Swanson and Collaborators Presented 2012 Provost’s Multidisciplinary Award

Dena Phillips SwansonDena Phillips Swanson, associate professor in counseling and human development at the Warner School of Education, is a recipient of a 2012 Provost’s Multidisciplinary Award along with Sandra Jee, associate professor of pediatrics, and Jean-Philippe Couderc, research associate professor of medicine-cardiology, for their collaborative research project entitled “HEALTHY (Health Education Adolescent Leadership Training to Help Youth) Leaders.”

Swanson, who will serve as a co-principal investigator on this project, is the first Warner School faculty member to receive this award.

With the support of the Provost award, Swanson and the team will bring together a collaborative effort comprised of experts in health services research, adolescent development, psychiatry, and cardiology to study stress-reduction for traumatized youth in foster care. Many youth in foster care have experienced adverse childhood experiences that often lead to lifelong social-emotional problems, overall poor adaptation, and cardiovascular health problems in adulthood.

“Foster care youth struggle to cope with traumatic events such as parental abuse, neglect, or exposure to domestic violence that led to an out-of-home placement,” says Swanson. “At a time when they really need stability, they are trying to navigate the unstable and complex experience of being in foster care while also dealing with the same developmental challenges as other youth. These pressures often trigger health and social issues, and we hope that as an interdisciplinary team concerned about these issues, our study will result in improved psychological and physical well-being for the youth.”

The collaborative team will work directly with high school-aged foster care youth at Starlight Pediatrics in Rochester to address the mental health needs and experiences of chronic stress among this high-risk group. The HEALTHY Leaders project will pilot a program that focuses on mindfulness-based training to manage stress and prepare youth as health education facilitators who address problems related to stress. Swanson and the team will subsequently measure the program’s impact on mental health and cardiovascular symptoms that accompany chronic stress and trauma.

Five diverse research projects at the University have been selected as recipients of the fifth annual Provost's Multidisciplinary Awards. Faculty were invited to submit research proposals for projects that have taken an innovative, multidisciplinary approach to scholarship, will have sustained impact, and are capable of leveraged support elsewhere. In 2007, President Seligman established this initiative, providing $250,000 each year to support faculty research that crosses multiple disciplines, either within one or across two or more schools. 
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Tags: adolescent development, Counseling and Human Development, Dena Swanson, Dena Swanson, human development, research