Current Research Projects

Project HEART (Health and Resilience in Teens) | In collaboration with Dr. Jo Lynne Robins and her team from the School of Nursing, Project HEART involves understanding connections between cumulative risk -- the piling up of sociodemographic and psychosocial risk factors -- and allostatic load – an indication of wear and tear on the body caused by the accumulation of stress over time. Youth and their biological mothers are interviewed separately in their home and both complete a health assessment. 

Motives Study | Many students engage in risky behavior once they arrive at college. This study examines motivations for alcohol and other drug use among students aged 18-25. 

Project CARE | Based in Durban, South Africa, Project CARE (Community Assessment of Risk and Resilience) is a collaborative study between VCU and the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN), one of VCU's International Partnership Universities. Project CARE is a study of risk and resilience in South African youth. Youth and their maternal caregivers (N = 324) completed in-home assessments and a subset of youth also completed a neurocognitive battery, stress interview, and physiological assessments; currently we are coding and analyzing data from our baseline data assessment. 

Writing for Health: An Intervention with Middle School Youth | Writing for Health was an intervention for middle school students that involved expressive writing. Funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), this study was conducted over a 3-year period in Philadelphia, PA, and Chesterfield County, VA with faculty from Temple University and Virginia Commonwealth University.  

Project COPE | Project COPE was a 4-year longitudinal study funded by the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA). The goals of Project COPE were to understand how exposure to community and peer violence, poverty, and similar stressors are associated with physiological responses to stress and to adjustment (drug use, aggression, academic performance, anxiety and depression).  

Myanmar Youth Health Study |  The Myanmar Youth Health Study is a study of risk and protective factors for substance use among high school students living in Myitkyina, Kachin State, Myanmar.  Up to 3,000 high school students attending 9th and 10th grades in 10 schools are completing surveys covering risk and protective factors for substance use across individual, family, peer, school, and neighborhood domains as well as information on frequency of substance use. Information from this project will be used to inform school- and family-based prevention and intervention efforts in Myanmar.