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Funding and Awards

Funded Research Projects (updates coming early Fall 2019)

Jessica L. Burris, PhD

Smoking Cessation AFter Cancer Diagnosis
A new cancer diagnosis has the ability to function as a "teachable moment" (i.e., a health event that effectively prompts one to adopt healthier behaviors), but there are a host of factors at play, some of which may limit an individual's ability to sustain health behavior change (e.g., depression, fatalism, pain). With an intensive longitudinal design, this K-award involves an in-depth study of the naturalistic course of changes in tobacco use after a tobacco-related cancer diagnosis as well as the cognitive and affective variables that underlie these changes.

Mark Fillmore, Ph.D.

Neurocognitive Consequences of Adolescent Drug Use
The project is designed to identify specific inhibitory-based, neurocognitive deficits associated with a history of adolescent drug use and to examine how this association is mediated by two established adolescent risk factors for substance abuse, ADHD and conduct disorder (CD).

Mechanisms Of Alcohol Tolerance And Priming In Humans
The project is based on the hypothesis that abuse potential of alcohol is determined by its reward-enhancing effects and its disruptive effects on control mechanisms.  Studies examine the effects of controlled doses of alcohol on neurocognitive performance tasks that measure inhibitory and activational aspects of control.  The measures will be studied in relation to alcohol-induced priming of self-administration and in the development of learned alcohol tolerance.

Elizabeth Lorch, Ph.D.

The Logic of the Scientific Method in the Fourth Grade
The practical goal of the project is to develop an effective, general intervention for the teaching of the core logic of the scientific method (i e., the "control of variables strategy"). The theoretical goals are to improve our understanding of the contributions to science learning of: (1) direct instruction vs. discovery learning, and (2) constraints on the learning situation.

Mark Prendergast, Ph.D.

Cholinesterase Inhibitors, Axonal Transport and Memory
The objective of this project is to identify specific relationships between cellular and biochemical manifestations of repeated, subthreshold exposures to OPs and cognitive function in an experimental animal model.

Ethanol Withdrawal and HIV-1 Neurotoxicity
This project looks at the effects of chronic ethanol exposure and withdrawal on neurotoxicity associated with Tat proteins (a viral transcription factor thought to contribute to the development of HIV-associated dementia. 

Suzanne Segerstrom, Ph.D.
Repetitive Thought, Stress and Immunity in Older Adults
The effects of stressors on the immune system are particularly relevant for older adults: Potent stressors such as bereavement become more common with age, immune reactions to stress grow larger with age, and vulnerability to immunological dysregulation and immunologically mediated disease increases with age. Previous studies have linked stressors in old age with increased distress and physiological dysregulation, including depression, high levels of cortisol, poor responses to vaccination, and high levels of the proinflammatory cytokine IL-6. The research will address limitations of the extant literature by focusing on the prospective effects of stressors among older adults and by including individual differences in repetitive thought (RT), that is, the cognitive interpretation and processing of stressful events.