the National Academy of Sports Medicine.

Konkol earned her Ph.D. in Sports Science from the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa in 2013. She earned an M.A. in Kinesiology with an Exercise Physiology emphasis and a graduate minor in Complementary and Alternative Therapy and Healing Practices from the University of Minnesota in 2001. She earned her B.S. in Exercise Science with a Cardiac Rehabilitation emphasis from the University of Toledo, where she was a Division I collegiate basketball athlete.

Kenneth James Marfilius PortraitKenneth Marfilius

Assistant Teaching Professor, School of Social Work

Ken Marfilius joins the School of Social Work in Falk College as an Assistant Teaching Professor in Fall 2020.

Prior to his new appointment at Syracuse University, Marfilius served as a Visiting Teaching Professor in Falk College’s School of Social Work since 2018, and as an Adjunct Faculty Member from 2016 to 2018. Marfilius will serve as the School of Social Work’s Undergraduate Director. He has taught courses on topics such as social work intervention, military culture and social work practice, psychopathology, and others. 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, and as a Disruptive Behavior Committee Member.

Marfilius has given several presentations and trainings, topics ranging from veteran cultural competence to trauma-informed care, at the Association for Humanistic Counseling National Conference, the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy and Practice, and the United States Department of Veteran Affairs, among others.

Marfilius is honored with a National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, and Nuclear Deterrence Operations Service Medal. He is a recipient of the U.S. Air Force Health Professions Scholarship and the U.S. Air Force Outstanding Unit Award and has twice been awarded the Barksdale Air Force Base Medical Operations Squadron Company Grade Officer of the Quarter. Marfilius currently serves on several committees at Syracuse University, including his service as Chair of the Council on the Social Work Education Self-Study Steering Committee.

Marfilius earned a Doctorate in Clinical Social Work (D.S.W.) and Master of Social Work (M.S.W.) from the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy and Practice. He earned a B.A. in Psychology with a minor in Public Health from Syracuse University. He is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the State of North Carolina and is certified in Prolonged Exposure Therapy.

Miriam Mutambudzi PortraitMiriam Mutambudzi

Assistant Professor, Department of Public Health

Miriam Mutambudzi joins the Department of Public Health in Falk College as Assistant Professor in Fall 2020.

Prior to joining Syracuse University, Mutambudzi served as a Research Associate in the MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit at the University of Glasgow in Scotland, and a Guest Epidemiology Professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Social Medicine at the University of Antwerp in Belgium. Previously, she was an Assistant Professor in the Department of Preventive Medicine and Community Health at the University of Texas Medical Branch, and a Senior Research Program Coordinator at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Medicine.

Mutambudzi’s research focus is on chronic disease and occupational epidemiology. Much of her research has largely been directed towards the use of longitudinal data to assess disparities in morbidity, disability, and mortality, with particular interest in onset and progression of chronic diseases, work-related health outcomes, and social determinants of health in vulnerable populations and older adults in Europe and the U.S. She has published extensively in peer-reviewed journals including the European Journal of Ageing, Journal of Gerontology: Medical Science, and the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, among many others. She has presented at the International Union for the Scientific Study of Population (IUSSP), Epidemiology in Occupation Health Conference (EPICOH), and the Population Association of America (PAA).

Mutambudzi is the 2020 recipient of the Kammer Emmett Award from the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM) for the most outstanding article published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine in 2019. Past research support includes funding from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). She is an Editorial Board Member of the Journal of Aging and Health and has served as an editorial peer reviewer for many other journals. She is a member of the European Association for Population Studies.

Mutambudzi earned her Ph.D. in Public Health from University of Connecticut in 2012. She also holds a Master of Public Health (MPH) and a B.A. in International Studies from the West Virginia University.

Latha Ramalingam PortraitLatha Ramalingam

Assistant Professor, Department of Nutrition and Food Studies

Latha Ramalingam joins the Department of Nutrition and Food Studies in Falk College as Assistant Professor in Fall 2020. She works broadly in areas of metabolic disease, which include obesity and diabetes.

Prior to joining Syracuse University, Ramalingam was a Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Nutritional Sciences at Texas Tech University since 2014. Previously, she served at Indiana University’s School of Medicine as a Postdoctoral Fellow and a Research Assistant.

Ramalingam’s research interests include strategies, both in vitro and in vivo, to investigate the effects of Bioactives (omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamin D) in maternal obesity using animal models. She also has projects investigating the mechanism behind the role of Renin Angiotensin System (RAS) in beta cells. She has published in several journals, including Scientific Reports, Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, Nutrients, and Diabetes. She has presented her work at the American Society of Nutrition, American Heart Association and Obesity Society.

Ramalingam’s research has been supported by the American Heart Association, the USDA, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, the Obesity Society, and Texas Tech University. She is the recipient of several awards, including Early Career Travel Award for International Congress of Nutrition, Argentina 2017, and 2016 IJO Young Investigator Award, 13th International Congress of Obesity, Vancouver, Canada and the Early Career Grant Challenge from Obesity Society among other awards. Currently, she serves on the Editorial Board for the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, International Journal of Diabetes, and Obesity and Nutritional Disorders.

Ramalingam earned her Ph.D. at the Indiana University’s School of Medicine, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, in 2014. She also holds a M.Tech from Vellore Institute of Technology’s School of Biotechnology in Vellore, India and a B.Pharm from Sri Ramachandra Medical College’s School of Pharmacy in Chennai.

Maryam Yuhas PortraitMaryam Yuhas

Assistant Professor, Department of Nutrition and Food Studies

Maryam Yuhas joins the Department of Nutrition and Food Studies as Assistant Professor in fall 2020. At Syracuse University, Yuhas will teach in the nutrition program.

Prior to joining Syracuse University, Yuhas served as a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the University of Virginia School of Medicine, Department of Public Health Sciences, since 2019. Previously, she has practiced as Registered Dietitian in two different clinical settings and has held roles as Graduate Research Assistant for the University of Virginia’s Department of Public Health Sciences, Virginia Tech’s Department of Human Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise, and for Oklahoma State University’s Department of Nutritional Sciences. She has also held other intern, extern, and teaching assistant roles. Yuhas’s research is rooted in the socioecological perspective and focuses on working with minority, low-income, and rural communities to implement and evaluate nutrition- and physical activity-based interventions. She is published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Journal of Medical Internet Research (JMIR) mHealth and uHealth, Journal of Appalachian Health, Contemporary Clinical Trials, Preventive Nutrition and Food Science, and Nutrition and Metabolic Insights. She has given scientific presentations at The Obesity Society, Experimental Biology, and the Oklahoma Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, among others.

Current research projects for which Yuhas serves as Postdoctoral Research Associate are supported by the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and by the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI). Yuhas is the recipient of several awards, including the 2013 Weber Gerontology Scholarship Award at Oklahoma State University and the 2016 Interdisciplinary Graduate Education Program Award at Virginia Tech, among others. She currently serves as a reviewer for several journals including the Journal of Medical Internet Research, the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and the Journal of Adolescent Health. She is a member of the Society of Behavioral Medicine, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and several community-based advisory boards and coalitions.

Yuhas earned her Ph.D. in Human Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise from Virginia Tech in 2019, specializing in Behavioral and Community Sciences. She earned her M.S. in Nutritional Sciences from Oklahoma State University and her B.S. in Nutrition and Dietetics from Benedictine University. She completed her Dietetic Internship at Oklahoma State University and earned her Registered Dietitian (RDN) credential from Commission on Dietetics Registration in 2014.

Falk Student Laura Buys Named Syracuse University 2020 Tillman Scholar

Laura Buys military portrait
Laura Buys’ portrait from Basic Military Training (BMT) in 2012.

Laura Buys, graduate student in Falk College’s School of Social Work, was recently named the Syracuse University 2020 Tillman Scholar. Syracuse University was invited to become a Pat Tillman Foundation University Partner in 2017. The Tillman Scholar program unites and empowers remarkable military veterans and spouses as the next generation of public and private sector leaders committed to service beyond self. Syracuse University shares these ideals and is proud to support Tillman Scholars on our campus.

Laura enlisted in the Air Force in 2012 and became an Operations Intelligence Analyst. In 2014, she deployed to Qatar in support of Operations Enduring Freedom and Inherent Resolve. She later joined the prestigious Cobra Ball in Alaska and Japan while supporting international treaty verification. During her military career, Laura delivered over 600 intelligence briefings to Air Force leadership, aircrew, and government officials around the world. She also supported 160 CENTCOM combat missions, leading to more than 11,000 signals intelligence reports and 8 relief airdrops to displaced Yazidi civilians. As a result of her exemplary service, Laura was awarded a medal for Meritorious Service Achievement and recognized as Senior Airman Below the Zone.

After honorably separating in 2017, she fully immersed herself into a career in human services. Since then, Laura has graduated summa cum laude with a degree in Women’s and Gender Studies from Syracuse University’s College of Arts and Sciences. She later became her school’s Disability Services Liaison for Student Veterans and is currently pursuing her Master of Social Work Degree at Syracuse University’s Falk College. Laura has also been a powerful force in her community, working and volunteering with a wide array of populations, including veterans, homeless families, young adults with developmental disabilities, at-risk youth, refugees, and the elderly. Her goal is to continue making a positive impact by dismantling forms of social injustice and helping others overcome trauma. Laura’s story is currently being featured in the National Veteran’s Museum and Memorial in Columbus, Ohio.

Read more about Laura

College Honors 2020 Faculty of the Year


On May 1, Falk College held its annual recognition of academic excellence with its Faculty of the Year Awards. These awards, selected by members of Falk Faculty Council based upon peer nominations and documentary evidence, recognize faculty excellence in the academic year. Faculty are nominated in one of three categories: Service, Teaching, and Research. This year, the Falk College Faculty Council also presented the Faculty Governance Champion Award to recognize a faculty member who has gone above and beyond expectations to ensure and enhance faculty governance in Falk College.

This year’s honorees:

Excellence in ServiceAlejandro Garcia, Jocelyn Falk Endowed Professor of Social Work

Excellence in TeachingMatthew Mulvaney, Associate Professor, Human Development and Family Science

Excellence in ResearchSara Vasilenko, Assistant Professor, Human Development and Family Science

Faculty Governance ChampionKaren E. Kirkhart, Professor, School of Social Work

Congratulations Professors Garcia, Kirkhart, Mulvaney, and Vasilenko!

2020 Faculty of the Year for Service: Alejandro Garcia

Alejandro GarciaDr. Alejandro Garcia concludes a career of service to the School of Social Work, Falk College, the University, and the profession with a strong record of service at the end of the 2019-20 academic year. Dr. Garcia is an accomplished photographer, and he continued to document our collective history as a College in 2019. He photographed major annual events in the School of Social Work such as the 2019 Dan and Mary Lou Rubenstein Social Justice Awards, Overcoming Adversity: Embracing Resilience and Social Change, and the 2019 James L. Stone Legislative Policy Symposium, A Matter of Social Justice: Addressing the Lead Poisoning of Children in New York State and Syracuse. He documented celebrations such as the 2019 Induction of members into the Zeta Gamma Chapter of the Phi Alpha Social Work Honor Society, the 2019 Convocation Awards ceremonies (BSSW and MSW), the Holiday Party, the retirement of esteemed colleague, Jennifer Wilkins, and the celebration of Kate Veley’s new position. He documented special events such as The Veterans’ Voice: A Panel Discussion on Military Culture, Resilience and the Familial Impact (March, 2019). He also honored students by photographing the Falk Senior Celebration.

Dr. Garcia has been a generous sponsor of scholarships and student assistance in the School of Social Work. In 2019, he continued to support the scholarship that he established for MSW Latino students, and the book fund for those MSW students who cannot afford their textbooks. He is a member of the 1870 Society for his generosity at the University level.

Dr. Garcia has a long history of participation in Promotion and Tenure reviews of Falk College, both in the School of Social Work and in other units when the participation of a senior faculty member was required. At the University level, he participated in the planning committee for the Hispanic Heritage Month celebrations, having previously been honored by Phi Iota Alpha and the Multicultural Center at Syracuse University for this work.

Dr. Garcia gives back to the local community. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Rescue Mission, and in 2019, he continued to work with SU, the Rescue Mission, and Interfaith Works to obtain computers and clothing for New Americans. He was honored by the Rescue Mission for his service. He is a member of the Advisory Board of RISE Community Center (formerly the Turkish Community Center).

Dr. Garcia also engaged in service to the profession in 2019. He serves as a reviewer for Psychology and Aging. He is an active member of the Academy of Certified Social Workers, The American Association of University Professors, the Council on Social Work education, the Gerontological Society of America, the National Association of Social Workers, and the Association of Latino and Latina Social Work Educators. Dr. Garcia is a former member of the Commission on Accreditation of the Council on Social Work Education, and he continues to carry out labor-intensive site visits to programs under review. In 2019, he completed visits to InterAmerican University in Arecibo and InterAmerican University, Metropolitan campus.

2020 Faculty of the Year for Teaching: Matthew Mulvaney

Matthew MulvaneyDr. Matthew Mulvaney is a devoted teacher and mentor who is committed to making all classes-whether it’s a large Human Development service class, a small graduate seminar, or an online course-accessible yet challenging for all learners.

As a professor, he strives to include diversity in the classroom and challenge students to grow and understand the importance of research as the basis of knowing. As testament to his effectiveness, consider the words of students from his teaching evaluations: “Dr. Mulvaney was able to guide us through the required material while still stopping to focus on points where students were interested or struggling. This class was informative, engaging, and challenging.” Another student stated, “the seminar style course where students were challenged to push ourselves to truly explain our thinking was really helpful in beginning to think more deeply on subjects and ideas that we have taken for granted.” Finally, “I have learned more in this one class than I have in an entire semester of classes. He is a great teacher and makes class fun and engaging.”

Matt’s commitment to teaching goes beyond the classroom.

He has many external roles at national and international levels including presenting at conferences such as the Teaching Institute at Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD), and the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). In 2019, Matt became the Chair of the SRCD National Teaching Committee and has been working to shape teaching policy at the national level. He is developing the national website on teaching and assisting in the organization of the Teaching Institute that will take place at the SRCD conference. At Syracuse University, he serves as a co-mentor for the undergraduate honor society Kappa Omicron Nu and has been very effective in reviving this student-focused club. Additionally, he is a faculty advisor for the Future Professoriate Program. In this role he assists graduate students in developing their teaching strategies, building their teaching portfolios, and preparing them for a career in academia.

As a mentor, Matt is most proud of his role in mentoring an undergraduate student, Noelle Rowe, who was a McNair Scholar and Honor’s student. Working closely with Matt, Noelle was selected as a Syracuse Scholar in the Spring of 2019 and was his coauthor on two national presentations.

Dr. Mulvaney’s dedication to teaching and mentoring are appreciated by his students and mentees, which make him an outstanding and impactful educator.

2020 Faculty of the Year for Research: Sara Vasilenko

Sara Vasilenko PortraitDr. Vasilenko was selected for this honor from a very strong pool of candidates. In calendar year 2019, Dr. Vasilenko published four refereed journal articles, and she was lead author on three of those. Impressively, the journals in which Dr. Vasilenko published have an average impact factor of 2.9. She also published two book chapters, had one conditional acceptance of a journal article, and she currently has four manuscripts under review.

Dr. Vasilenko’s published work in 2019 includes the following important topics: (a) multidimensional risk profiles and protective factors as moderators of the effects of a teen pregnancy prevention program; (b) patterns of sexual behaviors of young men who have sex with men in Mexico; (c) how multidimensional patterns of adolescent religiosity are associated with sexual and romantic relationship outcomes; and (d) sexual minority health disparities across the lifespan. In addition to her publications, Dr. Vasilenko received three external grants, two of which were from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Although diverse in topic and scope, all of Dr. Vasilenko’s funded projects focus on understanding multidimensional risk and protective factors for health and well-being. Finally, Dr. Vasilenko’s research had a high impact on the fields of human development, sexuality, and health, as evidenced by 284 new citations in 2019 according to Google Scholar.

2020 Faculty Governance Champion: Karen E. Kirkhart

Karen KirkhartA member of the School of Social Work faculty and director of its undergraduate program Dr. Karen E. Kirkhart has served as chair of the Faculty Council for five years. This award recognizes her service and outstanding contributions to ensuring faculty participation in Falk College governance. This demanding and vital leadership role entailed bi-weekly Faculty Council meetings, monthly Cabinet meetings, and almost daily attention to all kinds of matters involving faculty. Dr. Kirkhart attended to details to ensure that elections and awards were on time and fair. She revised portions of the faculty manual, and then identified more critical updates to address. One of these efforts involved a labor-intensive process of re-documenting important work on mentoring that had been lost. Faculty Council members noted, “Karen’s biggest contribution is the extent to which she molded Faculty Council members into a collegial, supportive group each year. She prioritized individual check-ins and information sharing across departments. This work is unheralded, but those of us who have served on the Faculty Council with Karen can appreciate what this did to unify and strengthen the College.” Professor Kirkhart is retiring from Syracuse University at the conclusion of this academic year.

Social work students explore lead poisoning of children in NYS, Syracuse, at 21st Annual James L. Stone Legislative Policy Forum


A group of people listen to a speaker in a courtroomOn November 1, students in Syracuse University’s School of Social Work in Falk College explored one of today’s major public health threats that hits very close to home: lead poisoning of children in New York State and specifically, Syracuse. Each year an estimated 1,800 children are found to be lead-poisoned in New York State.

With a focus on implications for public policy and social work practice, the 21st Annual James L. Stone Legislative Policy Forum brought students together with neighborhood, community and political leaders, and other experts to understand what can and needs to be done about the unacceptably large number of children exposed to lead.

Any amount of lead in the body can be harmful, causing life-long cognitive and neurological delays and behavioral problems, among other issues. It is caused by inhaling or ingesting microscopic lead dust that comes from lead paint in older homes, the dirt where children play, water flowing through lead pipes into our homes, and other less pervasive sources.

Students heard from panelists and speakers including state and county officials and others with political, professional and personal experience addressing lead poisoning from many aspects, including:

  • social, economic, and political forces giving rise to this problem;
  • implications of poisoning for children, families and communities;
  • ways social workers, social work services, public health professionals and policy advocates touch families experiencing the lead poisoning of a child;
  • efficacy of existing laws, regulations and programs;
  • legislation, administrative changes and advocacy civic efforts, and;
  • practical steps for remediating and eliminating lead poisoning of children.

Keynote speaker, Hon. Gustavo Rivera, senator, New York State Senate, District 33, Chairman, Committee on Health, presented, “Legislative Action to End Lead Poisoning of Children in New York State.” Panels included:

Making State and Local Change
Moderator: Eric Kingson, professor, Syracuse University School of Social Work
Panelists: Hon. Rachel May, Senator, New York State, District 53, chair, Committee on Aging and chair, Legislative Commission on Rural Resources; Hon. David H. Knapp, Chair, Onondaga County Legislature; Hon. Pamela J. Hunter, assemblywoman, New York State Assembly, District 128; chair, Subcommittee on Women Veterans.

Lead Poisoning of Children in New York and Syracuse: Poverty, Race, & Environmental Injustice
Moderator: Nancy Mudrick, professor, Syracuse University School of Social Work,
Panelists: Sandy Lane, professor of public health and anthropology, Syracuse University, Research Professor Upstate Medical University; Robert Searing, curator of history, Onondaga Historical Association; Hon. Joe Driscoll, 5th District councilor, Syracuse Common Council, founder, Syracuse Lead Prevention Coalition; Kelly J. Mikullitz, Esq., supervising partner, O’Connell and Aronowitz Lead Poisoning and Toxic Exposure Litigation Group and first vice president, Brain Injury Association of New York State.

The Lived Experience: How Lead Poisoning Affects the Lives of Children, Families, and Service Providers
Moderator, Carrie Smith, associate professor, Syracuse University School of Social Work
Panelists: Darlene Medley, parent and member, Families for Lead Freedom Now; Oliviere Sekarore, bridging case manager, Refugee & Immigrant Self-Empowerment (RISE), and; Ellen Morrissey, grandmother, member, Families for Lead Freedom Now, and founder of an online lead poisoning support group.

Public/Private Collaborations to End Lead Poisoning in Syracuse
Moderator, Stefanie R. Pilkay, assistant professor, Syracuse University School of Social Work
Panelists: Peter Dunn, president & CEO Central New York Community Foundation; Stefanie Pasquale, commissioner, Department of Neighborhood and Business Development, City of Syracuse; Debra Lewis, MSW, lead program coordinator, Onondaga County Department of Health; Paul Ciavarri, community development organizer, Community Counsel Project of Legal Services of Central New York.

The day-long event concluded with comments from Professor Kingson and MSW graduate student, Ellan Ryan. Ryan served as the student conference coordinator working closely with event organizers Professors Kingson and Carrie Jefferson Smith, along with director of the School of Social Work and chief diversity and inclusion officer at Syracuse University, Keith Alford.

School of Social Work alumnus, James L. Stone, MSW ’64 created an endowed fund to support this event into the future and was involved in this year’s event. “Once again, the School of Social Work has brought together an amazing and informative panel of experts, law makers and committed community leaders who bring clarity, understanding, and passion to a significant issue that is relevant to social work practice and policy. We are indebted to James Stone for his generosity in endowing this event,” says Diane Lyden Murphy, Dean, Falk College.

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