Current Falk College Faculty Externally Funded Research Projects

Externally funded research projects are awards granted by federal, state, or local agencies and foundations.

Matthew Spitzmueller portrait

The Care Coordination Certificate Program

The Care Coordination Certificate Program targets the professional development of the care coordination workforce of Central New York. It addresses the need for effective training of direct care workers who perform a critical role in New York State’s integrated care initiative. The first component is a 10-week sequence. Curricular areas include Medicaid redesign, strengths-based practice, ethics and boundaries, engagement, and documentation. The second component targets site supervisors. Supervisors will learn to apply a framework that supports building positive relationships with staff.




Portraits of Professors Gangamma, Walia, Minkoff-Zern

Mental Health, Economic Well-Being, and Experiences of Farming in Resettled Refugees in Syracuse, NY

This project examines relationships between home and community gardening practices, mental health indicators, community building, and socio-economic well-being in resettled refugee populations. Existing literature suggests refugees face a decreased probability of sustaining socio-economic development if nutritional and general health needs are unmet.




David Larsen

Educating Girls in the Classroom and Beyond in Northern Nigeria

The projects goals are to delay the age of marriage and enhance girls’ agency and voice in rural communities in northwestern Nigeria by reducing social and economic barriers to female schooling and providing group-based mentoring and support. Dr. Larsen will be providing statistical support and analysis needed to meet the program goals.




David Larsen

Epidemiology Support for the Kenya HDSS Site

The long-term goal is to achieve sustainable funding for the Kenya HDSS site through external sources. To that end David Larsen will support scientific dissemination efforts of data that has already been collected at the Kenya HDSS site and to which Upstate Medical University has access. David Larsen will provide epidemiological support for numerous projects coming out of the HDSS in Kenya. Along these lines he will analyze data in accordance with established hypotheses and plans that were brainstormed with numerous Upstate scientists. David’s role in these investigations will primarily be to analyze the data, and then draft methods and results. He will bring in students as appropriate.




Jessica Garay Redmond Portrait

Inflammatory Markers and Diet Quality among Vegetarian Versus Non-Vegetarian Female Collegiate Athletes

At present, it is unclear if the anti-inflammatory effects of a vegetarian diet directly benefit competitive athletes who engage in high-intensity exercise. Therefore, Redmond aims to directly measure levels of pro- and anti-inflammatory biomarkers and assess overall diet quality (using the DII) between vegetarian and non-vegetarian female collegiate athletes. This study was developed in response to observed interest in vegetarian diets among female athletes as well as growing opportunities for dietitians to provide nutrition education to collegiate athletes about overall diet quality. The results of this study can be used to highlight the need for sports nutrition professionals to closely monitor collegiate athletes and provide evidence supporting the potential benefits of a vegetarian diet for female collegiate athletes.




Evan Weissman

Increasing Demand for Local Foods in Cortland County School Meal Program

The Cortland County Farm-to-School Project raises awareness of and demand for local foods in schools. Local Foods, Local Places (LFLP), an initiative of the Cortland County Food Project, has identified the need for more economic opportunities for local farmers and better access to healthy food, especially among disadvantaged groups. In order to address these needs, the initiative is establishing a Farm-to-School program in Cortland County to source local foods for school meals. After the two- year grant period, Cortland County will have a comprehensive Farm-to-School program that can be implemented.




Sara Vasilenko Portrait

Multilevel Risk Profiles and Reproductive Health across Adolescence and Young Adulthood

In this United States, rates of sexually transmitted infections and unintended pregnancy are highest among adolescents and young adults, making prevention programs to this group particularly important. Vasilenko propose the use and integration of two innovative analytic methods, the time-varying effect modeling (TVEM) and latent class analysis (LCA). The first aim of this project will elucidate age trends in SRH outcomes (e.g., sexual risk behaviors, STIs) across adolescence through young adulthood at the population level, including differences among demographic subgroups. Vasilenko will also examine how profiles of multilevel early risk and age-varying individual factors predict sexual, reproductive, and SRH outcomes across adolescence through young adulthood. Results will allow prevention scientists to design interventions targeting the most relevant risk factors at particular ages for specific subgroups.




David Larsen

Public health professor’s patented mosquito control device supports disease prevention

David Larsen, associate professor at Syracuse University’s Falk College, invented a newly patented technology with colleagues from SUNY Upstate Medical University and Pontifical Catholic University of Ecuador. The technology is a bait station that kills the Aedes aegypti mosquito, that spreads Zika, dengue fever, and other diseases. The mosquito originated in Eastern Africa, but is now found in tropical and subtropical regions throughout the world. U.S. patent number 10,470,084 is co-owned by Syracuse University and two other universities.




Merril Silverstein Portrait

Spirituality and Prosocial Values in the Absence of Religion Among Millennials and Their Families

Approximately one-third of millennials and post-millennials—young adults born 1981 and later—profess to have no connection to religion, according to the Pew Research Center. Yet evidence points to their strengthened humanitarian values and prominent spirituality. The degree to which religion is decoupled from prosocial goals and spirituality in contemporary young adults is one of many research questions to be addressed in the project.




Dessa Bergen-Cico

Dessa Bergen-Cico Receives Fulbright U.S. Scholar Award to Thailand and Cambodia for Research on Mindfulness for Addiction Recovery

The U.S. Department of State and the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board are pleased to announce that Dessa Bergen-Cico, Professor of Public Health at Syracuse University has received a Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program award to Thailand and Cambodia for her public health research Mindfulness in the Mekong. Dr. Bergen-Cico will research the use of Buddhist practices and mindfulness for recovery from addiction and traumatic stress in the Mekong region of Southeast Asia.




Rashmi Gangamma Portrait

Gangamma leads study, strengthens mental health services in local refugee community

To help create culturally-informed practices of care, as well as fill a crucial gap in services to promote refugee health, Falk College at Syracuse University and The Multicultural Association of Medical Interpreters (MAMI) will collaborate to develop a training module for interpreters and psychotherapists. They will work specifically with resettled refugees in Syracuse, New York.




Maria Brown

Brown leads collaboration benefitting older adults with cognitive decline

A recently launched pilot project to screen for cognitive decline as part of routine community health services currently offered to older adults is expected to demonstrate the benefits of early detection of Alzheimer’s Disease and other dementias (AD/D). One major benefit is the potential of keeping Syracuse-area adults aged 65 and older healthy and safe in their homes for as long as possible.




Matthew Spitzmueller

Social work professor receives Robert Wood Johnson Foundation leadership grant

Matthew Spitzmueller, assistant professor in the School of Social Work in Falk College, has been selected to participate in one of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s (RWJF) leadership development programs designed to equip leaders across the country—in every sector and field—to collaborate, break down silos, and use their influence to make communities healthier and more equitable.




Katie McDonald

McDonald continues research on community living for all people with intellectual disability

Professor of public health, Katherine McDonald, received funding from the Disability and Rehabilitation Research Program, Administration for Community Living/DHHS for the Community 4All Project, a collaborative research project involving Syracuse Unive…




Ken Corvo

Kenneth Corvo receives grant for research, writing on domestic violence theory, policy

School of Social Work associate professor, Dr. Kenneth Corvo, has received a three-year, $50,000 grant from the Frederick H. Leonhardt (FHL) Foundation. This latest grant from the FHL Foundation follows Dr. Corvo’s decade-long professional collaboratio…




Brooks Gump

Brooks Gump studies racial differences in cardiovascular disease risk with NIH award

Falk Family Endowed Professor of Public Health, Brooks Gump is a co-investigator working with primary investigator, Kevin Heffernan and co-investigator Tiago Barreira from the School of Education’s Department of Exercise Science on the project Racial D…




Portraits of Dessa Bergen-Cico and Rachel Razza

Professors Bergen-Cico, Razza awarded grant for trauma resiliency programming

Associate professor of public health, Dessa Bergen-Cico, PI and associate professor of human development and family science, Rachel Razza co-I, received a $20,000 grant from the Health Foundation of Western and Central NY for their project entitled Tra…




Rick Welsh

Falk Food Studies and Clarkson Environmental Engineering researchers focus efforts on positive environmental, energy and health outcomes for small New York State, northeastern U.S. livestock farms

Despite a significant number of animals on smaller dairy farms in New York State and the northeastern United States, the vast majority of research on the benefits of anaerobic digester (AD) technologies only relates to larger livestock farms. That is about to change thanks to a research award made by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) for the project, “Resource Recovery at Small Farms using Anaerobic Digestion: A Viable Technology Education and Outreach Effort.” Falk Family Endowed Professor of Food Studies and project co-investigator, Rick Welsh, will lead evaluation and assessment efforts that could help develop and extend appropriate AD technology for smaller livestock farms, especially dairy farms, to realize the substantial environmental benefits from greenhouse gas emission reductions, economic benefits from energy production, and health benefits from reducing pathogen loads on farm. Welsh is partnering with two environmental engineers from Clarkson University- Drs. Stefan Grimberg and Shane Rogers.




Brooks Gump

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

Falk Family Professor of Public Health, Brooks Gump, Ph.D., M.P.H., will continue leading a program for undergraduate veterans and non-veterans (five openings for each) interested in becoming trauma researchers. Gump was one of six faculty from three upstate New York universities (Syracuse University, SUNY Upstate, and SUNY Oswego) who runs this Research Education for Undergraduates (REU) program that started in 2012. As one of many on-going interdisciplinary collaborations in the Falk College, the REU program includes faculty members Keith A. Alford, Ph.D., ACSW, associate professor of social work, Katherine McDonald, Ph.D., professor, public health, and Kevin Heffernan, associate professor, exercise science . The grant awarded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) will support the REU program for two additional years, which is now recruiting undergraduate veterans and non-veterans to participate. Students can earn $3,000 for participating in an intensive four-week summer program each June at Syracuse University.




Professors Cowart and Brown

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

A $500,000 grant from the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) will fund programming to deliver Alzheimer’s Disease and caregiving support to the African American community in Syracuse —including respite care and connections to community resources—as part of the Genesis Health Project. This initiative, led by Syracuse University’s Falk College, is part of the NYSDOH’s Alzheimer’s Disease Program, which implemented a $25 million strategy in 2015 to support people with Alzheimer’s Disease and other dementias and their caregivers. The goals of the African American Alzheimer’s Dementia Caregivers Support Program (AADCS) are to provide Alzheimer’s and dementia education to inner-city African Americans and increase use of available resources to diminish caregiver stress. The programs include educational seminars and cultural competency training for community-based partners. A 12-Week Healthy Living Program will launch August 13 and runs through October 29, 2016 from 9-11:30 a.m. at the Living Water Church of God in Christ, 121 Huron Street. The Healthy Living program encompasses Alzheimer’s Disease and nutrition education, exercise sessions and yoga and meditation. Required registration and orientation for this free program will be held on August 13 starting at 9:00 a.m. All individuals must be 18 years of age to participate.




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