Key Initiatives

Human Development and Family Studies chair Carl Weems named APS fellow

An Iowa State University researcher with expertise in traumatic stress, emotional development, and the intervention and prevention of emotion-related difficulties has joined an elite group of researchers in the field of psychology. Carl Weems, professor and chair of human development and family studies, has been named a fellow of the Association for Psychological Science. Fellow status in APS cites Weems for “sustained and outstanding contributions to the advancement of psychological science.”

Weems is a developmental psychologist who applies science to solve real-world problems and improve the human condition. His research has focused on how severe and traumatic stress affects brain development and how to prevent the negative effects of adverse stress in children and youth so they maintain healthy regulation of their emotions and optimum wellness.

Part of his work is exploring the amygdalae and hippocampus — groups of nuclei located within the temporal lobes of the brain that are important to emotion and memory. He is examining how traumatic experiences effect these areas and their interrelation to brain networks involved in detection of salient stimuli, decision making, and emotion regulation. A review and theoretical model of this work is slated to appear in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry in 2019.

He is currently working with several Iowa State University colleagues in Human Sciences Extension and Outreach and the Translational Research Network to develop a statewide workshop to actualize trauma-informed practices in the state — including dissemination of intervention techniques that professionals can use to promote resilience in people who have experienced trauma. As the principal investigator of the Child Welfare Research and Training Project, Weems helps lead the development of trauma-informed trainings for Iowa Department of Human Services employees and the deployment of efforts aimed at reducing the incidence and impact of traumatic events such as domestic violence.

Among his recently completed projects is a study funded by the National Science Foundation that integrates cognitive emotional development and computer science to improve cybersecurity. The study examines how emotions, personality, and cognitive styles may help in the detection and prevention of cyber risk — the financial loss, disruption, or damage to the reputation of an organization resulting from a failure of its information systems.

In another paper recently published by the Applied Developmental Science journal, Weems and his colleagues evaluated perceptions of competence and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder in children and teens exposed to hurricanes Katrina and Gustav and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. They found that children with higher levels of competence were overall more resilient and had fewer symptoms of post-traumatic symptoms disorder.

The Association for Psychological Science is the leading international organization dedicated to advancing scientific psychology across disciplinary and geographic borders.

Iowa State part of $10 million effort to encourage a diverse faculty in STEM fields

Iowa State researchers are part of a national alliance that won a $10 million grant from the National Science Foundation. The alliance will develop programs that increase the diversity and effectiveness of faculty teaching science, technology, engineering, and math. Iowa State's part of the project focuses on working with community colleges to recruit and prepare a diverse group of graduate students for teaching careers at community colleges.

Lorenzo Baber, an associate professor in the School of Education and head of the higher education division is part of Iowa State's grant team, which is led by Craig Ogilvie, an assistant dean for Iowa State’s Graduate College and a Morrill Professor of physics and astronomy.

Accountability sessions give ISU student startups time to set benchmarks, course-correct

Ryan True's business, Full Circle Wellness, would provide health services for older adults focusing on eight dimensions of wellness: physical, emotional, social, spiritual, occupational, intellectual, financial and environmental. The senior in kinesiology and health is spending his summer in CYstarters, a 10-week accelerator program that gives students and recent alumni the funding and resources – and the accountability – they need to grow their startups. 

See the complete story by the ISU News Service

Motivation to move may start with being mindful

A meditation and stress reduction program may be as effective at getting people to move more as structured exercise programs, according to a new study led by an Iowa State University researcher. Jacob Meyer, an assistant professor of kinesiology, is part of another study that found resistance training reduces symptoms of depression. 

See the complete story by the ISU News Service.

Garments designed by Iowa State students improve quality of life for people with disabilities

Shelby Miller, an Iowa State University freshman in animal science, can’t usually wear a dress. Her Type 1 diabetes requires her to have an insulin pump connected to her body at all times, and she needs access to that pump throughout the day.

Brain activity, reactivity help explain diabetics’ negative feelings and risk for depression

For millions of Americans who are obese and living with diabetes or prediabetes, feelings of sadness, anger and anxiety are often part of daily life. A new Iowa State University study suggests those negative feelings may stem from problems regulating blood sugar levels that influence emotional response in the brain. 

See the complete story by the ISU News Service.

Iowa State University to offer master’s degree for dietitians

A new master’s degree at Iowa State University will allow registered dietitians to earn their graduate degrees ahead of the national deadline of Jan. 1, 2024, while advancing their knowledge and competitiveness in the field.

Experience of black doctoral students underscores need to increase diversity in STEM fields

The danger and risk of riding out a storm is symbolic of the decision black men make to pursue a graduate degree in engineering. They do so knowing they will face challenges, but the barriers described by black men who shared their experiences as part of a six-year study show how race was a greater obstacle than they expected.

See the complete story by the ISU News Service.

Iowa State University celebrates remodeled home for promoting physical activity and healthy living

Walk inside the Barbara E. Forker Building on the campus of Iowa State University, and the word “movement” splashed across the building’s bright new cardinal entrance says it all.

Iowa State’s highly-ranked kinesiology program now has a more modern and inviting facility that better matches its mission to promote health and well-being by creating and disseminating knowledge about physical activity and healthy living to improve people’s lives.

Human scientists among undergraduates to present research at national conference

With four years of undergraduate research under her belt and a passion for helping people to adopt healthier behaviors, Iowa State University kinesiology and health student Jenna Petersen will share her research on a national platform next week.