Impact of Psychosocial Factors on the Immune System

Supervising Faculty:

Anna Marsland, PhD, RN

Anna Marsland

Area of Research: Health psychology/psychoneuroimmunology

My area of research examines the impact of psychosocial factors, such as stress and personality, on the immune system and on the course of immune-related diseases. Currently we have 2 ongoing projects that may be of interest to motivated students who would like to gain research experience in preparation for applying to graduate or medical school. Both examine whether stress is associated with biological changes that increase risk for disease. 

These projects take place in the Behavioral Immunology Laboratory on the 6th floor of Old Engineering Hall. The first project (the Pitt-CMU Cold Study) examines whether the magnitude of a person’s response to acute stress is related to their susceptibility to colds. The second project examines whether women who are at increased risk for breast cancer show greater biological responses to stress than women at lower risk. 

Duties of Students:
We consider directed research students to be important and integral members of our research team. They take part in weekly lab meetings and are involved in multiple aspects of the research projects. Tasks can include helping to run subjects through study protocols, to administer and score questionnaires, to enter and manage data, to conduct library searches and many other related duties. Because these research positions require a fair amount of training a two semester commitment is required.

• 3.25 or higher GPA 
• At least 12 credits in psychology preferably including PSY 1215 (health psychology) and PSY 0035 (research methods) 
• Freshman, Sophomore, Junior or Senior psychology majors 
• Good interpersonal skills 
• Comfort with computer applications 
• Highly responsible and dependable individual 
• A two-term commitment 
• Flexible hours (late afternoon/early evening hours preferred) 

Terms offered: fall and spring 

Number of Students: Open