Monthly Archives: February 2020

How does music influence those with mental illness? Adam Christoferson, ’10, the director of the nonprofit organization, Musical Intervention, has joined a team of Yale professors looking for answers.

Adam Christoferson, '10, founder of Musical Intervention

Adam Christoferson, ’10, the founder and director of Musical Intervention in New Haven, is working with a group of Yale Researchers to study how music influences people with psychotic illnesses. The project is being forwarded by a $2.1 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) through its Sound Health initiative — a partnership between the NIH and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, in association with the National Endowment for the Arts. Philip Corlett, a cognitive neuroscientist and associate professor in the Yale School of Medicine, is the principal investigator of the Yale study.

For Christoferson, the research project will further a long-held commitment to helping others through music. At Musical Intervention, he shares the therapeutic power of music with the community, including New Haven’s homeless and recovery population. The nonprofit organization, located in a downtown storefront on Temple Street, provides a drug- and alcohol-free space where people can write, record, and perform their own music.

Christoferson has felt music’s healing power personally. Much of his childhood was difficult. His mother had schizophrenia, and he grew up in a rent-subsidized apartment on Rock Street in New Haven, on the edge of one of the city’s roughest neighborhoods. His father, a Vietnam veteran, struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder. For Christoferson, music was a source of comfort and escape.

The entire community is invited to jam at Musical Intervention on Thursday nights.

At Southern, he majored in recreation and leisure studies. (Today, it’s the Department of Recreation, Tourism, and Sport Management.) His adviser, James MacGregor, now chair of the department, set him up with an internship at Yale New Haven Children’s Psychiatric Inpatient Service unit, where he was later hired as a recreation therapist, a job that sowed the seeds for Musical Intervention. His first week there, Christoferson noticed a girl drawing a picture of someone singing. “I asked her if she wanted to make music with me,” he recalls. His supervisor gave him permission to bring some recording equipment onto the unit. “And it was a hit,” Christoferson says. “This girl completely transformed, being able to make music and record it.”

His work was later featured in the World Congress of the International Association for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and Christoferson was invited to speak at international symposiums.
In 2015, he won a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to work with the homeless population. The following year he opened Musical Intervention.

The organization remains his passion. “There are people who have been homeless for such a long time, they haven’t had a guitar to play. That’s what we provide. There are people who are in crisis with drugs or mental illness and they let [music] go years ago and missed it,” Christoferson says. “While they’re in treatment, they’re able to come to us and regain all of that passion and creativity that was lost.”

In addition to Corlett and Christoferson, the research team includes Michael Rowe, co-director of the Yale Program for Recovery & Community Health; Sarah Fineberg, MD; Al Powers, MD; and Claire Bien. The group is affiliated with Connecticut Mental Health Center, a clinical and research hub of the Yale Department of Psychiatry that is run in collaboration with the Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS).

Southern Alumni Magazine cover, Fall 2019, featuring Peter Marra, '85

Read more stories in the Fall ’19 issue of Southern Alumni Magazine.

Bruce Kalk, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, at the University's graduate commencement ceremony

After an extensive national search, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Robert Prezant has announced that Dr. Bruce Kalk will now officially take the role of dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. Kalk has served as interim dean of the College since fall 2017. Prior to his role as interim dean, he served as associate dean of Arts and Sciences and a professor in the University’s History Department.

Bruce Kalk

The search was highly competitive and attracted outstanding candidates, Prezant says, “but there was wide consensus among the many evaluative groups that Bruce was the individual who could best use his insight, attention to detail, and forward thinking to continue to move the College forward. His understanding of and experiences in CAS and his dedication to Southern in concert with his creativity and academic grounding gives him a strong advantage in advancing the College.”

Looking forward, Prezant added, Kalk will continue to help insure an outstanding learning environment for Southern’s students, new outlets and opportunities for faculty and staff, and deepening links to external entities.

Prezant added his thanks for the efforts of the Dean of Arts and Sciences Search Committee: Winnie Yu (Computer Science), Siobhan Carter-David (Women and Gender Studies), Jeffrey Webb (Chemistry), Jim Thorson (Economics and Finance), Barbara Cook (Communication Disorders), Wendy Hardenberg (Research Librarian), Kristine Anthis (Psychology) Elena Schmitt (World Language), Chelsey Cerrato (student), and Cynthia Patterson (Registrar’s Office), and especially Margaret Generali (Counseling/School Psychology) for her service as Committee Chair. Prezant also recognized Norma Valentin and Linda Robinson for their excellent attention to details in the coordination of the search.

Southern Connecticut State University’s Blue Economy project in Long Island Sound is gearing up to have a profound green impact.

The Project Blue Hub, created by a team of dedicated researchers and spearheaded by Colleen Bielitz, associate vice president for Strategic Initiatives & Outreach, and Patrick Heidkamp, professor in the Department of the Environment, Geography and Marine Sciences at SCSU, is the initial step towards creating a Blue Economy research, tech transfer and innovation hub in New Haven. By expanding the market for locally grown kelp and developing potential innovations aimed at the processing and marketing of kelp, the project will focus on the sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved lives, and ocean ecosystem health.

Rich in biodiversity, kelp can be grown and harvested year round. It doesn’t need chemicals, fertilizers or pesticides, so its production is low impact. Kelp forests are home to a wide array of species, from invertebrates and fish to marine mammals and birds. Perhaps most importantly, kelp helps improve water quality by ‘fixing’ the nitrogen content of the surrounding water, reducing ocean acidification.

The world’s oceans are big business: The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) reports the global ocean economy could double in size by 2030, reaching approximately $3 trillion. Based on information from a Southern Connecticut State University research team, the Long Island Sound Blue Economy is projected to grow by 67% during that same time frame to an estimated $13.3 billion.

Colleen Bielitz and Patrick Heidkamp

“Project Blue is so important is because it will allow for continuous economic growth and the advancement of our local community,” Bielitz said. “Through our hub, we will resolve social problems in a sustainable and efficient way. We will develop new technologies, products and services to meet the needs of our community and beyond while continuously improving our capabilities through better use of our resources and assets, particularly the Long Island Sound.”

By using the emerging Long Island Sound kelp/seaweed industry as a catalyst for subsequent Blue Economy initiatives, Project Blue Hub aims to find alternative channels and develop niche markets for kelp through a concerted effort of research and development, innovation, and tech transfer to incubate local businesses.

These business will play a key role in the expansion of the kelp market, such as designing kelp-based cosmetic products; the creation of animal feed from seaweed; the development of bioplastics from Kelp/Seaweed; the utilization of kelp-based bioyarn and biotextiles; and assessing the potential for kelp use in the pharmaceutical industry. Rich in vitamins and minerals such as vitamin K, vitamin A, calcium, iron, and magnesium, expansion opportunities are ripe for kelp-based food products for consumers (for example, Fresh Kelp, Kelp Jerky, Kelp Beer, etc.). Kelp also is high in antioxidants, including carotenoids, flavonoids, and alkaloids, which help to fight against disease-causing free radicals.

Through partnerships with Gateway Community College and CT Next, Southern is prepared to provide up to 300 students with practical research and learning experiences in the burgeoning kelp industry in the next two years, creating an infrastructure for ocean farming innovation.

“Our students will form research innovation teams and create proof-of-concept products and innovations in the Blue Economy,” Bielitz said. “This will eliminate or shorten the learning curve to enter the blue innovation workforce. With our hub specifically designed for Blue Economy ideas to be hatched, we will provide students with the hard and soft skills needed to operate in this space.”

Southern’s Werth Center for Coastal and Marine Studies and the Department of the Environment, Geography and Marine Sciences have long served as advocates for and experts in Connecticut’s oceanic health; now, partnering with government agencies, relevant local NGOs and business partners, Southern’s Blue Economy Project is leading the charge to create an infrastructure for ocean farming innovation — the economy of which encompasses renewable off-shore energy development, tourism, fisheries, maritime transport, waste management, climate change, coastal resilience, and more.

“Our work will highlight the close linkages between ocean health, climate change, and the well-being of the state,” Bielitz said. “This goes beyond viewing the ocean economy solely as a mechanism for economic growth. We want to create sustainable models based on the circular economy. Similar to the Green Economy, our Blue Economy hub will focus on being inclusive while acting as good stewards of our earth with a focus on social equity, while also meaningfully reducing environmental threats and ecological scarcities.”

The Top Owl Social Justice Award is given to recognize contributions toward helping the university achieve its mission of creating and sustaining an inclusive community that appreciates, celebrates, and advances student and campus diversity.

This award, selected by the President’s Commission on Social Justice, is being awarded this academic year during the months of November, December, January, February, and March to recognize the contributions, leadership, and service of a worthy faculty, staff, part-time student, and full-time student.

For the month of January 2020, the Top Owl Award winners are student Sara Buscetto and Kevin Colwell, professor of psychology.

Sara Buscetto has been a four-year member of the SCSU softball team. She is a two-year captain and will graduate in the spring. Her nominator praised her for working to bring social justice values to the softball program.

Buscetto’s nominator wrote that she “has made strides to leave the softball program better than she found it. She has taken the lead by starting tough conversations, and is working closely with our department as well as the student affairs team to create a more welcoming and inclusive environment for our current students, and future Owls.”

Her nominator continued, “Though her goals will not be met during her time as an Owl, she has her eyes on helping the future generations that will call Southern home.”

Kevin Colwell serves as the director of the Office of Psychological Assessment (OPA), where he supervises student trainees in doing assessments that will allow university students to understand their own functioning and access resources such as the Disability Resource Center and accommodations with GRE, Praxis, LSAT, etc. The role of the OPA is to facilitate inclusion.

As a researcher, Colwell is creating an instrument to corroborate claims of adult ADHD, so that those with no previous history of diagnosis will be believed and can receive treatment.

As a practitioner, Colwell is currently working on criminal forensic cases where inappropriate and manipulative behavior occurred during police interrogations. For example, one case currently involves a 17-year-old who was interrogated in a deceptive/manipulative manner for five hours without access to parents or attorney. Another case involves a five-hour interrogation of an illegal immigrant, who was again deceived/manipulated to obtain a confession.

Thus, as Colwell’s nominator writes, he is “teaching assessment to help professionals understand how to help their clients access the resources provided by the American’s With Disabilities Act, the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act, and Section 504 of the Rehab Act. As a member of the SCSU community, he has created and directs the Office of Psychological Assessment to facilitate inclusion and access to the above by our students. As a researcher, he creates techniques to protect people from abuses of power and that helps people who need treatment receive it. As a practitioner of forensic clinical psychology, he works to protect those who are subjected to potentially manipulative and deceptive interrogation techniques. These activities all embody a commitment to social justice.”

Congratulations to January’s Top Owl Award winners!

To nominate someone for a Top Owl Award, visit the university’s Social Justice website.

Left to right: Clara Ogbaa, SCSU librarian; Mugdha Ghaisas, education associate at the Consulate General of India; President Joe Bertolino; Manohar Singh, dean of the SCSU School of Graduate and Professional Studies; Shatrughna Sinha, deputy consul general of India at the Consulate General of India; Robert Prezant, provost and vice president for academic affairs; and Erin Heidkamp, director, Office of International Education

In case you needed another reason to stop by the Hilton C. Buley Library, now you can enjoy the added bonus of perusing the newly-dedicated India Corner, which celebrates the culture and history of India. The Corner, located on the library’s main floor, was dedicated during a special event on February 10 hosted by the library, with a ceremony and reception attended by faculty, students, and staff.

Two guests from the Consulate General of India New York, Mr. Shatrughna Sinha, deputy consul general of India at the Consulate, and Ms. Mugdha Ghaisas, education associate at the Consulate, greeted those in attendance and thanked the university for its recognition. President Joe Bertolino, Provost Robert Prezant, University Librarian Clara Ogbaa, and Erin Heidkamp, director of the Office of International Education, were also present to greet attendees and welcome the guests from the Consulate General.

 

Left to right: Tyler Newkirk, Ariana Harris, Vittoria Cristante, Chris Varanko

Southern’s student thespians had another successful year at the Kennedy Center Region 1 American College Theatre Festival, bringing home awards and other recognitions for their work in university theater productions. The festival took place in Hyannis, Mass., on January 27 – February 2.

Started in 1969, the Kennedy Center American College Theater (KCACTF) is a national theater program involving 18,000 students from colleges and universities nationwide that has served as a catalyst in improving the quality of college theater in the United States. The KCACTF has grown into a network of more than 600 academic institutions throughout the country, where theater departments and student artists showcase their work and receive outside assessment by KCACTF respondents. The annual Region 1 festival, in which Southern competes, brings together over 600 students from colleges and universities in the northeast region.

“It is a great honor for our students (and the faculty who mentor them) to receive recognition for their hard work,” says Michael Skinner, Theatre Department chairman. “At the festival, students competed in varying events and attended workshops and auditions. They networked with industry professionals and graduate programs.”

The following Merit Awards were granted for student work done throughout the academic year and season:

  • The Ensemble Cast for Devised Work – The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus
  • JT McLoughlin for Sound Design – Jack of All Trades, Master of One Acts
  • Ivan Orson Kelly for Directing – One Acts
  • Vittoria Cristante – Asst. Choreography – Pippin
  • Christopher Varanko – Sound Mixing – Pippin
  • The Cast for Ensemble Work – The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged)

At the festival, these students took home the following awards for the various competitions they participated and presented in:

  • Tyler Newkirk – Regional DTM Legacy Award (DTM= Design Tech & Management)
  • Ariana Harris – SPAM Award for Excellence in Props (SPAM = Society of Properties Artisans & Managers)
  • Vittoria Cristante – The Regional 1 Arts Administration & Management Award for Distinction in Festival Support

In addition, Southern’s performance students did well competing against over 200 other students from different institutions:

  • Matthew Lopes and his scene partner Leah Herde advanced through the preliminary and semi-final rounds to perform as 1 of 16 finalists.
  • Julia Raucci and her scene partner Jack Storm advanced through the preliminary and semi-final rounds to perform as 1 of 16 finalists.

Other students who participated in the festival included:

  • T.L. Johnson presented a scene in the Stage Directing Competition with the following students acting in his scene:
    • Patricia Castle
    • Liam Welsh
    • Keegan Smith
    • Ariana Harris
  • Patrick Ballard participated in the Stage Management competition by presenting his work on Southern’s production of Pippin.
  • Christian Gunzenhauser participated and performed in the Musical Theatre Initiative.

Congratulations to all who took part in the festival!

Southern’s new College of Health and Human Services building, which breaks ground March 6, promises to boost interdisciplinary research and dramatically enhance the student experience across a variety of health-related fields.

The 4-story, 94,750-square-foot brick building, which will be located between Pelz Gymnasium and Fitch Street, will feature an abundance of natural light, collaborative spaces, state-of-the-art teaching and training spaces, lecture halls, a demonstration kitchen, and modern human performance laboratories.

“We are one of the major educational engines in this state,” said Sandra Bulmer, dean of the College of Health and Human Services. “Many of our health and human services programs have waitlists. This building is a manifestation of that need — to provide the best facility possible to prepare the best workforce possible.”

The building will house communication disorders; health and movement sciences (formerly exercise science); nursing; public health; and recreation, tourism and sport management. The Department of Social Work will remain in the historic Lang House, while the Marriage and Family Therapy Program will stay in Davis Hall

Until now, the departments resided in eight different buildings on campus. The new space “will finally enable them to be under one roof,” said Robert Sheeley, associate vice president for capital budgeting and facilities operations. “It is going to be an excellent addition to our campus.”

The university worked with Svigals + Partners for the exterior plans, and Little Diversified Architectural Consulting, a firm with vast experience in the health sciences, for the interior.

“The building will invite visitors to think about health and wellness. Stairs are a prominent, attractive feature on each floor, which we hope will encourage physical activity for those who are able,” Bulmer said. “We have also prioritized active learning spaces, natural light, and ergonomic furniture.”

A first floor “Main Street” is where the many student experiences, such as classes and advising, will take place. Departments will have their own dedicated spaces, but opportunities for cross-training, teaching and conversation are key to the building’s cost-effective design. For example, a single, centralized Interprofessional Collaboration and Meeting Center — with small hosteling office areas where adjunct faculty can work and meet with students — was created, instead of meeting rooms for each individual department.

Training spaces, such as a high-fidelity healthcare simulation center, will provide students with the latest technological capabilities and put them as close to real-life healthcare situations as possible. The center will be used to train students from nursing, communication disorders, recreation therapy, social work, athletic training, respiratory care, human performance, and public health.

“The high-fidelity healthcare simulation center is designed like a hospital floor,” Bulmer said. “Additionally, there are four standardized patient rooms that will allow us to have patient actors interacting with our student nurses and other health profession students. We will have a home simulation apartment to train students from multiple professions in home care.”

Videotaping capabilities within the center will allow students to better see what they are doing correctly or incorrectly and to view their patient interactions and debrief with faculty supervisors and other peers.

Departmental labs and clinics, currently used to train students and assist at-need populations in Connecticut, also will expand in size and capabilities in the new building.

“Our Communication Disorders Clinic currently serves 150 clients per week and provides a tremendous service to our community,” Bulmer said. “The new building will include updated and expanded clinic facilities that will allow us to serve more clients and train more graduate speech-language clinicians who can fill critical workforce shortages.”

Bulmer, who works closely with health industry professionals throughout the state, said these workforce shortages always have helped inform programmatic decisions; now they have served as a guide for the building’s design.

“This entire building has been designed to meet the needs of the workforce in Connecticut,” she said. “We know professionals are needed in these fields in this state. We take that very seriously. One of our goals is to increase our capacity to accept students into our many excellent programs, and these facility upgrades will be a significant step in moving in that direction.”

Paid for by state bond funds, the College of Health and Human Services building is expected to be completed in fall 2021, at a cost of $53 to $56 million.

Building features:

  • 1st floor “Main Street,” where many student experiences, such as classes and academic advising, will take place
  • State-of-the art healthcare simulation center fully outfitted with video capture technology:
    • 6 simulated hospital rooms with high fidelity manikins, adjacent technology control rooms, nurses station, and medicine room
    • 4 standardized patient rooms that will allow patient actors to interact with student nurses and other health professional students and have those sessions video streamed into debriefing classrooms
    • home simulation apartment to train students from multiple professions in home care, also using patient actors
    • 2 debriefing classrooms where student can view videotaped session to better see what they are doing correctly or incorrectly, view their patient interactions and consult with faculty supervisors and other peers
    • 4 large nursing labs each with 6 beds, 6 exam tables, nursing equipment and technology, and a teaching presentation area that seats 16 students
  • Human performance facility that will house Southern’s running injury clinic and include labs for training students and testing health and fitness, metabolism, neurophysiology, and biomechanics
  • High-tech Bod Pod to measure body fat composition through air displacement
  • Biomechanics lab with motion capture technology, high-tech treadmill, and the use of force plates for movement analysis
  • Athletic training teaching laboratory
  • Interprofessional collaboration and meeting center
  • Communication Disorders teaching and research clinic where speech, language and hearing services will be provided to the community. All clinic rooms include adjoining observation areas for family members and/or student learners.
  • Audiology research lab with sound booths for hearing testing and services
  • Center for individuals with different abilities to have recreational opportunities that are supervised by graduate and undergraduate recreational therapy students
  • Department offices and research spaces for faculty and staff
  • Business presentation and collaboration classroom that seats 25 students
  • Demonstration kitchen classroom that seats 40 students and will be used by the Department of Public Health for teaching nutrition, food safety, and healthy food preparation
  • (2) 60-seat lecture halls that can be joined together to form a large auditorium

Students tour RWA’s Control Room. Jacob Lessne; Eddie Ramirez; Bryan McLean, Operations Team Lead; John Santos; Karl-Marx Delphonse

South Central Connecticut Regional Water Authority (RWA) hosted a tour for Southern Connecticut State University School of Business students on January 17 at its 90 Sargent Drive location.

RWA has partnered with SCSU to create a unique Public Utilities Management Program to address the fact that the nature of public utility operations is rapidly changing in the New England region. The industry faces the common challenges of an aging workforce, looming retirements, aging infrastructure, additional regulations, and heightened financial burdens, and Connecticut’s utility companies are seeking skilled managerial and technical workers.

The Public Utilities Management Program is designed to align with career tracks in water, wastewater, gas and electric utility management. Coursework and internships will enable students to gain theoretical and practical hands-on knowledge important for working in public utilities.

A group of interested students from a variety of Business Administration concentrations, including management, finance, and marketing joined RWA employee Jim Hill, operations special projects manager, and Paul Ruggiero, Regional Water Authority police captain, on a tour that introduced students to the Control Room, which is the heart of the vast RWA operations; the Water Quality Department, where students learned how the RWA ensures our drinking water is consistently safe; and the Finance Department, where students heard about how rates are designated and how financial planning is utilized to fund the vast expense of maintaining the infrastructure of the water treatment and delivery.

Students also visited the largest water treatment facility in the Regional Water Authority’s network, Lake Gaillard in North Branford. This station supplies an average of 32 million gallons of water daily, representing approximately 60 percent of the average number of gallons that RWA pumps daily, and has a total capacity of 80 million gallons per day. Students also got to see Lake Gaillard up close, thanks to the access road that surrounds the lake and is a whopping seven miles long.

“Public utilities face a potential watershed in the shortage of young people applying to take the place of our aging and retiring workforce,” said Larry Bingaman, president and CEO of the RWA. “It is this challenge that led to our unique partnership creating the Public Utility Management Degree programs at SCSU and Gateway Community College. Their success will allow the RWA and other utilities to continue delivering our life-sustaining products and services for generations to come.”

The SCSU School of Business understands the importance of both bringing members of the business community to campus to talk with students, and exposing students to the day-to-day operations of the local employers. Immersive experiences complement the rigorous classroom curriculum offered at SCSU, and provide students with the well-rounded understanding that makes them some of the most sought-after employees in our region.

There will be an informational session and lunch on the SCSU Public Utilities Management program on February 26, 2020, at 1 pm at the School of Business. To learn more about the program, or to RSVP for the info session, contact Amy Grotzke at grotzkea1@southernct.edu.

He's got big dreams — and a 2017 Emmy Award for his work as an editor on "Life Below Zero." Meet Southern alumnus Eric Michael Schrader, '10.

Emmy in hand, Southern graduate Eric Michael Schrader gives thanks at the 69th award ceremony in 2017.

Born in the early ’80s, Eric Michael Schrader, ’10, spent much of his childhood dreaming up story lines and filming short parodies of Indiana Jones and Star Wars, starring his brother and friends from the neighborhood. Through the years, Schrader kept telling his tales — and in fall 2000, he enrolled at Southern, majoring in communication with a concentration in video production.

At Southern, he immersed himself in the world of media. Schrader worked at the on-campus Video Production Studio in Earl Hall (it’s the Digital Production Facility now) as well as Wallingford Public Access TV and a local video store, learning on the fly while soaking up professors’ expertise — even if he didn’t always realize it at the time.

“I can remember transcribing interviews for projects at SCSU thinking to myself, ‘I’ll never need to do this in the real world.’ Sure enough, I’ve transcribed multiple interviews for our own documentary films that have truly helped with the story telling,” says Schrader. He adds that the department’s focus on team projects also reflects the industry — and he quickly learned the importance of networking.

Editor Eric Michael Schrader (center) with Sue Aikens and Rick DeWilde, the reality stars of the National Geographic series “Life Below Zero.”

His first big break came from a friend who sold a show to National Geographic and then hired Schrader to work as a production assistant in Boston. Among the initial perks: a couch to sleep on. “I was in charge of all the grunt work,” says Schrader of his earliest assignments, which included picking up food orders, setting up lights and tripods, and driving the producers around Massachusetts.

“That first show for me was grueling as much as it was educational and inspiring. I learned a lot about on-location shoots,” says Schrader. In 2012, he headed to Los Angeles, armed with “some flashy-stylish business cards” and a reel that showcased his best work. He financed the trip by selling most of his belongings, including his DVD collection, Star Wars action figures, and memorabilia from The Simpsons television series.

Once in LA, he hit the local music scene, and found work filming and editing low-budget music videos. Then, two months to the day after moving to the West Coast, he had his Hollywood moment while waiting at a stop light on Melrose Ave. “I’m staring at the red light, suffering from anxiety ’cause money was drying up quick,” says Schrader, recalling the minutes that changed his life. Gazing out his car window, he recognized a producer from his Boston days. The two shouted out greetings, which ultimately led to a job offer for Schrader to work on a new show, Life Below Zero, a documentary series about life in the remotest areas of Alaska.

Schrader was hired as a production assistant and, over three years, worked his way up to editor, garnering industry accolades along the way. He and his teammates were nominated for an Emmy Award for work on the series in 2017, 2018, and 2019 — and they won the award for “Outstanding Picture Editing for an Unstructured Reality Series” that first year.

“One of the greatest, if not [the] greatest moment in my life, shared with incredible co-workers and close friends,” he says.

Schrader also continues to make pictures, including Zulu Summer, which he codirected with Joseph Litzinger. The documentary, about a Zulu prince’s unlikely journey to Butte, Montana, to see the “real” America, premiered at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival and in the Northeast at the New Haven Documentary Film Festival.

Currently living the dream, Schrader’s advice to would-be filmmakers is matter of fact: work on every possible project — indies, shorts, low-budgets, no-budgets. As for Hollywood? Get there, he says: “Make moves and make the move! Take the leap and at least try to make it out in Hollywood.” Sequel expected.

The Human Performance Lab in the Department of Health and Movement Sciences

A name change and brand new facilities are bringing exciting — and cutting-edge — enhancements to Southern’s Exercise Science Department, renowned for its programs in athletic training, biomechanics, exercise physiology and more. The department recently was renamed the Department of Health and Movement Sciences, to better encompass its wide breadth of programs, and the department’s new address on campus — a 4-story Health and Human Services building — will enhance learning and  research opportunities for students and faculty alike.

“Historically, our department has been rooted in the exercise sciences, which encapsulated the performance, rehabilitation, and physical education aspects of exercise and sport through human performance, athletic training, and education, respectively,” said Marc Robertson, associate professor of health and movement sciences. “The field has evolved as society has placed greater emphasis on the health benefits associated with physical activity, hence the departmental name change better represents the types of programs we offer.”

Just a few years ago, the Exercise Science Department encompassed only the undergraduate majors of Athletic Training and Exercise Science. Now, Southern offers an accelerated 3+2 (3-year undergraduate degree plus 2-year graduate degree) Athletic Training degree program, one of the longest running accredited programs in Connecticut, as well as undergraduate and graduate programs in human performance, physical education, respiratory care, and school health education.

A new Bachelor of Health Science degree program was added in fall 2019 to provide tailored educational programs to students who plan to pursue graduate health professions such as physical therapy, occupational therapy, and physician assistant.

When construction begins in March 2020 on the Health and Human Services building, these programs will be enhanced with new teaching and learning labs, expanded research opportunities for faculty and students, and interprofessional education programs with other health and human services professions. Many of these collaborative learning experiences will take place in the patient/client simulation center that includes six hospital rooms, four medical exam rooms, and a home simulation facility.

A dedicated human performance lab and a biomechanics lab will enable the department to expand its research opportunities with additional equipment for testing and analysis. High-tech components include motion capture technology and the use of force plates for movement analysis. A new piece of equipment called a BOD POD will allow students to measure body fat using air plethysmography (air displacement). The equipment will replace a technique known as hydrostatic underwater weighing, which required clients to sit on a special scale and be lowered into a tank of water to estimate their body composition.

“The person sits still in an egg-shaped structure while the measurement is taken,” said William R. Lunn, associate professor of health and movement sciences. “It’s easier for the participant, as there is no anxiety of needing to be submerged under water.”

Award-winning faculty still will be the cornerstone of the department, although the new space will offer increased opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration. It’s what drew champion triathlon racer and student David Martin, ‘20 (a master’s candidate in exercise science with a concentration in human performance), to Southern and continues to fuel his success.

“What is so special about the program and the faculty at SCSU is that I’m surrounded by people who are as enthusiastic as I am about this field of work,” Martin said. “The classes are set up in a way that prepares you for real experiences we will face in the exercise science field. With research being conducted by the professors, we can be hands-on as students and learn as we watch our professors.”

Even after graduation, he added, “There is a huge focus on having a plan. I feel successful here, and I feel comfortable that my success will continue to grow and exceed my expectations because I have the support of this department.”

Department Chair Gary Morin also has his eye on growth, although it’s for the department’s capabilities and programs.

“Once the building is done, the technological capabilities will increase the quality of education students get,” Morin said. “It’s been — and will continue to be — an exciting evolution.”