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15 CAS undergraduates win 10 SURCA research awards

More than a quarter of Washington State University students who delivered virtual presentations won monetary awards at the annual Showcase for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities (SURCA) on March 29 in Pullman.

SURCA is the unique WSU-wide venue for students from all majors, years in college, and from all WSU campuses. Nearly 150 students from the Pullman, Vancouver, Spokane, and Global campuses delivered presentations detailing their research, scholarship, and creative activities conducted with a mentor.

Faculty, postdoctoral students, and community experts used a common rubric to judge and score all presentations in nine SURCA categories that are designed to cover all disciplines at the university.

Fifteen CAS students won 10 different awards across seven categories at the 2021 event held online.

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WSU Insider

TCI makes major strides

After five years working on the Transformational Change Initiative, principal investigator Laura Hill has a tough time coming up with any shortcomings of the grant-funded project.

Samantha Swindell.

“The intention is to help the students connect with opportunities that align with their values, play to their strengths, and move them toward their goals,” said Sam Swindell, professor of psychology, associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, and co-principal investigator for TCI. “We recruited a group of ambassadors and they really deliver the program.”

“The experiential and co-curricular opportunities are not just preparing them for jobs, but increasing their breadth of knowledge and helping them to develop a flexible skillset,” Swindell said. “We’re trying to get students engaged as soon as possible. Starting early not only gives them more time to develop their skills and knowledge – and build important relationships – but each opportunity may lead to more opportunities and students are likely be better able to step into those new opportunities because of the experience they have already acquired.”

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Clinical trial shows alcohol use disorder recovery can start without sobriety

Harm reduction treatment helped people experiencing homelessness and alcohol use disorder reduce their drinking and improve their health–even if they didn’t quit drinking alcohol.

Susan Collins.

In a randomized clinical trial, a research team led by Washington State University psychology professor Susan Collins studied more than 300 people from three Seattle homeless shelters and programs. Participants were randomly assigned to four groups receiving different services: the first group received behavioral harm reduction treatment, which is a form of collaborative counseling that does not require sobriety or drinking reduction, plus an anti-craving medication called naltrexone; the second had the counseling and a placebo; the third, the counseling alone; and the fourth served as a control group receiving regular services.

Many of the study participants had multiple goals, only some of which involved reducing drinking. As might be expected, the most common goal was finding more stable housing, but other goals included re-connecting with family, finding work and engaging in hobbies they once enjoyed.

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MedPage Today

WSU Tri‑Cities students partner with camp for kids with medical conditions

Data analysis from a Washington State University Tri‑Cities psychology statistics course will be used to help Camp Korey, a camp for children with serious medical conditions, improve recruitment strategies and further refine camp programming to meet the needs of the children and families it serves amid COVID‑19 and beyond.

Janet Peters.

The WSU Tri‑Cities course, titled “Statistics in Psychology,” which is taught by associate psychology professor Janet Peters, partners each semester with a regional non‑profit to analyze data and turn it into useable sets of information. The opportunity not only allows students to use their developed knowledge of statistics, but also to learn more about the vast areas in which they can apply a career in psychology to help people and regional organizations, Peters said.

Peters was connected with Camp Korey through WSU’s Center for Civic Engagement Academic Program. The center works closely with faculty and instructors to integrate service learning into numerous courses across the WSU system, partnering for more than 1,500 opportunities.

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NBC Right Now

Marijuana and mental health: Examining a complicated relationship

As restrictions on marijuana use fall and its popularity around the world rises, researchers and therapists are examining its influence on mental health. Some medical experts say cannabis has a negative effect on the psychological well-being of chronic users, though it’s unclear whether it exacerbates existing issues or creates new ones.

Carrie Cuttler.

Carrie Cuttler, an assistant professor of psychology at Washington State University, researches how cannabis helps those with PTSD. Her September study in the Journal of Affective Disorders found that marijuana reduced repetitive thoughts about a traumatic event by 62%, flashbacks by 51%, anxiety by 57% and irritability by 67%.

“What we generally find across the board for depression, anxiety, stress, OCD symptoms, PTSD symptoms, is approximately 50% reductions in the severity of of these symptoms from immediately before, to immediately after cannabis use,” Cuttler said.

The main reason medical marijuana patients use the plant, she said, is for pain, followed by anxiety and depression.

“Cannabis is serving as a bit of a Band-Aid, in that what it’s doing is temporarily masking these mental health symptoms, but it’s not doing anything to address the root core issue that is maintaining those symptoms over time,” Cuttler said.

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