Dr. Elaine Doherty, associate professor of criminology and criminal justice (above left) and Dr. Bettina Casad, assistant professor of psychology (above right) are two of several dozen new faculty who joined UMSL this fall.
More than three dozen new faculty started work at UMSL this fall, representing a wide range of academic areas from biology and chemistry to art, economics, English, accounting, nursing and more. Several are transferring research grants from the previous institutions to UMSL, including Dr. Elaine Doherty, associate professor, Criminology and Criminal Justice, and Dr. Bettina Casad, assistant professor, Psychology. While Doherty and Casad represent two distinctly different academic fields, both are conducting research on human behavior.
Doherty’s research project, being transferred from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, is entitled the Impact of Life Events on Patterns of Drug Use in an Urban African American Cohort. Funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) for $450,000, the work is six months into the three-year project that looks at why people stop using drugs.
Under this grant, Doherty is analyzing data collected in the Woodlawn Study, which was initiated by Johns Hopkins in partnership with the Chicago Board of Health, the University of Chicago, and the Chicago public and parochial schools and continues today. The Woodlawn Study explores risk and protective factors on the path to successful or troubled adulthood in a group of African Americans from the same disadvantaged inner city community in Chicago. This program of research and intervention began in 1966 with essentially all first graders (age 6) and follows their progress into adolescence (age 16), young adulthood (age 32), and midlife (age 42).
Doherty is looking at the data to correlate substance abuse patterns and life events (e.g., marriage, divorce, depression, employment, unemployment) focusing on the reasons people stop using. She hopes to secure additional funding to follow up with the Woodlawn subjects, who would now be 55 years old. “If that (grant) gets funded, we’ll go back in the field and try to locate everyone,” she says, “but that work would be more geared toward health and health outcomes.”
Bettina Casad, previously at California State Polytechnic University, is conducting research on the impact of threatening environments on academic success for women with a specific look at women pursuing education and careers in biomedical research. Under a $650,000, four-year grant from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) entitled Effects of Threatening Environments on Women’s Success in Biomedical Majors; Casad is trying to determine whether the shortage of women in the sciences is due to the general assumption that women are not as good at math and science as men and potentially threatening environments such as the frequent case of only one woman in a science class of all men.
During her longitudinal study, on which she is in her final year, Casad had subjects complete online questionnaires and mock interviews while recording their responses and measuring their psychological arousal, such as blood pressure, heart rate and restricted blood flow. She is now analyzing this data with assistance from four graduate and 12 undergraduate students. “Ultimately this research will be used to develop interventions,” which social psychologists have found can positively affect grade point averages, Casad says.
Dr. Bettina Casad, Assistant Professor
Department of Psychology
Dr. Bettina Casad received her PhD in Social Psychology from Claremont Graduate University in 2006. Her training is in Social Psychology with specialization in social cognition and intergroup relations, and her interdisciplinary research addresses topics in industrial/organizational psychology, health, and education.
Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice
Dr. Elaine Eggleston Doherty received her PhD in Criminology and Criminal Justice from the University of Maryland, College Park in 2005. Her interests include life course theory, desistance from crime and substance use, and longitudinal methodology.