The Falk College Research Center will host a research colloquium, “Big Data and Social Policy: Current and Future Developments,” with Philip Gillingham from the University of Queensland, Australia, on Wednesday, Oct. 24, from noon to 1:15 p.m. in Falk Complex,…
Michelle Zaso Awarded Prestigious NIH Fellowship
Michelle Zaso, a Ph.D. candidate in clinical psychology in the College of Arts and Sciences, is the recipient of a Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award Individual Predoctoral Fellowship. Funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (through the National Institutes of Health), the award will support her dissertation research, which focuses on how genetics and environments shape alcohol use in adolescence. Specifically, her dissertation will examine how alcohol metabolism genes interact with alcohol-promoting peer environments to influence drinking trajectories from 13-18 years of age.
Zaso’s primary sponsor of the fellowship, Aesoon Park, associate professor of psychology, notes that some people carry variants in alcohol metabolism genes that delay the breakdown of alcohol into a harmless substance; if individuals carrying these genetic variants drink alcohol a lot, they are more likely to develop cancer due to extended exposure to harmful alcohol metabolites.
“Thus, her project is highly important not only to inform the mechanisms underlying problematic drinking in adolescents, but also to prevent long-term serious health consequences like cancer,” says Park.
Co-sponsors of her research include Stephen Maisto, professor of psychology at Syracuse University, and Stephen Glatt, associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at SUNY Upstate Medical University.
Hailing from Batavia, New York, Zaso received a B.S. in biological sciences with a concentration in neuroscience from the University of Rochester. Currently she is working on her graduate degree in clinical psychology, with an expected completion in May 2019.
“We hope findings can advance our understanding of the multifaceted contributors to accelerations in drinking over the critical adolescent period and eventually aid in prevention and intervention efforts,” explains Zaso.
A&S news caught up with Zaso for a series of questions about her most recent honor.