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Getting lost on Cal Poly campus is a bit like getting lost in Tomorrowland, but with far less neon. One tends to stumble upon all sorts of glimpses of the future if one does enough poking. For example, Congresswoman Lois Capps herself was at a meeting with kinesiology professor Suzanne Phelan, student Stephanie Gomez-Rubalcava, and several others in the kinesiology department. 

Professor Phelan recently received $2.8 million from the National Institutes of Health for ongoing research into ways to prevent the recurrence of gestational diabetes. This condition, which develops during pregnancy and can cause long-term health problems in mothers and their babies, can also lead to severe pregnancy and delivery complications. Phelan is a clinical health psychologist and director-to-be of STRIDE (Solutions Through Research in Diet & Exercise), a Cal Poly program. 

Students and faculty alike have been doing great research with this group. Here are some of the studies. “Healthy Beginnings” is a study that looks at ways to help modify excessive gestational weight gain, which is a major factor in diabetes both for the mother and child. “Partners and Health” is a study that works with both the mother and the partner, the idea being that, as the study has shown, if we can help make the partner lose weight, the mother will be encouraged to as well. “Fit Moms/Mommas Activas” is a study that works with W.I.C. to help women lose weight: 60 to 70 percent of mothers in this program are Hispanic and perhaps speak English as a second language. 

One of the goals of the program is to teach expecting moms to use computers and other technology. The data is nearly complete for said study. By utilizing W.I.C.’s text message program, they sent a guaranteed four texts a week full of information about proper nutritional care, but here’s the catch: They would send them at random times, helping make it surprising when one would show up. Lots of data from these programs has shown that helping get the mothers to be fit before pregnancy helps to keep the baby healthy. Gomez-Rubalcava, like many others, plans on further studies, such as the correlation between physical activity and mood. There was a lot said at this meeting, and what is perhaps the most wonderful is the student involvement. At times, it can feel like one is not doing real, important work at one’s college. But look around! There are opportunities everywhere, this being only one of many, to get involved and make a difference!  

Contributor Lola White-Sanborn does real, important work in the field of cryptozoology. Send her your collegiate news via cougarsandmustangs@newtimesslo.com.

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