Academic Grants Support Research of Professors Pinto, Munshi-South and Altman
Professor Angela Marinilli Pinto Conducts Study on Weight Loss
A new National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded study conducted at Baruch College and published in Obesity found that overweight and obese adults who participated in three different weight loss treatments, all involving intensive, multi-component counseling delivered in groups, lost significant weight after 48 weeks whether the treatment was led by a health professional or by someone who had previous weight loss success.
This randomized clinical trial led by Angela Marinilli Pinto, PhD., Assistant Professor of Psychology at Baruch College, is the first to compare professionally delivered group-based behavioral weight loss treatment? considered the “gold standard” for treating moderate overweight and obesity- to Weight Watchers, which is led by trained peer counselors who have achieved their own successful weight loss.
Dr. Pinto, who joined Baruch’s Weissman School of Arts & Sciences in Fall 2007, says the study is important because, “with almost 70% of American adults classified as overweight or obese, there is a need to provide practical treatment solutions that are effective, accessible, and affordable,” Dr. Pinto explained. “Results of this study demonstrate that programs like Weight Watchers can produce clinically meaningful weight losses." The cost of joining Weight Watchers is approximately $10 per week, which includes member registration, weekly meetings, and access to online resources.
Professor Jason Munshi-South Explores Urban Evolution
The National Institute of General Medical Sciences-National Institutes of Health (NIGMS-NIH) has awarded agrant of $200,000 to Jason Munshi-South, Ph.D., assistant professor of biology in Baruch College’s Weissman School of Arts and Sciences. The grant supports his research on the evolutionary biology of native wildlife in New York City.
The study will be the first to examine the genomic basis of evolutionary change in a wild mammal adapting to an urban area, using the white-footed mouse found throughout New York City’s forested parks as a model system. “The results from this study may be broadly applicable to other species that are common residents of cities, and the gene expression results in particular may eventually provide clues to genetic changes in city-dwelling humans,” explains Dr. Munshi-South.
Recent research published by the Munshi-South lab at Baruch in 2010 and 2012 established that nearly every large NYC park contains a genetically distinct population of white-footed mice, primarily because there are not adequate vegetated corridors for mice to disperse between most parks. The grant will fund the next phase of research, which will examine mutations in protein-coding genes and the rate at which those genes are expressed in both urban and rural populations.
Dr. Munshi-South joined the faculty at Baruch College in Fall 2007, and began his studies on urban white-footed mice in Summer 2008 after receiving a grant from the National Science Foundation. In addition to this project, members of his lab are currently examining ecological and evolutionary changes in urban rats, stream salamanders, and coyotes. More information on these studies can be found at Dr. Munshi-South’s lab website, http://nycevolution.org/
Professor Stan Altman Examines Undergraduate Experience in Higher Education
Dr. Stan Altman, professor in the School of Public Affairs at Baruch College, has been awarded a $160,000 grant from the Shelley and Donald Rubin Foundation in support of a study to explore new ways to address the needs of undergraduates in higher education.
In addition to partnering with The Rubin Foundation, Baruch will be working with representatives from IBM and other groups on this project. Dr. Altman said the overall goal is to foster a new paradigm of undergraduate education, to empower students to pursue their passions, to address issues of social change and social justice, invention and creativity.
“Our plan is to spend a year fostering forums and discussions, building a community of academics, writers, and philanthropists who can help us analyze and judge the best efforts we can identify.? At the same time, we will ask this study group to recommend mechanisms ? contests, prizes, financial and work incentives, and reform movements ? that offer the quickest pathways to change.”
At the end of the first year, Dr. Altman said the research team will make recommendations that will be used for a strategic plan to address how the undergraduate education experience can be enhanced.
Dr. Altman, who is also campus director of Baruch’s Nonprofit Leadership Alliance Program for preparing students for careers in the non-profit sector, is leading the Baruch College-Rubin Museum of Art Project, a pioneering partnership between Baruch College and the Rubin Museum of Art, and is co-PI of a U.S. State Department funded project in climate control education for Pan Asian countries.