Yearly Archives: 2014

Mary A. Papazian, president of Southern Connecticut State University, received the 2014 Athena Leadership Award during an Oct. 9 luncheon at the Toyota presents Oakdale Theatre in Wallingford.

Presented annually by the Greater New Haven and Quinnipiac chambers of commerce, the Athena award recognizes women who “strive toward the highest levels of personal and professional accomplishment, who excel in their chosen field, devote time and energy to their community in a meaningful way, and forge paths of leadership for other women to follow.”

Papazian has enjoyed a notable career as an educator, administrator and scholar of English literature.

Appointed as the university’s 11th president in December, 2011, she oversees an institution of  almost 11,000 students, 434 full-time faculty, 1,100 staff and an operating budget of $190 million. Her first day at Southern was Feb. 1, 2012, and since then she has led a period of institutional enhancement.

A major construction program is changing the face of campus. A new School of Business building has been followed by a major renovation and expansion of Buley Library and the construction of a new Academic Laboratory Science Building, scheduled for completion in spring, 2015.

Addressing pressing issues of retention and graduation rates that are currently facing many public institutions of higher education, Papazian instituted a Student Success Taskforce to examine and improve key areas of enrollment management and create a clear path to a college degree.

Curricular changes have also been introduced to meet workforce needs. In the sciences for example, there are new graduate-level offerings in applied physics, nanotechnology and chemistry – the latter featuring a professional science track for students seeking advanced training in both chemistry and business.

Papazian has taken an active role in the community as a member of the New Haven Regional Leadership Council, vice-chair of the Greater New Haven Heart Walk and a director of New Haven Promise, a scholarship and support program created to promote college education as an aspiration for all New Haven Public School students.

At the state level, she is the vice-chair of the Connecticut Campus Compact Board of Directors and was part of a delegation to Complete College America, a national conference that assists states to increase the numbers of students earning college degrees and to close attainment gaps between traditional and under-represented populations.

Nationally, Papazian is a member of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) Committee on Teacher Education and the Council for Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) Accreditation Commission.

Prior to Southern, Papazian most recently served as provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at Lehman College in The Bronx, which is part of the City University of New York (CUNY) system. A professor of English, with a focus on the works of John Donne, an English poet who wrote during the Renaissance era, Papazian holds a Ph.D. in English literature from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

When the 250 individuals attending a recent forum at Southern that analyzed the 2014 gubernatorial and midterm Congressional elections were asked whether they had ever donated money to a political campaign, dozens of hands were raised. A similar number acknowledged that they had volunteered for a campaign.

Ordinarily, the response may not have surprised too many people. After all, those who would come out at lunchtime to hear an analysis about the 2014 political landscape are probably political engaged. And those who are politically engaged are more likely to contribute to a campaign, either with money or time.

But what made this an eye-opening moment was that more than half the crowd consisted of high school students. And it was clear that many of those kids were among those who hoisted their hands into the air at those two questions about political activism.

About 130 students – hailing from six high schools in the area (Amity of Woodbridge, Cheshire, East Haven, Hillhouse of New Haven, Seymour and West Haven) – attended the forum at Southern called, “Election 2014: Polls, Pundits & Popcorn.” Walking through Southern’s Grand Ballroom, you could see some of the high school students taking notes as the panel of speakers shared their analyses about the elections.

Amity High School students listen intently during the SCSU forum on the 2014 elections.
Amity High School students listen intently during the SCSU forum on the 2014 elections.

While the students were generally those in honors or Advanced Placement (AP) social studies classes, it showed a real engagement of young people in the political process – a healthy sign for the future of our democracy.

Cheshire High School, for example, has a Young Politicians Club, which includes students with a range of political views.

Most of the Cheshire High School students attending the SCSU forum are members of their school's Young Politicians Club.
Most of the Cheshire High School students attending the SCSU forum are members of their school’s Young Politicians Club.

West Haven High School’s AP U.S. Government and Politics students were enthusiastic about attending a college lecture before the event taught by Art Paulson, chairman of Southern’s Political Science Department.

Art Paulson, chairman of the SCSU Political Science Department, delivers a lecture on the history of midterm elections to advanced West Haven High School juniors. The talk came just before the start of the SCSU forum on the 2014 elections.
Art Paulson, chairman of the SCSU Political Science Department, delivers a lecture on the history of midterm elections to advanced West Haven High School juniors. The talk came just before the start of the SCSU forum on the 2014 elections.

The forum included a look at polls, TV ads, campaign strategies and some historical analysis of state and national elections. The event – a veritable summit of Connecticut’s political analysts – included Power Point presentations by Jennifer Dineen, director of the University of Connecticut poll, and Laura Baum, project manager of the Wesleyan Media Project.

Jennifer Dineen, director of the UConn poll, analyzes the Connecticut gubernatorial race.
Jennifer Dineen, director of the UConn poll, analyzes the Connecticut gubernatorial race.
Laura Baum, project manager for the Wesleyan Media Project, discusses the advertising 'air wars' between Democrats and Republicans in the battle for control of the U.S. Senate.
Laura Baum, project manager for the Wesleyan Media Project, discusses the advertising ‘air wars’ between Democrats and Republicans in the battle for control of the U.S. Senate.

It also included a panel of three of the top political scientists in Connecticut:
*Art Paulson”, chairman of the SCSU Political Science Department
*Gary Rose, chairman of the Sacred Heart University Government/Political Science Department
*Scott McLean, professor of political science at Quinnipiac University

Art Paulson makes a point during the panel discussion. Also pictured are: Scott McLean (left), professor of political science at Qunnipiac University, and Gary Rose, chairman of the Sacred Heart University Department of Government and Political Science.
Art Paulson makes a point during the panel discussion. Also pictured are: Scott McLean (left), professor of political science at Qunnipiac University, and Gary Rose, chairman of the Sacred Heart University Department of Government and Political Science.

Christine Stuart, editor-in-chief of CTNewsJunkie, an online news publication that focuses on governmental and political stories, served as the moderator.

Seymour High School students pause for a moment outside the SCSU Grand Ballroom.
Seymour High School students pause for a moment outside the SCSU Grand Ballroom.
Hillhouse High School students gather.
Hillhouse High School students gather.
East Haven High School students take a moment.
East Haven High School students take a moment.
Amity High School brings a large contingent of students.
Amity High School brings a large contingent of students.
West Haven High School students swarm in the lobby before the event.
West Haven High School students swarm in the lobby before the event.

“Democracy works best when the citizenry is engaged in politics and government,” Paulson says. “The fact that so many high school students indicated that they are already active and enthusiastic about elections and campaigns is a positive sign for the future of our country. I hope it will be a lifelong interest.”

The forum is available online via CT-N.

    When Nursing Professor Susan Westrick first became a nurse, she found that legal issues frequently made their way into the medical field. As a practicing nurse, she became more and more interested in the legal and ethical issues related to nursing and healthcare and, eventually wanting to bring law into her nursing practice, she decided to go to law school. Westrick earned a law degree from Quinnipiac Law School and became a nurse attorney, and now has extensive experience in nursing practice and education as well as private law practice.

    Westrick recently published a second edition of her textbook, “Essentials of Nursing Law and Ethics,” a book she originally wrote when “only a few people were writing about this.” Aimed at nursing students in pre-licensure educational programs, the book is also a useful reference for practicing nurses. Westrick intends the book to “serve as an evidence-based guide for legally and ethically sound nursing practice,” she says, explaining that “nurses are involved daily in law and ethics in their practice.”

    The second edition of Westrick’s book reflects the changing nature of its subject matter. The book is divided into five parts: the law and nursing practice, liability in patient care, documentation issues, employment and the workplace, and ethics. Elements that are new in the second edition include material on patient advocacy, professional boundaries with regard to social media, environmental health and safety, staffing challenges, and other relevant topics. “Quality and safety are driving nursing practice right now,” she says, and “boundaries are an important issue with patients.”

    One of the unique things Westrick did in this book, she says, was to include actual law cases in each of the chapters. “This makes the book come to life for students,” she says. “They see actual nurses involved in real situations.”

    The book also provides an online resource for students and faculty: it includes an online access code to a companion website that contains materials for students such as an interactive glossary of legal terms and review questions, as well as supporting materials for faculty such as answers to review questions and a test bank. Westrick says hers is the only textbook of its kind on the market that has a test bank and rationales for the instructors.

    As a professor, Westrick is well equipped to write a textbook that serves students’ needs. With nursing specialties in pediatric and adult health, Westrick teaches law and ethics to undergraduate nursing students and a course on healthcare law at the graduate level. “I bring law into all of my courses,” she says, and in fact consults on cases involving medical legal issues. She has served as an expert witness in malpractice cases involving the standard of care and the nurse’s duty to advocate for patients and to follow the chain of command, and she is a frequent author and presenter on legal and nursing education issues. She is also a past president and board member of CT TAANA (Connecticut Chapter of The American Association of Nurse Attorneys).

    Six years ago, Elliott Horch finished the development of a telescopic appendage for the National Science Foundation that provided astronomers with stunningly crisp images of outer space. The instrument, called a Differential Speckle Survey Instrument (DSSI), has been used to learn more about binary star systems, and was even used by the Kepler mission to look for planets that have the potential to be earth-like.

    And now the professor of physics at Southern is at it again – this time to produce a double-barrel telescope that would generate ultra-high resolutions with even more detailed information about celestial bodies. It’s called a portable multi-channel intensity interferometer. Horch says it’s essentially a two-telescope system, where the two scopes are set up far apart, but essentially look at the same target and function as one super telescope.

    “With my previous instrument, the DSSI, it was like putting eyeglasses on a telescope,” he says. “This new project will be like remaking the whole eye.”

    The NSF recently awarded Horch a $300,000 grant to create this new telescope over the next two years.

    Horch says the primary use will be to look at bright, very close binary stars. Binary star systems feature two stars that revolve around each other. Many physicists, including Horch, believe the sun originally may have been a binary star. In essence, the new telescope would potentially help astronomers learn more about our own sun.

    “But we also want to use the new device to study the disks of nearby stars and potentially for exoplanet research,” he says. He notes that the telescope would enable astronomers to see distant stars the way we see the sun and the moon now – as round disks, rather than as points.

    “If it works well, it could give us the impetus to create similar instruments in the future with even larger separations between the ‘two telescopes.'”

    The grant also is enabling Horch to hire three Southern students to assist him with this project. They include Justin Rupert, a student pursuing an M.S. degree in applied physics; and Sam Weiss and Dan Nusdeo, who are senior physics undergraduates.

    “I am very excited to have an opportunity to take part in this project,” Rupert says. “This really could be groundbreaking work.”

    In addition, the grant is providing SCSU with about $140,000 in cutting-edge equipment that will be unveiled in the SCSU Academic and Laboratory Science Building that is scheduled to open in 2015.

      Want to make a real difference in a young child’s life? Southern students are now being recruited for the Jumpstart program, a national early education organization funded by AmeriCorps that recruits and trains college students to serve preschool children in low-income neighborhoods. The program aims to bolster children’s literacy, language, and socio-emotional skills. Southern is now in its third year as a Jumpstart partner, and students in the program work with local preschool children from three New Haven schools. The program not only provides Southern students with a high quality service experience; they also receive a stipend of nearly $2000 at the end of 300 hours of service, which are carried out within the academic year. Students must use their stipend toward the cost of tuition, books or loans, and they can also earn that amount in succeeding years, if they work at least 300 hours in those years.

      Of course, the preschool children benefit from the program as well — every year, Jumpstart’s Research and Evaluation team analyzes data about participating children’s language and literacy skills, and they find that the majority of children served by Jumpstart make at least one developmental gain.

      Southern students who participate offer instruction to the children for two hours per day, twice a week, as part of a supplemental program to the preschools’ existing curriculum. Students are asked to commit to 10 hours per week, however, to account for planning and training, says Amy Piccirillo, Southern’s Jumpstart coordinator. Piccirillo adds that Jumpstart is a full-year commitment, but work/study students can use it as their work experience and students in EDU 200 classes can count it towards their fieldwork.

      “Jumpstart is the highest quality experiential opportunity that is available at Southern,” says Dawn Cathey, a university assistant in the Office of the Dean of Student Affairs and an adjunct faculty member who teaches in the First-Year Experience program. Cathey is Piccirillo’s campus liaison. “Employers are looking for experiential opportunities in students’ backgrounds,” Cathey adds.

      Piccirillo is still recruiting students for the 2014-2015 academic year, hoping to attract at least 42 students, “but more would be great!” Southern students are currently being trained for Jumpstart, but new recruits are welcome to join at any time. Piccirillo says that if a student does fewer than 300 hours over the year, he or she will still receive a prorated monetary award at the year’s end.

      The lessons are established by Jumpstart and students receive training in how to carry out the lessons and are given the materials they need for the lessons. “Jumpstart’s mission is for every child in America to be able to enter kindergarten prepared to learn,” says Piccirillo. “Ultimately, the goal is to break the cycle of poverty.”

      Students interested in working in the Jumpstart program should contact Piccirillo at

        U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) spoke with SCSU President Mary Papazian, students, and faculty at a campus round table on Sept. 24 to discuss his new legislation aimed at expanding the existing Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. According to Blumenthal, this would  provide meaningful student debt relief to teachers, police officers, public health workers, and others who dedicate their careers to public service.

        “The Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program provides an important incentive for graduates to enter public service occupations by offering relief from student loan debt,” Blumenthal said. “Because of the increasing frequency of graduates facing crushing amounts of student loan debt, that incentive is more important than ever.

        “Unfortunately, the current PSLF program is structured as an all-or-nothing deal; unless you complete 10 years of public service, even if you lose your job after nine years and 11 months, you don’t receive any relief from your student loan debt. For PSLF participants whose loans continued to accrue interest over those years, losing a public service job could feel like being forced to start repayment efforts from scratch.”

        The Strengthening Forgiveness for Public Servants Act would enhance the incentive to enter public service  by allowing graduates to receive loan forgiveness in proportion to their years of public service.  In addition, the act would allow new participants in the PSLF to have their loans placed in deferment during their employment. Lastly, in order to avoid any confusion about which occupations qualify as public service, the bill requires graduates to fill out an employment certification form in order to participate in the PSLF program.

        “Teachers, police officers, public health workers, and other public servants should be applauded and supported — and not drowned in debt to pay for the degrees many such jobs require,” Blumenthal said.

        “The current Public Service Loan Forgiveness program should be expanded—and made more flexible—to enable student debt to be worked down or off completely. We should reward public service—particularly as the need for talented and dedicated public servants grows.”

          For the past several years, Philosophy Professor David Pettigrew has been researching and writing about the genocide that took place during the Bosnian War in the 1990s, focusing particularly on the widespread and systematic efforts to exclude Bosnian Muslims from their former homes. Through his writing, lectures and a film on which he collaborated with his son, Pettigrew has expressed his deep involvement in efforts to gain recognition of the atrocities that took place in Bosnia.

          During a three-week visit to the region this summer, Pettigrew served as a volunteer faculty member with Summer University Srebrenica, a summer research opportunity for students from around the world. His lecture for the opening ceremonies on July 1 at the Bosniak Institute in Sarajevo was titled, “Referring to the Crime By Its Proper Name: Genocide and Its Continuation in Srebrenica, Višegrad, Prijedor. ” He also presented a paper titled “After Genocide: Activism in a post-genocide community: Resisting Genocide Denial in Višegrad,” at Srebrenica-Potočari Memorial Center.

          During the course of his research activities and field trips with the students, Pettigrew helped receive and unload 175 coffins containing the remains of victims exhumed and identified in previous years, in preparation for the burials on July 11. In his own words:

          “This year I helped again to unload the coffins from the tractor trailer trucks when they arrived. There were 175 coffins containing the human remains of the victims of the Srebrenica genocide who had been exhumed from the mass graves and identified. The coffins arrived on July 9 in advance of their move to the cemetery on July 10 for the burial on July 11.  When the trucks arrived from the morgue in Visoko, I joined the line of men moving the coffins from the trucks into the warehouse (located on the grounds of the Potočari Memorial Center).

          “After this process was completed, I was lingering at the head of the rows of coffins when a man came over and introduced himself.  He seemed to recognize me as he said “You are Professor David?”  I said yes. We stood there awhile. I asked if he was burying his relatives. He said no, not this year, but that he had lost all male members of his family in the genocide. He then said he survived one of the mass executions, at a site known as Petkovci dam, and showed me his wounds. He was shot three times but fell under someone else who was killed. There he was left for dead, but one other man who was less severely wounded also survived and managed to drag him to safety. He told me he returned to live and work in Srebrenica as an act of defiance.

          “At some point he looked at me and said: ‘When they bound us and loaded us on the truck we thought they were taking us to a detention center in Bijeljina…who would think that they were going to kill us all? … It didn’t make any sense…who would think of such a thing?’  As he said this, he looked at me like he still could not believe it happened, it was still incomprehensible to him.

          “Stories like his and those of many others I meet in Bosnia and in the U.S. stiffen my resolve and motivate me to tell the truth about the genocide and the ongoing human rights violations.”

          To this end, Pettigrew will deliver the keynote address for an international conference in Prague, Czech Republic, on Oct. 24 and 25: “The Suppression of Collective Memory and Identity in Bosnia: Prohibited Memorials and the Continuation of Genocide.”  The conference is sponsored by the Charles University (Prague) Faculty of the Humanities.

          Below are links to several recent media reports or blog postings about Pettigrew’s research:

          • On July 13, he investigated a commemorative plaque honoring indicted war criminal Ratko Mladić that had been installed in the hills above Sarajevo in late May or early June 2014. (See home page photo and photo of plaque.) The plaque is located on a hill seized by the Bosnian Serbs in April 1992 as strategic high ground for their attacks on the city of Sarajevo and is situated between what was a sniper position (to the right) and tank position (to the left).
          • An op-ed piece about the plaque written by Pettigrew for Al Jazeera Balkans:
            was also posted in English, on a blog in Sweden:
          • An article focusing extensively on Pettigrew’s research:
   was followed by a television report on Summer University Srebrenica:
          • Prior to leaving for Bosnia, Pettigrew wrote a letter to the President of the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia, criticizing the decision to remove Višegrad (and other municipalities) from the genocide count of the indictment against former Bosnian Serb political leader Radovan Karadžić (supposedly in the interest of a more expeditious trial). His letter was designed to be released to the press for coverage on June 28, the same date in 1992 when the Serbs burned women, children, and elderly men alive in a house in the Bikavac neighborhood Višegrad. The court itself had identified that crime as “the worst acts of inhumanity that a person may inflict upon others.”

          The letter to President Meron received press coverage in Bosnia, on Facebook, and on various blogs and websites.

            David Pettigrew has been thinking about Bosnia for a long time. For the past several years, the professor of philosophy has been researching and writing about the genocide that took place during the Bosnian War in the 1990s, and he now focuses particularly on the widespread and systematic efforts to exclude Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslims) from their former homes. Through his writing, lectures and a film on which he collaborated with his son, Pettigrew has expressed his deep involvement in efforts to gain recognition of the atrocities that took place in Bosnia. This past summer, he attended a wreath-laying ceremony in a cemetery in the Bosnian town of Višegrad, a ceremony that held great significance for the town’s refugees. His trip to Bosnia also involved research related to his book manuscript, “Witnessing Genocide in Bosnia: Pathways to Justice,” and lectures for the students of the Srebrenica Summer University.

            Pettigrew explains that in January 1992, Republika Srpska (RS) declared its existence, but the territory RS claimed was within the borders of Bosnia and Herzegovina and that in many areas Bosniaks comprised 80 to 100 percent of the population.  When Bosnia (including the territory of RS) was recognized as an independent nation in April 1992, Yugoslav and Bosnian Serb forces began trying to remove all Bosniaks from the territory of RS through murder, terror and forcible displacement.

            Pettigrew became particularly interested in Višegrad because of the nature of the atrocities there and because the town continues to maintain a culture of denial regarding these atrocities. Notorious incidents known as the Bikavac and Pionirska Street tragedies involved the herding of villagers – mostly women and children – into two houses, where they were locked in and burned alive, the houses set on fire.

            In May 2012, their remains exhumed, 66 victims of the Višegrad genocide were buried in the town’s Muslim cemetery, and local activists erected a monument that refers to the “victims of the Višegrad genocide.” Pettigrew says the RS authorities ruled that the monument could not include the term “genocide,” and it seemed that the memorial would be destroyed. Activists asked Pettigrew to intervene, and he wrote a letter to the Office of the High Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina, identifying the decision to destroy the monument as discriminatory, as apartheid, and as part of a widespread effort to prevent those who were expelled from their homes in 1992 from returning.  His letter received extensive coverage in the Sarajevo press. The monument remained.

            On July 16, he went to Višegrad with about 10 faculty from Sarajevo to lay a wreath at the monument. The wreath bore a ribbon with a message suggested by Pettigrew: “To the memory of the victims of the Višegrad genocide: May truth lead to justice.” He says the message on the wreath was designed to resist genocide denial and to support the local activists and survivors. The event received extensive press coverage on Bosnian television and in print. A statement Pettigrew made for the press was posted on the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia website as well as on a Bosnian diaspora blog from Sweden.

            Pettigrew says that symbols placed around Višegrad are meant to be psychologically intimidating, such as a statue put up to honor and celebrate the perpetrators of the genocide. Other powerful symbols include Serbian Orthodox “spite churches,” built in the areas where the genocide took place (see photo at right). Pettigrew says the churches are “meant to be insulting or intimidating for the Muslims (Bosniaks) who try to return to their former homes.” He gives as an example a church in Budak that he researched this year: it is being constructed in an exclusively Muslim village, next to a former mass grave, on the route of a death march, and is sited so that the steeple and its flag of RS can be seen from the cemetery where the victims of the genocide are buried.

            Pettigrew is giving two presentations on his research this fall: one as part of the Yale Genocide Studies Seminar Series and another in Paris in November. He is also teaching a new course this semester on the Holocaust and Genocide Studies.

            More information about Pettigrew’s work can be found on his website.

            Photo credits: Markéta Slavková (top of this page); Osman Sušić (SCSU home page); David Pettigrew (center and bottom of this page)

              Deepta Ramesh likes having a lot on her plate. In addition to a class and developing her honors thesis, the senior finance major is holding two paid internships this semester – one in the field of marketing, the other in finance.

              The latter internship came about after Webster Bank opted to create such a position earlier this year to help with its treasury and payment solutions. It specifically asked Southern students to apply because of the university’s treasury management program – the only certified program of its kind in Connecticut, and one of a relative few in the nation, according to James Thorson, chairman of the Economics and Finance Department.

              “It’s a lucrative internship that we hope will continue in future years,” Thorson says. “In addition to being paid for their work, Webster will consider hiring those who complete a successful internship. I congratulate Deepta on her selection, and I thank Webster for this opportunity to partner with us.”

              To be eligible for consideration, a student must have had a 3.0 GPA or better; be a senior undergraduate or a graduate student; have work experience or class experience with leadership and business skill-related responsibilities and have completed the Essentials of Treasury Management course with a grade of B-plus or better.

              The course examines how businesses handle their liquid assets, like cash, with the intent of making sound financial investments. Treasury management is sometimes referred to as cash management.

              Ramesh says she went through three interviews before being hired. The first interview included two senior vice presidents, while the second involved a panel of people.

              “I guess they thought I was a good fit and offered me the position,” she says. “Originally, they asked me to start in the summer, but I had already accepted another internship. But they were accommodating and offered to have me work there during the fall semester.”

              She says she works full days at the Webster Bank office in Hartford twice a week. During the first half of the internship, she is focusing on data analysis. The second half will involve implementation. The internship will conclude in December, when she will be required to write a five-page analysis and develop a presentation for Webster.

              “It’s very exciting and I am learning a great deal,” Ramesh says. She also says the treasury management course last spring gave her a solid foundation. “Now, it’s a matter of putting what I learned into practice and learning how Webster does things.”

              Ramesh is a South Windsor resident and a member of Southern’s Honors College.


              At first glance, it may seem like a waste of time, especially to those with a go-go-go, Type A personality. There is an obvious recognition that sleep is necessary, but it can also be accompanied by a twinge of guilt since nothing tangible seems to get accomplished after a visit from Mr. Sandman. As a result, people tend to cheat on sleep, in some cases cutting a few hours a night. Instead of the recommended 7 to 9 hours for most teens and adults, many people get only 4 or 5 or 6 hours.

              Despite protests to the contrary by many, teens and adults need 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night to function at 100-percent capacity.
              Despite protests to the contrary, teens and adults need 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night to function at 100-percent capacity.

              “Most of us think we can get by very well with less sleep, but studies have shown that only a tiny percentage of people can function as well on less than 7 hours of sleep per night,” says Mary Pat Lamberti, assistant professor of nursing at Southern. “It affects us physically, such as our reaction time being reduced; cognitively, not being able to perform as well on tests; emotionally, perhaps being less in control of our emotions; and health-wise, with our immune systems being compromised.”

              She says that many myths continue, such as the amount of sleep that young adults need. Some feel that since high school and college students are young and can recover physically from stresses better than older folks, the same must be true for staying up late and getting up early. But the evidence points otherwise, according to Lamberti, who did her doctoral dissertation on sleep among college students. Similarly, the notion that senior citizens need less sleep than the rest of us is also a myth, she says.

              Lamberti says that Americans are getting less sleep and reduced sleep quality today than 30 years ago. “This is probably due, at least in part, to our hyper-connected world and the hectic pace of society,” she says.

              High school and college students tend to be the worst culprits of sleep deprivation, she says. “There are a lot of demands for their time – school, job, sports, social activities. Those habits learned during adolescence and young adulthood tend to continue in adulthood.”

              So, what should we do? Lamberti offers several suggestions to improve sleeping habits.

              *Go to bed and get up at about the same time each day. “Your body needs to be trained in terms of when to fall asleep and when to wake up,” she says. “Consistency pays off.”

              *Sleep in a darkened room. This signals to the brain that it’s nighttime and time to sleep. Having the TV on, lights on, etc. can trick the brain into thinking it’s still daytime. That may help to keep us up a little longer if we really need to on a given night, but we’ll pay for it.

              *Try to avoid watching TV, eating, or reading while in bed. Again, this helps train the brain that when you’re in bed, it’s time to sleep.

              *Caffeine should be avoided in the evenings, and for some people, should cease after lunchtime.

              *Alcohol and many other drugs affect sleep patterns, resulting in a less-than-refreshing night of sleep.

              *On the other hand, exercising helps, especially if it done 4 to 6 hours before sleep. It takes a while to wind down from a hard workout, so avoid strenuous activity immediately before going to bed.

              *Turn off the computer a few hours before sleep. The computer stimulates parts of the brain and can delay sleep.