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Experts available: University of Missouri scholars available as students are back in school

August 16th, 2019

Story Contact: Brian Consiglio, 573-882-9144,

The views and opinions expressed in this “for expert comment” release are based on research and/or opinions of the researcher(s) and/or faculty member(s) and do not reflect the University’s official stance.

COLUMBIA, Mo. – As school is back in session, students, parents and teachers might be in search of advice on how to make sure children stay healthy and safe while attending class. The University of Missouri offers the following experts as you work on stories throughout the school year.

  • Bully prevention efforts: Chad Rose is an expert in bully prevention efforts and the intersection of social and emotional learning for students with disabilities. Rose can speak to the effects bullying has on both perpetrators and victims within schools. Rose is an associate professor of special education in the College of Education and director of the Mizzou Education Bully Prevention Lab.


  • Mental health: Melissa Maras can discuss how schools can provide effective and efficient mental health supports to the entire community. Maras’ areas of expertise include trauma-informed schools and communities, using data to plan and continuously improve school mental health programs, and interdisciplinary workforce development. She has experience working in and across diverse local, regional, and state contexts, with a particular focus on collaborating with rural, under-served communities.Maras is a research consultant in the MU Assessment Resource Center.


  • Back to school sleep routine: Leila Kheirandish-Gozal, MD is a pediatric sleep medicine expert who is the director of the Child Health Research Institute at the University of Missouri. She is able to provide tips and guidance for parents and they transition children back to a school-oriented sleep routine.  Kheirandish-Gozal is also a professor at the University of Missouri School of Medicine.


  • Back to school asthma: Benjamin Francisco, PhD is a pediatric nurse practitioner who directs a nonprofit organization that offers evidence-based educational programs for children with asthma, their families and health professionals. Francisco can explain why back-to-school season is a risky time for students with asthma. Francisco is a teaching professor of child health at the University of Missouri School of Medicine.


  • Importance of nutrition and fitness: Stephen Ball is a nationally recognized expert on fitness, wellness and body composition research. He can speak to the connection between activity during recess and academic performance. He researches “playground zones” as one way schools can be proactive in students’ health and wellness. Ball is a professor of nutrition and exercise physiology at the University of Missouri. He also serves as the state fitness specialist for MU Extension.


  • Environmental health: MU researchers from a variety of disciplines are working together to determine how harmful volatile organic compounds, which could be released in the air by cleaning products, school supplies, toys and air fresheners, impact children’s health. Until recently, measuring air quality in child-care centers has been difficult and expensive. Now the researchers have created a portable, low-cost measurement tool that can efficiently measure air-quality at child-care centers. Key researchers involved in the research include; Gustavo Carlo, professor of human development and family science; Chung Ho Lin, research associate professor of forestry; Jane McElroy, associate professor of family and community medicine; Susan Nagel, associate professor of obstetrics, gynecology and women’s health; and Francisco Palermo, assistant professor of human development and family science.


  • Traditionally underserved students: Brian Kisida’s research focuses on identifying effective educational options and experiences for traditionally underserved students that can close achievement and opportunity gaps. His research has examined the educational benefits of school-community partnerships, art and music education, teacher diversity, and urban charter schools. Kisida is an assistant professor in the Truman School of Public Affairs.