News Archive

Tim Nugent nominated for a Congressional Gold Medal

Author: Maria Bohri

Published Date:August 11, 2015

Dr. Tim Nugent, the first Director of the Division of Disability Resources and Educational Services (DRES), was nominated by U.S. Representative Rodney Davis and U.S. Senator Mark Kirk for a Congressional Gold Medal.

Dr. Nugent, started out at the University of Illinois as a professor of rehabilitation education. During his time at Illinois, he led advances in accessibility standards for disabled people and founded the National Wheelchair Basketball Association in 1949. He was a true pioneer in disabled rights.

The Congressional Gold Medal is considered “the nation’s highest civilian award and the most distinguished award” given by U.S. Congress. The bill authorizing this medal would need to be passed by Congress and signed by the President.

Read the full story here:

Published Date: August 11, 2015

Inside Illinois article details history of disabled rights at U of I in commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the ADA

Author: Maria Bohri

Published Date:July 28, 2015

UIUC has been leading the fight for disabled rights since the 1950’s, starting with the work of Timothy Nugent. Nugent was the first Director of the Division of Disability Resources and Educational Services (DRES). He pushed for more opportunities for physical activity for people with disabilities in a time when the common attitude was those with spinal cord injuries were incapable of leading productive lives. Nugent led research on disability building design and accessibility among other research in the field. His research would later go into helping develop legislation for the Architectural Barriers Act of 1968 and the American’s with Disabilities Act of 1990. In 2012, Timothy J. Nugent Hall, a new residence hall on U of I’s campus, was dedicated in his name.

In honor of the 25th anniversary of the ADA and U of I’s national role in the fight for disabled rights, U of I’s DRES, the College of Applied Health Sciences, and other associated units are planning several campus events in the coming year. Times and dates for the events will be announced soon.

Click here to access the full article

Published Date: July 28, 2015

Ehud Yairi highlighted in recent News-Gazette article

Author: Maria Bohri

Published Date:July 28, 2015

Dr. Ehud Yairi, Professor Emeritus in Speech and Hearing Science, was interviewed in the second installment of the two part “Big 10” series with Jeff D’Alessio.  He asks 10 more foreign born faculty “What is most different about living here than where you’re from?”  Dr. Yairi, who grew up in Israel, shares some of his observations, including discrepancies in technology use among teenagers and levels of friendliness between neighbors. He also points out that Israel ranked Number 11 on the 2015 World Happiness Report, three points higher than the US, which came in at Number 15. Despite the constant security threats, Israelis still remain positive. You can read the full article here:

Published Date: July 28, 2015

Nuno Ribeiro highlighted in recent News-Gazette article

Author: Maria Bohri

Published Date:July 23, 2015


Dr. Nuno Ribeiro, Professor in the Department of Recreation, Sport, and Tourism, was spotlighted in an article entitled “The Big 10 with Jeff D’Alessio”. The article is the first in a two part series, in which Mr. D’Alessio asked 10 foreign born UIUC employees about the differences they have noticed about living in Champaign compared to their home country.  Dr. Ribeiro, who is originally from Portugal, mentions a social faux pas he still makes and touches on some interesting insights about American and Portuguese behavior in social settings.  Check out the entire article here:

Published Date: July 23, 2015

AHS Faculty featured in Champaign’s News Gazette for research on sexual activity among older adults

Author: Maria Bohri

Published Date:July 7, 2015

Dr. Liza Berdychevsky

Dr. Liza Berdychevsky, a professor in the Department of Recreation, Sport, and Tourism, recently co-authored a study that investigated the level of interest in sex and related topics amongst older adults.

The study was conducted with Galit Nimrod, a faculty member at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel. Together they perused 14 online communities for adults aged 50 and older, looking for posts with keywords such as intimacy, libido, romance, love and lust.

The study found that although sex discussions did not make up the majority of the threads, posts with sexual content were still popular, with a lot of traffic coming from “lurkers”, or those who only read the posts and don’t comment. It appears that older adults are still interested in sex. Online communities provide them with an outlet to discuss and ask questions of a sexual nature without feelings of embarrassment getting in the way. Dr. Berdychevsky even comments that “some seniors felt liberated” when taking part in these online discussions.

The study will soon be published in the Journal of Leisure Research.

You can find the full article here:

Published Date: July 7, 2015

Two CHAD Interns featured in AHS Newsletter!

Author: Maria Bohri

Published Date:June 30, 2015

Nathaniel Leonardi and Maria Bohri were featured in the recent Summer edition of the AHS Newsletter. Nathaniel, a 2015 graduate from Interdisciplinary-Health Sciences, is highlighted for his achievements during his time as an undergraduate in Applied Health Sciences. Maria, a rising senior in Community Health, is featured for her involvement in a service-learning course this past semester, working on health and sanitation issues in rural populations in India. Both students have demonstrated their passion for health in their time thus far in the College of AHS.

Read the entire Newsletter here:

Published Date: June 30, 2015

AHS Faculty Featured in Inside Illinois-cognitive flexibility

Author: Maria Bohri

Published Date:June 23, 2015

AHS Faculty Featured in Inside Illinois for associations in consumption of Omega-3 fatty acids and cognitive flexibility in older adults.

Dr. Aron Barbey, a neuroscience, psychology, and speech and hearing science professor and researcher at the Beckman Institute, recently published a report in the Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience Journal on optimal nutrition in older adults being associated with positive health outcomes in healthy aging populations. The research, conducted with M.D./Ph.D. student Marta Zamroziewicz, investigated the relationship between Omega-3 fatty acid consumption in older adults at risk of late-onset Alzheimer’s disease and their performance on tests of cognitive function-specifically cognitive flexibility.

According to Dr. Barbey, cognitive flexibility, the ability to efficiently switch between tasks, is an important predictor in determining daily functioning in older adults. The study found that higher Omega-3 fatty acid consumption is related to better cognitive flexibility. This gives evidence to optimal nutrition playing an important part in preserving cognitive function, slowing the progression of aging, and reducing the incidence of diseases in healthy aging populations.

Click here to read entire story

Published Date: June 23, 2015

AHS Faculty Featured in Inside Illinois for Traumatic Brain Injury Therapies

Author: Nathaniel Leonardi

Published Date:May 4, 2015

Dr. Aron Barbey, a professor of Neuroscience, Psychology, Speech and Hearing Science and researcher at Beckman, recently published an article stating that individuals with traumatic brain injuries do not receive the benefits from the advances in cognitive neuroscience research. Dr. Barbey states that individuals that treat brain-injured patients do not use new discoveries when diagnosing and treating TBI’s, and instead use an outdated Glasgow coma scale to diagnose injuries. The results of these diagnoses do not reveal much about the cognitive mechanisms and their connection of brain trauma.


Dr. Barbey proposes that physicians should more closely pay attention to the inner workings of the brain that enables the regulation and control of attention and memory and thought to use this for implementing treatment strategies. Due to the increase in TBI, it is important to develop better ways to diagnose TBI, and treat the injuries that interfere with the brain networks. Physicians who understand brain networks will allow them to better predict the kinds of impairments that patients with TBI will experience, and the progress through treatment and therapy.


Researchers, like Dr. Barbey, have found and recommend therapies that show increase in strengthening cognitive control functions. Physical fitness is just one of the specific interventions that target specific brain networks. Brain stimulation can be applied to enhance ability to respond to cognitive rehabilitation. It is important to develop more precise testing for traumatic brain injuries and to translate that into therapies and treatments for individuals in recovery from brain injury.


For the full inside Illinois article, please visit



Published Date: May 4, 2015

Grant Awarded to AHS Faculty for Increased Mobility in Multiple Sclerosis

Author: Nathaniel Leonardi

Published Date:March 30, 2015


Dr. Citlali Lόpez-Ortiz, an Assistant Professor in Kinesiology and Community Health, was recently rewarded a grant for her research titled, “Targeted dance program for improved mobility in multiple sclerosis.”  Since walking impairment is common in patients with MS, it has become important to find effective rehabilitation protocols to restore walking in individuals with MS.  Walking impairment can decrease an individual’s quality of life.  Decreased coordination while walking, and poor balance are associated in increased risk for falls and injury for individuals with MS. Dr. Lopez-Ortiz’s research is targeted to perform an intervention for individuals with MS and walking impairments in order to improve agility, balance, and whole body movement coordination.


Dr. Lόpez-Ortiz’s hypothesis is that “it is feasible to safely obtain improvements in balance, agility, and smoothness of movement during walking in patients with MS using a targeted classical ballet based intervention.” The study will gather individuals with MS from the local community and will be assigned to a control or treatment group.  The treatment group will experience targeted dance classes and the control group will participate in a stretching program.  Data will be collected before and after the interventions. This study has the potential to increase the treatment options for people with MS, and at a fraction of the cost of pharmaceutical alternatives. Rehabilitation through dance can increase the positive aspects of social and personal interactions in an individual’s life.


For more information please visit Dr. Lόpez-Ortiz’s faculty page and her research laboratory website at

Published Date: March 30, 2015

AHS New Faculty: JJ Pionke

Author: Nathaniel Leonardi

Published Date:January 28, 2015


JJ Pionke is a new member to the AHS faculty serving as the Applied Health Sciences Librarian within the Social Sciences, Health and Education Library (SSHEL). Ms. Pionke received her MSI from the University of Michigan and her MA degree from Truman State University.  Prior to becoming faculty at the University of Illinois, she served as an Engineering and Health Sciences Librarian faculty member at Wichita State University. Her primary role as the Applied Health Sciences Librarian is to educate the individuals of AHS on their resources within the library and how to properly utilize those resources to a maximum extent. As the library ambassador to the College of Applied Sciences, it is her role to acquire a multitude of sources for the Students, Faculty, and Staff within the College of Applied Health Sciences. She also serves as research support for faculty to a limited degree in terms of acquisition of library materials as well as presenting management solutions for the data.

As research faculty, she is currently conducting research concerning the accessibility of the library to individuals with disabilities, physical and mental.  She works with the Division of Disability Resources and Educational Services and the Veteran’s Center in order to increase accessibility of library resources within a university setting for all users.

When asked about her new position at the University of Illinois, she responded that this was her dream job.  A mixture of the beautiful old building and state of the art resources increased her love for the University.  Her favorite thing about the University is not the job or the facilities; it is the people she gets to interact with on a daily basis. The warm, friendly people of the University confirmed her decision to be part of the Applied Health Sciences Faculty.

Ms. Pionke is a motorcycle rider and rides a 1996 Nighthawk 750cc. She is excited for warmer weather to come about so she can break out the motorcycle again.  As a worldwide traveler, she has made it around the world in 85 days. When walking into her office, it is hard to miss the fact that she is extremely into Lego and Star Wars, unfortunately, there is not enough space in there to display her Lego Death Star. 

Published Date: January 28, 2015