Taylor Awards Fund Research About Pregnancy Loss, Stress Reduction, Academic Comprehension, and Local Ecology

TaylorAwardsOn Wednesday, January 10, during Holy Family University’s Spring Business Meeting, Dr. Michael Markowitz, Vice President for Academic Affairs, announced this year’s recipients of the Taylor Awards.

The award program was established through an endowment created by Carol Taylor, RN, PhD, a former University faculty member who served from 1979 to 1987 and 1995 to 1997 in the School of Nursing and Allied Health Professions.

Taylor and her family created the award to honor her deceased father, Raymond Taylor. She was honored by the School of Nursing and Allied Health Professions in October 2012 with its highest award, the Distinguished Nursing Alumni Award.


The Taylor Grant project provides funding to faculty who have completed at least two years of full-time teaching at Holy Family. Requests are made in the form of formal proposals to the Taylor Grant Committee, with priority given to those projects that advance faculty research and scholarship. Below are the projects that were selected this year.

Breaking The Silence: Coping with Involuntary Pregnancy Loss

Kimberly Dasch-Yee, PhD, Associate Professor, School of Arts and Sciences
Jenai Grigg, PhD, Associate Professor, School of Arts and Sciences
Stacy McDonald, PhD, Associate Professor, School of Arts and Sciences

From the researchers: Involuntary pregnancy loss is a frequent, and often traumatic, occurrence. Our research seeks to examine the effect of involuntary pregnancy loss on women and their partners. Specifically, through an online survey, we are collecting quantitative and qualitative data about the grief, coping, and relationship experiences of women who have experienced a pregnancy loss, as well as how they perceive the grief and coping of their partners. As a next step in our research, we will be hosting an Involuntary Pregnancy Loss Conference on campus to bring together professionals from a variety of disciplines to share research and findings regarding the psychosocial impact of pregnancy loss. The Taylor Grant will support the hosting of this conference, as well as support undergraduate and graduate student research assistants.

“Women and their partners often feel pressure to conceal their involuntary pregnancy loss,” Dasch-Yee said. “There is the misperception that pregnancy loss shouldn’t be openly discussed, either because pregnancy loss isn’t considered a ‘real’ loss, or because others wouldn’t understand. However, involuntary pregnancy loss is unfortunately very common, and is a traumatic occurrence for many who experience it. Through our project, we hope to help lift the shroud of secrecy around pregnancy loss, and make it easier for people to discuss their loss experiences.”

Measuring the Impact of Stress Reduction Programs: An Interdisciplinary Approach Using Psychological and Biobehavioral Markers

Kimberly Dasch-Yee, PhD, Associate Professor, School of Arts and Sciences
Jennifer DeCicco, PhD, Assistant Professor, School of Arts and Sciences

From the researchers: The primary goal of this research is to examine the effectiveness of a stress reduction program on stress reactivity. Stressors have the potential to contribute to a variety of maladaptive outcomes from both psychological and physiological perspectives. Stress reduction programs have become increasingly popular, however, some are time consuming and involve training. The objective of this project is to examine the impact of a simple stress reduction program on both subjective psychological measures (stress, coping, emotion regulation, anxiety and depression), as well as physiological markers (heart rate and cortisol). Undergraduate Neuroscience and Psychology majors will serve as research assistants on the project and will both assist with data collection and help to analyze and present the findings.

“The findings of this work will help shed light on whether programs designed to be much more accessible to the public are effective in reducing stress across multiple platforms,” DeCicco said. “That is, we seek to broaden our understanding behind the mechanisms of stress reduction from psychological and biological perspectives. The results from this research project have the ability to improve our understanding about whether a simple stress reduction program can influence one’s stress reactivity in a positive way. This insight may provide valuable information about how we can disseminate a stress reduction program on campus and perhaps beyond.

Reading and ‘rithmatics: Exploring the Effects of Reading Comprehension Monitoring on Incoming Students’ Mathematics Achievement

Diana Cardenas-Elliot, PhD, JD, Assistant Professor, School of Education
Elizabeth Jones, PhD, Professor, School of Education
Dianna Sand, EdD, Instructor, School of Education

From the researchers: Our research study uses a rigorous experimental design to examine the influence of a reading-based intervention on mathematics achievement. We will be working with incoming, first-year students likely to place into developmental mathematics. These students will receive training in a reading and comprehension monitoring strategy to support their thinking skills before taking the placement examination.

“The results of our research are essential not only to Holy Family University but also in the broader context of higher education,” the team stated. “Many studies at the post-secondary level, for instance, focus on particular aspects of first-year students, placement scores, retention, or assessment issues. Our research intersects these various elements and can potentially provide further insight into student learning, especially the influence of a reading strategy in a disciplinary area. Therefore, findings from our study can provide evidence of a useful intervention that can improve institutional outcomes and help the University reach its mission to educate all students. In the broader context of higher education, our conclusions can help reshape measures of student success, especially for disadvantaged students who disproportionately place into developmental education. Finally, our findings can contribute to a growing body of evidence identifying specific reading and cognitive strategies in the post-secondary academic disciplines.”

Can Riparian Zone Plant Diversity Protect Streams from Nutrient Pollution in Runoff?

Elizabeth Rielly-Carroll, PhD, Assistant Professor, School of Arts and Sciences
Dian He, PhD, Assistant Professor, School of Arts and Sciences

From the researchers: Riparian zones are the interface between land and rivers. In healthy ecosystems, riparian zones have different plants including trees, shrubs, and grasses. The riparian zone can act as a natural buffer to protect streams from pollutants. In many urban environments, such as Philadelphia, riparian zones have been reduced in size, channelized, or may be heavily invaded by non-native plant species. Excess nutrients such as phosphorous and nitrogen from residential or agricultural fertilizer use, fossil fuel combustion, and municipal wastes are flushed to streams with rain water (runoff water), causing algae blooms, low oxygen levels, and high nitrate levels in drinking water. Continuing land conversion together with a changing climate that is predicted to increase the intensity and frequency of storms is likely to increase the export of excess nutrients to streams. We will test whether certain plant species or suites of plant species are more effective at removing pollutants such as phosphorus and nitrogen from runoff.

“Over 15 million people, 5% of the U.S. population, rely on the Delaware River Basin as a source of freshwater,” said Rielly-Carroll. “Despite its importance as an essential resource, the management of nutrient pollution in the basin remains a serious environmental challenge. The outcomes from our work will clarify the relationship between riparian plant diversity and nutrient uptake. Ultimately, these findings can be applied to riparian zone restoration efforts along impacted sections of the Delaware basin, contributing to useful conservation and management strategies and improved water quality for our local watersheds.”