Amanda Griffith, in collaboration with Joyce Main at Purdue University,
received a grant from the National Science Foundation’s Improving Under-
graduate STEM Education (IUSE) program for their project, titled An engi-
neer like me: How perceived similarity and peer effects influence major choice.
This research will examine how peer characteristics influence major choice
by studying students in the College of Engineering at Purdue University.
Drs. Griffith and Main will analyze what factors influence Purdue engineer-
ing students’ specialty choices by looking at the information the students
receive about the different programs and observing the characteristics of the
students who major in them. It is hoped that this research will ultimately
provide data that can be used to increase the number of female and minority
students who pursue degrees in engineering, as well as other STEM fields,
across the country.
HEALTH & EXERCISE SCIENCE
Kristen Beavers, who is also associated with the Translational Science Cen-
ter, secured two awards this year. The first, investigating the Effect of exercise
modality during weight loss on bone health in older adults, is a K01 Mentored
Research Scientist Development Award sponsored by the National Institutes
of Health (NIH). Weight loss improves many clinical consequences of obesi-
ty, but physicians do not routinely recommend it for older adults based on
the potential for age-related bone-mass loss, osteoporosis, and fracture. This
clinical study is designed to clarify which exercise and weight-loss therapies
maximize health benefits and minimize loss of bone mass and quality.
The second project, supported by a private sponsor, aims to determine
whether a high-protein weight-loss program improves physical function in
the elderly. While obesity in old age is a common risk factor for disability,
morbidity, and mortality, physicians hesitate to recommend weight loss be-
lieving that the accompanying loss of fat-free mass may exacerbate age-
related functional decline. This study tests the hypothesis that the amount of
dietary protein consumed during caloric restriction will offset negative func-
OFFICE OF RESEARCH AND SPONSORED PROGRAMS | 5