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Health Notes: Researchers Examine Back-to-School Health and Safety

Back-to-school season brings first-day jitters, peer pressure and, for new college students, the dreaded weight gain known as the “freshman 15.” Researchers at The University of Texas at Austin are available to discuss topics ranging from preventing college binge-drinking to developing social skills.

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Back-to-school season brings first-day jitters, peer pressure and, for new college students, the dreaded weight gain known as the “freshman 15.” Researchers at The University of Texas at Austin are available to discuss topics ranging from preventing college binge-drinking to developing social skills.

Kim Fromme
Professor, Department of Psychology

Fromme directs the Studies on Alcohol, Health and Risky Activities Laboratory, where she examines the prevention of alcohol abuse and its negative consequences among adolescents and young adults. She has created intervention programs to prevent alcohol abuse and other risky behaviors. She also examines factors that influence alcohol and drug use, sex and aggression among college students.

Lori Holleran Steiker
Associate Professor, School of Social Work

Holleran Steiker studies substance abuse prevention, especially among youth. She has found frequent binge drinkers are eight times more likely than non-binge drinkers to miss a class, fall behind in school work, get hurt or injured, and damage property.

Confronting Prejudice in the Classroom
Rebecca Bigler
Professor, Department of Psychology

Bigler directs the Gender and Racial Attitudes Lab and researches the formation and consequences of racial and gender stereotypes. She has interviewed thousands of children about their beliefs and attitudes. She also examines children’s views about the U.S. presidency and race, gender and ethnicity. Learn more in the feature story “Primary Education.”

Coping with Back-to-School Anxiety
Michael Telch
Professor, Department of Psychology

Telch explores the nature and treatment of anxiety-related disorders. He has expertise and professional experience in behavior and cognitive therapy. Telch founded the Laboratory for the Study of Anxiety Disorders, where he examines panic disorder, agoraphobia, social anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder and generalized anxiety.

Christopher McCarthy
Director of the Counseling Psychology Program, Department of Educational Psychology

McCarthy researches stress, coping and prevention. By examining the connection between cognition and emotion, he determines what triggers stress-related emotions. Specific to back-to-school anxiety, he investigates the stress and coping processes of younger individuals and diverse populations.

School Behavior Problems and Dropouts
Cynthia Franklin
Professor, School of Social Work

Franklin studies solution-focused brief therapy, a therapeutic intervention that helps improve student behavior and academic performance for youth who may drop out of school. In a recent study, Franklin found the therapy could help students reach their goals, reduce the intensity of negative feelings, manage their conduct and improve grades.

Toni Falbo
Professor, Department of Educational Psychology

Falbo examines how being an only child affects a child’s development and scholastic achievements. She researches the unique problems of at-risk high school youth and the influence of parent and sibling interaction on a child’s health and achievement.

Coping with Back-to-School Blues

Kevin Stark
Professor, Department of Educational Psychology

Stark completed the largest study on depression in preteen and teen girls, and examines prevention, assessment and intervention strategies. He created the Texas Child Study Center in Austin, which provides child and family mental health services to the central Texas area.

Abuse of Prescription Drugs by Teens

Jane Maxwell
Senior Research Professor, School of Social Work

Prescription drug abuse by teens is just one emerging drug trend followed by Jane Maxwell. Maxwell is one of 21 epidemiologists in the country who report substance abuse trends for a work group established by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Learn more in the feature story “Generation Rx?.”

Bullying, Hazing and Aggressive Behavior
Robert Josephs
Associate Professor, Department of Psychology

Josephs examines stress and how it shapes our social environments and personalities. He researches testosterone and competition, hormones and personality, and self esteem. He focuses on how dominance, social class and culture affect hormonal and cardiovascular response to stress.

Fitting in: Social Development
Rob Crosnoe
Research Associate Professor, Department of Sociology

Crosnoe is a research associate at the Population Research Center, where he examines the long-term effects of not “fitting in” during high school, and the link between academic progress and personal relationships. He focuses on the connections among child and adolescent development, health and education and how they help us understand inequalities. Learn more in the feature story “Making the Grade.”

Bill Swann
Professor, Department of Psychology

Swann examines the interplay between beliefs about the self and others in personal relationships. His research revealed that people with negative self-views are more inclined to remain in relationships with people who think poorly of them.

Cindy Carlson
Professor, Department of Educational Psychology

Carlson is director for the School Psychology Program in the Department of Educational Psychology, which prepares graduates for providing psychological services for children in grades K-12. She studies the effects of family and peer relationships on children’s behavior and emotional health, children’s social relationships, attachment theory and cultural differences in behavioral issues.

How Religion and Family Ties Influence Behavior
Mark Regnerus
Associate Professor, Department of Sociology

Regnerus studies religious influences on adolescent sexual behavior and parent-child communication about sex, religion and family well-being. His research found that girls who have good relationships with their fathers tend to wait longer to have their first sexual experience.

Cross-Cultural Education Shapes Child’s Development

Marie-Anne Suizzo
Associate Professor, Department of Educational Psychology

Suizzo focuses on parent-child relationships and how they shape children’s development and learning across cultures and ethnic groups. Her research focuses on French and European-American parents, and ethnic minority groups in the United States. She has conducted studies in Europe, as well as the United States.

Physical Activity in Schools

Dolly Lambdin
Lecturer, Department of Kinesiology and Health Education

Lambdin researches physical education and assessment in elementary schools. She is active in the policy arena, where she advocates increasing physical education class time in schools, stressing that fitness for children is a compelling, critical quality-of-life issue.

College Weight Gain: Beating the Freshman 15
Gayle Timmerman
Associate Professor, School of Nursing

Timmerman focuses on restaurant eating, weight management and the assessment of eating patterns and obesity. Her research, “Dieting, Deprivation and Nonpurge Binge Eating in Women,” has been funded by the National Institute of Nursing Research at the National Institutes of Health. Learn more in the feature story “Fighting the Freshman Fifteen.”