Biobehavioral Health (BBH) News Archive

Six receive Faculty Scholar Medals

4/4/17

... professor of chemistry; Sophie De Schaepdrijver, professor of history; and Joshua Smyth, distinguished professor of biobehavioral health and ... (read more)

Department of Biobehavioral Health opens doors to traveling Boy Scout troop

3/21/17

Last semester, twenty Boy Scouts from Annapolis, Maryland, had the opportunity to see firsthand what a major in Biobehavioral Health entails, from hands-on activities to lab tours. (read more)

Goodwin, Smucker honored with 2017 McCoy Award

3/20/17

Penn State students David Goodwin and Abby Smucker have been selected as the 2017 recipients of the Ernest B. McCoy Memorial Award. (read more)

Rankin-Wahlers, Testa, Uliana, Konkle, Gochnauer named 2017 Oswald Award winners

3/20/17

Five Penn State students in their respective areas of leadership have been honored with the 2017 John W. Oswald Award. Awards were given in the following fields: Jaden H. Rankin-Wahlers, social services, religious activities and student government; Courtney A. Testa, journalism, speech and mass media; Adam A.Uliana, scholarship; Walker Konkle, creative and performing arts; and Kirsten Gochnauer, athletics. (read more)

Abuse accelerates puberty in children

3/16/17

While it has long been known that maltreatment can affect a child’s psychological development, new Penn State research indicates that the stress of abuse can impact the physical growth and maturation of adolescents as well. (read more)

Student awarded more than $29,000 in scholarships to study in Japan

2/27/17

A triple major is currently spending the year abroad at Ibaraki University in Japan. Nolan McCormick took the initiative to seek out funding opportunities and ended up being awarded more than $29,000 for his year abroad. Students interested in studying abroad have until March 1 to do so. (read more)

Measuring and improving the impact of parks on health

2/16/17

A team of Penn State researchers is working with the National Park Service to measure and improve its impact on people’s health. (read more)

Good sleep may promote positive experiences, less conflict

2/15/17

Researchers in the Department of Biobehavioral Health at Penn State found that sleep quality and quantity at night is affected by that day’s stressors, and that -- in a cyclical effect -- sleep hours and quality affect daily stressors the next day. The findings, from two separate studies, may have implications for both individuals and families, especially families in which one or both parents work outside the home. (read more)

Farmworkers’ perceived discrimination affects work experience, injury treatment

2/1/17

Researchers in the Penn State's Department of Biobehavioral Health studied 89 Latino farmworkers in Texas over the course of five months and found -- based both on their observations and on the perceptions of their subjects -- that Latino farmworkers regularly felt discriminated against, most often at the hands of the farm owner. (read more)

'Enhancing Health' the topic of upcoming Strategic Planning forum

1/31/17

Fellow steering committee co-chair Josh Smyth, distinguished professor of biobehavioral health and medicine in the College of Health and ... (read more)

Fifteen named distinguished professors at Penn State

1/6/17

Fifteen Penn State faculty members have been honored with the title of "distinguished professor" in recognition of their academic contributions to the University. (read more)

Global Health minor introduces students to the world

12/15/16

The Global Health minor, offered through the Department of Biobehavioral Health and open to all Penn State students, includes a capstone six-week field work requirement in Senegal, South Africa, or Tanzania. (read more)

mHealth Challenge inspires students to address mental illness

12/7/16

To provide support for those dealing with mental illness, students in the Department of Biobehavioral Health at Penn State and other majors worked together to create a concept for an app that encourages its users to seek mental health help in a safe and confidential way. (read more)

Researchers to use technology to better understand risk factors for Alzheimer's

12/1/16

Researchers in the College of Health and Human Development and the College of Nursing at Penn State are co-leading a five-year study using mobile technology to better understand risk factors of Alzheimer’s disease, and ultimately enhance prevention and treatment, made possible by a $12.2 million grant from the National Institute on Aging. (read more)

Sixteen faculty members named first General Education Faculty Fellows

11/18/16

Sixteen faculty members representing various campuses, colleges, and General Education areas at Penn State, have been named General Education Faculty Fellows. The General Education Faculty Fellows Program is a new initiative of the recently created Office for General Education. (read more)

Access to health care is a real challenge for rural communities

11/16/16

About 25 percent of Americans are residents of rural communities. Urban and suburban residents typically have access to public transportation, innovative medical care, and cutting-edge prevention programs; however, rural residents often do not have such resources. (read more)

Symposium explores the role of sleep in health and well-being

11/9/16

Penn State’s Social Science Research Institute and the Population Research Institute recently hosted the symposium, “Sleep across the Lifespan: Family Influences and Impact,” to promote new research directions on sleep and how it affects human health and well-being. (read more)

Pediatric cancer survivor now a THON advocate and Penn State student

11/8/16

Brady Lucas survived childhood cancer survivor twice and was a Four Diamonds child, which is how he first got involved with Penn State’s IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon. Now healthy and a student at Penn State's University Park campus, Lucas is giving back to THON through his fraternity and other outreach. (read more)

Penn State peer educators promote AIDS Resource Alliance services across campus

11/7/16

Four biobehavioral health students in the College of Health and Human Development at Penn State have been hired as peer educators for AIDS Resource Alliance Inc. to educate college students about safe sex practices and serve as a liaison between the agency and campus. (read more)

Health and Human Development endowments fund teaching, research

10/17/16

The College of Health and Human Development has funded several projects and initiatives to faculty members and researchers, made possible through four endowments that support undergraduate education and outreach programs. (read more)

Understanding the role of genes in smoking addiction, nicotine withdrawal

10/14/16

Thomas Gould, head of the Department of Biobehavioral Health, has received a grant from the National Institutes of Health to study the role of genes in nicotine withdrawal. (read more)

College of Health and Human Development faculty honored for teaching excellence

9/26/16

The College of Health and Human Development recently honored a number of faculty members with the Teaching Excellence Award in recognition of their outstanding instruction and dedication to undergraduate education. (read more)

Thomas Gould named head of Department of Biobehavioral Health

7/15/16

Thomas J. Gould has been named head of the Department of Biobehavioral Health in the College of Health and Human Development at Penn State. In this role, he will hold the Jean Phillips Shibley Professorship of Biobehavioral Health. Gould joins Penn State, effective July 1, after serving as professor of psychology and director of the program in neuroscience at Temple University. (read more)

Former New Kensington student wins campus' Excellence in Teaching award

6/22/16

As a Penn State New Kensington student, Josh Karelitz acquired his knowledge via excellent teaching. As a Penn State New Kensington instructor, Karelitz dispenses his knowledge via teaching excellence. (read more)

SSRI announces ninth annual Faculty Fellows program

5/23/16

"We are interested in supporting new research programs that align with our mission: to foster research that addresses critical human and social problems at the local, national, and international levels," said Joshua Smyth, associate director of SSRI. (read more)

Global Health minor students prepare for fieldwork in Senegal

5/23/16

Global Health minor students prepare for their fieldwork in Senegal by speaking with a health care professional in Senegal, who is passing along the message that it’s important to understand the culture of a country in order to treat its patients. (read more)

Penn State Learning honors outstanding guided study group leaders with award

5/12/16

Thanks to the generosity of a former peer leader, Penn State Learning, a no-charge guided study and tutoring service, has selected its first group of Outstanding Guided Study Group Leader Award recipients for the 2015-16 academic year. The inaugural recipients, each provided a stipend of $500, are Ryan Creedon, Natalie Morrissey, Jeff Ross, and Nicole Williamson. (read more)

Penn State center allows research opportunities for faculty and students

4/20/16

Lowering the risk for heart disease with healthy foods and recommended dietary patterns, monitoring fetal growth in pregnant women, and analyzing the impact of concussions in athletes are just some of the major health questions investigators analyze through studies at the Penn State Clinical Research Center. (read more)

College of Health and Human Development names student marshals

4/18/16

Bethany Latten, daughter of Darlene Latten, of Cortland, New York, will serve as the college marshal for the Penn State College of Health and Human Development at its spring 2016 commencement ceremony on May 7. (read more)

World renowned neuroscientist to give keynote address at Founder’s Research Day

4/15/16

Bruce McEwen, professor of neuroscience at Rockefeller University, will present the keynote lecture, “Experience Shapes the Brain Across the Lifecourse: Towards a Scientific Basis of Policy and Practice,” as part of the first Founder’s Endowment for Excellence and Innovation Research Day at 3:30 p.m. April 25 in the Biobehavioral Health Building on the University Park campus. (read more)

Research on risky sexual behaviors is lacking

3/29/16

Sexual health research focused on men who have sex with men is lacking, according to health researchers, even in the midst of rising rates of sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, in this population. (read more)

New online degree to help address problems of human health

3/1/16

Penn State World Campus is offering a new degree online that is aimed at helping health science professionals solve problems of human health and illness. (read more)

Biobehavioral Health professor honored by Association for Psychological Science

1/21/16

Idan Shalev, assistant professor in the Department of Biobehavioral Health at Penn State, is a 2015 recipient of the Rising Star Award, presented by the Association for Psychological Science. Shalev has been recognized for his innovative work in genetic markers of stress and aging. (read more)

IST, nursing students address complex medical issues in mHealth Challenge

12/17/15

Students at Penn State’s College of Information Sciences and Technology, in partnership with students from the College of Nursing and the Department of Biobehavioral Health in the College of Health and Human Development, recently devised technological solutions to help children and their parents navigate complex medical conditions during the mHealth Challenge, held Nov. 17 at Penn State’s University Park campus. Part of Global Entrepreneurship Week, the Penn State mHealth Challenge is an engaged scholarship event where undergraduate students from three colleges compete in a cross-college idea pitch contest. (read more)

Understanding homelessness

12/14/15

Students in the College of Health and Human Development often find careers in fields that serve the homeless. Whether they are administrators of health care facilities, managers of social services, physicians, counselors, or any number of other service-related careers, students will likely, at some point in their career, work with people wrestling with homelessness. (read more)

BBH, IST students create app to manage pain, place second in mHealth 2015

12/8/15

BBH, IST students placed second with their C Pain Go app, in the 2015 mHealth Challenge. The C-Pain Go app was designed to focus on patients who suffer from chronic pain by setting multiple reminders throughout the day to ask the patient how he/she was feeling in order to record symptoms and track their pain on a daily basis. (read more)

Nursing, IST students win big in mHealth Challenge with apps designed for kids

11/19/15

The College of Nursing teamed with students in the College of Information Sciences and Technology to take home first and third places in the 2015 mHealth Challenge. Both teams developed an idea for an app to help kids with diabetes or celiac disease learn about and manage their condition. (read more)

DREAM on

11/13/15

A program within Penn State’s Survey Research Center is offering researchers new ways to collect data outside the lab through mobile technology. (read more)

Penn State to study how stress affects health

10/12/15

Penn State researchers were recently awarded $5 million to study the link between stress and how it impacts health behaviors such as exercise and sleep. (read more)

Happy head, happy heart: positive emotions may promote heart-healthy behaviors

10/5/15

People with heart disease may benefit from maintaining positive emotions, according to health researchers. (read more)

Link between mood, pain in rheumatoid arthritis patients

7/27/15

Depressive symptoms and mood in the moment may predict momentary pain among rheumatoid arthritis patients, according to Penn State researchers. (read more)

Teens' overall substance use declining, but marijuana use rising

7/20/15

Marijuana use in teenagers is on the rise, while cigarette and alcohol use are stable or declining, according to Penn State researchers. In particular, black teens are using more marijuana than in recent decades. (read more)

Keep calm and carry on -- for the sake of your long-term health

6/8/15

Reacting positively to stressful situations may play a key role in long-term health, according to researchers. (read more)

Health and Human Development students recognized for undergraduate posters

5/12/15

Three students received top recognition during the Health and Human Development Alumni Society Research Poster Competition. Kenya Crawford, Danielle Kovalsky and Chen Zhuang received first, second and third place, respectively. (read more)

From battles to books

5/11/15

Mike Butler appears to be like any other Penn State student at first glance. But get to know him, and you will learn that two years ago he was flying over Afghanistan as a gunner on an AC-130, a heavily armed ground attack aircraft. (read more)

Ten College of Health and Human Development students named marshals

5/5/15

Ten students will represent the College of Health and Human Development as student marshals during at the May 9, 2015, commencement ceremony at Penn State. (read more)

Students receive excellence awards from College of Health and Human Development

4/24/15

Penn State's College of Health and Human Development Alumni Society presented eight students with the Alumni Recognition for Student Excellence Award during an awards luncheon Friday, April 24. (read more)

Researchers study married combat veterans’ leisure habits

4/21/15

Penn State researchers are studying leisure in the lives of married Iraq and Afghanistan veterans as a first step to ultimately designing an intervention program for veterans returning home after deployment. (read more)

Biobehavioral Health professor awarded Faculty Scholar Medal

4/10/15

Robert Turrisi, professor of biobehavioral health and faculty affiliate in the Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center, has been awarded the Faculty Scholar Medal in the Social and Behavioral Sciences for 2015. (read more)

Students use new lab to study how sounds influence human health

2/24/15

The Department of Recreation, Park, and Tourism Management at Penn State has established the Social Science Acoustics Lab in Keller Building at the University Park campus. The lab is used in a variety of ways to investigate the impact natural sounds have on human health. (read more)

Program gives high school students chance to do hands-on lab work with faculty

2/23/15

High school students are gaining hands-on laboratory experience at Penn State thanks to a new program with the State College Area High School Health Professionals Program and the College of Health and Human Development. Students can earn two non-degree credits at Penn State and three credits at State High by spending two semesters in a lab at University Park under the direction of a college faculty member. (read more)

Biobehavioral Health head honored for Black History Month

2/11/15

Collins Airhihenbuwa, professor and head of the Department of Biobehavioral Health, has been recognized during Black History Month by the Myrlie Evers-Williams Institute for the Elimination of Health Disparities at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. (read more)

Department of Biobehavioral Health names undergraduate scholarship recipients

2/5/15

Penn State Department of Biobehavioral Health (BBH) students Rhoda Moise and Bethany Latten have been selected as 2014-15 Evan G. and Helen G. Pattishall Undergraduate Research Endowment recipients. (read more)

Flexible work schedules improve health, sleep

1/26/15

Giving employees more control over their work schedules may help curb sleep deficiency, according to health researchers. (read more)

Good bedtime habits equal better sleep for kids

1/26/15

Children obtain better and more age-appropriate sleep in the presence of household rules and regular sleep-wake routines, according to sleep researchers. (read more)

New network faculty studies long-term biological consequences of childhood abuse

1/16/15

Christine Heim, professor of biobehavioral health, studies the neurobiological effects that childhood maltreatment has on the development of psychiatric disorders and physical health outcomes. Heim joined Penn State’s Network on Child Protection and Well-Being last semester and conducts research focused on identifying mechanisms that mediate the effects of abuse on long-term health, which may lead to novel interventions. (read more)

Light-emitting e-readers detrimentally shift circadian clock

12/22/14

You may think your e-reader is helping you get to sleep at night, but it might actually be harming your quality of sleep, according to researchers. (read more)

Biobehavioral health students share insight, work at Engaged Scholarship Expo

11/21/14

Two students in the Department of Biobehavioral Health (BBH) gave presentations Nov. 17 at Penn State’s Engaged Scholarship Expo in the HUB-Robeson Center as part of Global Entrepreneurship Week. (read more)

Creating solutions together

10/24/14

Students from BBH and IST will create and pitch ideas for health technology applications as part of this semester's mHealth Challenger to be held on Nov. 17. (read more)

Big Data methods in biobehavioral health goal of training grant

10/9/14

A National Institutes of Health Big Data to Knowledge Program grant to Donna Coffman, research associate professor in Penn State's College of Health and Human Development and principal investigator at the Methodology Center, targets the development of big data methods for biobehavioral change and maintenance. This training grant is for more than $500,000 over three years. (read more)

Computer game could help adolescents with autism improve their improve their social skills

9/25/14

... Collaborating with Suzy Scherf, an assistant professor of psychology and lead investigator for the project; Joshua Smyth, a professor of Biobehavioral Health ... (read more)

HHD researchers’ study featured in Brain, Behavior and Immunity journal

9/24/14

A study by researchers in Penn State’s College of Health and Human Development, which focuses on the relationship between positive events and inflammation, has been published in Brain, Behavior and Immunity, the official journal of the Psychoneuroimmunology Research Society. (read more)

Biobehavioral health student receives predoctoral Ford Foundation Fellowship

9/17/14

Francisco Alejandro "Alex" Montiel-Ishino, a predoctoral student in Penn State’s Department of Biobehavioral Health, is a recipient of a 2014 Ford Fellowship by the Ford Foundation Fellowship Program, which provides three years of support for individuals engaged in graduate study leading to a doctor of philosophy or doctor of science degree. (read more)

Penn State biology student recognized by DAAD

8/14/14

Penn State biology student Jennifer Dobson, Class of 2016, has been accepted into the Research Internships in Science and Engineering (RISE) program by The German Academic Exchange Service (Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst – DAAD), for her studies on the neurotoxicity of paraquat, a suspected risk factor for Parkinson's disease, with neurobiology professor Byron Jones, professor of biobehavioral health. (read more)

HHD faculty accepted into SHC Distinguished Honors Faculty Program

7/31/14

Rhonda BeLue and Lori Francis have been accepted into the Schreyer Honors College Distinguished Honors Faculty Program (DHFP) for the 2014-15 academic year. (read more)

Pistachios may lower vascular response to stress in Type 2 diabetes

7/31/14

Among people with type 2 diabetes, eating pistachios may reduce the body's response to the stresses of everyday life, according to Penn State researchers. (read more)

Turrisi to be featured speaker at MADD news conference

3/28/14

Robert Turrisi, professor of biobehavioral health at Penn State, and developer of the underage drinking prevention effort known as the Power of Parents, will be a featured speaker at the Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) news conference on “21 Days in Support of 21,” at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., on April 1. (read more)

Danielle Symons Downs receives $1.8-million to prevent weight gain among overweight pregnant women

9/19/2013

... State; Diane Mitchell of the Diet Assessment Center, Penn State; and Joshua Smyth of the Department of Biobehavioral Health, Penn State.

Comparing to others may improve motivation for self-care

3/20/13

Comparing yourself to others who are either worse off or are not coping well may increase your motivation to take better care of yourself when facing an illness or disease, according to researchers at Penn State and Drexel University. (read more)

Pre-college talk between parents and teens likely to lessen college drinking

3/19/13

Teenage college students are significantly more likely to abstain from drinking or to drink only minimally when their parents talk to them before they start college, using suggestions in a parent handbook developed by Robert Turrisi, professor of biobehavioral health, Penn State. (read more)

Unhealthy eating can make a bad mood worse

3/15/13

Taking part in unhealthy eating behaviors may cause women who are concerned about their diet and self-image to experience a worsening of their moods, according to Penn State researchers. (read more)

Alumna uses Miss Pennsylvania win to spread awareness of heart disease

9/24/12

One. Two. Three. Jordyn Colao has witnessed three of her grandparents die from heart disease. Her losses are what compelled the May 2012 Penn State graduate to pursue a career as a physician's assistant who focuses on cardiology. But before heading off to graduate school, Colao, who is from Erie, Pa., will spend the remainder of 2012 promoting the platform -- the prevention of heart disease -- on which she won the Miss Pennsylvania 2012 competition. And she says she wouldn't be in a position to make such a positive difference in people's lives if it weren't for her degree in biobehavioral health from Penn State. (read more)

Robert Turrisi honored by MADD for research-based national programs

9/10/12

Robert Turrisi, professor of biobehavioral health at Penn State, has received the Ralph Hingson Researcher of the Year Award from Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) for his high school-level parenting intervention that has become the centerpiece of MADD's national-level prevention effort, known as the "Power of Parents." Turrisi -- who also is a faculty associate in the Penn State Prevention Research Center for the Promotion of Human Development and the Children, Youth and Families Consortium -- designed the intervention based on more than 20 years of his research focusing on substance abuse and parent-adolescent relationships. (read more)

John Graham publishes book on the problem of missing data in research

9/5/12

In a new book titled "Missing Data: Analysis and Design," John Graham, Penn State professor of biobehavioral health and of human development and family studies, offers practical information to researchers who are not statisticians to implement modern missing-data procedures properly in their research, and to reap the benefits, in terms of improved accuracy and statistical power. (read more)

Aging is topic of 2012 Schmitt Russell Research Lecture

8/29/12

Roger McCarter, professor of biobehavioral health at Penn State, will present the 2012 Schmitt Russell Research Lecture. His lecture, "The Immortal Lives of Hypotheses on Aging," will be given at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 18, in the Bennett Pierce Living Center, 110 Henderson Building. The event, sponsored by the College of Health and Human Development, is free and open to the public. (read more)

Exposure to violence has long-term stress effects among adolescents

7/3/12

Children who are exposed to community violence continue to exhibit a physical stress response up to a year after the exposure, suggesting that exposure to violence may have long-term negative health consequences, according researchers at Penn State and University College London. (read more)

Robert Turrisi receives Prevention Science Award

4/27/12

Robert Turrisi, professor of biobehavioral health at Penn State, has received the 2012 Prevention Science Award from the Society for Prevention Research. (read more)

Being ignored online or in person, it's still exclusion

4/3/12

People who are excluded by others online, such as on Facebook, may feel just as bad as if they had been excluded in person, according to researchers at Penn State and Misericordia University. (read more)

Parents report gluten-, casein-free diet helps some kids with autism

3/1/12

A gluten-free, casein-free diet may lead to improvements in behavior and physiological symptoms in some children diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), according to researchers at Penn State. The research is the first to use survey data from parents to document the effectiveness of a gluten-free, casein-free diet on children with ASD. (read more)

Comparing yourself to others can have health impacts

2/7/12

Comparing yourself to others with the same health problem can influence your physical and emotional health, according to researchers who conducted a qualitative synthesis of more than 30 studies focusing on the relationship between social comparisons and health. "If you've ever looked at another person and thought, 'Well, at least I'm doing better than he is,' or 'Wow, I wish I could be doing as well as she is,' you're not alone," said Josh Smyth, professor of biobehavioral health and of medicine at Penn State. (read more)

Women with celiac disease suffer from depression, disordered eating

12/26/11

Women with celiac disease -- an autoimmune disorder associated with a negative reaction to eating gluten -- are more likely than the general population to report symptoms of depression and disordered eating, even when they adhere to a gluten-free diet, according to researchers at Penn State, Syracuse University and Drexel University. (read more)

Gerald McClearn to Retire After 30 Years in HHD

10/24/11

Gerald McClearn, Evan Pugh Professor of Health and Human Development and Biobehavioral Health, retired from the Department of Biobehavioral Health in the College of Health and Human Development on July 1, 2011. (read more)

Collins Airhihenbuwa receives 2011 Health Education Mentor Award

10/4/11

Collins O. Airhihenbuwa, professor and head of the Department of Biobehavioral Health in the College of Health and Human Development, has received the 2011 Health Education Mentor Award given by the Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE). (read more)

Department of Biobehavioral Health to celebrate 20 years

5/5/11

Penn State's Department of Biobehavioral Health is hosting a 20th anniversary celebration on May 6 and 7. The event -- to be held in the Board Room of The Nittany Lion Inn on the University Park campus -- is free and open to the public and will include biobehavioral health alumni, students, and current and past faculty and staff. (read more)

Airhihenbuwa is 2011 recipient of Faculty Outreach Award

3/17/11

Collins O. Airhihenbuwa, professor and head of the Department of Biobehavioral Health in the College of Health and Human Development, has received the 2011 Faculty Outreach Award. The award honors faculty who have positively and substantially affected individuals, organizations or communities through problem solving or development as a result of extending their scholarship. (read more)

Penn State researcher selected for Kaiser minority leadership program

11/23/10

Shedra Amy Snipes, assistant professor of biobehavioral health in Penn State's College of Health and Human Development, is one of six researchers across the country selected to participate in the newly established Kaiser Permanente Burch Minority Leadership Development Awards program. The program supports junior minority researchers with two-year leadership development awards. (read more)

Researcher studies how consuming less calories can lead to longer life

11/23/10

With the holiday season well on its way, research showing reduction of calories may increase life spans is not the most welcome of news. But if you ask Penn State researcher Roger McCarter how to live longer, he'll tell you just that -- consume fewer calories. McCarter has shown this in rat and mouse models (a 40 percent reduced-calorie diet leads to an approximately 40 percent longer life), and other researchers have duplicated this in spiders, yeast, flies, worms, rodents and humans. To fully take advantage of caloric restriction, McCarter, a professor of biobehavioral health in the College of Health and Human Development, and several other researchers around the world are trying to understand why eating less can lengthen a life span. (read more)

Professor teams up with MADD to fight underage drinking

10/22/10

Penn State researcher Rob Turrisi is lending a hand to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) in a new campaign called "Power of Parents, It's Your Influence," the goal of which is to prevent underage drinking and drunk driving. (read more)

Researchers combine knowledge to understand stress, heart disease

10/4/10

Stress and its role in heart disease was the focus of a one-day conference developed by William Gerin, professor of biobehavioral health. "We're aware that stress has a lot to do with chronic illness. The question is why -- what are the biological, social, and environmental factors involved," said Gerin. (read more)

For many young adults, pain, alcohol/medication use disrupt sleep

10/1/10

Many young adults who appear healthy are plagued by sleep issues at night, according to a new study conducted at Penn State. The study, led by Jennifer Graham, assistant professor of biobehavioral health, found chronic pain and use of alcohol or medications among the leading factors contributing to sleep disruptions for those in the study. (read more)

Groundbreaking ceremony celebrates biobehavioral health research

9/17/10

Ground was broken Friday (Sept. 17) for a new building on the University Park campus that will help Penn Staters expand knowledge of the factors that affect our health and the interventions necessary to promote a higher quality of life. Construction on the new Biobehavioral Health Building, to be located south of Henderson Building between the Old Main Lawn and the HUB-Robeson Center Lawn, will begin in October and the building is scheduled to be occupied in November 2012. President Graham Spanier, Board of Trustees members and others were on hand for the groundbreaking ceremony marking the kick off of the project. (read more)

Trustees approve plans for Biobehavioral Health Building

7/9/10

Penn State's Board of Trustees Friday (July 9) approved final plans for the Biobehavioral Health Building, which will be located south of Henderson Building between Old Main Lawn and HUB Lawn at University Park. "This new building will address significant space deficiencies within the College of Health and Human Development, and also will contribute to consolidating the college in one central location," said Al Horvath, senior vice president for finance and business/treasurer. (read more)

New course primes undergraduates on diabetes, obesity epidemics

7/2/10

In fall 2010, Penn State undergraduate students can gain a better understanding of the nation's diabetes and obesity epidemics. In Strategies for Addressing the Obesity & Diabetes Epidemics, students will learn what role they can play in minimizing the effects of these diseases. The course is being offered through the Department of Biobehavioral Health in the College of Health and Human Development in collaboration with the Penn State Institute for Diabetes and Obesity (PSIDO). (read more)

The Effects of Iron

5/1/10

Babies who lack iron early in life score poorly on developmental tests. "And the damage appears not to be reversible," says professor of nutrition John Beard.

Plus, in a weird metabolic twist, as they grow old such children may become at higher risk for multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's, and Parkinson's—diseases linked to too much iron in the brain. (read more)

Diversity takes main stage at center's anniversary celebration events

3/19/10

On April 8 and 9, the Center for Family Research in Diverse Contexts (CFRDC) will be celebrating its 10th anniversary with a two-day event titled "Extending Our Borders: Moving Beyond a Domestic View of Diverse Families and Communities." The center hopes to engage members of the Penn State and local community on diversity issues through a number of ways, including a faculty research panel, a poster presentation and award ceremony, and an event that focuses on student engagement at Penn State. All events are free and open to the public. (read more)

Stress hormone, depression trigger obesity in girls

2/22/10

Depression raises stress hormone levels in adolescent boys and girls but may lead to obesity only in girls, according to researchers. Early treatment of depression could help reduce stress and control obesity -- a major health issue. "This is the first time cortisol reactivity has been identified as a mediator between depressed mood and obesity in girls," said Elizabeth J. Susman, the Jean Phillips Shibley professor of biobehavioral health at Penn State. (read more)

Professor to lecture on prevention of high-risk student drinking

1/27/10

Robert Turrisi, professor of biobehavioral health in Penn State's College of Health and Human Development, will present this year's Pattishall Research Lecture. His lecture, "High-Risk Student Drinking Prevention: Bridging the Gap Between Scientific Research on Student Drinking and Prevention Programming on College Campuses," will be given at 4 p.m. on Feb. 16, in the Bennett Pierce Living Center, room 110 of the Henderson Building on Penn State's University Park campus. The event, sponsored by the College of Health and Human Development, is free and open to the public. (read more)

Students broaden ethical outlooks in biobehavioral health course

1/5/10

Byron Jones starts his class off each semester by having his students read creation stories and myths: Prometheus stealing fire from the Greek Gods, Adam and Eve eating from the tree of knowledge in Eden. This isn't a comparative literature or a religious studies course, though. For Jones, the meaning of these stories lies in their ethical implications: whether or not pursuing knowledge is natural, and if so, are our current pursuits ethically sound?
In his class, Jones takes a number of approaches -- discussions, diaries and debates -- to underscore the far-reaching influence of bioethics. (read more)

Thoughtful words help fighting couples stay fit

11/12/09

Couples who bring thoughtful words to a fight release lower amounts of stress-related proteins, suggesting that rational communication between partners can ease the impact of marital conflict on the immune system. "Previous research has shown that couples who are hostile to each other show health impairments and are at greater risk of disease," said Jennifer Graham, Penn State assistant professor of biobehavioral health. "We wanted to know if couples who use thoughtfulness and reasoning in the midst of a fight incur potential health benefits." (read more)

Work-family stress research highlighted at congressional briefing

11/4/09

Penn State researchers are examining how stress at work impacts employees and their families using a data collection method known as the "daily diary." Susan McHale, professor of human development and director of Penn State's Social Science Research Institute, and three other investigators on the multisite Work, Family & Health Network presented data at a congressional briefing in October. McHale's presentation focused on studying the effects of workplace stress using a daily diary. (read more)

Awards ceremony will honor HHD faculty and staff

10/6/09

The College of Health and Human Development will honor seven of its faculty and staff members at a ceremony on Wednesday, Oct. 14. Lisa Grove, Sharon "Chickie" Krimmel, Chalandra Bryant, Gary Fosmire, Robert Turrisi, Linda Caldwell, and A. Catharine Ross will be receiving awards. The ceremony is free and open to the public. (read more)

Student receives award to study cognition in pregnancy

6/15/09

Sarah Pugh, a junior in Biobehavioral Health, will undertake a research project to examine the relationship between cognition (mental ability) and exercise during pregnancy. Pugh is the recipient of an Undergraduate Discovery summer grant from Penn State. (read more)

Professor to conduct first large-scale steroid study

5/14/09

Robert Turrisi, professor of biobehavioral health, will play a major role in conducting the first large-scale survey of both legal and illegal steroid usage in teenagers. The study, a collaboration between Skidmore College and Penn State, is targeting up to 6,000 first-year college students, and will assess usage and knowledge of steroids and their negative side effects. (read more)

Skin color clue to nicotine dependence

5/8/09

Higher concentrations of melanin -- the color pigment in skin and hair -- may be placing darker pigmented smokers at increased susceptibility to nicotine dependence and tobacco-related carcinogens than lighter skinned smokers, according to scientists. "We have found that the concentration of melanin is directly related to the number of cigarettes smoked daily, levels of nicotine dependence, and nicotine exposure among African Americans," said Gary King, professor of biobehavioral health, Penn State. (read more)

Penn State plays integral role in $35 million stress project

4/30/09

How employees manage stress at work and in their homes is the focus of Penn State's portion of a $35 million National Institutes of Health grant that will also test the efficacy of a workplace intervention designed to reduce employee stress and promote well-being. (read more)

Penn State program aims to reduce teen pregnancy rates

2/10/09

The rate of teen pregnancy is rising after a 14-year decline, and so are the societal costs. Nationally, teen childbearing costs taxpayers at least $9.1 billion a year, according to a study published by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. In Pennsylvania, nearly $400 million in tax dollars is spent annually for public health care, child welfare and other services for teen mothers, the study concludes. The Pennsylvania Learning Academy for Sexuality Education (PLASE) has been established to combat issues like unintended teen pregnancy and the spread of sexually transmissible diseases by helping young people to develop into sexually literate and healthy adults. (read more)

Probing Question: Do women have a higher pain threshold than men?

11/10/08

It's a familiar sitcom scene: A woman in labor shows Herculean strength while her "birth coach" husband faints dead away.

Many believe that the pain of childbirth would turn the steeliest man into a quivering pile of jelly, and everyone has heard the stories of peasant women stoically giving birth in the fields only to return to work the same day.

Are women built for pain? (read more)

Partnerships work to improve life in South Africa

10/28/08

Mitchell's Plain is a large, sprawling township near Cape Town in South Africa. It contains monotonous rows of houses built about 20 years ago for the "coloured" population -- one of the racial groups designated under the Apartheid system to refer to people of mixed-race. A community marked by high unemployment and poverty, there are public schools here that lock the doors during the day and are surrounded by barbed wire to keep out gangs; daily realities among students include drug addiction, pregnancy and HIV/AIDS. Despite some grim conditions in Mitchell's Plain, there is plenty to be positive about: Thanks to a Penn State-led initiative and dedicated partners, youth in the area have reported they are less likely to start drinking, less likely to smoke and have an increased knowledge of condom use. (read more)

New Penn State program to combat rising teen pregnancy rates

8/18/08

Teen pregnancy is on the rise once again. Nationally, the rate was up 3 percent in 2006 after 15 years of declines, according to the National Center for Health Statistics at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Pennsylvania, which has the 12th-lowest teen pregnancy rate among the 50 states, is now seeing the teen pregnancy rate begin to increase. To help reverse this trend and improve the overall health of Pennsylvania youth, Penn State has created the Pennsylvania Learning Academy for Sexuality Education (PLASE). The program is a collaboration with the Pennsylvania Coalition to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. (read more)

Probing Question: How can I help my dog weather thunderstorm phobia?

10/9/06

When summer storms roll through Central Pennsylvania, Nancy Dreschel's thoughts turn to her patients who suffer from severe thunderstorm phobia. "They can really freak out," she says. "Some pace the floors nervously, while others will hide, or chew the furniture. I even had one patient crash through a closed second story window in total panic." (read more)

Probing Question: Is caffeine harmful to your health?

10/2/06

A steaming cup of black coffee in the morning is to many people what gasoline is to their cars: essential fuel. The active ingredient in that fuel? Caffeine, a central-nervous-system stimulant found in the leaves and beans of many plants, especially those of coffee and tea. (read more)

Probing Question: Does eating while watching TV harm kids?

8/7/06

Fixing a plate of animal crackers and a glass of milk for your little one to snack on while watching Dora the Explorer or Bob the Builder sounds harmless, doesn't it? After all, eating in front of the TV is part of our American lifestyle. (read more)

Probing Question: Is sugar addictive?

1/16/06

A wedge of rich, dark chocolate cake iced in thick, sweet ganache beckons. Each bite melts onto the tongue, delivering a delightful rush and a feeling that all is well. Soon after the plate is empty, the mind wonders when the next piece may come along, inviting the question: Is sugar habit-forming? (read more)

Chipping Away at Fat

12/1/95

What in the world are you eating?

It seems that many of us don't really know what's in our food, or how it affects us. Anxious to drop a few pounds or lower our cholesterol after those holiday binges, we turn to reduced-fat snacks. But, as Debra Miller points out, just because a food is labeled "low-fat," it's not necessarily going to help you lose weight. "Fat-free cookies can have as many calories as regular cookies," she says. (read more)