Congratulations to our graduates!

Abigail Edwards, a major in Race, Health and Society and Jacqueline Urdang, a major in Biology, successfully graduated from Smith!  Abigail will begin an internship at the NCAA in June and Jacqueline is headed for a career in medicine!  Congratulations to two dedicated lab members!

Witkowski Lab receives NIH funding to study physical activity, hot flashes and blood vessel function

Menopausal hot flashes have traditionally been considered a bothersome quality of life issue for women. However, hot flashes are now recognized to be a potential marker of disease risk. Increased frequency and severity of hot flashes have been positively associated with cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors, subclinical CVD markers, clinical cardiovascular events, and CVD mortality. Recent data showed that a higher frequency of hot flashes (e.g. number per day) was associated with lower vascular endothelial function in women early in the menopausal transition.

Habitual physical activity and high cardiorespiratory fitness are associated with many health benefits. However, the effectiveness of exercise to reduce hot flashes is equivocal, in part due to lack of objective assessments of hot flashes and physical activity.  Further, surprisingly, the majority of the literature does not demonstrate a protective role of exercise training, habitual physical activity, or fitness on the reduction of endothelial dysfunction with menopause. These studies have not considered factors particular to midlife women, such as hot flashes, that may be associated with their vascular responsiveness to exercise. Therefore, the overall goal of this project is to determine whether habitual physical activity and exercise influence hot flash experience and whether habitual activity and hot flashes influence vascular function in peri-menopausal women.

If you are interested in learning more about this study, please email,

Michelle Flesaker presents at NEACSM

Second year lab member, Michelle Flesaker presented her research entitled, “Menopause-Associated Psychological Symptoms and Physical Activity in Midlife Women” at the 2019 New England American College of Sports Medicine conference in Providence, RI.

Her analysis of self-reported data revealed that higher levels of physical activity were related to fewer negative psychological and fewer vasomotor symptoms in our population. The preliminary data suggest that habitual physical activity may aid in the management of physiological and psychological symptoms of menopause.