Month: March 2015

CHIP Admin Team Wins New UConn Spirit Award

CHIP Director Jeff Fisher and the CHIP Administrative Team are pictured with UConn President Susan Herbst and Jonathan the UConn Husky.

UConn President Susan Herbst recognized the CHIP Administrative Team Wednesday, March 4th with a UConn Spirit Award, presented at a ceremony and reception in the Student Union ballroom.

The University created the UConn Spirit Awards, a new employee recognition program, to celebrate individuals and teams who consistently exceed expectations and make positive contributions to the workplace and to the University.

There are four different categories of UConn Spirit Awards – the Rising Star Award, the Unsung Hero Award, the Team Award, and the Peer Recognition Award – with one individual or team winner for each category.

The CHIP Administrative Team received the Team Award for “making it possible for CHIP and its researchers to make significant contributions to scientific knowledge and public health worldwide,” President Herbst said.

Since 2002, CHIP has grown from administering $1.4 million to $50 million in active research grants.

In their nomination of the CHIP Administrative Team, CHIP Director Jeff Fisher and CHIP Associate Director Deborah Cornman wrote:

“Over the years, our team has sometimes had to deal with tight deadlines, inadequate equipment and facilities, serious staff illnesses and other difficult situations, and they have always gone above and beyond to get the job done. Most of CHIP’s Principal Investigators regularly say they could not have done what they accomplished without the help of our stellar administrative team.”

The CHIP Administrative Team includes: Susan Hoge, Melissa Stone, Lynne Hendrickson, AnnMarie White, Kathy Moriarty, Chris Tarricone, Josh Hardin, Beth Krane, Kelsey Barton-Henry, and Lisa McDevitt.

The UConn Spirit Awards recognition program was developed based on a recommendation contained in the 2013 report of the Workplace Civility Climate Survey that was conducted by the Something’s Happening Committee, a University-wide group of administrators, faculty, and staff, including representatives from the three employee bargaining units.



New York Times Reports CHIP PI’s New Study

The New York Times reported the most recent findings of CHIP Principal Investigator (PI) Marlene Schwartz, the director of UConn’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity. Schwartz’s study found that children are eating more fruit with their school lunches and throwing away less of their entrees, including vegetables, since new U.S. Department of Agriculture healthier school meal standards went into effect. The findings were published in the journal Childhood Obesity.

“This research adds to evidence that the updated nutrition standards for the National School Lunch Program can succeed in helping students eat healthier,” Schwartz was quoted in the article.

Full New York Times article.

UConn Today article about Schwartz’s study.



Magazine Names CHIP Affiliate’s New Book a Must-Read

CHIP Affiliate Merrill Singer is a medical anthropologist who has spent decades studying drug users in the United States and around the world.

In his latest book, The Social Value of Drug Addicts: Uses for the Useless, Singer and J. Bryan Page, a University of Miami colleague of Singer’s for more than 20 years, bring all of their field experience to bear on the controversial questions: “What is the social value of the stereotype of the drug user as demon and for whom does it have the most value?”

“This book is basically a recognition that, in so many ways both subtle and overt, the messages that are communicated to people about drug users and what they’re like lead to stereotypes that are contradicted by our direct experiences with them,” said Singer, a professor of anthropology in UConn’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

“There’s a difference between multiple communications channels that portray drug users as negative, as demons, and the very human stories we have found, of people with faults, who get caught up in the drug world and have trouble getting back out of it.”

Choice magazine, a publication of the American Library Association, earlier this year gave The Social Value of Drug Addicts recognition by naming the book to its list of 2014 “Essential Academic Titles.”The Social Value of Drug Addicts_07.indd

Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries is a leading source for reviews of academic books and digital resources of interest to higher education scholars and students. It is intended to guide college and university librarians in stocking the year’s best academic books on their shelves.

The magazine publishes more than 7,000 reviews of academic titles each year, assigning a recommendation to each one ranging from essentialto not recommended. Less than 10 percent of publications reviewed are designatedessential.

The Choice review of The Social Value of Drug Addicts notes:

Overall, [the authors] question the subjectivity, exploitation, and the power and outcomes of ‘othering’ drug users. This reviewer became newly aware of the extensive degree of exaggerated bias (labeling) about drug users, and how this negativity clearly amounts to socially constructed prejudice. The perspectives and research findings are well presented, certainly illuminating, and intriguing when the findings raise the question of why all drug users are worthless and burdensome to society. … For anyone interested in a richly written social constructivist view about the social value of drug addicts.

Singer and Page analyze portrayals of drug addicts across various institutions and communication channels – from the media and entertainment industries to law enforcement and public health campaigns – and they examine the impact of public drug policies.

“The central argument of the book is that the construction of an evil force and the throwing of billions and billions of dollars at it, supposedly fighting it, creates a huge distraction from true societal problems, such as poverty,” Singer said.

He offered a few examples from the book:

  • Pervasive messages about “crack babies,” children born to mothers who were crack cocaine addicts, suggested that they would suffer permanent physical and mental damage and be a drain on society, because they would require public support forever. However, a number of studies tracked the “crack babies” and found the number one difficulty the children faced was nutritional deficiency tied to living in poverty, not impairments stemming from their mothers’ drug use.
  • The war on drugs helped create a massive private prison industry. Prison owners remain committed to strengthening drug laws because more prisoners equal more income for them, Singer said, but prisons then become revolving doors for drug addicts, because once they do prison time, they have a permanent strike against them, have difficulty obtaining employment, and quickly return to their old ways of dealing with their problems: drugs.

The Social Value of Drug Addicts was Singer’s 29th book. He currently is working on his 30th.