Faculty Trailblazers: CEHHS Spotlights Colby, McCallum

UT has recently garnered significant national accolades, including the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities’ Trailblazer award for retention and graduation rate gains and the Carnegie Community Engagement Classification for outreach. These successes are due to the hard work of our innovative employees. Here’s a look at two College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences faculty members who are trailblazers in and out of the classroom.

Sarah Colby

Sarah ColbySarah Colby has dedicated her career to tackling the nation’s obesity epidemic, particularly as it affects children and teenagers.

Turning around this problem requires behavioral and environmental changes, Colby said, and she’s working with UT students to help their peers do just that around the country.

The assistant professor of nutrition recently was awarded a $4.9 million grant from the United States Department of Agriculture for “Get Fruved,” a nationwide multi-university project that is training college students to create obesity prevention programs to help their peers and high school students adopt healthy lifestyles. The term “fruved” alludes to fruits and vegetables.

“Not only are we promoting health, but it’s a ripple effect,” she said. “As students become empowered, involved, and take over the process, they empower other students. The project has the potential to change the world, and UT students will be leading the charge.”

Bob Rider, dean of the College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences, called the grant Colby received “a testament to her very good work.”

“As dean, I couldn’t be more proud of the work Dr. Colby is doing to help us fulfill our college motto, ‘Enhancing Quality of Life through Research, Outreach, and Practice.'”

Colby also is part of iCook, a successful multistate research project that helps children learn how to cook with their families. Families also learn how to stay active together through play and enjoy quality time together during mealtime.

Colby, who has a background in theater, incorporates the arts into her classroom to help her students apply knowledge in an interactive way. She also incorporates it in her work with the community as she helps children make cooking videos through iCook.

“The arts are a powerful force to change how someone thinks, believes, or feels without them having to experience a real-life tragedy that makes them want to change,” she said. “This fits well with many of our behavior change models in nutrition.”

Steve McCallum

McCallum IISteve McCallum is passionate about assessments for children and adults. But it’s never just about exams and scores.

“You give the test because you believe it’s going to improve the quality of life of the people you’re administering it to and educational and social opportunities for them,” he said.

A licensed psychologist and professor in the Department of Educational Psychology and Counseling, McCallum believes in helping people identify intellectual, cognitive, emotional, and academic strengths and weaknesses and subsequently, interventions that might help them overcome problems in those areas.

McCallum tries to instill in his graduate students that zeal to make a difference in the life of others through their work. His goal is to mentor students to help them master skills they can apply in a school setting to help children and the community. He characterizes the mentoring of graduate students as “one of the best parts of my job.”

McCallum came to UT in 1986 to direct the School Psychology program and became head of the Department of Educational Psychology and Counseling for the first time in 1989. He’s served as head for over twenty-two years since then. He recently returned to the faculty to teach and conduct research in the area of psychometric assessment.

“What makes Steve so special is that even under the extremely high demands of being a department head, he continued to teach, guide graduate students, and remain faithful to one of his true loves, research and scholarship,” Rider said. “He is widely known as an authority in the area of nonverbal assessment of intelligence, and has published a significant number of scholarly works, including books, in this essential area.”

When McCallum is not conducting research or training the next generation of school psychologists, he can be found riding his motorcycle, doing light saltwater fishing, or dancing the East Coast swing with his wife, Sherry Bell, head of the Department of Theory and Practice in Teacher Education.