@RowanCHASELab’s First Virtual Conference


On May 14th, UConn’s Center for mHealth and Social Media hosted a virtual version of it’s annual conference. This year’s theme was “Building an Evidence Base for Commercially Available Technology,” a topic that our group has some experience with (see here for an example). Sessions took place on the Center’s site and on Zoom, and several presenters incorporated interactive elements using Slido (polls, Q&A). Instead of poster sessions – and instead of making traditionally formatted posters available electronically – presenters were asked to create 1-minute video summaries of their studies.

Our group had three “posters” at the conference this year. Check out what our presenters had to say about the experience of conceptualizing and creating a short video – and watch their videos at the links below:

  • Kristen: Overall, I really enjoyed pushing myself to be creative in this process. I was excited to see that the video posters were intended to have language more suited for a lay audience. This language, coupled with the visually-driven format could be a great opportunity for dissemination to a wider audience and the general public. Looking back on my process creating the video poster, my goal was to take advantage of the expanded format options. I had seen some YouTube videos titled “Draw My Life” in which individuals took out a white board and markers and drew scenes illustrating key moments in their life. I really enjoyed the simplicity of this video format and wondered if anyone had ever created a “Draw My Research” video before. Thinking that it might be worth a try, I drew some preliminary sketches that were paired with a script and asked for feedback from my labmates. Once I knew that the sketches made sense with the accompanying lines of script, I practiced drawing the designs on a whiteboard while recording video. This allowed me to ensure that the designs could be drawn sufficiently and sped up to fit into the 1-minute timeframe. Next, I had to create a makeshift tripod using items in my house (asI don’t have video recording equipment) and record the video. Lastly, I downloaded the video so that I could fast-forward and trim, overlay audio, and use additional software to add captions. Though this was not my first experience with video-editing software, there was much I had to learn along the way and I enjoyed doing it. Arigo, D., Pasko, K.P., Brown, M.M., Vendetta, E., Travers, L., Gupta, A.A., Ainsworth, M.C., Symons Downs, D., & Smyth, J.M. (2020, May). Daily Social Influences on Physical Activity among Midlife Women with CVD Risk: An Ecological Momentary Assessment Study. Poster presented at the 2020 annual meeting of the UConn Center for mHealth and Social Media (virtual). 

In addition to Megan, Kristen, and Cole, Laura and Dr. Dani Arigo also attended the conference. Here are some of our reflections on the experience as a whole:

  • Laura: Attending a conference virtually was definitely interesting. I enjoyed being able to interact with polls and questions throughout the presentations, and having the ability to pose questions during the Q&As at the end. I had been worried it was going to sound robotic during the Q&A, especially if questions were just answered from a screen, so the fact that they included a designated speaker/host was wonderful! The biggest difficulty I had was sitting for such a long period of time. I had to make sure I got up and walked around between presenters, either around the house or a quick break outside (I didn’t realize how much I appreciated walking to different rooms during an in-person conference until now!) Overall it was a great experience and I believe they did a fantastic job!
  • Dani: This conference was a model for what all virtual professional meetings should be – extremely well-run by people who understand technology and how to use it to engage attendees remotely. I loved the interactions using Slido and the integration of Zoom interactive sessions when appropriate. I also attended all three post-conference workshops (Research Designs for Testing Commercially Available Technology, Introduction to Social Network Analysis, and How To Write an Effective Seed Grant) and benefitted from each one in a different way. Although there are advantages to face-to-face meetings that virtual formats can’t yet replicate, it’s friendly to the wallet AND the environment to avoid flying and driving to meet in person. I would definitely attend a virtual conference again, if it were organized like this. 
  • Cole: I enjoyed the virtual conference format. Although it was less interactive than a traditional in-person conference, I found the Slido Q&A and polling functions very useful. It also helped to have a Slack chat open with other CHASE lab members, so we could stay connected during the presentations. The ability to screenshot slides definitely beats hurried notetaking, too!
  • Megan: A virtual conference was new for me (as I’m sure it was for many people attending), so I wasn’t sure what to expect. While I think having been able to interact with people and presenters in person would have allowed for more opportunities to ask questions, I did enjoy this experience! I liked that I was able to tune in for so many great talks, which I know probably would have been hard to do in person. Even though the poster videos were brief, I thought it was neat seeing how other presenters used this opportunity to disseminate their research in creative ways!   
  • Kristen: I was surprised to enjoy the virtual conference as much as I did! Of course there were a few times that technology did not want to cooperate, and I did not get to experience one of my favorite parts of research conferences (speaking to others who are interested in similar research topics and generating new ideas), though the poll feature and general interactive nature of the conference still allowed for an exciting dialogue. Specifically, I enjoyed learning more recent evidence on the active ingredients in behavior change within apps. 

Did you attend UConn or another virtual conference this year? Let us know your thoughts!

Reflections on #SBM2019


We’re back from a busy and invigorating week at the Society of Behavioral Medicine (SBM) 2019 annual meeting in Washington, D.C.! Read on for our lab members’ reflections on their experience.

Megan M. Brown, B.S., CHASE Lab Research Coordinator (First-Time Attendee)
Brown SBM2019Attending the 2019 SBM conference was an inspiring and motivating experience. Before SBM I had never attended a large, four-day long professional conference. The thought of this was intimidating, and despite our preparations on campus, I was unsure of what to expect. However, as soon as I walked into the first poster session I felt welcomed and surrounded by individuals who appreciate research as much as I do. I enjoyed knowing there was a mix of peers attending SBM, from students to early-, mid-, and senior career health professionals. I knew I had so much to learn from peers at all different levels. As the days went on, I experienced many firsts: attending symposia, keynotes, breakfast roundtables, and paper sessions, and presenting two posters.

After observing how experts in the field communicated their research and findings, it made me think of ways to improve how I convey my research, and the types of questions I want to develop. Being a research coordinator with clinical psychology Ph.D. aspirations, I had a broad idea of the research I wanted to pursue in a clinical psychology program. But after being exposed to the vast amounts of research at SBM, I found myself beginning to mold my general interests into specific questions. With that being said, there is something truly motivating about watching other people get passionate about their research, and this experience made me eager to go back home and further mine. An observation I noticed during the conference was the excitement I felt getting to pick talks that sparked my interest, and getting to sit in rooms filled with people who have similar passions as I do (e.g., mental and physical health).

SBM not only exposed me to novel and innovative research, but it also allowed me the opportunity to network and introduce myself to experts in the field of behavioral medicine. From the personal one-on-one conversations I had at poster sessions, to the information I learned during research talks, SBM 2019 was an overwhelmingly positive experience, and I look forward to attending next year’s conference.

Kristen Pasko, B.S., First-Year Clinical Psychology Ph.D. Student (Second-Time Attendee)
The 40th Annual Society of Behavioral Medicine Conference was a powerful illustration of the need to increase the scope of influence in addressing healthcare barriers. The evolution of our communication and behavior through social media is considerable. In the opening keynote, Duke University Researcher Susannah Fox spoke about Health and Technology Megatrends: How You Can Anticipate the Future. Through various health psychology research findings, she demonstrated the power of a bottom-up approach with social resources in a healthcare system that prioritizes top-down policy and treatment. This allows patients and their families/friends to be the experts of their own bodies and treatment. It promoted more attention on training and equipping our caregivers who are often the first responders in our healthcare. In addition, this does not have to stop at in-person social interaction. Individuals are increasingly turning to social media to get the latest health information and advice. We need to better capitalize on these built-in resources, especially when research dissemination to the public can be as simple as a tweet.

Pasko SBM2019However, it is important to note that we are not all as lucky to have these caregivers, or an environment conducive to accurate health information and resources. This was demonstrated in a keynote, Heroes Tackling the Social Determinants of Health, presented by Mindi Knebel (Kaizen Health) and Khali Sweeney (Detroit Boxing Gym Youth Program). Transportation access alone is associated with medical appointment adherence and likelihood of more effective treatment. Further, growing up in a “bad neighborhood” without sufficient social support and resources can put a child at extreme economic, educational and medical disadvantage. For many who enter the behavioral medicine field without this background, it could be easy to forget or take for granted how these environments and resources affect our health. We were reminded through this presentation that as healthcare professionals, we need to be culturally and socioeconomically sensitive to health disparities. Anything can be a barrier within healthcare, especially social influence and resources.

By attending SBM, I increased my general knowledge about healthcare and further specified my own research questions was related to social influences. We rarely experience health in a vacuum. Therefore, as we move forward in our navigation and advancement in behavioral medicine, we must not forget social influence.

Dr. Dani Arigo, Lab Director (Multi-Time Attendee)
Arigo SBM2019.2I’ve attended SBM annual meetings nearly every year for more than 10 years – ever since my Ph.D. mentor introduced me to the Society in 2007. Even after all this time, I still experienced some firsts at #SBM2019. In my time with SBM, this organization has increased its focus on science communication (#scicomm; i.e., getting our science and message to the public). I have embraced this notion both within and outside of SBM, running Twitter and LinkedIn accounts for my professional work (@DrDaniArigo, @RowanCHASELab) and for SBM entities such as the Behavioral Informatics and Technology Special Interest Group (@SBMDigitalHlth, BIT SIG LinkedIn Group). This year, I served as a speaker for two science communication sessions* and contributed to dissemination of SBM content via Twitter throughout the week.

“First” #1 – Leadership Activities
As I’ve become more involved in SBM, I’ve started to take on leadership responsibilities. Just before last year’s annual meeting, I was elected co-chair of the SBM Behavioral Informatics and Technology SIG; I assumed that role after the meeting and began a very full year of administration for the SIG. This was my first year planning for the annual meeting as a SIG leader, which came with a number of organizational tasks – helping to decide which sessions to sponsor, which abstracts to select for awards, coordinating our Tech Madness data blitz preview, and facilitating our business meeting. I also helped to initiate our new leaders. I’ve now started my one-year term as SIG chair, and I serve in collaboration with our new co-chair and student co-chair. It will be a busy and exciting year for the SIG.

“First” #2 – K23 Check-In and Disclosures
Arigo SBM2019.1Technically this wasn’t my *first* check-in, as my NHLBI K23 award started on 3/1/2018. But it was the first year that I scheduled specific times to meet with mentors who are not at my institution, to give them updates on my progress and plan for Year 2. But it was the first time that I got to disclose my K23 for its support of my time, and for its funding to continue the lines of research I presented in symposia and poster sessions (see below). It’s an honor to be able to describe our CHASE work as NIH-funded.

Scholarly Presentations
Arigo SBM2019.3In addition to co-leading two BIT SIG meetings, I also gave research talks in two symposia and led a poster presentation (expertly taken over by Kristen when I had to leave for a meet-and-greet session). All three of these submissions were based on preliminary data for our now-funded NHLBI women’s health study. Findings demonstrated that: 1) accelerometer cut points for moderate-to-vigorous physical activity need to be carefully considered and selected when applied to activity data from midlife women with elevated cardiovascular risk (see open access poster here), 2) among these women, increases in certain social experiences (such as the quality of social interactions and social comparisons) are associated with changes in food intake recording and objectively assessed physical activity. To Kristen’s point above, we still have much to learn about how the social environment influences health behavior, and how we can harness these influences in tailored interventions.

Stay tuned for more updates on our work toward these goals!

*I was supposed to give only one of these talks; a speaker for a session I chaired didn’t make it to the conference, and I subbed for her as best I could.

Rowan’s Clinical Health And Social Experiences (CHASE) Lab at #SBM2019



SBM2019Our newest research findings will be on display at #SBM2019, and we’re involved in additional sessions focused on science communication and digital health. Come check it out and talk with us!

Preconference Workshop: Learning How to Effectively Communicate Your Science
Location: Monroe
Date: Wednesday March 6, 2019
Time: 2:30 PM to 5:00 PM
Chairs: Dr. Dani Arigo and Dr. Jennifer Funderburk

Poster: The Effect of #Fitspiration Messaging on College Students’ Fitness Center Use: An Experimental Pilot Study
Poster Number: A200
Time: 6:30 PM to 7:30 PM
Presenters: Megan Brown and Dr. Dani Arigo

Poster: Examining Differences between Accelerometer Cut Point Methods among Midlife Women with Cardiovascular Risk Markers: A Two-Study Approach
Poster Number: A308
Time: 6:30 PM to 7:30 PM
Presenters: Kristen Pasko and Dr. Dani Arigo

Breakfast Roundtable: Behavioral Informatics and Technology (BIT) SIG Presents ‘Tech Madness’ (Data Blitz)
Location: Jefferson East
Date: Thursday March 7, 2019
Time: 7:00 AM to 7:50 AM
Chairs: Dr. Dani Arigo and Dr. Lisa Cadmus-Bertram

Symposium: Measuring Proximal Factors Associated with Change in Weight-related Behaviors Using Advanced Technology
Location: Columbia 8
Date: Thursday March 7, 2019
Time: 8:00 AM to 9:15 AM
Presenters: Dr. Dani Arigo, Dr. Kat Ross, and Becca Crochiere (Discussant: Dr. Graham Thomas) – Dr. Arigo presenting “Social Influences on Midlife Women’s Food Intake Recording in Daily Life: A Pilot Ecological Momentary Assessment Study”

Poster: Do Gender, Anxiety, or Sleep Quality Predict Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Outcomes?
Poster Number: B160
Time: 6:30 PM to 7:30 PM
Presenter: Megan Brown

Breakfast Roundtable: Women’s Health SIG (Science Communication)
Location: Columbia 4
Time: 7:00 AM to 7:50 AM
Presenters: Dr. Dani Arigo and Dr. Becca Krukowski

Midday Meeting: Behavioral Informatics and Technology (BIT) SIG Business and Networking Meeting
Location: Columbia 10
Time: 11:00 AM to 12:00 PM
Chairs: Dr. Dani Arigo and Dr. Lisa Cadmus-Bertram

Poster: Does Social Support Buffer against the Influence of Depressive Symptoms on Motivation for Illness Management in Prediabetes?
Poster Number: C170
Time: 6:30 PM to 7:30 PM
Presenter: Kristen Pasko

Symposium: Social Processes in Daily Life: What Do They Mean for Women’s Weight Control Behaviors?
Location: Georgetown East
Time: 8:00 AM to 9:15 AM
Presenters: Dr. Dani Arigo, Dr. Tyler Mason, and Rachel MacIntyre (Discussant: Dr. Genevieve Dunton) – Dr. Arigo presenting “Daily Social Experiences and Physical Activity Among Midlife Women with CVD Risk: A Pilot Ecological Momentary Assessment Study”

The University of Scranton’s 2018 Celebration of Student Scholars (Student Research Day)


The University of Scranton’s annual Celebration of Student Scholars (aka Scholar Day) is a three-hour poster session featuring research by University students and faculty. This year, we presented two posters: a systematic review of social comparison features in mobile apps that promote physical activity (Arigo, Pasko, Plantier, and Montalbano), and an empirical study of #fitspiration posters and followers’ perceptions (DiBisceglie, DiLorenzo, Pasko, and Arigo). Here, our student presenters reflect on their experience of the 2018 event.

Madison Montalbano, junior, on her first poster experience

scholarday2018.4Student Scholar Day was a wonderful learning experience for me. I’ve never presented a poster before and I was grateful for the opportunity. Explaining the research and discussing it with professors and fellow students was a great way to prepare for future conferences I may attend. The I enjoyed the supportive nature of the environment. The students presenting posters were friendly and seemed excited both to talk about their research and hear about what I was presenting. Overall, I was happy to present the poster and practice conveying the research in an engaging way.

Elle DiLorenzo, sophomore, on her first poster experience

Student Scholar Day was a unique and wonderful learning experience for me.  I have never presented a poster before scholar day, and I am grateful I got to have the experience early in my undergraduate career.  I was able to present findings in a scholarly way to a variety of people who all had different of understandings of psychology and #fitspiration.  I learned to adjust how I described the study based on who I spoke to (and their familiarity with psychology research/fitspiration), and to try to relate what was being said and asked back to the results and implications of the research. Everyone was supportive, so that allowed me to feel comfortable and to get a lot out of the experience. I am happy I was able to present at Scholar Day before going to a conference, because it gave me a preview of what a conference could be like.  Overall I think the event allowed me to become more comfortable with presenting research and believing that I know what I am talking about, even if the poster isn’t about my own independent project. Scholar Day is a wonderful way to engage students and professors in intellectually stimulating conversations and presentations about the research taking place at Scranton.

scholarday2018.3Nicole Plantier, graduating senior, on her second Celebration of Student Scholars event

Although I presented at a regional professional conference earlier this year, this was my first time presenting at Scholar Day, and it was a great experience. I am grateful for the opportunity to present my research findings to members of the University community. Students and faculty showed interest in my research posters (one with (UofSHealthPsych and one with another lab), and answering questions and interacting with individuals from other fields was enjoyable. Also, seeing the work my fellow classmates have been doing was great. I’m often so consumed with my psychology research, I forget that departments across the University are actively engaged in research as well. Overall, the experience of assisting with poster-making and presenting was rewarding.

Sabrina DiBisceglie, graduating senior, on her second Celebration of Student Scholars event

scholarday2018.2This Student Scholar Day was a different experience than the past Scholar Day that I attended (2017). Lat year, I assisted a senior student with creating and presenting a poster on a secondary analysis project. This year, I presented my independent research, which was supported by a Presidential Summer Fellowship in 2017. I was proud to present the research that I have been working on for a year and was glad to see people interested in my research. I also found it fulfilling to take a leadership role in assisting other lab members with their first time presenting a poster. This event is a great tool to prepare students for future professional poster sessions. This experience allowed me to become more comfortable with presenting my research and I feel well prepared to present at a professional conference later this month.

Read and see more about the 2018 event here. For our reflection on last year’s event, see here.






UofSHealth Psych on the Road: Trainee Reflections on the Society of Behavioral Medicine Annual Meeting (New Orleans, April 2018)


Post by Kristen Pasko, B.S. (research coordinator) and Sabrina DiBisceglie (senior undergraduate student). This was their first opportunity to attend a professional conference. 

SBM 2018 Logo


The 2018 Society of Behavioral Medicine (SBM) conference was a learning opportunity distinct from any of my prior professional development experiences. Specifically, I was able to disseminate my original findings, discover cutting-edge research in health psychology, connect with pioneers in the field of similar interest, and experience growth as a budding clinical psychologist.

As someone who is about to enter graduate school, SBM provided me KP SBM 2018 2with an opportunity to grow as an independent researcher. This experience was a chance to build my network of potential collaborators, train my eye to qualities of impactful posters and presentations, and gain a deeper understanding of topics of particular interest. One observation was how specific the research projects were, which got me thinking about how generalizable these findings are, beyond the particular context of each study. From these lines of consideration, I was able to make connections across findings and develop new research questions.

I also realized that I am now a member of this professional organization, in the same learning environment among fellow beginners, intermediate and advanced individuals alike. The continued educational aspect of this field excited me. Likewise, experiencing many collaborative efforts in action was helpful, as members of SBM include healthcare professionals from a variety of disciplines besides psychology. These differences between fields provoked interactive conversation within almost every presentation to work across disciplines and perspectives for the common goal of creating research for the best healthcare outcomes.

Social Divides and Health Divides – Keynote: Sandro Galea
In a seamless narrative that led with data, this keynote addressed the connection between social and health disparities across the United States. The speaker demonstrated the extent to which life expectancy can range at the levels of country, state, and even county. For example, an individual could receive the same treatment in two different countries for a chronic illness and still have a large gap in life expectancy depending on where they reside. Furthermore, when we compare healthcare costs by country, the United States prioritizes treatment over prevention, as opposed to most other countries. Overall, the speaker acknowledged that health behaviors don’t exist in a vacuum and proposed getting social and economic forces into the healthcare conversation.

Acceptance-Based Approaches to Behavior Changes; Application to Weight Control and Physical Activity Interventions – Symposium: Jocelyn Remmert, Leah Schumacher, Courtney Stevens, Meghan Butryn
This symposium centered around the affective barriers before, during, and after engaging in physical activity. It was suggested that acceptance-based therapy (ACT) could mitigate barriers that stem from the associated uncomfortable feelings (fatigue, sweat) as many aspects of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity are not subject to change. Taken together, these findings are intuitive as ACT and psychological flexibility go hand-in-hand and are associated with the greatest long-term outcomes for physical activity. Individuals could benefit from being flexible with guidelines for physical activity for a more tailored approach to their ability and goals.     


SD SBM 2018SBM was a stimulating experience that bolstered my interest in pursuing a career in the behavioral medicine field. Sandro Galea’s opening keynote provided an eye opening presentation on social divides and health divides. His enthusiasm and fascinating findings set the tone for the following days of the conference. As this was my first professional conference, this was a great learning experiences as to how conferences work as well as an experience to be exposed to thought provoking research.

Not only did I gain knowledge on interesting topics and research, I also gained professional knowledge in terms of sharing and presenting research. Attending poster sessions as well as paper sessions allowed me to observe different ways people shared knowledge. It was exciting as a beginner to be introduced to new information alongside experts in this field. My favorite portion of the conference was the poster sessions. These sessions allowed close and personalized interaction with investigators. I was amazed by the breadth of topics that were covered throughout these sessions.

This experience has allowed me to not only gain knowledge on topics new to me, but it has also allowed me to reflect on my individual research and to reevaluate as well as add components to support and further my research. I look forward to continuing my membership with SBM and to continue to use this society to further my research interests.


Research News, April 2018



It’s an exciting time for @UofSHealthPsych! We have several announcements to share, all related to our clinical health psychology research:

1) If you follow us, then you know that we have multiple active lines of research related to promoting healthy behavior. Our goals are to understand the psychological and social experiences that influence health behaviors in the natural environment, and use this information to improve health behavior interventions. We have multiple papers coming out in 2018 that pursue these goals: two related to Type 2 Diabetes outcomes, one on the role of calorie labeling of restaurant-type foods in grocery stores, one on recommendations for using social media in health research, and several on the role of social comparisons in behavioral weight loss treatment. Each of these topics will get some air time on this site in the coming months, so stay tuned!

2) In March 2018, our research on determinants and interventions to promote midlife women’s physical activity received a prestigious grant from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (National Institutes of Health). This funding will allow us to hire team members, recruit participants, work with state-of-the-art assessment technology, and develop a digital health tool tailored to the needs of midlife women. We’re off to a great start with related projects, and the whole team has been involved in activities such as coding literature and preparing abstracts for conferences. Read more about the grant here.

3) We’ll be at the Society of Behavioral Medicine annual meeting (SBM, April 11-14) and the UConn Center for mHealth and Social Media conference (May 18) sharing our recent and developing findings. At SBM, you can find us at #SBM2018 and:

  • Thursday’s Behavioral Informatics and Technology SIG “Tech Madness” and Middday Business meetings – 7:00am and 10:45am, respectively
  • Thursday’s evening poster session, presenting on relations between social media use and health behaviors (Kristen Pasko) and perceptions of the #fitspiration trend on Instagram (Sabrina DiBisceglie) – 6:15pm
  • Friday’s Women’s Health SIG morning panel on science communication (Dr. Arigo) – 7:00am
  • Friday’s morning paper session on Social Media and Broadcast Messaging for Health (Dr. Arigo) – 10:45am
  • Friday’s afternoon symposium on Understanding and Harnessing Social Influences on Women’s Health Behaviors: Social Perceptions, Stigma, and Social Modeling (Dr. Arigo) – 2:00pm

4) This summer, @UofSHealthPsych is moving to Rowan University in Glassboro, New Jersey. We’re taking our website, Twitter account, and research along for the ride, so please check for updates as we transition to our new home.

Thanks for following our progress and exciting news! We’ll be back with an SBM 2018 review post in two weeks.

The University of Scranton’s 2017 Celebration of Student Scholars (Student Research Day)


By Kristen Pasko (Summer Research Coordinator) and Sabrina DiBisceglie (Presidential Summer Research Fellow).

CHP 2017 Scholar Day Dinner2

Graduating members of the Clinical Health Research Team at the Celebration of Student Scholars (L-R): Katie Notarianni, Kristen Pasko, Dr. Arigo, Marissa DeStefano, and Zuhri Outland.

The University of Scranton held their 17th annual Celebration of Student Scholars on May 11th from 1-4 pm in the lobby of our campus’ main science center. Students from various departments (such as occupational therapy, exercise science, chemistry, biology, neuroscience, computer science, communications, and physical therapy) presented their recent research findings in their respective fields. Student peers, faculty, and the general public listened and asked questions of the student researchers as they viewed posters. The event ended with a dinner in honor of the scholars and their mentors. Student scholars Maria Begliomini and Victor Dec from M.S. program Health Administration spoke of their experience with the Telehealth Intervention Program for Seniors (TIPS).

Preparing for the Celebration of Student Scholars allowed each of us to engage in the research process from beginning to end. Last year, most of us presented summaries of literature reviews, rather than original research. This year, each team of students started with an original research question (way back in the fall of 2016!) and worked toward new and interesting findings. At the celebration, it was rewarding to share these findings and the hard work we put into the research, as well as to see the interest our peers took in our findings.

Sabrina and Marisa Scholar Day 2017

Sabrina and Marissa with their poster.

The poster session at the Celebration of Student Scholars provided a unique experience for members of the Clinical Health Psychology Lab. It shed light on differing perspectives in research between fields, as well as between researchers and the public. After speaking to fellow students, we discovered a large gap in communication and understanding between different fields of research. For example, several guests were unaware of particular domains of psychology, and some members of the lab had to preface their individual work with a background in clinical health psychology. This is especially important to our lab because the field of health psychology emphasizes an interdisciplinary mindset. This understanding can potentially help us in later research and clinical practice as we strive to close the gap between health professions (and between professions broadly).

This experience allowed us to deliver information that is relevant to our audience, which primarily consisted of college students. Our goal was to provide this audience with information about our work that could easily be understood and applied in their everyday lives to promote better health. We learned that presenting major findings with complex statistical analyses alone would not suffice in starting conversation relevant to our audience.

K&K Scholar Day 2017

Research Selfie! Kristen and Katie with their poster.

Lab member Kristen Pasko presented her independent study on relations between use of different types of social media and self-reported health behaviors, including sexual activity, eating behavior, alcohol consumption, and physical activity. She enjoyed beingable to collaborate with her partner, Katie Notarianni, and other lab members – this teamwork made it easier for ideas to expand. She also appreciated the support from ZO Scholar Day 2017the lab throughout the process. Another member, Sabrina DiBisceglie, assisted Marissa DeStefano with her research on the predictive value of different types of motivation for objectively assessed exercise engagement among college women. She valued the experience she gained throughout the process and learned skills from Marissa that will be useful when completing her own independent study. Lab member Zuhri Outland (right) presented two separate sets of analyses: one on relations between college women’s living situations and their reported social comparisons and health behaviors, and a second on perceptions of male and female body types with respect to perceived attractiveness.

During the Celebration dinner, Maria Begliomini and Victor Dec impressed the audience with their personal accounts of experience with research with the TIPS program. They delivered first-hand accounts of working for TIPS, which included showing older adults how to monitor vital signs such as blood pressure, pulse, oxygen levels, and weight, in conjunction with providing checkups to inform them about available services and programs. These components were designed to increase the likelihood that older adults would be proactive in their health behaviors, and decrease medical expenses to improve overall health. This presentation was highly relevant to the work we do in clinical health psychology.

CHP 2017 Scholar Day Dinner1

The whole team at the post-Celebration dinner.

The hosts noted that this was the first time in the event’s history that students, rather than professors, were invited to speak about their research experiences. This change felt appropriate, as the day was about honoring the research accomplishments of students. Specifically, our lab members identified with the speakers’ processes of maturation through research. Their stories demonstrated that the impact of student research goes far beyond the Celebration of Student Scholars. We look forward to presenting our updated research findings at the Society of Behavioral Medicine’s annual conference in the spring of 2018.

Meet @UofSHealthPsych: Interview with Marissa DeStefano


Marissa DeStefano is a senior psychology major at The University of Scranton. She was interviewed by senior Katie Notarianni.

Marissa PicUofSHealthPsych: We’ll start easy. Where are you from?

MD: I’m from Martinsville, NJ. I went to Bridgewater Raritan High School.

UofSHealthPsych: What do you like most about The University of Scranton?

MD: I like the size of the campus. I love having small class sizes and walking around campus seeing friendly faces. I really feel a sense of community on campus. I also love the food! DeNaples food was one of my top reasons for choosing Scranton.

UofSHealthPsych: What activities are you involved in on campus, besides research?

MD: I am a teaching assistant for Dr. Arigo’s health psychology course (PSYC 228). I’m the vice president of APSSC (the Association for Psychological Science Student Caucus), and I’m the vice president of Psi Chi (the Psychology Honors Society). I also really enjoy going to yoga classes on campus and the gym.

UofSHealthPsych: What made you choose to study Psychology and what are you most passionate about in the field? What kind of research are you most interested in?

MD: I chose psychology because I have always been intrigued by the human mind. I wanted to learn more about how our minds work, and how I can help people with mental illness. I’m really passionate about understanding how psychological disorders develop, and what methods of treatment are available to help. I am also interested in the relationship between our mental and physical health and how they affect each other.

UofSHealthPsych: What is your favorite memory working in the Health Psychology Research Lab?

MD: I really enjoyed presenting at student scholar day last year. It was cool to see all our hard work pay off and to see the research that other students are doing. It was a good way to celebrate our accomplishments as a research team.

UofSHealthPsych: What are your plans after graduation?

MD: My plans are still uncertain! However, I plan to attend graduate school in the fall. I applied to doctoral and masters programs in clinical psychology and clinical mental health counseling. I am still waiting to hear back from a couple of schools and then I will make my decision. This summer I plan to work in a clinical setting, possibly in an inpatient or outpatient treatment center but I am still in the process of applying to jobs!

UofSHealthPsych: What advice would you give to underclassmen about being involved in Psychology and/or Research?

MD: If you are interested in gaining research experience don’t hesitate to ask! Think about what research you are interested in and see if your interests align with any of the professors in the department. I encourage you to visit different professors during office hours to chat about your research interests. Don’t give up if the first professor you ask already has a full research team, keep trying and always have a backup plan!