Over the past few weeks, INBRE has been off to a great start. I am working in Dr. Nicki Aubuchon-Endsley’s lab this summer. I’ve been in her lab for three years now, so research and this lab definitely aren’t new to me. My fellow graduate and undergraduate research assistants as well as Dr. Aubuchon-Endsley are amazing. We all get along quite well and it’s an extremely supportive and educational environment to work in.
In the Perinatal Psychobiology Lab, our main project right now is a longitudinal study called the Idaho Mom Study. This study looks at how the mother’s behavior and lifestyle during her pregnancy relates to her baby’s growth and behavior. The mothers come in for a prenatal session during their third trimester of pregnancy, then they return to the lab for postnatal sessions when their babies are 6, 10, 14, and 18 months old. During the prenatal sessions, we took a measurement of the mother’s height, weight, and waist size, then the moms would answer a series of questionnaires and after their session they took home a saliva kit to collect 12 saliva samples over a time period of three days for us to run cortisol assays on. During the postnatal sessions, we take another measurement of the mother’s height, weight, and waist size as well as measurements of the baby. The participants answer a series of questionnaires similar to the ones given during their prenatal session and we also record a behavioral observation of the mother and infant. These videos are then coded using a specific coding scheme for different behaviors that the mother and infant may partake in during the tasks they are asked to complete in the behavioral observation.
I love working in this lab because it is the perfect balance of biology and psychology, both of which I am very interested in and passionate about. I think it’s very interesting to see the link between physical and mental health. For my personal project within the lab this summer, I plan to use the data from the cortisol assays and the anthropometric data from the infants to determine whether maternal cortisol levels have an effect on the infant’s growth at 6 months postpartum. I’m very excited about the opportunity to be an INBRE fellow and I look forward to what the remainder of the summer has in store for me.