When surveying public health at any level there is an emphasis on prevention. If we can understand why people make specific health related decisions, we will be better equipped to circumvent, or ultimately prevent individuals and/or communities from engaging in potentially adverse health behaviors. In the realm of public health there is a discipline devoted entirely to understanding health behaviors among various populations and individuals. The specific area of research I am involved in with Dr. Susan Ames at SCGH focuses on increasing our understanding of automatic and cognitive control processes. This research evaluates the neural correlates of substance use behaviors by utilization of MRI scans to observe individual and group differences in specified brain regions that become active during substance-related implicit association tasks and during an inhibitory control task.
Attaining this research position was pivotal because I came to CGU with a clinical background and I am drawn to clinical medicine as well preventative philosophical models. For me this was a perfect fit!
Areas for collaboration could include research and presentations on neurophysiology, neurochemistry, innate behaviors, social influence, theoretical behavioral models, cues, substance abuse, etc.
While this particular research project is not currently paired with other graduate disciplines at CGU, there exists the potential for transdisciplinary collaboration. For example, the School of Behavioral and Organizational Sciences (SBOS) aims to ‘explore the significant contribution of psychology to the understanding and amelioration of social problems…’ So here we could have the juxtaposition of psychology and behaviors relating to automatic and cognitive control processes, which may help us better understand cues to behavior or applied prevention models.
Another interesting collaboration could include our research at SCGH paired with the biological sciences at Keck Graduate Institute (KGI), which might incorporate our knowledge of behaviors into the advancement of new pharmacological substances or biomedical devices.
A great attribute of the Claremont University Consortium is the diversity of disciplines in a concentrated area. Students are provided an environment with exciting transdisciplinary opportunity.
My goals after completing this degree include applying to medical school while continuing to do research in my field. Ultimately I would like to utilize both my MPH and potential medical degrees cohesively to effectively formulate and provide preventative health education and treatment to underserved populations in the local community and abroad.