Summer 2022 Newsletter

Summer 2022 Newsletter

Message from the Dean

Sheri DragooIt has been an incredible year for the Robbins College of Health and Human Sciences. The school year and summer have flown by and my year as Interim Dean is almost complete. As I look back at the year and reflect on God’s goodness and blessings, I am grateful for His guidance across all that Robbins College has accomplished. We have successfully launched our second cohort in the hybrid Occupational Therapy doctoral program, launched a new Communication Sciences and Disorders doctoral degree and grown enrollment in both incrementally over the year. We gained approval to launch a new Ph.D. in Public Health and have enrolled and will be welcoming our first class of doctoral students for fall 2022. Most recently, we have received approval to launch a new online master's degree in Medical Science in 2023.

Our Robbins College faculty have demonstrated a commitment to excellence this year in the completion of 24 faculty searches and successful hires across our six Robbins College departments, including the selection of our new Dean, Dr. Jason Carter, Director of Development, Christa Oudshoorn, and Director of Marketing and Communications, Maxcey Blaylock. Our new Robbins College leadership team members and faculty bring excellence in administration, teaching, research and national visibility to our existing, richly diverse and talented faculty. Our team of dedicated staff members has also grown incrementally as we support the growth of the college. God has truly blessed our efforts to bring in mission-focused, Christian leaders across our Health and Human Sciences disciplines.

Throughout the past year, our faculty have hosted conferences, attended and presented at professional organization conferences across the nation and virtually and demonstrated the excellence that is Robbins College. Our students at the undergraduate and graduate levels have joined many of our faculty presenting research findings from their studies. And after two years of global limitations, our faculty and students are returning to mission work and studies while traveling abroad, demonstrating the mission and vision of Robbins College and Illuminate.

Our undergraduate students are a source of great pride for us. They are leaders in organizations, they serve our community through volunteerism and they excel in their studies, with over 35% of them achieving the Dean’s Honor Roll this spring (3.7 GPA or higher). Their vast array of internships and practicums demonstrate their professionalism and diligent career preparation. We are thrilled to see both our undergraduate and graduate students step into their respective callings.

As the fall semester approaches, we celebrate our successes together and look forward to all that God has in store for us in the upcoming year. Within this edition of the Robbins College Newsletter, you will find highlights and updates across the calendar year. I hope you will pay special attention to our newly revised Robbins College mission, vision, and values statements.

Thank you again for your support during this transitional time for the Robbins College of Health and Human Sciences. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to serve you in the role of Interim Dean and look forward to seeing what God has planned for Robbins with Dean Carter at the helm. This is my prayer for each of you:

“May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.” II Thessalonians 2:16-17

Sheri Dragoo Signature

Sheri L. Dragoo, Ph.D.
Interim Dean, Chair & Professor
Robbins College of Health and Human Sciences
Department of Human Sciences and Design
Baylor University

Mission, Vision and Values

As the Robbins College completed its eighth year, increasing departments, programs and degree offerings, the college-wide Marketing Committee has invested deeply in reassessing our vision, mission and core values. After vetting these widely across the College, we share them here and will continue to integrate them into all the work that we do.

The vision of the Robbins College of Health and Human Sciences at Baylor University is to inspire servant leaders to improve health and quality of life across all populations.

In completing our mission of “Preparing leaders in health and quality of life through science, scholarship and innovation,” we hold to the following five core values:

  • Service: Investing time, resources, and Christian values for all populations
  • Transformative Education: Developing leaders with a Christian foundation in health and human sciences
  • Innovation: Inspiring thoughtful, creative, and inspirational ideas in learning, scholarship, and research
  • Excellence: Striving to deliver the highest quality in every aspect of education
  • Collaboration: Supporting interdisciplinary research and practice to produce cutting edge concepts

Departmental and Program Highlights

Communication Sciences and Disorders: Camp Success Back in Person

Dr. Ritter and Student at Camp SuccessAfter two years of a virtual-only, telepractice experience, CSD was quite excited for Camp Success to return to the therapy room. Ringing in its 20th year of life-changing language and literacy intervention, the intensive 4-week camp was able to return in person this Summer, with 64 graduate clinicians helping 64 clients reach their full potential. Camp Success started with only 18 graduate clinicians and 23 grad students, and over the years has served over 4,000 clients and had the participation of over 1,400 graduate clinicians. The CSD faculty has been impressed with the resilient nature of both our clients and clinicians, but everyone was excited to get back to an in-person experience. Camp Success is supported by the Scottish Rite of Waco.


Health, Human Performance and Recreation: Health Science Studies Students Serve in Costa Rica Through BearsAbroad Program

Health Science Studies Program Director Dr. Tricia Blalock is across the globe this July with her Baylor students, serving the communities in Costa Rica for the second time this year. Together with International Service Learning (ISL), Dr. Blalock and Dr. Kim Smith, Health, Human Performance and Recreation Internship Manager, made their first trip during the Wintermester. Along with 12 undergraduate Health Science Studies students, the team served 46 patients in the Tárcoles and Alajuela communities in Costa Rica through BearsAbroad. With the oversight of native Costa Rican providers, including three physicians, a physical therapist, a pharmacist and a researcher, the undergraduate students were able to triage patients, as well as observe treatment of patients from the vulnerable communities identified by ISL. Health Sciences in Costa Rica Wintermester 2022 participant Lindsay Zatta shared, "We were able to develop and foster clinical skills with the support from our Baylor professors, ISL and the attending clinicians. The skills we acquired will assist in our knowledge of clinical and interdisciplinary work moving forward."

HSS Students in Costa RicaIn addition to serving the underserved communities of Costa Rica through home visits and pop-up community clinics, students were able to learn through suture and injection seminars. HSS student Kayla Nedved remarked, "This experience was one-of-a-kind, and I am so glad that I was able to go." HSS student Marcely Tsikis commented, "It was such an amazing experience doing what I love, serving others, while also learning about an entirely different culture!"

Beyond contributing to Baylor's mission of preparing students for "worldwide leadership and service," students saw this experience as an opportunity to set themselves apart from other professional school applicants. Health Science Studies senior Jessica Basurto shared, "I have so many wonderful memories from this experience that I will be able to talk about during my PA school interviews. I learned so much, not only about my profession, but about working with people of a different background."


Human Sciences and Design: Student-Engaged Partnership Accelerates Undergraduate Research in Gut Microbiome Studies

Throughout Baylor, undergraduate students engage in top-tier research thanks to purposeful mentorship from faculty mentors and meaningful investment which provides cutting-edge equipment and lab access. For students in Baylor's Human Sciences and Design Department and Honors College, a substantive partnership is opening new opportunities for discovery in microbiome research.

Leigh Greathouse in LabLeigh Greathouse, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Nutrition Science, is a leading expert in this burgeoning field, investigating the ties between gut health, diet and disease. The microbiome is the collection of microorganisms found throughout the body in areas such as the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, and researchers like Greathouse are pioneering new understanding in its role in human health. Her work has drawn funding from the National Institutes of Health, earned a prestigious Career Development Award from the Department of Defense to study the link between diet and colon cancer treatment and opened doors for leadership in her discipline. As meaningful as these accolades may be, they are even more noteworthy when considered alongside another key focus: mentoring undergraduate students and including them in groundbreaking research.

"One of the best things about this job is mentoring young scientists and making sure they get the best training experience I can provide. It is a gift to have the opportunity to work with them and help them identify what skill sets they have or what skill sets they need as we work together," Greathouse says.


Health, Human Performance and Recreation: Students Excel at the 2022 Texas ACSM Annual Conference

ACSM Group PhotoHHPR has been involved in the Texas Chapter of the American College of Sports Medicine (TACSM) for many years. In February, several HHPR undergraduate and graduate students participated in the TACSM conference. Our students continue to win research grant development awards, poster finalists and presentations. HHPR is so proud of our representatives in the poster presentation and student bowl competitions. Undergraduate student Garett Petty won second place in the undergraduate poster presentation competition and the student of the year award. Also, we had more than 15 scientific research abstracts presented at the national ACSM conference May 31 – June 4 in San Diego.


Public Health: Department of Public Health Hosts U.S.-China Health Deans' Forum of the 2022 SDSC

March 25-26, 2022, Baylor University, and the Department of Public Health had the amazing opportunity to host the U.S.-China Health Deans' Forum of the 2022 Southwest Data Science Conference (SDSC). The SDSC aims to provide an international academic exchange platform, present original research results in the field of data science and promote the dissemination and exchange of innovative data processing methods and experiences. The U.S and China Health Dean's forum was organized and chaired by Dr. Liang Wang, the Director, and tenured Associate Professor of Epidemiology in the Department of Public Health.

Liang WangDr. Wang gave some great introductions and facilitated the conversation with all the professionals and leaders in their respective fields. Dr. Sheri Dragoo, Interim Dean and Professor, Dr. Renée Umstattd Meyer, Associate Dean for Research and Professor, and Dr. Eva Doyle, Department Chair of Public Health and Professor, delivered a welcome message, highlighted research scholarship and provided an introduction of public health, respectively. The overarching theme for the two-day event was "Global Health in the Era of Big Data." Participants had the privilege of hearing from experts in the field from the U.S. and internationally.

Discussions on the first day included four presentations: Dr. Jianming Wang shared insights on capacity building for global health research through global cooperation; Dr. Guoqing Hu discussed coding quality of global road traffic mortality data and its impact during 1990-2019; Dr. Yi Ning shared some ideas on public health education in Hainan Free Trade Port; Dr. Jay Shen spoke on current cannabis legalization and the opioid crisis in the U.S.

This conference is the cornerstone of exchanging state-of-the-art practices amongst fellow colleagues and professionals alike. Along with setting the standard of proper and cutting-edge advances in the field of health data sciences, there is a shared excitement about the ideas from this conference and anticipation for those that will follow hereafter. "This conference demonstrated that Baylor is determined to extend its research and maintain the R1 status," said Dr. Liang Wang. One of Illuminate's five signature academic initiatives is Health and Data Sciences. "I am very grateful for all the forum participants, including experts from China, who committed to involvement in the conference despite the time difference," said Dr. Wang. It was an honor that the two-day forum, supported by approximately forty deans and associate deans from the U.S. and China, had a large number of participants, with more than 15,000 on the first day and more than 13,000 on the second day participating in the online forum. Learn more here.


Physical Therapy: Orthopaedic Residency Partnership with Baylor Scott and White

Physical Therapy ResidentThe Department of Physical Therapy has a new collaboration with Baylor Scott & White Health. This new residency program will provide physical therapists with the education and experience needed to become a specialist in orthopaedic physical therapy—a first in Central Texas. "This is a fantastic opportunity to experience early specialization in the field of orthopaedic," said Trevor Carlson, PT, DPT, Director of the residency program. "This residency represents an opportunity to elevate orthopaedic physical therapy practice within our community." It is a 12-month program in which residents will build orthopaedic expertise by working with a diverse patient population and receiving clinical membership in multiple care settings. "The Baylor University Physical Therapy Department is thrilled to work alongside Baylor Scott & White – Hillcrest with a shared goal of advancing orthopaedic physical therapist practice," notes Dr. Sheri Dragoo, Robbins College of Health and Human Sciences Interim Dean. More information can be found here.


Occupational Therapy: Baylor's Occupational Therapy Students, Faculty and Staff Represented at the 2022 AOTA Inspire Conference

The Occupational Therapy team was in full force March 31 – April 3 at this year's American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) Inspire Conference in San Antonio—recruiting, speaking, presenting research and building relationships.

OT Group Photo at AOTAThe annual conference included Robbins College faculty as session speakers and poster presenters, with faculty, staff and student representation across the expo floor in recruiting, marketing and relationship building between fellow practitioners, prospective future students and OT partners at Baylor and beyond—A great way to celebrate their first conference on the national stage, in our home state of Texas this year at the San Antonio Convention Center.


Army-Baylor: U.S. Army Medical Center of Excellence Welcomes New Army-Baylor OTD Students

On January 28, the U.S. Army Medical Center of Excellence, or MEDCoE, at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, welcomed the first class of students in the U.S. Army-Baylor University Occupational Therapy Doctorate program during a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the MEDCoE.

Army-Baylor OTD Ribbon CuttingAccording to Colonel Enrique Smith-Forbes, Ph.D., Program Director, the new graduate program provides advanced training to occupational therapists to support holistic Health and Fitness Systems, the H2F, to increase the readiness and optimize the performance of the American Soldier.

The goal of H2F is to reduce injury rates, improve rehabilitation after injury and increase the overall effectiveness of the Army force. Students in the Army-Baylor OTD program learn advanced practice skills, including wellness, cognitive and mental health, behavioral health, upper extremity evaluation and research.

Each student will complete 18 months of didactic work and 12 months of clinical and research work at a military treatment facility or a hospital, and upon successful completion of all degree requirements, this inaugural cohort of students will graduate in August 2024.


Research: Building Bridges to Spark Innovative Collaborations

On March 28, 2022, 40 Baylor researchers shared lunch together. A dozen researchers—six each from the Robbins College of Health and Human Sciences and School of Engineering and Computer Science—gave brief overviews of their research specialties, focusing on projects ripe for partnership between the two Baylor schools. Approximately 40 faculty attended the research dialogue session and new proposals and partnerships have already begun!

Robbins College and ECS Research DialogueRobbins College researchers representing all six of our departments presented brief clips of their exciting research and included Dr. Anne Boddy (Physical Therapy), Dr. Teresa Fair-Field (Occupational Therapy), Dr. Elise King (Human Sciences and Design), Dr. Kristen Muller (Communication Sciences and Disorders), Dr. Joe Shim (Health, Human Performance and Recreation), and Dr. Kelly Yiltalo (Public Health).

"The benefit in bringing colleagues together from across campus begins with increased awareness—knowing about specific labs and equipment, capabilities and the expertise that's out there—knowing who is working on projects that require interdisciplinary solutions," said Sheri Dragoo, Interim Dean of Baylor’s Robbins College of Health and Human Sciences.

Topics discussed during this invigorating research dialogue included development of biosensors for early detection of diseases, exercise physiology, shared access to research data, community partnerships, reducing fall risk among seniors, biosensors in clothing textiles, understanding how people use apps, predicting health outcomes and physical therapy, among others.

The benefit of this shared time was noted well by Dennis O’Neal, Dean of Baylor's School of ECS, "It's too easy for university researchers to stay in their own lab space or generally interact only with those in their own departments. This meeting was an opportunity not only to introduce faculty newer to Baylor to colleagues across disciplines, but also to create opportunity for efficient, effective collaboration right here on campus."

While some faculty from Robbins College and ECS already actively collaborate on research projects, intentional meetings like this can lead to even more meaningful relationships that help build bridges across campus to enhance impact through collaboration.

Awards, Promotions, and Introductions

Baylor MPH@Baylor Program Fares Well in Fortune Rankings

This past spring, Fortune announced its first-ever Best Online Master's in Public Health (MPH) Programs, and our Robbins College MPH@Baylor program ranked number 8. The Baylor MPH Online program with a specialization in Community Health is designed for compassionate, aspiring public health professionals who are called to pursue a leadership role in a healthcare setting. This spring, Fortune announced its first-ever Best Online Master’s in Public Health (MPH) Programs in 2022 and our Robbins College MPH@Baylor program ranked number 8 among the nation’s best online MPH programs. The Baylor MPH | Online program with a specialization in Community Health is designed for compassionate, aspiring public health professionals who are called to pursue a leadership role in a healthcare setting. Click here to learn more.


Dr. Lisa VanHoose Named Catherine Worthingham Fellow in the APTA – Physical Therapy

Recently, Dr. Lisa VanHoose, PT, PhD, MPH, FAPTA, FAAPT, was named a 2022 Catherine Worthingham Fellow of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), the association’s highest honor. In August, the APTA will recognize all honorees at an on-site award ceremony. Dr. VanHoose is only the fifth Black physical therapist in 100 years of the organization's history to receive the award. To learn more about the Worthingham Fellows, click here.


Kimberly Hammond Honored with Rising Star Award

Kimberly HammondEach year, a Baylor University committee recognizes outstanding members of the Baylor advising community. The Rising Star Award is presented to a full-time advisor who has served at Baylor for less than two years. The recipient of this award must demonstrate strong communication and interpersonal skills, as well as mastery of advising procedures. Robbins College is thrilled to announce that this year the Rising Star award was presented to Mrs. Kimberly Hammond. Congratulations! Here is what colleagues had to say about Mrs. Hammond’s great work:

"We are truly blessed to have Kimberly Hammond as an academic advisor in our college. She has taken on the new role flawlessly."

"Kimberly is a selfless servant who loves Christ, her students and advising! She does not just advise; she counsels her students."

Please join us in congratulating Mrs. Hammond on this amazing honor in the field of academic advising! What a blessing she is to Robbins College.


Faculty Promotions

This year, Dr. Yang-Soo Yoon, Assistant Professor of Communication Sciences and Disorders, was promoted to Associate Professor. Clinical faculty members Jana Parker and Nadine Welch also were both promoted to Clinical Associate Professor.

In addition, Dr. LesLee Funderburk, Assistant Professor of Nutrition Sciences and Dietetic Internship Coordinator, was promoted to Associate Professor.


Faculty Introductions

The Department of Human Sciences and Design is pleased to welcome Ms. Ruthie Davis, M.A., CCLS, as an incoming Assistant Clinical Professor of Child and Family Studies. Ms. Davis joins the Baylor faculty with 16 years of clinical experience as a Certified Child Life Specialist (CCLS) and Child Life administrator in central and north Texas hospitals, as well as 5 years of academic experience as an instructor with the Child and Family Studies division. Ms. Davis's clinical expertise and scholarship on chronic illness, grief and the importance of play has been featured at national, regional, state and local conferences and consortiums. Through her leadership and advocacy, Ms. Davis has enhanced the field through the supervision and mentorship of students, volunteers and professionals, as well as through the creation of innovative programs to meet the needs of children, families, students and professionals in the field of Child Life.

The Department of Human Sciences and Design is also pleased to welcome Dr. Nick Frye as an incoming Assistant Professor of Child and Family Studies. Dr. Frye is joining the Baylor faculty from Auburn University's Military REACH program in Auburn, Alabama, in which he is completing a postdoctoral research fellowship. A collaborative researcher who seeks to improve the lives of families at risk for unique stressors, Dr. Frye's research focuses on the study of resilience and emotional competency in relation to family well-being, particularly for military and stepfamilies. In his current role, Dr. Frye reviews and translates current research into policy reports and outreach publications for the Department of Defense, military families, helping professionals and the public. His scholarship has recently been published in the Journal of Family Issues and Journal of Divorce and Remarriage and featured in national conferences with the American Psychological Association and National Council on Family Relations.

The Department of Physical Therapy is pleased to welcome Dr. Lisa VanHoose, Clinical Professor. Dr. VanHoose became a Board-Certified Clinical Specialist in Oncologic Physical Therapy in 2019 as a member of the charter cohort. She is a certified Patient Navigator through the Harold P. Freeman Patient Navigation Institute. She is a trained facilitator through the Center for the Improvement of Mentored Experiences in Research. She has completed health equity training through the Louisiana Racial and Health Equity Learning Laboratory. She has investigated workforce diversification and health disparities since 1995. As an NIH, PCORI and industry-funded researcher, Dr. VanHoose investigates socioecological models of cancer-related side effects with an emphasis on minority and rural cancer survivorship. She has been an advocate for the movement of all persons, including the elimination of social policies and practices that are barriers to movement-friendly environments. Dr. VanHoose served as the 2012-2016 President of the Academy of Oncologic Physical Therapy of the American Physical Therapy Association. Dr. VanHoose was recognized in 2021 with the American Physical Therapy Association Societal Impact award and recently named a Catherine Worthingham Fellow of the APTA. She is always excited to learn with and from all humans.

The Department of Physical Therapy is also pleased to welcome Dr. Elizabeth Ardolino, PT as Associate Professor. In addition to her extensive clinical and teaching experience, Dr. Ardolino's scholarship focuses on developing and testing new outcome measures for adults and children with neuromotor disorders and exploring the efficacy of novel pediatric interventions. She has recently expanded her scholarly agenda to include educational research on grit and reflection in learning in health sciences students.

The Department of Public Health is pleased to welcome three new faculty members, Dr. Stephanie Jones as Assistant Professor of Epidemiology, Dr. Elizabeth Kwon as Assistant Professor of Social and Behavioral Health Science, and Dr. Kathryn Janda as Assistant Professor of Social and Behavioral Health Science. Dr. Stephanie Jones graduated from the Medical University of South Carolina with a Ph.D. in Epidemiology in 2022. Her research aims to understand risk factors of substance abuse, with a specific focus on genetic determinants of nicotine addiction and smoking behavior. Stephanie received an M.A. in Christian Apologetics from Biola University in 2017 and an M.S. in Financial Management from the University of Maryland University College in 2005. She is also a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy where she earned a B.S. in Naval Architecture and a commission as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps in 2000. Stephanie served five years on active duty as an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps reaching the rank of Captain. Stephanie and her husband have lived overseas in Japan, Ukraine and Czech Republic and have traveled extensively throughout the world.

Dr. Elizabeth Kwon's work is to understand the interplay among biological, psychological and social factors that drive risky behaviors and mental health challenges. Specifically, her current research investigates how childhood adversity affects one's physiological reaction to stress and development of addiction vulnerabilities (e.g., emotion dysregulation, impulsivity, sensation-seeking) among adolescents. She is also interested in psychological protective factors such as resilience, self-control and emotion regulation. She uses quantitative methodology to model longitudinal developmental pathways linking early life stress with adverse behavioral or mental health outcomes. Ultimately, her research contributes to intervention and prevention program development and promoting resilience among youth in underserved populations who are disproportionately exposed to chronic stress or trauma.

Dr. Kathryn Janda's work focuses on food insecurity mitigation and improving healthy food access to promote health equity in underserved communities. Specifically, her research centers on examining where food insecurity and minimal healthy food access are occurring; who is disproportionately experiencing these issues; and how to design and evaluate community-engaged programs seeking to address these problems. Rooted in the social ecological model, her work involves collaborating with community organizations and employing various methodologies (geospatial, quantitative, and qualitative) to better understand multi-level influences on food insecurity and limited healthy food access in local and regional contexts. Dr. Janda's research areas are Food Insecurity and Healthy Food Access, Health Equity and Disparities, Evaluation, Geospatial Analysis (GIS) and Mixed Methods and Community Health Promotion.

The Department of Occupational Therapy is pleased to welcome Dr. Jerilyn Callen, OTD as Assistant Clinical Professor. Dr. Callen is a collaborative educator who seeks to enrich the field of occupational therapy through the therapeutic use of self. Dr. Callen’s research focuses on student clinicians’ engagement in the therapeutic use of self within the therapeutic process as well as clinical simulation as a low stake, high reward learning tool.

The Department of Health, Human Performance and Recreation is pleased to welcome Dr. Cory Dungan as Assistant Professor of Exercise Physiology, Dr. Joon Park as Associate Professor, and Dr. Cory Smith as Assistant Professor. Using cell and genetic animal models, Dr. Cory Dungan’s research interests include examining the contribution of cellular senescence to sarcopenia, cachexia, and anabolic resistance, the cross-talk between skeletal muscle and brain following exercise training, and determining the contribution of DNA-damage in the progression of insulin resistance.

Dr. Joon Park is a biomedical scientist whose research focuses on the molecular mechanisms of how biomechanical stress maintains or disrupts cell homeostasis in the blood vessel and their functional implications on vascular disease and sports-related traumatic brain injury. In collaboration with experts in various fields, Dr. Park uses multidisciplinary innovative approaches, including biochemical assays, cell culture/transgenic animal models, human intervention studies, microfluidics, -omics technology, and machine learning.

Prior to earning his PhD, applied physiologist Dr. Cory Smith served as a medic for a Level 1 Trauma Center, Search & Rescue Team, Mobile Telemedicine Vehicle, and Disaster Medical Assistance Team. His research interests include human environmental physiology, multimodal data fusion, aerospace physiology, and neurorehabilitation.