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Dear AHS faculty and staff:


Hi, everyone. Temperatures have started to cool, but—as you'll see—the accomplishments and honors of you and your colleagues continue at a blistering pace. To say I am proud of everyone would be an understatement. The past 18 months have proven to be challenging beyond what anyone could have anticipated, and yet you have all continued to work hard and smart, conducting important research and encouraging your students to be their best. I want to thank you all for your efforts!

Since our next newsletter won't be sent until after the holiday, I want to wish everyone a healthy, safe and family-filled Thanksgiving! Please enjoy the turkey and fixings, and travel safely.

The Dean's List is now a bi-weekly publication, with the next delivery on Nov. 29. Continue to send your announcements and calendar items to communications@ahs.illinois.edu. Items will be reviewed and edited for style and grammar.

Cheryl Hanley-Maxwell
Dean, College of Applied Health Sciences



Capt. David Casteel, Commanding Officer of the Navy ROTC at Illinois and a self-described history buff, illuminated the connection between Veterans Day and the end of World War I during a talk at the Chez Veterans Center.

Can dancing slow cognitive decline and improve health of middle-aged and older Latinos? That’s something that KCH Assistant Professor Susan Aguiñaga is seeking to find out.

After winning the Chicago Marathon and finishing second in Boston—on consecutive days—Illini wheelchair athletes Tatyana McFadden and Daniel Romanchuk placed second and third, respectively, in the New York City Marathon.

Student researcher Elizabeth Spurlock—who does her research in conjunction with the Chez Veterans Center—reflects on her experience studying brain health in populations who have served in the armed forces.

In her latest podcast, KCH Teaching Associate Professor Jamie O'Connor speaks with Justin Young of the Gilman School District in Wisconsin.

RST sophomore and football player Casey Washington was chosen as the Scholar Athlete of the Week for Oct. 25-29 for his game-winning, two-point conversion in the upset of Penn State. Congrats, Casey!


Did you know the College of Applied Health Sciences has an Intranet? The webpage is meant to be a central hub for resources you need to conduct your business. Scan the menu to find the resource you need, and if you don't see it, let us know


A new tool developed by the DRES Accessible IT Group has been released to support people with disabilities in navigating web pages using the keyboard. The SkipTo Landmarks & Headings browser extension implements a long-standing requirement for web browsers to provide structural navigation by headings and content sections. We encourage you to install it by visiting the extension's Chrome Web Store or Firefox Add-ons page, and to let us know what you think.


The Interdisciplinary Health Sciences Institute, in partnership with the Center for Social and Behavioral Science and with support from the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion, has announced that the 2022 Community Academic Scholars Project Application has opened.  In a video, Prof. Kevin Tan shared his experience with Community-Academic Scholars and offered to connect with potential CAS mentors. You can also find a Frequently Asked Questions section to the CAS Academic Mentor webpage. For more information, contact Kelsey Hassevoort.


RST Associate Professor Liza Berdychevsky has edited a new book titled, "Sex In Tourism: Exploring the Light and the Dark." The book, edited by Berdychevsky and Neil Carr, looks at the diversity and complexity of sex in tourism, including the light, dark and shades of grey between. It can be purchased through Channel View Publications.

KCH Professor Ken Wilund and KCH Associate Professor Nick Burd have a new publication entitled, "The devil is in the dialysate: A case for high-protein intradialytic nutrition to attenuate loss of skeletal muscle mass," in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. In it, Drs. Wilund and Burd, along with Colleen McKenna, a doctoral student in the Division of Nutritional Sciences, discuss the complexities of nutritional supplementation in patients with kidney failure undergoing chronic hemodialysis treatment.  To combat muscle wasting and frailty, hemodialysis patients are often provided protein supplements during their dialysis sessions.  But research by their group and others suggest that this approach may not be efficacious, in part because of the type and amount of protein provided may be insufficient to combat muscle wasting, and dialysis patients also appear to have an anabolic resistance to protein supplementation. Preventing frailty and muscle wasting is important in dialysis patients in order to maximize patient eligibility for a successful kidney transplant. Coordinated effort across clinical practitioners, including nephrologists, dietitians, and exercise physiologists are going to be needed to develop novel solutions to this problem. 

SHS Associate Professor Laura Mattie has a new publication entitled, “The FMR1 Premutation Phenotype and Mother-Youth Synchrony in Fragile X Syndrome,” in the American Journal on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. The study examined the association between the FMR1 phenotype and the quality of interactions between mothers and their adolescent/young adult sons with fragile X syndrome. Results indicated that maternal pragmatic language difficulty was associated with low-quality asynchronous mother-youth interactions. These findings highlight the importance of family-centered intervention practices for families with fragile X-associated disorders.

KCH Assistant Professor K. Andrew Richards has a new publication entitled, “Encouraging Undergraduate Student Experiential Learning through a Community-Based Fall Risk Assessment and Prevention Clinic,” in the International Journal of Kinesiology in Higher Education. In it, Dr. Richards and his collaborators—including KCH alum Tyler Wood, now an assistant professor at Northern Illinois, and KCH Professor Jake Sosnoff—look at. undergraduate students’ involvement in a community-based fall risk assessment and prevention clinic through the lens of experiential learning theory. The researchers found that, ccollectively, this type of program has the potential to enhance the undergraduates’ educational experience and preparation for their future careers while also enriching the community with fall prevention resources.

KCH Associate Professor Sean Mullen and his advisee, Dr. Madhura Phansikar, have a new publication entitled, “Cognitive and psychosocial effects of an acute sun salutation intervention among adults with stress,” in the journal Mental Health and Physical Activity. In it, Drs. Mullen and Phansikar suggest that video-guided, flow-based forms of yoga can induce immediate improvements in well-being, yet extended involvement may be required to realize performance improvements in memory and processing speed.

KCH Professor David Strauser, KCH Assistant Professor Robyn Gobin, and doctoral candidates Michelle Pebole and Chelsea Greco have a new publication entitled, “Impact of childhood maltreatment on psychosomatic outcomes among men and women with disabilities,” in the journal Disability and Rehabilitation. The project examined the impact of childhood maltreatment types on psychosomatic outcomes among adults with a range of self-reported disabilities. Two important findings were the latent effects of trauma on psychosomatic outcomes over the lifespan by gender, and the importance of implementing gender-specific and trauma-informed care into diverse contexts.


Two teams of AHS researchers are among the recipients for this first year of Call to Action funding from the Office of the Chancellor. RST Professors Monika Stodolksa and Kim Shinew received a grant of $93,428 for their project entitled, "Combating Systemic Racism in Access to Nature, Open Spaces, and Parks and Recreation." Drs. Stodolska and Shinew plan to give a formal evaluation of previous efforts by the Urbana Park District to increase access to nature and recreation opportunities among diverse residents, as well as create a blueprint that can be shared on how to dismantle systemic racism and increase access to nature and recreation among people of color. Also, KCH Associate Professor Andiara Schwingel and KCH Assistant Professor Susan Aguiñaga received a grant of $100,000 for their project entitled, "Online Certificate Programs for Community Health Workers: From Overlooked and Under‑Researched Employees to Well‑equipped Frontline Agents in the Fight to Reduce Health Disparities in Communities of Color. Drs. Schwingel and Aguinaga plan to establish a coalition that includes Community Health Workers (CHWs) and other stakeholders to develop, evaluate, and disseminate online learning strategies through certificate programs that will train CHWs to address community health needs. Congratulations to all!

KCH Associate Professor, Interim MPH/MSHA Director and CHAD Associate Director Laura Rice has a received a Creating Opportunity & Independence Community Support Grant from the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation for her project entitled, “Fire Safety Preparedness For Wheelchair Users Living with Spinal Cord Injury.” Dr. Rice is partnering with the Illinois Fire Service Institute on the two-year, $ 199,614 grant. The overall goal of the project is to improve fire safety preparedness among individuals living with Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) who use wheelchairs and scooters full time. To achieve this goal, Dr. Rice’s research team will engage in the following activities: 1) develop an active learning, hybrid, online education program focused on residential fire safety preparedness among full time wheelchair and scooter users living with SCI, 2) examine the feasibility of implementing the program in a home setting and 3) examine the efficacy of the education program.The findings of the proposed project will be used to refine the education program in order to establish a highly manualized education program that can be sustained through local fire departments.


Congratulations to KCH Associate Professor Sandraluz Lara-Cinisomo, who was awarded the MARCE of North America (MONA) 2021 Medal of Service. The MONA Medal for Service is awarded to an individual in recognition of a significant contribution in service of the MONA aims, including encouraging the development of novel assessments and interventions, translating science to practice and policy, and supporting the development of diverse perinatal mental health professionals. Congratulations, Dr. Lara-Cinisomo!

KCH graduate student Emily Erlenbach was awarded the Paul D. Doolen Scholarship for 2021-2022 in the Social and Behavioral Sciences for the study of aging. Erlenbach works with KCH Associate Professor Neha Gothe. The objective of the Doolen Scholarship is to facilitate the study of aging by providing scholarships to  two outstanding graduate students. These scholarships are made possible by an endowment from the Retirement Research Foundation to honor the late Mr. Paul D. Doolen, a long-time member of the University of Illinois Foundation Board of Directors.


Researchers are exploring challenges encountered in daily activities by adults aged 60+. If you or someone you know is experiencing difficulty with thinking, memory, or concentration, we would like to learn from these experiences to develop solutions. Participants must be over 60 and identify as one of the following groups: Have experienced recent changes in thinking, memory, or concentration, or have a diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment, OR Have been diagnosed with a moderate to severe TBI and have persistent cognitive difficulties as a result of the TBI, OR Have experienced a stroke and have persistent cognitive difficulties as a result of the stroke Participants are NOT eligible if they: Have a history of significant psychological illness; Have a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or other dementia. To learn more, please contact us at: 217-265-0885 or KCH-HFA-ENACT@illinois.edu

The Human Factors and Aging Laboratory is seeking research participants for an IRB-Approved research study. The research study is titled, "Understanding Attitudes and Opinions Towards a Health Technology." For this study, we are focusing on the use of a health technology to support the self-monitoring of African American adults’ health to manage their chronic conditions.  This study will last  2.5 hours and take place via Zoom. Potential participants must  be 50-80 years old, diagnosed with a chronic health condition, speak English, identify as African American, and have the capability to use Zoom. Participants will be compensated with a $50 Amazon e-Code. If interested in participation, please contact Maurita Harris.

Adults (18-35 years) needed to study the molecular mechanism through which exercise affects brain function in adults. Participation involves several visits to the lab to complete questionnaires, exercise tests, computer tasks, and blood draws. Compensation up to $100 (gift card) provided upon completion. Schedule a phone screening at or email bcnnlab@gmail.com.

We are seeking participants for a research study exploring the social engagement benefits of a video chat platform called OneClick. The aim of this study is to test how usable and enjoyable OneClick is for connecting with others. Participants will engage in fun, social events with other people to test and help develop a video chat technology. This study will last 4 weeks and take place on OneClick.  Potential participants must be aged 50-64, speak English, and have a computer with access to internet. Participants will be compensated for participation in the study. If interested in participation, please contact us at KCH-HFA-OneClick@illinois.edu or (217) 265-0089.  

The Wellness Research Collaborative in Multiple Sclerosis (Well-MS) is seeking to recruit faculty, staff, and students to join our working group. The mission of the collaborative is to support the health and well-being of individuals living with Multiple Sclerosis in Central Illinois and beyond through research and outreach activities. If you are interested in being involved with the MS collaborative, please contact Laura Rice for additional details.

We are recruiting mothers and their children (8 to 12 years old) for a study about benefits of familiar voices in noisy places. Requires two, one-hour lab visits. Mothers record a list of sentences. Then children are tested on their ability to recognize the sentences in noise. Participants are paid $15 an hour. Daytime/evening/weekend availability. Free parking. Email: child-SRL@illinois.edu or call 217-300-8336.