Sleep and Alcohol/Drug Use in Teens

Supervising Faculty:  Brant P. Hasler, PhD, DBSM

Contact: Brant P. Hasler, haslerbP@upmc.edu

Area of Research: Sleep Research, Clinical Psychology

Description of Research: We currently have two research studies which are looking at the associations between sleep and alcohol/drug use in teens. The first study is examining the short-term casual dynamics between circadian factors, reward function and alcohol use in adolescence. Our second study is assessing the connection between delayed sleep phase and the risk for substance use in adolescents. Our research uses a combination of ecological momentary assessment, neuroimaging (fMRI), and laboratory-based physiological measures of circadian rhythms.

Duties of Students: Students will have the opportunity to receive training in and assist with different aspects of the research, including recruitment, participant-facing activities during overnight visits to the sleep lab (escorting participants and assisting with data collection), data entry, and data processing (wrist actigraphy and/or fMRI). Data collection activities could include administering self-report batteries, computerized behavioral tasks, assisting with fMRI scans, and/or collecting saliva and buccal cell samples.

Requirements:

  • Overall GPA of 3.0 or higher
  • 12 credits of Psychology (including current term)
  • STAT 0200/1000/1100 Statistics
  • PSY 0036 Research Methods Lecture
  • PSY 0036 Research Methods Lab
  • Students should be able to commit to two terms.
  • Students must also obtain clearances to work with children (Act 33/34/73)

Recruitment Process: All students are asked to submit an unofficial transcript and resume. I schedule an initial phone or Zoom meeting with students who demonstrate academic excellence and interest in sleep/circadian, emotion, and/or substance use research. During the initial interview, I briefly describe my own academic background and give an overview of the ongoing studies and opportunities for undergrad students to get involved. I emphasize our team-oriented approach, the need for comfort with and professionalism when working with adolescent participants, and the need for flexible schedules to accommodate the evening and weekend participant visits to the Sleep and Behavioral Neuroscience Center (SBNC). I inquire about the student’s immediate training goals and longer-term trajectory, such as whether they are planning to go onto medical or graduate school. I explain that we require a minimum 2-semester commitment given the degree of training involved. If students’ express interest in doing directed research with me after that discussion, and I think they seem a strong candidate, I ask them to also meet with my study coordinator and at least one other team member to get further info on working on the studies, what it’s like working with me, and to gauge likely cohesiveness with the team. My coordinator and I collaboratively decide whether or not to invite the student to join the lab for directed study, at which point invited students are told that they do not have to decide immediately and instead should consider if the lab/project is a good fit for them and respond by e-mail once they have decided. Students will be enrolled with a rolling acceptance until all spots are filled. In the case that more students simultaneously apply than spots are available, preference will be given to students who have comfort with the research methods and protocol. In line with the CSCS commitment to fostering diversity, equity, and inclusion, students who demonstrate understanding of the socio-historically based structural disadvantage that affects people of color and/or knowledge of stigma and discrimination against the Lesbian, Gay, Transgender, Queer and Questioning (LGBTQ+) community are preferred.

Terms offered: Fall, Spring

Number of Students: 3

Lab website:  Study websites: socialjetlag.pitt.edu; slatestudy.pitt.edu CSCS website: sleep.pitt.edu