Laura Travers is a first-year Ph.D. student in clinical psychology. She has a Master’s degree in health psychology from University of the Sciences in Philadelphia. She was interviewed by research assistant Emily Vendetta.
@RowanCHASELab: Let’s start off with the basics! Tell us about how you were introduced to the field of health psychology.
LT: It was an interesting turn of events. I didn’t actually know that health psychology existed as a field until my junior year of undergrad, when we had a guest speaker in one of our psychology courses. She was a health psychologist who helped initiate a health coaching program with one of the local hospitals. I participated in the program, and from then on I was hooked.
@RowanCHASELab: Could you describe your previous research experience and what you think helps to make a good researcher?
LT: I’m interested in so many topics, which can be both a good thing and a bad thing at times. My main projects during my Masters program were looking at the impact of the collaborative working relationship between a provider and pharmacist on patients receiving medication assisted treatment (MAT), examining the policy associated with implementing the Sugar Sweetened Beverage Tax in Philadelphia, and conducting a systematic review of the literature on comorbid chronic pain and PTSD. I think what helps make a good researcher is acceptance of failure. Failing to support a hypothesis can still be a success within research, and it is always a learning experience.
@RowanCHASELab: What are your current research interests, and how have they changed from your undergraduate career to now?
LT: It’s tough to narrow it down, but my main focus now is on chronic pain and PTSD. My interests changed dramatically from my undergraduate career until now. During my junior year of undergrad, I worked in a neurophysiology lab recording crayfish action potentials. My senior year, I examined the effect of increased levels of caffeine on anxiety and learning in rats. Through these experiences, I discovered animal research models are just not for me. Luckily, it was also during my senior year that I became a health coach, and this experience is what really solidified my desire to work in health psychology.
@RowanCHASELab: What initially made you want to work with the CHASE lab and have Dr. Arigo as your mentor?
LT: I was interested in working with the CHASE team to learn more about social comparisons, and there is a wide array of research opportunities due to the multiple ongoing studies in the lab. I specifically wanted to have Dr. Arigo as my mentor because she is able to find opportunities for me to pursue my specific interests and to have much broader learning experiences.
@RowanCHASELab: What are some goals you have for yourself while you’re pursuing your clinical psychology Ph.D.?
LT: I wanted to o learn how to effectively analyze research data and how to convey our findings to both the academic field and the general public.
@RowanCHASELab: What do you want to do with your Ph.D. when you finish graduate school?
LT: I’m hoping to continue conducting academic research, but I also want to work within a hospital setting practicing and promoting integrated care. I’d like to eventually achieve a balance between research and practice, where I will have the opportunity to apply the research I’m doing within the field, while also relaying its success, or failure, to the academic community.