This summer, psychology major Raquel Battaglia ’20 was selected to participate in the Undergraduate Trauma Research Training Program at Syracuse University. The program, funded by the National Science Foundation, is designed to provide undergraduates with research experience, while improving access to research opportunities for underrepresented groups, specifically military veterans.
“The focus of the program is PTSD within veteran populations,” said Battaglia. “As the daughter of a veteran, I grew up on military bases and most of my childhood friends were also from military families. [T]he veteran focus on the program was very appealing to me.”
It is designed as a year-long program, starting with an intensive six-week summer program onsite at Syracuse University that involves coursework, mentored student-faculty interactions, and the development of a research project. After that, students are expected to continue their research from their home institution under the mentorship of the National Science Foundation’s Research Experience for Undergraduates faculty members.
“I have 25-30 hours of lectures a week […]. Guest speakers come weekly, with areas of expertise [ranging] from mild traumatic brain injury research to family-centered therapy methods and theory,” said Battaglia. “For hands on experience, I have gotten to tour two of the labs on Syracuse university’s campus. One works on psychological aspects, another on genetic information, and both have worked on projects examining PTSD.”
Under the guidance of Drs. Karen Wolford and Brooks Gump, Battaglia has been putting together a research project for submission to the 2020 Eastern Psychological Association conference in Boston. “My project is [focused on] hair cortisol concentration and optimism as mediators of the relationship between childhood maltreatment and combat-related PTSD in adult military populations. We hope to submit the resulting paper for publication this year.”
This is not the first time Battaglia has traveled for valuable academic opportunities. In fall 2018, she studied abroad at Oxford University, where she examined the history and application of trauma therapy. She was also among nine Oglethorpe students who attended the Southeastern Psychological Association conference in March, where she presented “The Effects of Sleep on Academic Success and IQ across Academic Ranks of College Students” with partners Charlotte Disley ’19 and Delaney Abood ’19. Closer to home, Battaglia has participated in Oglethorpe’s Liberal Arts and Sciences Symposium, an annual event in which students demonstrate the outcomes of their academic work.
“Oglethorpe has prepared me wonderfully for the program,” said Battaglia. “I have felt very fortunate to have been provided with such a solid research skill base from Oglethorpe’s faculty.”