Psychology and ethnic minority serving institutions initiative

ProDIGs awarded three small grants to early career faculty conducting research on issues concerning ethnic minority populations and health disparities

The Promoting Psychological Research and Training on Health Disparities Issues (ProDIGS) initiative was developed to increase research capacity of early career faculty at predominately ethnic minority serving postsecondary institutions and to encourage student involvement in health disparities research training at early levels of the educational pipeline. Recently, ProDIGs awarded three small grants to early career faculty conducting research on issues concerning ethnic minority populations and health disparities. ProDIGs funds may be used for such activities as: course reduction, conducting pilot studies, consultation with research experts, survey and instrument design, data collection, student assistance, and faculty mini-retreats/workshops. It is expected with this support, grantees can enhance, refine and subsequently submit their research for federal and private foundation funding within 24 months of receiving their award. Subsequent grant submission is also encouraged through a project-supported five day professional development institute where grantees’ concept papers and research are critiqued, major trends in research and specifically health disparities research are discussed, professional mentors are assigned to assist with revised proposals, and other network opportunities are provided.

This institute is sponsored by the APA Minority Fellowship Program. Funding for the grant is through APA’s Science Directorate’s Academic Enhancement Initiative. To date, ProDIGs has awarded over $267,720 to 42 early career faculty at predominately ethnic minority serving institutions. This year awards were made to Sinead Younge, PhD, Morehouse College; Lesia M. Ruglass, PhD, CUNY-The City College of New York; and Nhan L. Truong PhD Tougaloo College. Brief descriptions of their proposals are below.

ProDIGs Grantees 2012

Sinead Younge, PhD
Morehouse College
Development of an Urban Community Garden as a Teaching Tool to Promote Health in Underserved Communities

Sinead Younge, PhDDr. Younge's project aims to represent a mixed model that integrates program and curriculum development into community-based behavioral and health research experiences. The purpose of this project is to use community based participatory action research (PAR) strategies to help define the needs of Atlanta’s diverse community, West End. Younge seeks to share her findings with the Atlanta Beltline project; one of the most widespread economic development projects started in the city of Atlanta and is recognized nationally. A community garden will be established in the West End community. The establishment of a community garden will not only be a valuable asset to those residing in West End but it will also promote university and community partnerships. Her project proposes to increase student course outcomes through the use of service learning. Morehouse College students enrolled in the upper division courses, Introduction to medical/health psychology and Research Methods and Statistics II will play a vital role in the development and concentration of the urban community garden. Students will be able to assist in identifying the needs of residents in regards to their sustainability needs and practices. The proposed program is set to take place in the Atlanta University Center, and will create an environment for students to be trained as undergraduate assistants as well as provide assistance with curriculum development. Most importantly Younge’s project looks to address issues residing in underserved communities today such as accessibility to resources and social justice. Younge’s project is funded for $6,500.

Lesia M. Ruglass, PhD
CUNY-The City College of New York
Racial/Ethnic Differences in Marijuana Cue Reactivity

Lesia M. Ruglass, PhDDr. Ruglass’ project proposes to examine the racial and ethnic differences among marijuana cues and cue reactivity found in individuals with marijuana use disorders. Although substance abuse rates seem to be constant amongst all racial groups, there is an outsized amount of differences many ethnic minorities experience socially and medically. Many illnesses unreasonably affect minorities as a consequence of drug/substance use. Ruglass understands the great need for research committed to examining the many reasons racial/ethnic minorities currently experience health disparities in substance abuse. Her project aims to fill this gap by delving into the major racial/ethnic differences between marijuana cues and cue reactivity. Recruitment at The City College as well as The Psychological Center at The City College of New York located in Harlem will allow Ruglass to recruit a diverse population. Craving, anxiety, mood states, pictorial stimuli, EEG Measurement, executive control, and cue reactivity will all be assessed in three phases over an 18 month period. The project will take place at The City College of New York. Ruglass' project is funded for $6,500.

Nhan L. Truong PhD
Tougaloo College
HIV Sexual Risk Behaviors Among Gay Identified and Non-Gay Identified African-American Men Who Have Sex With Men in the Jackson, Mississippi Area

Nhan L. Truong PhDDr. Truong's research is dedicated to increasing the awareness of health related matters in the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) community. Truong’s project proposes to investigate factors that affect the decision making processes in regards to HIV risk; such as sexual identity,  race, gender, family, religion, and spirituality. The targeted population of this project is young African-American men who have sex with men. Due to the differences in how these men identify themselves, the project seeks to explore what social psychological factors play a role in contributing to gay identified African-American males and non-gay identified African-American males engaging in HIV sexual risk activities/behaviors. The population includes males living in specifically Jackson, Miss. The proposed study hopes to identify the similarities and differences each group shares when making the decision to engage in at risk sexual behaviors. Over an 18 month period the participants will undergo structured interviews interested in their perceptions of masculinity amongst young black men who have sex with men and also their thoughts on HIV sexual risk behaviors. Findings of this project will be integrated into a National Institute on Mental Health (NIMH) grant and will evolve into an intervention study which will assist in creating successful HIV interventions programs that target gay identified and non-gay identified African American populations. Truong’s project is funded for $6,500.