LSU's Office of Research & Economic Development (ORED) awarded two psychology faculty members for their outstanding research, scholarship, and creative activity in the area of Arts, Humanities, Social Sciences & Behavioral Sciences.
Dr. Julie Buckner received $204,799 from the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) Bureau of Health Services Financing (Medicaid)'s Louisiana Public University Partnership Program.
The projects use ecological momentary assessment (EMA) to understand the impact of race-based microaggressions and other types of race-based discrimination on mental health & substance use among Black adults who engage in heavy drinking or use cannabis. The goals of these studies include identifying risk & protective factors to inform prevention & intervention efforts.
The American Society on Aging's Generations Today publication featured Dr. Katie Cherry's co-authored article, The Real-life Impacts of the Changing Climate on Psychosocial Functioning. While there is a growing body of research on the consequences of severe weather events, there is a lack of focus on the long-term effects of a changing climate. The article emphasizes that a lifespan perspective is needed to fully understand how climate disasters, directly and indirectly, affect different age groups. By understanding these impacts, researchers and policymakers can develop strategies to mitigate potential harm and promote resilience in the face of a changing climate.
The National Science Foundation has awarded a 4-year, $1,076,515 grant to professors Dr. Melissa Beck and Dr. Heather Lucas for their project titled "Enhancing STEM Success: A Multi-modal Investigating of Spatial Reasoning and Training in Undergraduate Education." Despite the growing demand for STEM professionals, many students face challenges in completing STEM degree programs due to difficulties in mastering the content. One crucial predictor of success in STEM disciplines is spatial reasoning ability, which involves mentally manipulating and representing objects in space. However, STEM courses often neglect the purposeful development of spatial reasoning skills, and limited knowledge exists on effective training methods. Dr. Beck and Dr. Lucas' project aims to address this gap by: 1) identifying neural and cognitive processes associated with successful mental rotation, a fundamental aspect of spatial reasoning; 2) assessing the responsiveness of these processes to training; and 3) measuring the transfer of training effects to real-world STEM problems, specifically focusing on introductory chemistry. To develop effective cognitive training protocols, a comprehensive understanding of the cognitive factors supporting optimal performance is necessary. This project involves a large-scale cross-sectional study utilizing eye movement tracking, brain activity measurement, and response time analysis during mental rotation tasks. Multivariate analysis techniques will identify latent variables that explain performance variability. Additionally, a validated randomized controlled training protocol, including an active control group, will monitor changes in measures as mental rotation performance improves through training. Comparing longitudinal training effects to performance determinants observed in the cross-sectional study will identify the most responsive neural and cognitive processes for targeted interventions. Moreover, the project will examine the extent of transferability of training-induced improvements to real-world STEM spatial reasoning tasks, such as molecular symmetry determination. By developing guidelines for effective mental rotation skill development, this research has the potential to increase success, retention, and diversity in STEM disciplines, thereby enhancing the quality and availability of the US STEM workforce.
The "Caring for our Care Force" is a $186,702 one-year grant from Mercy C.A.R.E.S. awarded to Covenant Health Network with LSU receiving a subaward ($104,204) to develop/implement the proposed interventions. Dr. Brossoit and Dr. Calamia have partnered with Covenant Health Network to support employees in long-term care facilities. The long-term care industry in the United States is experiencing a workforce crisis having lost 400,000 employees since the start of the pandemic. These workers experiencing significant burnout from caring for residents with complex health needs, navigating difficult behaviors by residents with cognitive impairments, and managing a higher workload with multiple responsibilities due to the dwindling workforce. This project funded by Mercy C.A.R.E.S. will provide workshop sessions for employees and organization leadership, informed by evidence-based psychological, organizational, and interpersonal resources. The goals of the project are to increase leadership knowledge of mental health support, increase employee perception of organization support for mental health and well-being, reduce employee feelings of burnout, and increase employee well-being.