NIMH Welcomes Minority Honor Students
"Join us on this journey of discovery which will make a real difference for people," NIMH director Dr. Steven E. Hyman appealed to the more than 110 minority undergraduate honor students from 13 colleges and universities attending the 15th annual Career Opportunities in Research and Training (COR) Colloquium, in Washington recently.
Boosting minority educational opportunities and enhancing minority representation in the mental health research field are COR's goals. Since it began in 1980, COR has helped to prepare hundreds of third- and fourth-year honor students for graduate programs in neuroscience, behavioral science, and mental health research.
COR funds are furnished to colleges and universities that serve substantial numbers of students from underrepresented racial/ethnic minority groups. Principal investigators select COR students and mentor them for 2 years, teaching mental health research design and guiding the students toward graduate school and independent research careers.
Participants in the colloquium included (front, from l) Rebekah Hughey, Spelman College; Dr. Delores Parron, NIMH associate director for special populations; LilyAnne Jeu, Hunter College; NIMH director Dr. Steven Hyman. At rear are (from l) Sherman Ragland, NIMH deputy associate director for special populations; Mark King, Howard University; Yevette M. Brown, University of New Mexico.
Among the students making presentations was Lynn Abeita, a member of the Isleta Laguna Pueblo tribe from New Mexico, who recently graduated from the University of New Mexico. She studied anger management among veterans undergoing alcohol and cocaine outpatient treatment. She found that as anger levels dropped, so did drug and alcohol use. Her research led her to recommend modifying the program to increase patient participation. Abeita, currently working in San Francisco as a research assistant and applying to graduate school, said, "COR has opened so many doors, providing a supportive environment and exposure to graduate school and greater possibilities for the future."
Gary Bennett, Jr., a senior at Morehouse College, has been studying the relationship between personality styles and high blood pressure. He plans to go to graduate school in psychology and hopes to become a psychology professor with his own research laboratory.
LilyAnne Jeu, a student at Hunter College in New York, tested the hypothesis that minor physical anomalies (slight deviations of the head, face, hands, and feet) might serve as markers of abnormal prenatal development, possibly associated with the development of schizophrenia. Although these areas are derived from the same embryological tissue as the central nervous system, her results did not support her hypothesis. She plans to continue her studies in graduate school.
Three students from Puerto Rico, Rosana Amador-Miranda and Damarys Cruz-Gonzalez from the University of Puerto Rico, and Evelyn BadilloCordero, from the Caribbean Center of Graduate Studies, presented research on the perception of risk of contracting HIV infection and its relation to sexual behaviors in a group of young Puerto Rican heterosexual women. All three hope to pursue research careers.
"I am continually impressed with the variety and sophistication of the research projects these students undertake," said Sherman Ragland, NIMH deputy associate director for special populations and COR program administrator. "The colloquium seems to get better each year. The program gives me a lot of hope, as Dr. Hyman said, not just for the students who participate but also for the benefits their careers will bring to all of us."
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