VCU Clark-Hill Institute for Positive Youth Development Wins Community Partnership Award
Excerpt: "The award for exemplary partnership in research went to the Clark-Hill Institute for Positive Youth Development, which develops and evaluates evidence-based practices to promote healthy, safe and positive development of youth, especially those of middle school age. The institute, which is a partnership of the College of Humanities and Sciences, the Department of Psychology and Richmond Public Schools, is currently implementing the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program to reduce levels of aggressive behavior and associated risk factors among students."
Dr. Faye Belgrave Wins VCU Presidential Award for Community Multicultural Enrichment (PACME) Faculty Award
This award recognizes members of the university who have contributed to diversity, multiculturalism and inclusive excellence.
Undergraduate Student Jenson Larrimore Wins VCU Presidential Award for Community Multicultural Enrichment (PACME) Student Award
This award recognizes members of the university who have contributed to diversity, multiculturalism and inclusive excellence.
Dr. Scott Vrana Wins Outstanding Faculty Mentor Award
Excerpt: "Dr. Vrana was nominated by undergraduate researcher, UROP Summer Research Fellow and Psychology major, Rose Bono. Rose attributed much of her development in research to Dr. Vrana’s guidance: 'At the end of our first meeting, I was hooked on a project that has been a huge part of my life for the past year and a half. Not only was Dr. Vrana able to find me a project that allowed me to explore my interest in psychology and linguistics, but he was willing to take me on as his own student. Because of my thesis work, I am much more confident in my ability to conduct research. It was through his encouragement that I applied for—and won—a UROP Summer Fellowship in 2013. He also nominated me for Outstanding Junior and Senior in Psychology in consecutive years, both of which I was awarded. These accolades have hugely boosted my confidence, because the esteem of someone I deeply respect means a lot to me. Dr. Vrana invites me to his lab meetings, which helps me in understanding parts of my project and allows me to learn from more advanced students. Dr. Vrana pushes me beyond what I think I can do and gives me ample opportunities that help me advance.'"
Dr. Jeff Green Wins Outstanding Faculty Mentor Award
Excerpt: "Dr. Green was nominated by undergraduate researcher Priya Lall, who had this to say about her mentor’s guidance: 'He has enhanced the skills related to undergraduate research in the discipline of social psychology by providing opportunities to participate and grow in his lab. He has enhanced the skills of undergraduates by training them in research-related activities like conducting studies and coding, as well as-involving them in meetings discussing articles, presentations, etc. I have been able to run experimental sessions for a variety of studies ranging in topics such as forgiveness, rejection, and the self. Dr. Green is an outstanding mentor that has provided me with opportunities that have opened the door for many more opportunities along with assisting me in learning the research process.'"
Alexandra Werntz Wins Research Award
Excerpt: "A poster session featured women’s health research displays by VCU faculty and students covering a wide range of women’s health topics... Awards were given to the best posters in each category. Winners included ... Alexandra Werntz (clinical and translational), a doctoral student in the VCU Department of Psychology, part of the College of Humanities and Sciences... In addition, Werntz’s poster, titled “Sleep quality and alcohol use behaviors in primary care patients: Problems with sleep are related to heavy/problem drinking behaviors among women,” received the Elizabeth Fries Young Investigator Award. This award was created in memory of Elizabeth Fries, Ph.D., a VCU psychology professor who served as director of research for the Institute for Women’s Health. Fries died in 2005. The award is given to a young researcher who shows promise for improving women’s health."
Dr. Paul Perrin Receives Research Grant
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is one of the leading causes of death and disability in Latin America, and TBI patients there experience high levels of disability and extremely poor functional outcomes. Informal caregivers play a key role in the rehabilitation and care of individuals with TBI, but Latino caregivers also experience poor outcomes, including high levels of depression, role-engulfment, burden, and poor health, which all influence the quality of informal care they are able to provide. To improve TBI rehabilitation through stronger informal caregiving, Dr. Paul Perrin received a grant through the National Institutes of Health's Fogatry International Center to develop and evaluate an evidence-based and culturally sensitive Transition Assistance Program (TAP) for informal caregivers of patients with TBI in Latin America during the patient’s transition from hospital to home.
Assessing the Risks of E-Cigarettes
Excerpt: "Thomas Eissenberg, professor of psychology and director of VCU’s Clinical Behavioral Pharmacology Laboratory, and Robert Balster, professor of pharmacology and toxicology in the VCU School of Medicine, are co-investigators studying novel tobacco products under an $18.1 million grant from the Food and Drug Administration and the National Institutes of Health.
Their charge is to develop evaluation tools that will help the FDA as it crafts rules in regulating the manufacture, distribution and marketing of electronic cigarettes and other new tobacco products. (The FDA announced its first proposed regulations in late April.) “With respect to e-cigarettes, there are a lot of opinions floating around out there, and there aren’t a lot of answers,” Eissenberg says."
Undergraduate Research on Dating Violence
Excerpt: "Elisabeth Alison, a VCU senior majoring in psychology and biology in the College of Humanities and Sciences, was interested in doing a research project examining dating violence. She teamed up with her peers, Chrissy Ammons and graduate students Rachel Garthe and Brandon Griffin in the VCU Department of Psychology, to explore relationships between sexual, psychological and physical forms of dating violence... The research team found through multiple regression analyses that sexual and psychological forms of violence were associated with more internalizing outcomes, while physical violence did not have a significant association with depression and anxiety. The results have implications for understanding how different forms of dating violence may contribute to problematic outcomes in emerging adults."
Charlene Gaw Named Critical Language Scholar
Excerpt: "A Virginia Commonwealth University student has received a Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) to study Mandarin Chinese in China. Charlene Gaw, from Cupertino, Calif., is a junior majoring in both chemistry and psychology in the College of Humanities and Sciences. Gaw will study Mandarin Chinese at the advanced level at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, China from June 11 to Aug. 10. Gaw will use the scholarship to help her to communicate with a growing population of Chinese-speaking patients and to learn more about Eastern medicine and health care policies. She one day hopes to participate in overseas trips as a physician to provide medical care to the people in underserved, rural areas in China and Taiwan."
Learn about undergraduate research in psychology conducted by Danielle Armstrong
Danielle Armstrong, a senior majoring in psychology in the Virginia Commonwealth University College of Humanities and Sciences, has been working with the Raise 5 Project and the Fan Free Clinic to engage with African-American college students about their attitudes toward HIV testing. Attributes studied included gender, religiosity and sexual orientation and were correlated to that person's attitude and behavior toward testing. Through data collection and studying behaviors, Armstrong hopes to understand why some people do — or don't — get tested for HIV. 'I've learned what it takes to do research, from start to finish,' Armstrong said."
Read about undergraduate research in psychology conducted by Vanessa Fuentes
Excerpt: "There has been a rise in mental health issues in college-aged Latinos in recent years," said Fuentes, a senior psychology student in the College of Humanities and Sciences at Virginia Commonwealth University. "I wanted to explore whether cultural factors, such as ethnic identity and familismo, buffer the relationship between stress, discrimination and mental health outcomes in Latino college students. Familismo is the close bond between immediate and extended family members in the Latino community."
Daniel Snipes Receives NSF Research Award for Research in South Africa
Daniel Snipes, a PhD student in the Health Psychology Program, was recently awarded the National Science Foundation's Graduate Opportunities Worldwide (NSF GROW) award, which sponsors Daniel to conduct research overseas for two months in Durban, South Africa. Daniel's project will examine the acceptability, effectiveness, and efficiency of the female condom program there. Data will be drawn from three major sources, including a national sample of from South Africa's 9 provinces, a cohort of new female condom acceptors, and interviews with policy makers and program managers involved with female condoms.
Samantha Miadich Wins Society of Pediatric Psychology Award
Samantha Miadich, a graduate student in the Health Psychology Program, won a Society of Pediatric Psychology (SPP) Student Travel Award for her abstract entitled, “Quality of Life in Children with Asthma: A Developmental Perspective.” Samantha’s poster submission was selected as one of eight SPP student travel awards. Her study investigated factors that differentially predict child quality of life (QOL) in younger (5-7 year olds) versus older (8-12 year olds) children with asthma. Findings suggest that factors most central to child QOL in younger children may include family functioning; factors most central to QOL in older children might include individual factors such as asthma severity. Samantha is currently working with Dr. Robin Everhart in the Health Psychology Program.
Dr. Kirk Warren Brown's Research on Mindfulness Featured by The Washington Post
Excerpt: "Last year, Brown published one of the first studies to look at how mindfulness practice affects the early unfolding o...f emotional reactions. By studying how brain waves change in response to emotional stimuli such as unpleasant images, he and his colleagues found that individuals deemed to be more mindful had lower stress responses than less-mindful individuals.
Mindfulness practice seems to alter how emotional centers in the brain are activated, Brown says. 'Rather than simply helping people cope better with negative emotions and stress — which is certainly important — mindfulness seems to help inoculate against the arising of stress in the first place.'"
Dr. Robin Everhart's Research on Asthma Featured by Healio
Excerpt: "'Asthma and allergic rhinitis are common, comorbid conditions in children,' Robin S. Everhart, PhD, of the department of psychology at Virginia Commonwealth University, and colleagues wrote. 'Epidemiologic reports suggest that 60% to 80% of children with asthma experience rhinitis symptoms.'
The researchers studied associations among allergic rhinitis control, asthma control, allergy symptoms, asthma symptoms, and the quality of life (QOL) in allergic rhinitis of 195 black, Latino, and non-Latino white urban caregivers and their children with asthma (aged 7 to 9 years)."
Jasmine Abrams Wins Susan E. Kennedy Scholarship
Jasmine Abrams, a PhD student in the Health Psychology Program, recently won the Susan E. Kennedy Scholarship, named in honor of Dr. Susan E. Kennedy, former chair of the History Department and Dean of the College of Humanities and Sciences. This award is in the amount of $3,000. A selection committee of Phi Kappa Phi faculty members selected her for the award based upon her academic achievement and evidence of advancing the presence of women in higher education.
Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia
Excerpt: "'I often refer to CBT-I as sleep boot camp,' Rybarczyk said. 'Essentially, through CBT we want to retrain the sleep process and provide the patient with an owner’s manual for their sleep system by educating them about the science of sleep.' Rybarczyk has been conducting research in the sleep medicine field for 16 years, and his research team has been steadily contributing to a mounting body of scientific work demonstrating the benefits of CBT for insomnia. His team’s work has not only examined CBT-I for the general population, but also its practice for veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and for individuals with comorbid psychiatric disorders such as depression. According to Rybarczyk, CBT-I involves several treatment components, including an initial reduction in sleep to increase sleep drive and retrain normal sleep. It also serves as a method for eliminating time spent in bed while awake to weaken the association between being in bed and having anxiety about not falling asleep."
Dr. Tom Eissenberg's Research on Hookah Smoking is in the News
Excerpt: "Hookah is an Arabic word for a type of water pipe. People have used hookahs for 400 years, mainly in the Middle East. They inhale tobacco smoke — often flavored — through a special instrument. It includes a bowl, or basin, that holds water. Drawing air through the mouthpiece heats the tobacco. The flavored smoke then travels through the pipe and the water. In a recent study of 105,000 U.S. college students, hookah use was close to cigarettes in popularity.
But there is a dangerous myth that hookahs are safe, notes Thomas Eissenberg. He’s an expert on tobacco products at Virginia Commonwealth University, in Richmond. Many young people think that a hookah’s water filters dangerous particles out of the smoke. In fact, he says, the water only cools the smoke."
Janet Lydecker Wins Research Award
Janet Lydecker, a PhD student in the Counseling Psychology Program, recently won a research award. The Joan Dallum Graduate Research Award is presented annually to a current or recent graduate student by the Commission for Counseling and Psychological Services (CCAPS) of the American College Personnel Association (ACPA). It recognizes student-directed research excellence. Janet received the award for her dissertation research, which was on shape concern and visual attention bias in college women, as measured by eye-tracking. Broadly, her research is on eating and weight disorders, including cognitive and affective components of body dissatisfaction.
Students Win Department Awards
Our award-winning students will be honored at several ceremonies. The Department of African American Studies will host the Black History in the Making award ceremony on Thursday, February 27, at 7:00 at the Grace Street Theatre, located at 934 West Grace Street. The College of Humanities and Sciences Awards Ceremony and Reception is scheduled for Wednesday, March 5 at 7:00 in the Student Commons, Commonwealth Ballroom. All the awards with "outstanding" in the title will be recognized in this ceremony. And, the Psychology Department's Annual Award and Scholarship Reception is April 22 from 3:30-5:00 in 806 W Franklin Street.
- Outstanding Psychology Junior Award: Cheonte Harding
- Outstanding Psychology Senior Award: Rose Bono, Aaliah Elnasseh, Haroon Popal
- Graduate Psychology Black History in the Making: Morgan Maxwell, Krista Mehari
- Outstanding Behavioral Medicine Track Graduate Student Award: Benjamin Lord, Elizabeth Sadock
- Outstanding Biopsychology Graduate Student Award: Todd Hillhouse
- Outstanding Child Clinical Track Graduate Student Award: Krista Mehari, Elizabeth Robinson
- Outstanding Counseling Graduate Student Award: Stephen Trapp
- Counseling Psychology Leader/Community Engagement Doctoral Student Award: Stephen Trapp
- Outstanding Developmental Psychology Graduate Student Award: Tracey Gendron
- Outstanding Health Psychology Graduate Student Award: Jasmine Abrams
- Outstanding Social Graduate Student Award: Chelsea Reid
- Outstanding Graduate Student Teacher Award: Robert Goodman
- Deborah Braffman Schroeder Award to Outstanding Clinical Student: Andrea Garroway
- Deborah Braffman Schroeder Award to Outstanding Clinical Student: Carrie Tully
- Elizabeth Fries Memorial Scholarship: Allison Palmberg
- John P. Hill Award for Adolescent Research: Tess Drazdowski
- John P. Hill Award for Adolescent Research: Sarah Doyle
- Outstanding Master's Candidate Award (Gunst): Megan Sutter
- Melvin V. Lubman Scholarship in Psychology: Laura Liwen
- John Corazzini Award for Therapeutic Group Work: TBA
- Peirluigi Antonio Menna Scholarship: TBA
Amy Jeffers Wins Research Award
Amy Jeffers, a PhD student in the Health Psychology Program, was recognized by the Society of Behavioral Medicine (SBM) Conference. Her abstract was chosen as the most compelling, highest quality abstract submitted by a student within the area of health decision-making research, and she received the Health Decision-Making SIG Student Award for 2014. The abstract was entitled "Ecological momentary assessment (EMA), positive mood, healthy eating and physical activity (PA)." The study used EMA via cell phone to collect six measurements a day for six days. Results suggest a clear association only between positive mood and PA, and add evidence for this phenomenon to a mixed body of research. This is one of the first studies to examine eating and PA behaviors simultaneously using EMA.
Karen Kersting Gives TedxRVA Talk
Counseling Psychology Doctoral Candidate Karen Kersting, MA, MS, gave a talk on her dissertation research at the TedxRVA Women conference held Dec. 5 in Richmond, VA. Her dissertation, The Ticking of the "Biological Clock": Worry About Future Fertility Among Nulliparous Women, examined the thoughts and feelings of women who have never been pregnant, but are still considering having a biological child. Karen teaches an undergraduate Psychology of Women course at VCU, has research and practice interests in women's health and behavioral medicine, and will move on to internship in the 2014-2015 school year.
Clark-Hill Institute Partners with Richmond Public Schools for Bullying Prevention Event
Working together to prevent bullying behavior was the message delivered by students and staff who took part in the Anti-Bullying Parent Kick-Off event at Thompson Middle School on the evening of November 7th, 2013. The VCU Clark-Hill Institute for Positive Youth Development and Richmond Public Schools have a long-standing partnership and one of its most recent efforts focuses on a nationwide issue receiving much public attention – bullying prevention. . . Thompson Middle School is in the second year of implementing the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program as part of a federal grant awarded to the VCU Clark-Hill Institute for Positive Youth Development funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Olweus Bullying Prevention Program builds on positive relations between students and students and their teachers at Thompson Middle School to promote a positive school climate.
Jasmine Abrams Receives F31 Research Grant
Jasmine Abrams, a PhD student in the Health Psychology Program, recently received an F31 research grant from the National Institute of Health for a project entitled, "Psychosociocultural Determinants of Cardiovascular Disease Risk among Black Women." The study will address important gaps in the literature by using innovative methods (i.e., objective measures of health via heart rate and biometric data) to assess the impact of internalization of the culturally salient Strong Black Woman (SBW) Schema and emotion regulation on CVD risk. Results will inform future research and ultimately the development of culturally specific prevention strategies to decrease CVD risk in Black women. Broadly, Jasmine is interested in global health prevention research with an emphasis on chronic illnesses.
CPSD and Puller Clinic Celebrate Five Years of Collaboration
Excerpt: "Since 2008, VCU Clinical and Counseling Psychology doctoral students at the Center for Psychological Services and Development (CPSD) have partnered with the Puller Clinic’s law students to serve veterans by expediting the process through which their eligibility for benefits is determined. The Puller Clinic provides free services to military veterans who are petitioning to increase their benefits, or are submitting benefits applications for the first time. They often refer veterans to CPSD, where psychologists-in-training provide assessment and counseling services."
Haroon Popal Wins NIH Scholarship
An undergraduate student in Dr. Joe Porter's lab, Haroon Popal, received a scholarship for up to $20,000 for educational and living expenses for the 2013-2014 academic year from the National Institutes of Health.
Dr. Victoria Shivy Wins Project Award for Service Learning Course
Students in PSYC 317 worked with Central Virginia Waste Management Services, the City of Richmond, James River Park System, and Friends of James River Park to develop and implement survey instruments to assist with understanding attitudes towards recycling. It is hoped that the outcomes of the survey will provide important information to help increase recycling participation.
Humility Research Featured in APS Observer Article
A recent article provides an overview of research on humility conducted by faculty and graduate students in our department! You'll notice some familiar names like student alumni Donnie Davis, Josh Hook, Daryl Van Tongeren, Jeff Jennings, Aubrey Gartner, and faculty Ev Worthington and Shawn Utsey.
Excerpt: "We have defined humility using two main characteristics. On the intrapersonal level, humility involves an accurate view of the self. On the interpersonal level, humility involves a stance that is other-oriented rather than self-focused. . . One main benefit of humility is that it appears to strengthen social bonds, especially in important relationships that may experience conflict, or where differences might threaten the security of the relationship, according to our research."
Dr. Tom Eissenberg and Colleagues Awarded 18.1 Million Dollar Grant to Study Novel Tobacco Products
Excerpt: "Virginia Commonwealth University has received an $18.1 million federal grant – VCU's third largest to date – to study so-called modified risk tobacco products and other novel tobacco products, such as electronic cigarettes, and to develop an evaluation tool to help inform United States tobacco regulatory policy. VCU is among 14 institutions across the country selected to participate in a regulatory science research program that will provide vital scientific evidence to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the National Institutes of Health. Researchers in the VCU Department of Psychology's Center for the Study of Tobacco Products in the College of Humanities and Sciences will study methods for evaluating modified risk tobacco products, or MRTPs, as one of 14 Tobacco Centers of Regulatory Science, a new program launched by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the National Institutes of Health. Thomas Eissenberg, Ph.D., professor of psychology and director of VCU’s Clinical Behavioral Pharmacology Laboratory, and Robert Balster, Ph.D., professor of pharmacology and toxicology in the VCU School of Medicine, are the co-principal investigators on the grant. ..."
"'While the focus of the Center for the Study of Tobacco Products is on novel tobacco products generally, this grant will also allow us to provide a wealth of information regarding electronic cigarettes and is designed to have the flexibility and capacity to begin new research to address issues raised in today’s rapidly evolving tobacco marketplace,' Eissenberg said."
Dr. Joe Porter and Student, Brian Joseph Featured in Undergraduate Research Video
This video spotlights four faculty/student research partnerships and discusses some of the benefits of participating in research and what students need to know to ensure a successful experience.
Dr. Paul Perrin Led Students to Spain to Study Health Disparities
Excerpt: Psychology professor Paul Perrin led a group of Virginia Commonwealth University students to Spain this summer to research how cultural differences within developing nations affect the way people provide and receive health care. 'The project (taught) students how to do research on racial and ethnic disparities in health and develop research for populations that are often marginalized within the health care system,' Perrin said."
Dr. Michael Southam-Gerow Interviewed about Children's Back-to-School Anxiety
Excerpt: "Children, like adults, tend to do best in situations with good levels of controllability and predictability. For the most part, we all like homeostasis. Times of transition tend to decrease controllability and predictability – hence, one reason to get uptight. Also, for some kids, going back to school can mean coping with situations that are challenging for them. For example, some kids may struggle academically or socially. Or, some kids struggle with maintaining focus for long periods of time, as schools frequently require. So, there are a number of reasons why kids may be uptight about going back to school."
Jasmine Abrams Receives APA Award
Jasmine Abrams, a PhD student in the Health Psychology Program, is the 2013 recipient of the Psychology of Black Graduate Student Women Award for her manuscript entitled "Demystification of the “Strong Black Woman.” She was honored during the Division 35: Section 1 awards ceremony at the 2013 American Psychological Association (APA) convention in Hawaii.
Dr. Ev Worthington Publishes Book on Self-Forgiveness
Excerpt: "In "Moving Forward," I look at the physical, mental, relational and spiritual aspects of self-condemnation and its cure in self-forgiveness in a whole section of four chapters that I called, “Self-Forgiveness 101: A Quick Immersion Course.” Self-forgiveness differs from forgiveness of others because self-forgiveness is a response to our own self-condemnation due to harming someone else or not living up to our own standards or expectations. While the stresses produced by regret, remorse and self-blame are slightly different physically and significantly different psychologically than the stresses produced by anger, bitterness, resentment, hostility, hatred and anxiety that are experienced when we are harmed by or offended by others, they operate basically the same in terms of elevating our stress response. Self-forgiveness calms that stress and reduces the physical, mental, relational and spiritual fallout."
Dr. Josh Langberg Receives Institute of Education Sciences Research Grant
Excerpt: "The four-year grant will be used to compare two different types of school-based interventions for improving the academic performance of middle school-age students with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) . . . The first intervention, the Homework, Organization and Planning Skills (HOPS) intervention developed by Langberg, teaches students how to organize their materials, plan ahead and manage time effectively. The second intervention, homework support, helps students stay on task and focused, and to complete homework more efficiently. Students in both groups will receive the same amount of intervention in terms of number of sessions and time. The grant funding will allow Langberg and co-investigator Albert D. Farrell, Ph.D., professor of psychology at VCU, to hire school counselors to implement both intervention conditions."
Dr. Micah McCreary leads Service Learning Course in Haiti
Dr. Micah McCreary, faculty in the Counseling Psychology Program, led a group of students to Haiti for a service learning course.
Excerpt: "Part of that teaching included helping children learn English and social studies at Grace International’s Lamartiene School in Port Au Prince during the group’s first week in the country. The second week they volunteered at the Grace Village Home for Girls and Boys in Carrefour. Finally, they assisted with the construction of Lambi Village, a small village being built in Gressier."
Dr. Wendy Kliewer Receives VCU Research Grant
Excerpt: "Their study will examine the impact of stress on the physical body for mothers of teenagers in underserved communities in the Richmond area and its surrounding communities. Also, the study will examine relationships between stress and resiliency on heart health in adolescents and mothers living in underserved communities."