ASU Early Start students give back to homeless children, community

September 13, 2018

One of the best ways to learn if you should study psychology in college is to go and experience psychology in action. Carolyn Cavanaugh-Toft leads the Early Start Program in the Arizona State University Department of Psychology, a two-week intensive program that introduces students to psychology at ASU.

The program previews some of the available psychology courses and was designed to give incoming freshmen the opportunity to discover their class options and to start thinking about what career prospects they can have with a degree in psychology. Early Start Students Helping at Homeward Bound The Early Start Program is a two-week intensive program that introduces students to psychology at ASU. The program previews some of the available psychology courses and was designed to give incoming freshmen the opportunity to discover their class options and to start thinking about what career prospects they can have with a degree in psychology. Photo by Rob Ewing/ASU Download Full Image

“I wanted to give the incoming students a chance to learn what opportunities they have in the Department of Psychology, both in research as well as in internships,” said Cavanaugh-Toft, a senior lecturer in the Department of Psychology who was recently named ASU College of Liberal Arts and Sciences lecturer of the year. “One place I wanted to introduce the students to is a place called Homeward Bound.”

Homeward Bound is an Arizona nonprofit that serves homeless families, providing training and housing to help the families get back on their feet. Each year Homeward Bound helps more than 130 families in the Phoenix area. Often these families include young children who are in a pivotal stage of early development.

“Children who enter the public education system from homeless situations are at a critical disadvantage long-term if they do not learn the life skills to cope with the cycle of homelessness,” said Marcos Hernandez, a senior manager at Homeward Bound. 

In 2015, the National Center for Education Statistics reported that more 2.5 percent of public school students are homeless. Being homeless while in school can cause academic performance to suffer, and it is a known risk factor for mental and physical health problems. Arizona is no different than the rest of the country: Over 2.6 perecent of students in Arizona schools are homeless.

Students in the Early Start Program participated in service learning projects and saw firsthand what a nonprofit organization has to do to succeed in helping others. The students sorted donations, reorganized learning centers and helped the Homeward Bound case managers with children at the center.

“We have to be mindful of our clients’ experiences, and we can’t look at everything through our own lenses,” said Patsy Rethore-Larson, vice president of programs at Homeward Bound. “We need to have a sense of understanding that our interaction with a client is based on a lifetime of experiences. It is so important to have a relationship based on mutual respect in order to make a difference.”

By volunteering at Homeward Bound, the Early Start Program students were exposed to what a career in child services could be like, and they also learned what a complex issue homelessness can be.

“Working with Homeward Bound is a wonderful experience for the students. They might not have thought much about what can cause homelessness, and it is important to have their assumptions challenged,” Cavanaugh-Toft said.

Robert Ewing

Marketing and Communications Manager, Department of Psychology


New faculty bring diversity, innovative research to ASU College of Health Solutions

September 13, 2018

The College of Health Solutions at Arizona State University announces the appointment of five new faculty members whose diverse backgrounds and areas of expertise will enhance the college’s translational approach to research and teaching.

“Our new faculty share our passion for an interdisciplinary team approach to translational research that addresses critical health issues and improves health outcomes,” said Deborah Helitzer, dean of the College of Health Solutions. health north and south buildings Health North and Health South buildings, part of the College of Health Solutions at the Downtown Phoenix campus. Download Full Image

“We’re dedicated to optimizing health for every individual at every stage, from wellness to illness, and our new faculty are immersed in research to do just that.”

These new faculty members will build on a strong foundation of dedicated teachers and accomplished researchers who are working to address some of society’s most pressing health problems in the following areas: behavioral health, biomedical informatics and biomedical diagnostics, kinesiology and exercise and wellness, public and population health, nutrition, the science of health care delivery, and speech and hearing science.   


edward ofori

Edward Ofori joins the College of Health Solutions as assistant professor of biomechanics.

He earned a master’s degree in statistics and master’s and doctoral degrees in kinesiology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Ofori’s research focuses on identifying early brain markers and connections that predispose older individuals to Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease and other related dementias and movement disorders.

Most recently, Ofori led the Laboratory for Rehabilitation Neuroscience at the University of Florida in Gainesville.


stavrous kavouras

Stavros A. Kavouras is a professor of nutrition with expertise in the effects of water intake on glucose regulation and its implication on children’s hydration and obesity. In addition to teaching nutrition courses, Kavouras directs the Hydration Science Lab at the College of Health Solutions, studying how hydration impacts health and performance.

After earning a bachelor’s degree in exercise science from the University of Athens in his native Greece, Kavouras pursued a master’s degree in human exercise physiology from the University of Colorado and a PhD in kinesiology and exercise science from the University of Connecticut. Before coming to ASU, he was a professor at the University of Arkansas where he continues to serve as an adjunct professor in medicine.

He has authored more than 100 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters and has lectured in 26 countries. He is a section editor of the European Journal of Nutrition and associate editor of Behavioral Medicine and Frontiers in Nutrition. Kavouras is a Fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine and the European College of Sports Science as well as an elected member of the American Society of Nutrition, the Obesity Society and the American Physiological Society.

Biomedical informatics

chinedum ojinnaka

Chinedum Ojinnaka is assistant professor of biomedical informatics. Her research leverages health databases, such as the cancer registry and public-assistance program data, to identify social factors that affect outcomes and equality in health care.

As a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Missouri, her team evaluated data from Missouri’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Medicaid to determine the relationship between the timing of SNAP benefit distribution and emergency room visits. She will continue research on the determinants of clinical, health outcomes and health care utilization and teach courses in public health informatics.

Before earning her PhD in health services research from Texas A&M University, Ojinnaka was a practicing physician in her native country of Nigeria.


yunro chung

Yunro (Roy) Chung joins the College of Health Solutions as assistant professor with joint appointments in biomedical informatics and the Virginia G. Piper Center for Personalized Diagnostics in ASU’s Biodesign Institute. His research uses statistical analysis to discover and validate biomarkers that lead to better screening and early diagnosis of disease.

Some of his previous work includes research as a postdoctoral research fellow at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, where he developed statistical methods for evaluating biomarkers and diagnostic tests for prostate cancer detection.

Chung earned his PhD in biostatistics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and his master’s in statistics in his hometown of Seoul, Korea.

wonsuk yoo

Wonsuk Yoo is an associate research professor and director of the Biostatistics Core which provides biostatistics expertise and analytical support for ASU faculty. After completing his bachelor’s degree at Yonsei University in Seoul, South Korea, Yoo earned a master’s degree in statistics at the University of Florida and a PhD in Biostatistics at Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston.

His research focuses on developing biostatistics and informatics tools and methodologies that use large health data sets to predict the risk of complex human diseases and reduce health disparities.

Yoo has authored more than 50 articles for peer-reviewed publications in health, medicine, epigenetics and biostatistics and has served as an Institutional Review Board member and national grant panel reviewer for the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute and the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities.

Kelly Krause

Media and communications manager, College of Health Solutions