Faculty Accomplishments

Valerie Bolger

Valerie Bolger, department of Sport and Exercise Sciences, was awarded the Simphiwe Hlatshwayo Award for Outstanding Part-Time Instructor. The Simphiwe Hlatshwayo Award for the Outstanding Part-Time Instructor was created by the College Senate to recognize outstanding adjunct instructors as well as to encourage excellence in teaching. The award was named to honor the memory of Simphiwe Hlatshwayo, who was a graduate of SUNY Oneonta from South Africa and taught at SUNY Oneonta first as an adjunct, then later as an assistant professor. Congratulations Valerie!!





Dr. Jennifer Bueche

A candidate for Distinguished Service Professor must demonstrate substantial distinguished service both; a) at the local campus level and/or local community or regional level; and b) at the state and/or national and/or international level. Distinguished service must extend over multiple years and involve the application of intellectual skills drawing from the candidate's scholarly and research interests to issues of public concern, and may include, but not be solely based upon, exceptional leadership in local and system-wide faculty governance. The Distinguished Service Professor rank recognizes and honors faculty who epitomize excellence in their profession. Dr. Bueche's appointment is a testament to her extraordinary commitment to applying her scholarship to the greater good. Her service and dedication to the SUNY Oneonta community- and to the field of dietetics regionally and nationally- is exceptional and a source of pride and inspiration for us all. Congratulations Jennifer!!


Dr. Anita Levine

Anita Levine, Associate Professor of Elementary Education & Reading, published her invited paper “Moving from Teacher-Centered Instruction Towards Student-Centered Learning and Striving to Balance the Two” in the peer-reviewed Journal of Guangxi College of Education, spring 2021 issue. 


Dr. Anita Levine


Andrea Fallon-Korb

Andrea Fallon-Korb

Congratulations to Andrea Fallon-Korb, Lecturer in Sport and Exercise Sciences, on receiving the 2022 Award for Outstanding Lecturer!

This award, which comes with a $500 cash prize, was created by the Office of the Provost to recognize outstanding lecturers as well as to encourage excellence in teaching.

Dr. Mark Davies, Dean, School of Education, Human Ecology and Sports Studies, will present Andrea with her award on April 5th at the Annual Susan Sutton Smith Lecture in the Morris Conference Center.



Dr. Sarah Portway

In late December, Dr. Sarah Portway’s newest case study, “Negotiating Fair Pay in a Fast Fashion Supply Chain,” was published as part of the Bloomsbury Fashion Business Cases. In 2018, Dr. Sarah Portway also published “Sustainability at Better Sweater: Knitwear Size Customization and the Triple Bottom Line” as part of the same collection. Both cases use problem-based learning principles and role-playing to introduce sustainable and ethical supply chain management principles.

To find both cases, go to the Milne Library Website > Databases > Bloomsbury Fashion Business Cases > Search for ‘Portway’ – or use the database to find a new teaching resource for use in your own class!

Dr. Sarah Portway (Fashion & Textiles) was recently interviewed about fast fashion and sustainable clothing consumption by local morning radio personality Leslie Ann Parmerter from WZOZ. The interview aired at 7 a.m. on Nov. 27.

The findings and recommendations of Dr. Sarah Portway’s dissertation on sustainable fashion knowledge and choices among millenials have been used as the basis for an online sustainable fashion business, Greenlight Shopper. Greenlight is an app that informs clothing shoppers about the ethical practices of (and sustainable alternatives to) the fashion companies they support. Dr. Portway continues to advise the business entrepreneurs as a faculty advisor, for example in applying to the TCU Neeley School of Business Values and Ventures Competition in April. 


Dr. Sarah Portway


Dr. Bharath Ramkumar

Dr. Bharath Ramkumar

Dr. Mark Davies, Dean of the School of Education, Human Ecology and Sports Studies wrote: 

Around campus Bhar has gained a reputation for his service related to sustainability.  He has been instrumental in working with the Revival of Apparel Club in the management of the Red Closet Thrift Shop’s operations.  He has chaired the President’s Advisory Council on Sustainability and thoughtfully contributed to our thinking on mindfulness practices.

However, Bhar’s dedication to sustainability is not limited to campus service, but it’s the common thread that can be seen throughout his research. 

Whether he is offering one-minute primers on fast fashion for the Academic Minute, examining consumer response to second-hand clothing to enhance participation in the circular fashion system in his article,  The role of product history in consumer response to online second-hand clothing retail service based on circular fashion published recently in the Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, Bhar’s work offers both a critique of non-sustainable practices and explores sustainable alternatives.

Last month Bhar offered the campus community a convivium presentation where he explored sustainable textile production traditions among indigenous women textile artisans in the north eastern region of India.  His work, Sustaining Indigenous Textile Artisans and their Art in the North Eastern Region of India published in Fashion, Style, and Popular Culture, offers valuable insight into the traditions of these indigenous weavers that highlights their love of the art of weaving and the role it plays in nourishing and nurturing both the women and their economic prospects.

Bhar’s unwavering commitment to exploring the sustainable intersection of fashion, textiles, culture, and the environment is woven into his research and informs his teaching and service.   


Dr. Emily Riddle

Dr. Emily Riddle was named the Representative for the School of Education, Human Ecology and Sports Studies for the Annual SUNY Oneonta Scholar of the Year Award. Each School within the college nominates a representative from which the Scholar of the Year will be selected. During the selection process the committee was impressed with and noted Dr. Riddle's journal publications in quality peer-reviewed journals. Congratulations Emily!!


Emily Riddle



Dr. Lisa Rusch

The article titled "Leisure-Time Physical Activity and General Health Mitigate Effects of Job Demands on Nonrestorative Sleep: CDC National Healthy Worksite Project" was approved for publication.

The objective of the study was to determine if leisure-time physical activity (LTPA) modified the adverse relationship between high job demands and nonrestorative sleep (NRS), an established work impediment. When assessing psychological demands, poor general health was associated with NRS at all levels of the scale independent of LTPA. We determined that LTPA might reduce NRS for those with jobs at either extreme of physical demands and, in particular, that those with high physical job demands may need less LTPA to reap the benefits.
Congratulations Lisa!


Dr. Theresa Russo

Why should children learn about finance and compound interest?

A goal of parenting is to raise children to become socially competent adults. Moving from being financially dependent on their parents or guardians to being financially self-sufficient is part of the transition to adulthood. As primary teachers of their children, parents should take an active role in teaching them about finances. Understanding finances and how to manage money are life skills we all need to succeed. It's important for parents to start these conversations and take advantage of the teachable moments throughout a child's life to help prepare them for independent living.

How old should kids be when you start teaching them good financial habits?

These are lifelong skills and habits that children develop over time. The conversation can begin in early childhood and continue into adulthood. It should be age-appropriate and reflect the values parents want to teach their children. Understanding money and finances requires abstract thinking. Children's understanding of finances will increase as their cognitive skills grow.

For example, preschool-age children (3–5 years of age) will be limited to understanding the basic idea that money can buy things. How we earn money and how much things cost are beyond their level of understanding. If a parent says they cannot afford something, the child's solution is to "go to the bank and get more money out of the machine." Lessons around money need to be concrete and simplistic at this age. The basic concept is that money is used to buy things. Preschool-age children like to classify, so they can sort between different coins and bills because the differences are concrete. Understanding value differences is too abstract for them at this age.

School-age children can do math problems and understand the value difference — basic math problems that can evolve to more complex math in their high school years. School-age is where a parent's value system related to, for example, how much to spend on items, how much to save, etc., can be introduced. We live in a consumer culture where name-brand items with higher sticker costs are marketed to children. That allows for conversations about money values: how we as a family spend money, how much we have and how much to allocate toward particular items. School-age is a good time to introduce allowance. Allowance should be linked to the family economy: we all contribute in some way, and we all get paid in some way. Parents can teach lessons on planning and saving. Some portion of a child's allowance should be saved (put into a savings account for later), and some portion can be spent as they wish. Some families may value helping others and can include contributing a portion of a child's allowance to a charity.

Instilling an understanding of the need to save for the future should begin during adolescence. Discussions about paying for a car, insurance, college and living expenses are important as parents prepare their adolescents for independent living. Credit cards, loans and debt can be included in these discussions. Getting a job can be valuable for adolescents. They begin to understand the value of earning money and then budgeting to use that money to pay for things they may want and/or to contribute toward college or living expenses.

How should compound interest be taught to children?

Compound interest is a complex math problem. Older school-age children can calculate the interest rates but may not fully understand the concept of interest accruing on a loan. Adolescents can understand these as they relate to purchasing an item over time (e.g., car loans, credit card payments or student loans for college). Parents can teach the concept of compound interest to children by having their child put money into a savings account and reviewing the interest earned on the savings each month. This concept can also be taught to older school-age or young adolescents through parents loaning them money for a more expensive item they want to purchase and charging them interest. A loan repayment plan can be made between the parent and the child to explain the idea of paying off a debt over time.

What is one positive outcome you may expect to see if your child learns good financial lessons?

Helping your child become financially literate will set them on the path to success. Lifelong conversations about money begin when children are young and evolve into more complex discussions as they get older. Open and honest conversations about how you save and spend money will help prepare them for adulthood. The hope is that helping your child become financially literate as a young adult will help them avoid accumulating debt that would be difficult to pay off.

How can children be encouraged to save money?

This can start with children around age 5 or 6 being given an allowance. Parents can suggest that some portion of their allowance (e.g., 10%) be put into a savings account that earns interest, with the rest to be spent or saved in cash to use later. This teaches children to always save a portion of what is earned and is a practice that can continue when they get their first job in adolescence.

What challenges will the children of today face when trying to save money for tomorrow?

We live in a consumer culture where children are encouraged to buy things that will make them happy in the moment. Saving requires delayed gratification that is difficult for some children. Helping children plan their purchases can help with developing delayed gratification. Saving up for something you would like to have and then enjoying the ability to buy it is powerful. Long-term savings for larger-ticket items are a challenge for all of us but an important value to teach our children.

Read the entire article here: Teaching Kids About the Magic of Compound Interest | MoneyGeek.com

Professor Theresa J. Russo was featured in WalletHub’s recent piece “2021’s Best & Worst Places to Raise a Family.” You can read it here: https://wallethub.com/edu/best-cities-for-families/4435#expert=Theresa_J._Russo


Dr. Theresa Russo


Dr. Kjersti VanSlyke-Briggs

Dr. Kjersti VanSlyke-Briggs

Professor of Secondary Education and Educational Technology Kjersti VanSlyke-Briggs co-edited two books about school shootings in the United States with Hartwick College Professor of Education Elizabeth Bloom. Both A Relentless Threat: Scholars Respond to Teens on Weaponized School Violence and Dress Rehearsals for Gun Violence: Confronting Trauma and Anxiety in America’s Schools have chapters authored by other SUNY Oneonta faculty and professional staff including Melissa Marietta (formerly of the Career Development Center); Sarah Rhodes, Reference and Instruction librarian; Jenna Turner (formerly of The Faculty Center); Nicole Waid, assistant professor of Secondary Education and Educational Technology; Frank Thornton, associate professor of Educational Psychology, Counseling and Special Education; Gina Keel, professor of Political Science; and Brian Lowe, professor of Sociology. Both books are published by Rowman & Littlefield and will be available this fall and are currently available for pre-order. 


Dr. Mandeep Virk-Baker

 The importance of nutritionally rich diets (vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and fiber) is well known for optimal health and disease prevention. But, when you look at our national trends, we lag on meeting these dietary guidelines and the public health recommendations for healthy eating. For example, let’s look at dietary fiber: the current 2020- 2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend at least 38 g/day for dietary fiber for men and 25 g/day for women. However, most of the US population, a whopping 95%, simply does not meet this recommendation, and that has implications for health and disease risks. One of the simplest ways to incorporate more dietary fiber is to eat more vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and plant-based diet. Consuming these foods will also help us meet the other nutrient requirements while reducing intake of saturated fat, sodium, and refined carbohydrates.

In my experience working with the local communities, there is this misconception that eating healthy must be expensive. We also know that food insecurity, poverty, and lack of access are pressing issues for our local rural communities, and these challenges further impact healthy eating. I am working with several stakeholders at the community, local, state, and federal levels to addressing these issues. I was recently invited to present my community nutrition research at the NIH. This was an incredible opportunity, and I am thankful for the privilege to connect our local work to this much-needed dialogue at the national level. In my follow-up meeting, I discussed the idea of a teaching kitchen hands-on cooking and nutrition education for our rural area and learned about available grant mechanism for this research. I am thrilled to partner with Cornell University Extension, local schools, food pantries, faith-based organizations for our collaborative work in this important area.

The first teaching kitchen session was held on 03/26 and it was an amazing experience for our participants and student volunteers. The focus of the session was to eat healthy on a budget and gain hands-on cooking skills, food demonstrations, and opportunity to sensory evaluate (taste) these healthy foods. Our participants enjoyed working with a rainbow of vegetables, whole grains, and plant protein. Nutritionally speaking, this type of dietary pattern would help folks meet their dietary guidelines for increasing dietary fiber, vegetables, whole grains, plant protein, while reducing total fat, saturated fat, sodium, and added sugars. We are looking forward to our next session on 4/30/22.

I am extremely thankful for the continued support from our campus for this important work. Both events are supported by the college senate committee on public events and sponsored by the SUNY Oneonta Alumni Association with Financial Support from the Fund for Oneonta. I am grateful for the opportunity to connect my classroom teaching and research in a meaningful way that is enriching the student learning experiences while improving our local communities. I am also mentoring a research shadow student this semester who is gaining hands-on experience with these projects. If you are interested in learning more about my ongoing research or the 4/30 event, please feel free to contact me at: Mandeep.Virk-Baker@oneonta.edu​​​

Tuesdays- March thru May

March 22, 29, April 5, 19, 26 and May 3
3:00-4:00pm in the Laurens School Cafeteria

Join us after school for a 6 week series of interactive, hands-on fun. Bring the kids and come prepare a dish with us while learning practical nutrition information you can use at home. This series is free for income eligible families. Registration is required.

For more information or to Register:
Michelle Leveski
EFNEP Nutrition Educator
518-234-4303 ext. 115

John Mushtare
K-12 Principal
Laurens Central School
607-432-2050 ext. 1220

Saturdays, March 26 & April 30, 11:00am - 1:00pm
SUNY Oneonta Human Ecology Building Foods Lab #139

All are invited to join in on the fun and learning during these FREE collaborative events. Help create & taste a delicious, healthy dish, and get nutrition and cooking tips you can put to use immediately in your own kitchen. Attend one day or both, and we welcome children ages 8+ to participate. Register at:

Presented by: Dr. Mandeep Virk-Baker, Assistant Professor, Foods & Nutrition, Dept of Human Ecology, SUNY Oneonta

For more information, contact:
Kimberly Ferstler
Healthy Connections Nutrition Educator
518-234-4303 ext. 120


Dr. Mandeep Virk-Baker
Dr. Barbara Vokatis

Dr. Barbara Vokatis

Associate Professor Dr. Barbara Vokatis, in collaboration with a development team, has published an app inspired by her community service work in an elementary school with her therapy dog, goldendoodle Carmel. The application is called the Carmel’s Therapy Dog App, and she believes the benefits of this application will be substantial for children and their parents, as well as teachers. The app is currently in beta testing on androids. Beta testing will be available on iPhones soon.

First, the app will host Vokatis’ newest book for children, in which her therapy dog teaches them how to recognize the differences in other children as inspirational and uplifting. Beyond that, the book will offer concrete strategies that teachers can implement with students in the classroom to help them in creating a truly more inclusive community of learners who respect each other and even learn to see brilliance in children’s diverse ways of existing in the classroom and beyond.

The Carmel Therapy Dog App will also contain games inspired by therapy provided by Vokatis’ dog. The games will be both entertaining and help children release negative emotions, as well as understand that obstacles in their lives can be seen as wonderful opportunities to overcome these obstacles. Children will also be able to pet a virtual Carmel. Not all children have access to therapy dogs in schools, so the virtual dog therapy will bring these benefits to many children, teachers and schools.

To receive updates on the project, please go to my website: https://barbaravokatis.web.app


Dr. Barbara Vokatis, from the Department of Elementary Education and Reading, and her colleague, Dr. Jianwei Zhang, from SUNY Albany, presented a paper at the Literacy Research Association 70th Annual Conference (Virtual) on Dec. 3. The title of the presentation was “Dialogic transliteracy for collaborative knowledge building in two partnering science classrooms.”

The second paper was presented with her colleague, Dr. Thor Gibbins, from SUNY Oneonta, on Dec. 4. The title of the presentation was “Literacy coaching in online clinics: The promising potential to strengthen online literacy programs.”

Dr. Barbara Vokatis, an associate professor in the Elementary Education and Reading Department, self published a book on her journey to becoming a therapy dog handler to inspire others to become therapy dog handlers and to encourage both pre-service and in-service teachers to nurture their lifelong writing to become better teachers of writing.

Her golden doodle, Carmel, visited students at SUNY Oneonta before the pandemic.

The book, called “From unruly to therapy dog: The amazing journey,” is available on Amazon.

Barbara Vokatis from the Department of Elementary Education and Reading publishes an article in an international journal, Ubiquity: The Journal of Literature, Literacy and the Arts. The title of the article is: "Don't Talk to It!": Reconfiguring Reading in Parent-child Interaction with Ebooks. The author employs activity theory and an innovative approach to grounded theory to analyze how literacies engaged family relationships during family interactions with ebooks on the iPad. Findings highlight the uniqueness of a child's perspective and how this perspective can change the ways parents interact with children around such tools as iPads. 

This link provides the access to the paper, abstract and multimodal synthesis.



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