Michael Killingsworth

Senior sociology and psychology major, Emily Hum, an international student from Malaysia, has been aiding in UNL’s Biosociology of Minority Health Disparities Lab (BMHDL) research as a USTARS (Undergraduate Sociology Teaching and Research Student). This academic year is Emily’s second time participating in the program.

UNL’s Biosociology of Minority Health Disparities Lab (BMHDL) was founded by Dr. Bridget Goosby and Dr. Jacob Cheadle in 2014. The lab has been researching how discrimination among minority groups impact the health of minority individuals. Their research looks at a range of minority groups including racial minorities and LGBTQ individuals.

During Emily’s first USTARS experience in 2014-15, Emily worked with Dr. Jacob Cheadle to interview LGBTQ individuals and conduct biological and neurological tests which determined stress levels. Participants were not only given EEG scans, but had their hair, blood, skin, and saliva samples chemically analyzed for indicators of stress. In theory, exposure to varying levels of discrimination based on such factors as sexuality, gender, and race can act as stressors which can produce biochemical markers in an individual’s bodily fluids and tissues. The BMHDL and its researchers thus hope to uncover the biochemical pathways that link discrimination to health problems.

Emily’s current USTARS project for the 2015-16 academic year takes her earlier work with the BMHDL one step further. Now working with Dr. Christina Falci, Emily has been analyzing and cataloguing the data acquired in her last USTARS internship. By sorting through this data, Emily, Dr. Falci, and other researchers hope to write and eventually publish a paper about their research. After completing this project and her undergraduate studies at the end of this semester, Emily plans to continue conducting similar research as a graduate student.

Read about Emily Hum's current research in her follow up article, Emily Hum Continues her Research.

Story by Lane Chasek

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