SPUR 2019 Projects: Social & Behavioral Science

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SPUR projects are listed in alphabetical order by faculty mentor last name.

Psychology | College of Social & Behavioral Science


BABY AFFECT AND BEHAVIOR STUDY (BABY STUDY)
Elisabeth Conradt, Assistant Professor

The developmental origins of childhood physical, emotional, and behavioral problems begin in utero. Prenatal experiences “program” the infant for the context s/he will encounter upon birth, laying a foundation for health outcomes and disease. However, the biological mechanisms linking the prenatal environment to early infant outcomes remain understudied. The application of epigenetic methods to human behavior is a relatively new and innovative endeavor devoted to understanding how environmental influences shape gene expression independent of DNA structure. Infants exposed to extreme stress during pregnancy show epigenetic adaptations, consistent with theories that biological systems calibrate in preparation for a high-risk postnatal environment.

The goal of this study is to advance the science and technology of prenatal programing research by (1) identifying mothers with the full range of emotional distress and carefully characterizing maternal stress reactivity (e.g., autonomic and neuroendocrine) in a laboratory assessment; and (2) developing a novel, hypothesis-driven assay to assess epigenetic processes withinInfant in a network of genes. When the aims of this project are realized we will have an improved understanding of early outcomes for infants of dysregulated mothers. We will also have created a novel assay, which will promote rapid replication as well as new investigations of stress-related epigenetic marks.

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Psychology | College of Social & Behavioral Science


ELECTROPHYSIOLOGICAL CORRELATES OF TRANSITIONING FROM WORKING MEMORY TO LONG-TERM MEMORY
Trafton Drew, Assistant Professor

How do we send information from a temporary working memory to a long-term memory that might last a lifetime? Understanding this process could have widespread benefits, such as helping students study more effectively or identifying early signs of neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease. The current project will examine electrophysiological activity evoked when a subject is asked to repeatedly memorize an object. In previous work, we have found that repeatedly memorizing distinct items leads to a decrease in working memory activity and an increase in activity associated with long-term memory. We want to see how these long-term memory signatures are influenced by how recently the same item has been memorized. We know that seeing the same item over and over with no intervening items leads to long-term memory engagement. This project will examine how the relationship changes when we manipulate how long it has been since the subject last saw an item, and the memorability of the item in question.

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Sociology | College of Social & Behavioral Science


Managing Authenticity and Advocating Artisanship: Craft Spirits in the Global Marketplace
Sarita Gaytán, Associate Professor

This project will examine how craft spirit makers, and related stakeholders, manage and market authenticity in the marketplace. How do they communicate their product's fidelity to craftsmanship and traditional knowledge to different customer bases? How do they position themselves in relation to brands owned by large liquor companies? What challenges do they face in light of the growing global popularity of the craft spirit category? What happens to a brand's authenticity when it is acquired by a large liquor company?

The aims of this exploratory project are: 1) To shed light on the growing craft spirit industry as industry leaders navigate increased competition with transnational liquor companies; 2) To build on a growing body of consumers' perceptions of authenticity in different organizational realms (e.g. craft spirits vs. craft brewing); 3) To better understand the challenges of a new market category that is based on an ethos of smallness.

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Sociology | College of Social & Behavioral Science


What Would Happen? The Impact of (hypothetical) Unplanned Pregnancies, Pregnancy Attitudes and Contraception
Claudia Geist, Associate Professor

This project is part of the interdisciplinary research of the HER Salt Lake Contraceptive Initiative. HER Salt Lake provided free birth control to more than 7,400 people in Salt Lake County; 4,400 of those individuals enrolled in a longitudinal study and are helping us understand the social, health, and economic impacts that free contraception has on their lives. Physicians, public health researchers, and sociologists are part of the larger study team. The specific SPUR project has the goal to better understand how study participants think about how a (hypothetical) unplanned pregnancy would impact their lives at the 1 and 2-year follow-up surveys. We will focus specifically on whether economic resources, education, and partner status can help us understand how individuals describe the consequences of an unplanned pregnancy. We further seek to understand how worries about the impact of a pregnancy, and general attitudes about pregnancy prevention and the intentions about when to have a planned pregnancy are linked. The study combines qualitative and quantitative methods and will shed light on how life course and economic context shape different dimensions of attitude about planned and unplanned pregnancies.

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Sociology | College of Social & Behavioral


Health promotion and education for uninsured free clinic patients and refugees resettled in the US
Akiko Kamimura, Associate Professor

This proposed project will focus on community health – health promotion and education for uninsured free clinic patients and refugees resettled in the US. I have developed projects to improve health of free clinic patients with the Maliheh Free Clinic and of refugees resettled in Utah in the past six years, and have established the following steps for each sub-project (Note: Each sub- project usually completes in one semester to accommodate with student schedule. There are multiple sub-projects each semester.): Step1: Need assessment; Step2: Research; Step3: Outreach and implementations; Step4: Re-evaluation; and Step5: Dissemination. This proposed project aims at integrating and expanding the projects from previous semesters to better provide health education programs to these underserved populations. The main focus topic will be healthy lifestyle. My community health research projects are based upon the community-based participatory research (CBPR) model. The main characteristics of the CBPR model include “participatory”, “cooperative, engaging community members and researchers in a joint process in which both contribute equally”, “co-learning process”, “systems development and local community capacity building”, “empowering process,” and “a balance between research and action” (Minkler & Wallerstein, 2008). This proposed project is important because it combines scientific research with action (practice implications) and contributes both to scholarship and practice. Additionally, this project will contribute to individuals, society and the community by improving health of underserved populations in Utah and beyond.

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