» Faculty and Student Research

Are you a student interested in hands on research with world-class faculty? No matter what your interests, fascinating research is happening each and every day at Crean - and you can be a part of it!

+ - Cognitive Science Laboratory

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At the Cognitive Science Laboratory we conduct research on the processing of language. Through a variety of experiments we analyze the comprehension of emotional language, hemisphere differences, and new methodologies like talk aloud procedures. Dr. Shears also has a research liaison with an adult rehabilitation program for survivors of acquired brain injury where she examines how brain injury disrupts these comprehension processes.  Our laboratory has presented our research at several national and international conferences. Being a research assistant in the Cognitive Science Laboratory allows students the opportunity to learn how to conduct research, the importance research carries within psychology, and the skills necessary to ask and create their own research questions.

Dr. Connie Shears
Location: Crean Hall 132
Email: shears@chapman.edu
Website: cucogsciencelab.weebly.com

+ - Complex Adaptive Systems in Psychological Research (CASPR) Lab

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Dr. David Pincus’s program of research focuses on understanding biopsychosocial resilience using models and methods from a nonlinear dynamical systems theory.  

Recent empirical work in the lab includes:  (1) Measuring shifts in behavioral flexibility associated with severe and persistent self-injurious behaviors; (2) Measuring the effects of experimentally induced psychological conflict on social resilience; (3) Measuring the relationships between fractal personality structure and broadband psychopathology; and (4) Modeling sexual identity integration processes underlying psychological resilience in gay adolescent males.  Future lines of research that are under development include: (a)  Measuring resilience in as shifts to nonlinear coupling in biopsychosocial networks for women across the menopausal transition; (b) Testing an approach to psychotherapy based in complex adaptive systems theory:  Experiential Balancing Therapy; (c) examining the role of the imagination in the experience of pain and pain relief.

More information on Dr. Pincus's recent work can be viewed at his faculty website.  Students interested in working with Dr. Pincus can contact him directly.

Dr. David Pincus
Location: Crean Hall 132J
Email: pincus@chapman.edu

+ - Culture, Evolution, and Behavior Laboratory

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Dr. David Frederick's program of research investigates how mass media, interpersonal relationships, and biological factors shape body image dissatisfaction, attraction, health behaviors, attitudes towards weight, self-regulation, and relationship stability among gay, lesbian, and heterosexual men and women.  His work investigates how these experiences differ for ethnic minority versus majority men and women. 

To examine these issues, Dr. Frederick conducts and analyzes large-scale national survey studies, directs cross-cultural research studies, assesses biological factors such as hormone levels, and conducts experimental studies.  He currently supervises graduate and undergraduate students conducting research sex and sexual orientation differences in jealousy and mate preferences, on the effects of exposure to news media on support for different obesity related public policies, and sex and sexual orientation differences in body dissatisfaction.

More information on Dr. Frederick's recent work can be viewed at his personal website. Students interested in working with Dr. Frederick can contact him at dfrederi@chapman.edu.

Dr. David Frederick
Location: Crean Hall 132B
Email: dfrederi@chapman.edu

+ - Early Human and Lifespan Development Program

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The goal of the Chapman Early Human and Lifespan Development Program is to advance understanding of the role of the perinatal period in maternal and child health. Led by Dr. Laura Glynn, this laboratory examines the interplay between biological, psychosocial and behavioral processes in human pregnancy.  The interdisciplinary research team focuses on questions such as: Why do women give birth to babies that are born early or small?; How does fetal experience shape the health and development of infants and children?; Does the prenatal period represent a critical period of neurological development, not only for the fetus, but for the mother too?

Dr. Laura Glynn
Location: 544 N. Cypress Avenue
Email: lglynn@chapman.edu

+ - Health & Well-Being Laboratory

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Although being happy, optimistic, and fulfilled inherently feels good, do such positive psychological characteristics relate to better physical health? Under the direction of Dr. Julia Boehm, the Health & Well-Being (HWB) Laboratory broadly investigates this question and seeks to understand how people can thrive both mentally and physically. 

Dr. Boehm’s research indicates that initially healthy people who are optimistic and satisfied have a reduced risk for heart attacks more than five year later, compared with individuals who are less optimistic and less satisfied. Research in the HWB Laboratory uses both longitudinal and experimental methodologies to further understand the association between positive psychological characteristics and improved cardiovascular outcomes. In particular, the HWB Laboratory examines how positive psychological characteristics are associated with the behavioral and biological processes that are relevant for cardiovascular health including physical activity, diet, blood pressure, and lipids. For example, Dr. Boehm has found that more optimistic people tend to have healthier healthy levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol and triglycerides. Additional work from the HWB Laboratory suggests that positive psychological characteristics are also associated with reduced risk of smoking and increased likelihood of exercising.     

The ultimate goal of the laboratory’s research is to identify positive psychological characteristics that contribute to healthy trajectories of cardiovascular functioning across the lifespan, with a specific focus on underlying behavioral and biological pathways.

Dr. Julia Boehm
Location: Crean Hall 132
Email: jboehm@chapman.edu
Website: http://sites.chapman.edu/hwblab/

+ - Injury Prevention and Biomechanics Laboratory

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Biomechanics of falls and fall-related injuries in older adults

Falls are the number one cause of injuries in older adults, including more than 90% of hip fractures and wrist fractures, and 60% of head injuries. Some of these injuries are life-threatening, and often cause a major decline in independence. However, most falls do not result in serious injuries (i.e., only 1-2% of falls result in hip fracture). This suggests that there exist factors that determine injurious and non-injurious falls, but we have limited information on this area. Age-related decline in bone strength is just one of many biomechanical factors.  

My research involves in vivo or in vitro biomechanical experiments, to understand factors that influence risk of fall-related injuries in older adults. In particular, the research focuses on how the injury risk is affected by muscle forces, shock-absorbing properties of soft tissue, body habitus, kinetics and kinematics of a fall impact, physical functions (i.e., gait, balance), cognitive functions, medications, disease diagnoses (i.e., Parkinson’s, dementia, stroke), and use of protective devices (i.e., hip protectors, wrist guards, helmets, or compliant flooring).     

My research also involves the development of safe landing strategies and exercise programs for prevention and treatment of fall-related injuries in older adults, based on knowledge acquired from the biomechanical research. In particular, the research is currently focused at developing a very simple but effective exercise program for prevention of fall-related hip fracture, which can be easily used by residents in long term care as well as healthy community dwellers. My research also involves clinical trials, to examine effectiveness of the developed interventions in reducing incidence of fall-related injuries in older adults.

Prospective trainees are expected either to lead their own projects or to help ongoing projects under the theme of fall-related injury prevention and treatment in older adults.

Dr. Joseph Choi
Location: Harry and Diane Rinker Health Science Campus
Email: wchoi@chapman.edu

+ - Long Term Effects of Concussion

The national spotlight on injuries from professional to youth sports has focused attention on the long-term effects of concussion, especially the neurodegenerative condition Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE).  Current research on this topic from Dr. Michelle Cleary, Associate Dean of Crean College for Health and Behavioral Science provides evidence for athletic trainers, physicians, and other medical professionals on sports injury epidemiology, identification, and management.  The information gleaned from her research demonstrates the value of Athletic Training services and is used an educational tool for parents and school administrators.  Athletic Trainers (ATs) are commonly the first medical experts available on site to identify and evaluate injuries.  ATs are the most appropriate medical professionals to evaluate and diagnose sport-related concussions and other potentially fatal sport-related injuries/illnesses on the sideline.  Organized sporting events should have ATs present as the designated sports injury expert who works closely with physicians and other health care professionals.  

Dr. Cleary’s research findings are used to educate parents, athletes, coaches, teachers and others about the signs and symptoms of sports injuries and conditions such as mild traumatic brain injury, heat illness, and exertional sickling.  She has been invited to contribute to national position statements that help ATs develop and implement a standard plan for heat illness safety and management- should a heat event occur on campus.  Her national research talks describe the importance of an excessive heat action plan to be used during all school-sponsored athletic activities that occur during periods of excessive heat and humidity.  Dr. Cleary has become a well-known expert in the area of treating exertional heat illness and in preventing and identifying the complications of sickle cell trait with intense exercise resulting in a condition called exertional rhabdomyolysis.  This potentially fatal condition is related to muscle cell breakdown from excessive exercise.  Athletes with sickle cell trait are particularly susceptible and are more likely to die from exertional rhabdomyolysis.  The findings of Dr. Cleary’s research provide critical resources on the prevention, recognition, and management of catastrophic and fatal events during sports participation and physical activity.

Dr. Michelle Cleary
Location: Crean Hall
Email: cleary@chapman.edu

+ - Molecular Regulators of Obesity and Metabolic Disorders Laboratory

Obesity is a growing and serious epidemic in the United States and across the world.  The laboratory of Dr. Marcia Abbott is aimed at understanding the development, prevention and treatment of obesity. 

Obesity occurs when energy intake is greater than energy expenditure and in turn the excess energy is stored in the fat tissue. Excessive fat leads to many pathologies and diseases including, but not limited to, insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.  Although lifestyle alterations, such as low calorie diet combined with exercise, are known to decrease body fat, maintenance has proven to be a major road-block.  Therefore, alternative therapies to decrease body fat are under examination. Recently, brown fat has become a focus of study for combating and/or preventing obesity. Brown fat is different from classical white fat in that, it “burns” energy to generate heat and can raise the metabolism.  As such, evidence exists that increasing brown fat can decrease classical white fat and improve insulin sensitivity.   There is new and exciting research indicating that cytokines released into the blood following exercise may have beneficial effects on brown fat.  Dr. Abbott’s laboratory uses humans, mice and cell culture models to examine the effects of exercise and metabolic challenges on these novel circulating regulators of obesity.  The overall goal of Dr. Abbott’s research is to identify innovative approaches to decrease the prevalence of obesity and improve general health.

Dr. Marcia Abbott
Location: Crean Hall
Email: mabbott@chapman.edu

+ - Motor Control and Motor Development Research Laboratory

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Dr. Grant-Beuttler’s research has focused on motor control and motor development in the newborn infant and young child.  Specifically, she is interested in how uterine confinement and muscle tendon unit play a role in the development of motor skills.  Use of movement analysis systems have frequently been employed in this research.  Currently, she is working to develop a clinically useful movement analysis system for clinical and research use.  Her research has also addressed youth obesity and youth at risk for obesity and she has participated in developing a school based exercise and nutrition program for middle school students who are at risk or obese.  In addition, Dr. Grant-Beuttler has been involved in Constraint Induced Movement Therapy and the use of movement analysis systems in evaluation of this intervention in both children and adults.  Dr. Grant-Beuttler has received funding from the Department of Agriculture, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, and private foundations. 

Dr. Marybeth Grant-Beuttler
Location: Harry and Diane Rinker Health Science Campus
Email: beuttler@chapman.edu

+ - NeuroCognitive-Communication Lab

Over 2 million individuals sustain a traumatic brain injury (TBI) in the US annually. The increase in public awareness of sports-related and war-related TBI has brought this epidemic to the forefront. Most of these are concussions, yet many individuals experience life-changing cognitive, communication, and psycho-social consequences that effect their ability to return to school, go to work, resume their family roles, and participate fully in their community.

Despite this increase in public awareness, there remains much to learn about how TBI impacts ones life. In the NCCL we investigate the cognitive and communication disorders that result from brain injury using quantitative and qualitative methods. It is widely accepted that memory, attention and executive functions disorders are the result of TBI, including concussion. How these cognitive disorders impact everyday life and how speech-language pathologists can best evaluate and treat these cognitive impairments is the focus of the NCCL. Based on the World Health Organization’s International Classification Framework, Dr. Kennedy and graduate students are researching three areas that impact the ability to return to home, work and college:

1.  The validation of the use of interviews and surveys as assessment procedures that document everyday cognitive and communication disorders associated with brain injury, including those with post-concussion syndrome;
2.  The investigation of the effectiveness of dynamic coaching, developed by Dr. Kennedy, as an approach for improving outcomes of returning to school and returning to work after injury;
3.  The translation of research evidence into best clinical practices for assessing and treating individuals with brain injury.

Dr. Mary R.T. Kennedy
Location: Harry and Diane Rinker Health Science Campus
Email: markenne@chapman.edu


+ - Neuromechanics of Human Movement Laboratory




Dr. Jo Armour Smith’s program of research investigates how postural control of the trunk is adapted in response to pain, aging and skill training, and the mechanisms underlying these adaptations. Her current research focuses on the adaptations in trunk control that are associated with persistent low back pain, as these adaptations may contribute to the recurrence of symptoms. She uses a neuromechanical approach that blends biomechanics and neuroscience to study how the nervous system and musculoskeletal system interact to produce movement in healthy individuals and individuals with back pain. Research in the Neuromechanics of Human Movement Laboratory (NOHMLab) explores trunk muscle activity, trunk motion, and associated cortical function during controlled postural perturbations and during more complex functional tasks like walking and turning.

Initial work in the NOHMLab will examine the relationship between cortical function and impairments in postural control in individuals with persistent low back pain. Translational studies will also quantify changes in cortical function in response to physical therapy intervention. Clinical studies will then investigate the effectiveness of motor learning exercise interventions for enhancing postural control in individuals with acute and persistent low back pain, with the ultimate goal of increasing the understanding of mechanisms underlying the transition from acute to persistent back pain and enhancing physical therapy treatment of this disorder.  

Dr. Jo Armour Smith
Location: Harry and Diane Rinker Health Science Campus
Email: josmith@chapman.edu

+ - Promoting Quantitative Gait Analysis in the clinical setting for physical therapist

Effective and efficient locomotion, in the form of human walking, is fundamental to human function.  A myriad of obstacles interfere or influence healthy walking (e.g., gait) including but not limited to musculoskeletal, neuromuscular, and energy transfer impairments.  Rehabilitation specialists, and particularly Physical Therapist, engage in the rehabilitation and/or restoration of these systems in the event of impairment.  The ability to effectively quantify walking (gait) is critical to demonstrating improvements in individuals with such impairments that negatively influence safe and effective gait.  Physical Therapists face a challenge to quantify gait in the clinical setting.  A critical eye is the primary tool for gait assessment, however this method is limited to subjective observations.  Advances in technology allow for quantitative analysis of gait in the clinical setting, however these technologies are not well understood in terms of their measurement properties, namely reliability of the data, validity of the inferences, as well as a sensitivity to change.  Dr. Daniel Cipriani’s current research is focused on evaluating these developing technologies that allow for quantitative gait analysis.  Dr. Cipriani’s work is in cooperation with local physical therapy clinics and their patients.  Most recently his research has demonstrated the utility of the GAITRite electronic walkway, to accurately measure gait impairment in individuals with lower extremity and spine musculoskeletal pathology.  The GAITRite provides for real-time measures of key gait measures such as cadence, walking velocity, step spatial variables, and pressure distributions.  Dr. Cipriani’s future plans are to evaluate smart phone technology for clinical gait analysis.  The eventual goal of his research is to help Physical Therapy clinicians identify the most cost-effective and accurate means to quantify and document gait changes in their patients, in the clinical setting.

Dr. Daniel Cipriani
Location: Harry and Diane Rinker Health Science Campus
Email: cipriani@chapman.edu

+ - Social Determinants of Health Laboratory

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Why do some population groups have lower mortality rates and better health than others? While biological and genetic factors play a role, they are only one part of the story. The social conditions in which people are born, live, and age, are important determinants of health. For example, nearly 70% of cancers are preventable through modification of lifestyle factors, such as quitting smoking, maintaining a healthy diet, and becoming physically active. These issues are shaped by our social and economic environments, which are largely impacted by the distribution of resources, such as access to education, in society. Consider the impact of neighborhoods on the ability of individuals to engage in healthy behaviors: people who live in safe neighborhoods, with green space, and access to fresh fruits and vegetables, are much more likely to engage in physical activity and maintain a healthy diet. The Social Determinants of Health Lab, under the guidance of Dr. Georgiana Bostean, investigates the social and physical factors that impact health and well-being, and contribute to population health disparities. 

Current studies in our lab focus on how and why health outcomes are patterned by race, ethnicity, and nativity. This includes investigation of the Latino health paradox, whereby Latinos in the U.S., and immigrant groups generally, report better health than other racial and ethnic groups. In order to better understand the paradox, we are comparing smoking trends in the U.S. and Mexico to assess whether Mexican immigrants in the U.S. "import" their smoking behaviors from Mexico and whether there are cohort differences in smoking rates among immigrants, in order to better understand the reasons for the paradox. Another study tests whether family relationships play a role in protecting the health of certain ethnic groups. In a current study of e-cigarette policies and retailers in Orange County, we are examining whether certain vulnerable population groups, including immigrants and youth, are at disproportionate risk of exposure to these retailers. This information will help guide policy development surrounding the use and sale of these products. Undergraduate student research assistants are involved in various capacities in our lab, including in designing a research study, conducting a literature review, and collecting data.
The goal of our research in the Social Determinants of Health lab is to understand how we might improve individual health and well-being and ultimately reduce population-level health inequities through changes at the social and policy levels.

Dr. Georgiana Bostean
Location: Crean Hall
Email: gbostean@chapman.edu

+ - Stroke Boot Camp

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DPT students can participate in the Department of Physical Therapy’s Stroke Boot Camp, a 2 week intensive, interdisciplinary treatment program for chronic stroke survivors, by:  1) helping design and implement the programs; 2) assist with collecting and analyzing clinical outcome data; or 3) providing hands-on interventions.  Healthcare professionals and graduate students from several disciplines and programs join together to provide multi-dimensional, patient-centered care that fosters social interaction.

Dr. Alison L. McKenzie
Location: Harry and Diane Rinker Health Science Campus
Email: amckenzi@chapman.edu

+ - Telerehabilitation, Robotic Therapy, and Augmented Reality Games for Stroke Recovery

As part of a series of collaborative clinical research studies with Dr. Steven Cramer’s Lab at UCI, Dr. McKenzie and Chapman DPT students have been involved in the inception and implementation of innovative approaches to stroke rehabilitation that incorporate cutting edge technology into emerging models of neurorehabilitation for stroke.  The interdisciplinary research team includes neurologists, post-doctoral fellows, M.D./Ph.D. and Ph.D. students, physical and occupational therapists, bioengineers and bioengineering graduate students, computer scientists, and undergraduates.

Dr. Alison L. McKenzie
Location: Harry and Diane Rinker Health Science Campus
Email: amckenzi@chapman.edu

+ - Skeletal Physiology Research Laboratory

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Dr. Sumida’s initial research focused on the impact of endurance training on hepatic gluconeogenesis using the liver perfusion method and isolated hepatocytes.  These investigations revealed that endurance training elevates the glucose production capacity of the liver that could help to prevent the decline in blood glucose concentration during prolonged exercise.  Dr. Sumida used these same techniques and switched his research to investigate the sex differences for hepatic gluconeogenesis following chronic alcohol consumption.  This research demonstrated that female animals were more susceptible to alcohol-induced hypoglycemia compared to males.  Recently, his research has taken a different path.  He currently investigates the impact of resistance training on bone formation during the growth period.  These studies are revealing the existence of an exercise threshold for bone formation as well as sex differences in the training-induced response.

Dr. Kenneth Sumida
Location: Hashinger Science Center
Email: sumida@chapman.edu

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