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News Briefs

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2015-16 Academic Year

July, 2015--Sisters Fund for Global Health Grants Announced

The Institute for Research on Women and Gender has awarded two Sisters Fund for Global Health grants for faculty projects addressing global health issues related to women and gender. Since the creation of the fund in 2006, 11 U-M faculty projects have received funding to support scholarship or creative activities that benefit local and global communities experiencing gender-based health disparities.

The 2015 projects are:

Cheryl A. Moyer (Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Medical School)
The Shift from Surgical to Self-Induced Abortions: Community Level Knowledge, Attitudes, and Practices Regarding Misoprostol Use in Urban Ghana

Complications from induced abortion remain a public health problem worldwide. Despite the liberalization of abortion laws more than two decades ago in Ghana, many Ghanaian women still seek unsafe abortion. Data shows most women induce abortions themselves, often with assistance from pharmacists. The use of misoprostol at the community level for induced abortion is not well understood. This cross-sectional community survey will be conducted over an eight-week period to determine knowledge, attitudes, beliefs, and practices associated with misoprostol use in two urban fishing communities in Accra. Findings from this project will provide insights to policymakers and stakeholders about misoprostol use and the role of pharmacies in local communities.

Denise M. Saint Arnault (Department of Health Behavior and Biological Sciences, School of Nursing)
Multicultural Feasibility Study Examining the Barriers and Facilitators of Help Seeking After Gender Based Violence

Help-seeking after trauma is limited by cultural and social barriers, internalization of stigma, and fears of emotional engagement. This overall goal of this research is to compare the internal, social and cultural barriers and facilitators of help-seeking. This project is grounded in research by the PI, and extends existing collaborations toward the establishment of a six-country consortium to investigate the details of help-seeking across diverse cultures and countries. Sisters fund monies will support travel to a central locale for two training and evaluation sessions, conduct of 6-12 interviews in each country, and development of a practice and policy recommendations report. The University of Michigan’s Institute for Research on Women and Gender fosters collaboration and furthers the research of all U-M faculty members and graduate students who use the lens of women and gender to pursue their studies.

For more information about all IRWG’s faculty funding opportunities, visit: irwg.research.umich.edu/funding/faculty.html or contact Dr. Jocelyn Stitt at jocstitt@umich.edu.

2014-15 Academic Year

May, 2015--Wang Zheng: IRWG’s Transnational Feminist

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Professor Wang Zheng at the Brookings Institution

Wang Zheng (second from left) at "Women, Sexuality, and Social Change in China," Brookings Institution, April 2015

IRWG Associate Research Professor Wang Zheng is speaking out about the recent detention of five Chinese feminists who planned to protest sexual harassment on public transportation. The women set their protest to coincide with International Women’s Day, March 8, but they were arrested before the action could take place. The five were released from prison in Beijing, one month later, on April 13, after an international outcry. Their future remains uncertain.

Writing in China Change, on April 13, 2015, Wang said, “It is to my great relief that the authorities have decided to release the five feminists on bail. However, we insist that the police drop all charges against the five rather than treating them as ‘suspects’, restricting their physical mobility and job opportunity, and deprive them of their freedom and rights as citizens. Our fight for their total freedom continues.”

Wang, who also holds appointments in History, Women’s Studies, and at the Lieberthal-Rogel Center for Chinese Studies, has played a leading role in the development of feminist scholarship and feminist discourse in China through her teaching and publications. She has trained more than 300 students, most of them women who teach at universities and colleges throughout China and who now comprise a sizeable cohort of knowledgeable feminist scholar activists. In addition, Wang has organized three international conferences on gender studies in China and edited multiple volumes of feminist texts in Chinese.

Wang has taught many of the young feminist activists or worked with them on feminist activities organized via China’s popular WeChat, a mobile text message service. Thanks to the internet, Wang notes, Chinese feminists “have enjoyed tremendous intellectual resources” as part of a transnational community. They are well aware of feminist theories and activities outside China.

In a nation that has long proclaimed that “women hold up half the sky,” the police suppression of the campaign against sexual harassment, which was to feature the strategic placement of stickers on buses, is something of a mystery. It represents a sudden, new low for the Chinese government, which, in modern times, has rarely suppressed feminist political movements, according to Wang.

Speaking in April at the Brookings Institution, in Washington, DC, Wang distinguished two generations of Chinese feminists. She includes herself in an older group that has secured a foothold in the establishment and has insider experience in policy making, though they have been less successful in tackling enduring cultural biases against women. But young women have largely failed to get a toehold in the official system and have been working from the outside.

As a consequence of the backlash against gender-equality policies of the socialist period, China is an ever more “male dominated, chauvinist society,” says Wang flatly. To combat blatant sexism, the young generation of feminists is “very brave, creative, and smart,” Wang noted in her Brookings comments. They are “good at staging performance art in public to catch media’s attention to gender discrimination and to engender social and cultural change in the realms previously unnoticed by the public or even by older feminists of my generation. … In their action I saw significant progress in the history of Chinese feminism.”

As a self-described member of the older generation, Professor Wang has enjoyed an esteemed and pioneering position in Chinese higher education. Since 1999 her Ford Foundation and Luce Foundation–funded workshops have introduced university faculty and students, as well as others, to feminist methodology and scholarship. The workshops also explore specific ways to incorporate a feminist critique into the study of Chinese society. In recent years the workshops have been based at Fudan University in Shanghai through the Michigan-Fudan Joint Institute for Gender Studies.

Wang is acutely aware of her position as both a Chinese citizen and as an expatriot. Her decision to speak out against the detention of the feminist five was not an easy one, as she did not want to endanger her position and influence as a leading feminist educator in China. Still, she believed it was important to use WeChat “to talk the police into their senses” once they started to monitor messages following the detention of the feminist five. Defiantly, she has kept up her public appeals in and outside China for the freedom of the feminist five.

Calling the detention of the feminists “a terrible, stupid thing,” at the Brookings Institution, she readily fell into global marketing lingo, arguing that up to now China’s treatment of women was highly regarded in the international community. “I’m overseas Chinese. I’m so patriotic. I care about the Chinese face in the world. You don’t want to lose this good brand name.”

As a transnational feminist, Wang’s statement was carefully worded to appeal simultaneously to multiple audiences in different locations.

April, 2015--University of Michigan Professor, Affiliated with the Institute for Research on Women and Gender, Wins NIH Grant on Drug Abuse Recovery and Relapse Rates

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Sean Esteban McCabe

Sean Esteban McCabe

Research Associate Professor Sean Esteban McCabe will lead a national longitudinal study examining how age, gender, race/ethnicity, and socioeconomic status influence drug abuse recovery rates

Over the past two decades, the primary drugs of abuse among those entering substance-abuse treatment programs in the United States have shifted significantly. Between 1993 and 2010, the percentage of substance-abuse treatment admissions for marijuana, opioids, and stimulants as primary substances increased from 22 percent to 47 percent, while the percentage of admissions with alcohol as the primary substance decreased from 57 percent to 41 percent. While much is known about the recovery and relapse rates of alcohol-use disorder and the factors that influence success, our knowledge about the course and recovery rates of other types of substance-use disorders is very limited.

IRWG Research Associate Professor Sean Esteban McCabe will play a leading role in closing this knowledge gap with a recently awarded three-year research grant from the National Institutes of Health. The grant, worth approximately $650,000, will enable Dr. McCabe and his research team to analyze two waves of nationally representative longitudinal data, covering adults 18 years of age and older in the United States, for evidence of recovery and relapse among individuals with substance-use disorders involving marijuana, sedatives, tranquilizers, opioids, stimulants, hallucinogens, cannabis, cocaine, heroin, and inhalants. Dr. McCabe will also examine the developmental predictors associated with relapse and full remission as well as the influences of substance-abuse treatment and disability on recovery. This project will be the first large-scale national study to examine longitudinal changes in recovery and relapse as a function of age, gender, race/ethnicity, and socioeconomic status.

Dr. McCabe will collaborate closely with a multidisciplinary team made up of colleagues from Nursing (Dr. Carol Boyd), Psychiatry (Dr. James Cranford), and Survey Methodology (Dr. Brady West). Findings from the study will help to establish the most effective standards of treatment for substance-use disorders.

February 2015 -- Physical Activity May Disguise Drug and Alcohol Abuse Among Student Athletes

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Phil Veliz on HBO Sports

Philip Veliz on HBO's "Real Sports with Bryant Gumble"

Wondering how to select the best sport for your son or daughter? While parents often consider their children’s natural talents and inclinations, IRWG Assistant Research Professor Philip Veliz says it’s also important to know that some sports more frequently correlate with drug and alcohol abuse than others.

In three recent articles, Veliz adds to his string of studies examining adolescent boys and girls and how participation in interscholastic sports influences their daily lives, now and over time, especially with regard to the use of alcohol and recreational drugs. Veliz’s finely tuned research, based on either a longitudinal national database, Monitoring the Future, or a web-based Student Life Survey administered at a large Midwestern university since 1999, draws important distinctions among the most popular sports, showing that some sports, such cross-country and tennis, are more likely to promote a healthy life style while others can have more negative effects. His research distinguishes itself from related studies that draw blanket conclusions about all sports participation. Instead, Veliz pays close attention to differences among popular high-school sports. His findings have drawn the attention of HBO’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumble,” which will feature Veliz in an upcoming episode.

"Participation in Organized Competitive Sports and Physical Activity among US Adolescents: Assessment of a Public Health Resource,” appearing in Health Behavior and Policy Review (November, 2014) and coauthored with Don Sabo of D’Youville College, shows that adolescents who participated in at least one competitive sport in the past year are likely to be more physically active than nonparticipants. While sports participants generally enjoy at least 60 minutes of physical activity, spread over 1.5 days each week—even in the off season— those who participate in track and field, baseball/softball, basketball, weightlifting, or lacrosse are far more likely to engage in physical activity for more hours throughout the week than adolescents participating in other competitive sports or no sports at all.

Despite these overall positive findings about sports participation, in “Examining Potential Substance Use Disorders among Former Interscholastic Athletes,” which appears online in Substance Abuse, Veliz and his coauthor, IRWG Research Associate Professor Sean Esteban McCabe, find that adolescents involved in competitive school-sponsored sports are more likely to suffer alcohol-abuse disorders in young adulthood (ages 18-30) than peers who did not participate in sports. No such correlation was seen for drug abuse disorders. In a separate anaylsis of individual sports, Veliz found crew and football are especially associated with later alcohol abuse, while lacrosse figures prominently with drug abuse. The authors recommend that sports organizations monitor student athletes for potential substance-use problems.

In a retrospective paper, entitled “Opioid Use Among Interscholastic Sports Participants: An Exploratory Study From a Sample of College Students,” which appears in Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport (December, 2014), Veliz and Michigan coauthors Quyen Epstein-Ngo, Elizabeth Austic, Carol Boyd, and Sean Esteban McCabe found some association between previous involvement in interscholastic sports and prescription opioid use and misuse. Findings showed that high-school athletes had greater odds for lifetime medical prescription opioid use on multiple occasions and greater odds for being approached to divert their prescribed opioid medications on multiple occasions when compared with their peers who did not participate in interscholastic sports during high school.

Veliz and his coauthors find that while high-school sports participation generally enhances quality of life and health, negative side effects may also result, depending on the sport. Veliz urges educators to be cognizant of the risks associated with interscholastic sports at the high-school level.

January 28, 2015--Hughes Receives “Global Midwest” Funding

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The Humanities Without Walls consortium, funded by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and administered through the Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities, recently announced awards to multi-institutional research projects as part of its “Global Midwest” initiative. The University of Michigan Institute for the Humanities, one of the consortium’s 15 members, received four awards, including $80,000 for a proposal by Professor Holly Hughes (Art and Design, Theatre and Drama, and Women's Studies). Her project, “Perform Midwest: Incubating Collaborative Research,” includes a dozen members from other Midwest universities. Hughes’s edited volume, Animal Acts: Performing Species Today (coedited with Una Chaudhuri; University of Michigan Press, 2014), was the subject of IRWG’s Gender: New Works, New Questions discussion in Fall 2014.

More about the Global Midwest initiative can be found at humanitieswithoutwalls.illinois.edu.

November, 2014--IRWG Researchers Study Relationship Between Teens' Use of Prescription Sleep Meds and Future Drug Abuse

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Teens prescribed anxiety or sleep medications are up to 12 times more likely to abuse those drugs than those who had never had a prescription, either by using someone else's prescription pills or to get high or experiment, according to a study by Professor Carol Boyd (Nursing, IRWG) and her co-authors Elizabeth Austic, Quyen Epstein-Ngo, Philip Veliz and Sean Esteban McCabe.

According to an article by Laura Bailey of the University of Michigan News Service, "The U-M study included students from five Detroit-area schools grouped into three categories: those never prescribed anxiety or sleep medications; those prescribed those medications within the three-year study period; and those previously prescribed those medications but not during the study period. It's the first longitudinal study to determine whether teens' recent medical use of anxiety or sleep medications is associated with later taking somebody else's prescription medication illegally, either for self-treatment or recreational use."

Click here to read the full story from Michigan News.

November, 2014--Quyen Epstein-Ngo awarded grant to attend Mobile Health Summit

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IRWG Assistant Research Science Professor Quyen Epstein-Ngo has received funding from the Aetna Foundation to attend the Mobile Health Summit in Washington, DC, December 7-11, as well as the associated NIH mHealth Training Institute. Both meetings will explore the frontiers of mobile and connected health. Epstein-Ngo will meet with leading researchers and scientists in the field to expand her knowledge of the ways mHealth applications may be used to mitigate the effects of substance use and violence among high-risk adolescent and emerging adult populations.

October, 2014--FemTechNet Offers Webinars on Connected Courses for MacArthur Foundation

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The scholars behind FemTechNet, a network of people who collaborate on the design and creation of projects of feminist technological innovation (and currently, an IRWG Program), will host three public webinars as part of the MacArthur Foundation's Digital Media and Learning Research Hub's free online course, “Connected Courses.”

The live webinars will take place Oct. 27, Oct. 30 and Nov. 5. The course is being taught by open-learning pioneers who developed the curriculum for fellow college and university professors to learn to teach their own open courses. It launched in September and runs through Dec. 14.

Webinar participants are:

  • Anne Balsamo, dean of the School of Media and professor of media studies at the New School for Social Research and co-founder of FemTechNet;
  • Liz Losh, director of the culture, technology and art program at UC San Diego’s Sixth College;
  • Lisa Nakamura, Gwendolyn Calvert Baker Collegiate Professor of American culture and screen arts and culture, co-facilitator of FemTechNet and coordinator of digital studies at the University of Michigan; and
  • Veronica Paredes, doctoral candidate in media arts and practice at USC and a media studies lecturer at the New School for Public Engagement.
  • Balsamo, Losh, Nakamura and Paredes also are teaching Unit 4 — “Diversity, Equity, Access” — of the six-unit Connected Courses class.

    The webinars will explore how to build an inclusive learning collective such as FemTechNet (Oct. 27); how to make teaching with technology fair and open (Oct. 30); and teaching Wikipedia editing, diversifying the public archive and introducing students to the world of public scholarship (Nov. 5).

    “Critical thinking shouldn’t be a luxury limited to elite and small liberal-arts college classrooms,” Nakamura said. “New digitally networked collectives like FemTechNet leverage the power of diverse groups to open up learning about feminism, technology and culture to all learners.” Added Balsamo: “We need to encourage and teach cultural entrepreneurship and promote innovation that begins by taking culture seriously.”

    Click here for the MacArthur Foundation Press Release.

    October, 2014--Competitive Sport Involvement and Substance Use Among Adolescents

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    IRWG research faculty Philip T. Veliz, Carol Boyd, and Sean Esteban McCabe published an article in the journal Substance Use & Misuse (October 2014) titled "Competitive Sport Involvement and Substance Use among Adolescents: A Nationwide Study." Their study found that adolescents who participated in high-contact sports had higher odds of using substances in the past thirty days and were more likely to initiate substance use at an early age.

    Click here for the article.

    September, 2014--Community violence increases likelihood youth will commit digital aggressive dating behaviors, and resort to physical violence

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    IRWG research assistant professor Quyen Epstein-Ngo was the lead researcher in a study examining the correlation between Technology-Delivered Aggression and physical violence.“We found that Technology-Delivered Dating Aggression, or TDA, was prevalent among high-risk urban youth, and that it was highly associated with neighborhood violence exposure—for example, hearing gunshots, seeing drug deals, seeing someone get shot or stabbed. It was also very strongly related to physical dating violence,” said Dr. Epstein-Ngo.

    The paper, “Technology-Delivered Dating Aggression: Risk and Promotive Factors and Patterns of Associations Across Violence Types Among High-Risk Youth” was published in the Violence and Gender Journal (September 2014).

    Click here for the article.

    2013-14 Academic Year

    May, 2014--SHARP Co-director Michelle Segar was quoted in Health Club Management, a trade publication in the UK, about how to increase physical activity levels across the population.

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    In their recent report titled "Turning the Tide," ukactive, a non-profit organization in Britain dedicated to improving health and promoting active lifestyles, called on the government to address physical inactivity as a public health risk, separate from obesity and weight management. The report calls for an increase in physical activity levels across the population by one percent each year, for the next five years. In the May issue of their magazine, Health Club Management asked four industry experts about how health club operators can help achieve this goal.

    Michelle Segar emphasized the importance of promoting activity and movement as a "gift" rather than a "chore," citing research that shows "in general, if people exercise at higher intensities than they want to -- because they've been directed to do so or feel they should -- they have increased displeasure, and this becomes a recipe for them avoiding further exercise." Segar encourages health club operators to focus on the positive feelings their members have whenever they engage in any type of movement, such as having more energy and focus.

    Right click here for the full story.

    May, 2014--New York Times columnist Ross Douthat discussed Paying for the Party: How College Maintains Inequality in an op-ed piece on May 4, 2014. The book, by Elizabeth A. Armstrong (Sociology, Women's Studies, Organizational Studies) and Laura T. Hamilton (University of California, Merced), was featured in our Gender: New Works, New Questions series in February. Click here for the article.

    April, 2014--Holly Hughes, Professor of Art & Design, Theatre & Drama, and Women's Studies, will be honored by Performance Space 122 in New York City on May 12, 2014 as part of their Spring Gala celebrating freedom of expression. Other honorees include John Fleck and Tim Miller. Click here for more information.

    April, 2014--Sean McCabe, research associate professor at the Substance Abuse Research Center and IRWG was interviewed by CNN about the increased use of "study drugs" among college students. Click to read the article from CNN.com.

    April, 2014--Alexandra Minna Stern (IRWG’s Reproductive Justice Program Director, Professor of Women’s Studies, Ob/Gyn, American Culture, and History) was quoted in The American Prospect and RH Reality Check about the impact of “conscience clauses” in state-level legislation licensing genetic counselors.

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    Professor Stern argues that such conscience clauses, which allow genetics counselors to refrain from providing test results to patients in some cases, make it difficult for patients to seek appropriate medical care. Professor Stern is quoted in "Fetal Abnormalities: The Next Minefield in the Abortion Wars?" in The American Prospect, and "How Virginia’s ‘Conscience Clause’ for Genetic Counselors Could Set a National Precedent" in RH Reality Check, a daily publication providing news, commentary and analysis on sexual and reproductive health and justice issues.

    March, 2014--SHARP Center codirector and IRWG research investigator Michelle Segar was interviewed by Oprah.com about staying motivated to exercise. Click to read the full article.

    February, 2014--SHARP Center codirector Kathy Babiak (Kinesiology) was interviewed by Mother Jones about women's participation in the Olympics. Click to read the full article.

    January, 2014--“Animal Acts: Performing Species Today,” a collection of animal themed performance scripts with commentaries from leading scholars, co-edited by Holly Hughes and Una Chaudhuri, was recently published by the University of Michigan Press.

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    The book features work by well known performance artists such as Rachel Rosenthal and Hughes, as well as original essays by Donna Haraway, Jill Dolan, Larry LaFontaine, and others. The project was born out of an IRWG Seed Grant given to Professor Hughes. The Press’s website includes video clips of performances in excerpt that were filmed last year in the Duderstadt Studio.

    Click to learn more about the book.

    November, 2013--IRWG Researcher Quyen Epstein-Ngo published an article, Event-level analysis of antecedents for youth violence: Comparison of dating violence with non-dating violence in the journal Addictive Behaviors. Click to read the full article.

    November, 2013--IRWG Researchers Philip Veliz, Quyen Epstein-Ngo, Elizabeth Meier, Paula Ross-Durow, Sean Esteban McCabe, and Carol J. Boyd published an article, Painfully Obvious: A Longitudinal Examination of Medical Use and Misuse of Opioid Medication Among Adolescent Sports Participants in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

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    Click to read the full article.

    MedicalXpress.com summarized the research findings and quoted Dr. Veliz. Click here to read the MedicalXpress article.

    November, 2013--Kathy Babiak (SHARP, Kinesiology) is co-editor of a recently published book on corporate social responsibility within sport.

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    The Routledge Handbook of Sport and Corporate Social Responsibility includes case studies from around the world, including European soccer, the Beijing Olympics, and Major League Baseball. Dr. Babiak also co-authored chapters in the book, including "Perspectives on social responsibility in sport" (with Richard Wolfe), "A foundation for winning: athletes, charity, and social responsibility" (with fellow Sport Management professor Kate Heinze, and recent U-M Kinesiology PhD alums Seung Pil Lee and Matt Juravich), as well as "Conclusion", with co-editors Juan Luis Paramio-Salcines and Geoff Walters.

    November, 2013--Philip Veliz (IRWG Research Fellow) was interviewed by MedPageToday.com about body image among male adolescents and substance abuse. Watch the interview...

    November, 2013--Carol Boyd (IRWG, SHARP, Women's Studies, School of Nursing) received the Association for Medical Education and Substance Abuse’s (AMERSA) 2013 Betty Ford Award.

    The Betty Ford Award is given to an individual who has played a significant role in the treatment and recovery of drug-dependent individuals, particularly women.  Dr. Boyd has spent more than a decade studying the misuse and abuse of controlled medications by adolescents and young adults, in addition to her life-long focus on alcohol and drug abuse and recovery in women. Dr. Boyd received the award at the AMERSA National Conference in Bethesda, MD where she also presented her latest research on adolescents’ prescription drug abuse.

    October, 2013--Carol Boyd (IRWG, SHARP, Women's Studies, School of Nursing) discusses the ABCD's of teen prescription drug abuse with University of Florida's Bill Latimer of WUFT Public Radio's Public Health Minute. Public Health Minute is a one minute segment devoted to public health topics aired throughout the day. Listen to the interview...

    September, 2013--Maria Cotera (Women's Studies, American Culture) was interviewed by Feministing.com about her project "Chicana Por Mi Raza: Uncovering the Hidden History of Chicana Feminism." Read the interview...

    September, 2013--Alexandra Minna Stern, (Director, Reproductive Justice Program), was interviewed by National Public Radio for a story on involuntary sterilization of women prisoners in California. Read the interview...

    September, 2013--Sari van Anders (Director, Feminist Science Studies), was interviewed by News-Medical.net about her research on postpartum sexuality. Read the interview...

    August, 2013--Prof. Carol Boyd (IRWG, SHARP, Women's Studies, School of Nursing) was highlighted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse in a video interview following her presentation on Prescription Drug Abuse in Youth, June 14, 2013 in St. Louis, Missouri. Watch the interview here...

    August, 2013--Prof. Paula Ross-Durow recently published a paper in the Journal of Adolescent Health about the alarming percentage of adolescents with unsupervised access to their prescribed controlled medications. She was also interviewed by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

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    Ross-Durow was interviewed by dugdug.com, an online news site that brings cutting edge research to the mainstream audience. Read her interview here. Read the press release here.

    August, 2013--Prof. Elizabeth A. Armstrong (Sociology and Women's Studies) discusses her book, "Paying for the Party: How College Maintains Inequality" with Tarmar Lewin in the New York Times.

    July, 2013--Cookie Woolner (History, Women's Studies) named the Mary I. & David D. Hunting Graduate Student Fellow for 2013-14 at the U-M Institute for the Humanities.

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    Woolner was a 2011 Community of Scholars participant