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SMAHRT Summer Scholars Highlights

The Summer Scholars Program ran from July 10-14th this year. With 25 Scholars, 10 Scholar Alumni Mentors and countless staff and faculty support, we would definitely have to say that this year’s program was a success! Thank you for Seattle Children’s Research Institute, our visiting faculty and of course, our returning 2015 and 2016 Scholar Alumni Mentors.

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SMAHRT Scholars, Scholars Alumni Mentors, and SMAHRT Staff having fun taking a group photo!

Here are some photos as a highlight the exciting moments we had throughout the week:

Day 1: Introductions, Tour of SCRI Jack MacDonald Building’s Bench Labs and Field Trip to MoPOP

 

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Day 2: Research Process Overview, Researcher Career Conversation Lunch, and Independent Research Proposals

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Day 3: Seattle Children’s Hospital Tour, Research Career Panel, and Independent Research Project Data Collection

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Day 4: Data Entry and Analysis, Scholars Alumni Panel, Clinical Research Associate Tours, and Poster Design

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Day 5: Elevator Speech, Research Opportunity Workshops, Poster Presentations, and the Closing Ceremony

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For more photos check out this link: https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B7_AIyod0KQkN1BXT3k5TDJUN1U and look for #SMAHRTscholars on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

 

 

 

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The Road to the Undergraduate Research Symposium: Projecting forward to graduate school and future careers

By Aleenah Ansari / Communications Intern

[Writer’s Note: Leading up to 20th Annual UW Undergraduate Research Symposium (URS) on May 19, we shared a bit about each of our research interns and their projects on various topics related to social media and adolescent health via Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. This is the final feature in a series of articles that outlines broader takeaways from the URS and how it allowed current research interns to 1) gain research exposure, 2) develop community, and 3) work toward their long-term career and professional goals.]

Research interns at the Social Media and Adolescent Health Research Team (SMAHRT) work toward a variety of long-term goals that could include medical school, graduate programs, or a career in social services. Regardless of the specific industry they enter, most interns are looking for outlets to positively impact people’s lives in some way. Learning how to design and implement an independent research project at SMAHRT can help students develop skills to work toward this long-term goal.

For research intern and recent University of Washington (UW) graduate Surupa Sarkar, working with SMAHRT taught her that data analysis was an integral part of research, and the project introduced her to new social sciences research methodologies like content analysis and code book development.

“With this internship, I’ve learned that there are so many different ways to analyze your data through programs, whether it’s quantitative or qualitative data,” Surupa said. “I’m hoping to use what I’ve learned about data management and hopefully go to school for biostatistics.”

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Nikki Singh presents her independent project on themes of alcohol and alcohol safety messaging on Facebook event pages.

Similarly, SMAHRT research intern and UW student Nikki Singh identified an interest in health care early on her college career, but she initially didn’t know how she wanted to contribute to the field. Through conversations with other SMAHRT interns, Nikki identified a strong interest in public policy as an outlet to create impactful change.

“Through Dr. [Megan] Moreno, I connected with past interns who have worked here, and I’ve talked to them about where they are now,” Nikki said. “It’s nice to connect with all these different careers so I know what my options are.”

Nikki also gained exposure to legislation and policy after working on the bullying research project, which focused on creating a conceptual model for cyberbullying and standardizing the language of bullying policies in the United States. Now, Nikki hopes to pursue a Master’s of Public Health in epidemiology or statistics to prepare her for a potential career in public policy reform.

SMAHRT research intern Jesse Rohwer is also interested in public policy but wants to

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Jesse Rohwer presents his poster on the ethical codes for social service providers, and how they address client-professional interactions on social media.

work in social work or behavioral science, and he will be graduating from Seattle Central College this spring with a degree in Applied Behavioral Science. Because of these interests, Jesse chose to focus his independent research project on compliance of social science professionals with ethical codes.

“Other than being interested in the ethical sides of social media, the most interesting parts of my program have dealt with public policy and political economy,” Jesse said. “I’ve gotten the impression that that’s where the work gets done and things really change, and I would like to get involved with it and possibly [have] a career [in it].”

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Marina Jenkins presents her findings on the discourse among parents about vaccine attitudes on parenting blogs, and how these attitudes are influenced by events in the community related to vaccines.

Before joining SMAHRT, research intern and recent graduate Marina Jenkins had previously explored different aspects of the humanities, epidemiology, and disease-oriented research methodologies through her coursework in biocultural anthropology at the University of Washington. She noted that this internship allowed her to build on this past experience and identify a new research question to explore.

“I have been particularly interested in subjects relating social media use to health outcomes, or representation of health information on social media,” Marina said. “[This] caught my attention [when I was] being introduced to some of the projects here and their applications to public health.”

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Chad Rosevear presents his research findings about the relationship between mobile app use and empathy among college students

For other SMAHRT research interns like Chad Rosevear, working on a research project at SMAHRT provided more exposure to the healthcare field, which is where he wants to work in the future.

“I want to pursue a career in medicine or biomedical research. While the SMAHRT team is not necessarily either of those, it has provided me with valuable professional skills as well as many networking opportunities,” Chad said. “It has challenged me to learn how to work independently for something that will be fantastic in the long run.”

Although many SMAHRT interns are interested in careers related to epidemiology and health care, these research skills can be applied to any industry. SMAHRT research intern Christian Tinoco Vera will graduate this spring with a degree in communications and a minor in business marketing from UW Tacoma, and he believes that working on his independent research project will prepare him to work in the marketing and consulting industry.

“Going into marketing, it’s interesting to see what drives consumers to do certain behaviors,” Christian said. “This project gave me an opportunity to look into how students think and what influences them.”

Although all SMAHRT research interns may go on to a variety of industries or careers, their research questions and projects can inform interventions, programs, and policy that impact current and future social media users.

“There’s a lot to learn from social media, and it’s something that influences teenagers, young adults, and even children right now. We need to do a lot of research to figure out who it’s influencing, and how we can utilize [this knowledge] to create interventions,” Jesse said. “We can strengthen interventions if we build better trust with [the community].”

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The Road to the Undergraduate Research Symposium: Research Exposure

Allowing students to explore independent research questions related to social media and adolescent health

By Aleenah Ansari

[Writer’s Note: Leading up to UW Undergraduate Research Symposium (URS), we featured each of our research interns and their projects on various topics related to social media and adolescent health via our Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter social media channels. This is the first of three features that outline broader takeaways from the URS and how it allowed research interns to 1) gain research exposure, 2) develop community, and 3) work toward their long-term career goals.]

When it comes to research, there is typically a spectrum of roles ranging from identifying a problem to designing a project with the right methodology that can effectively translate to positive impact the target population. Research interns on the Social Media and Adolescent Health Research Team (SMAHRT) experience every stage of this process from identifying a research question to sharing their results through presentations like the Undergraduate Research Symposium.

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“It’s nice that this is a smaller team where you get to be involved in multiple projects and have assistance in starting your research training,” said Marina Jenkins, a current SMAHRT research intern.

With the recent growth of social media platforms and technology use, SMAHRT’s research is certainly timely and has a broad reach. Currently, there are no set recommendations about technology use, which opens up a variety of research questions about how to use it judiciously or, the way long-term use can impact people. SMAHRT is unique in that its members conduct research on a subject that has not been extensively researched in the past, which provides a variety of avenues for exploration about social media use, ethics, and engagement.

Photo May 19, 5 10 18 PM“It’s interesting because we don’t know how technology use affects us yet since social media is relatively new,” said Surupa Sarkar, a SMAHRT research intern. “It’s cool that there’s a research team in Seattle that focuses specifically on social media use with adolescents so over time, we can understand the health implications of [it].”

Additionally, the far-reaching impact of social media makes SMAHRT’s work incredibly relevant to current and future users, particularly adolescents.

Photo May 19, 5 04 41 PM“Now is the time to be studying [social media] because everything is changing with it,” said Nikki Singh, a SMAHRT research intern. “The generation before us, social media blew up when [they] were adults. Our generation, social media blew up when we were teenagers. The next generation, social media has been a part of their entire lives. It’s really interesting to see it through time. It’s such a big part of our lives, and there’s so much we don’t know about it.”
In their independent projects, SMAHRT research interns proactively identify their own research questions that relate to social media and adolescent health in an effort to understand current social media use with goals of identifying potential interventions or guidelines that could be implemented in the future.

Research interns contribute to research projects on teams while also exploring intersections of social media and adolescent health that are interesting to them. For example, Marina became interested in epidemiology toward the end of her college career, so she chose to focus her independent project on the conversation surrounding vaccines on parenting blogs. This allowed her to bridge this individual interest and develop robust research skills.

“I really wanted to experience working individually on research and in a team research setting, and also working on each step of the research process like doing literature reviews, developing projects, data collection, and writing the paper,” Marina said.

Marina hoped that this research could inform future public health efforts that focus on sharing accurate information about vaccines.

“There’s a need to develop better interventions to improve vaccination coverage, and to fight against anti-vaccination sentiments that have come up over the past several years,” Marina said. “A lot of it is related to publication of false information, and the thought that outbreaks, especially things publicized on social media, have influenced whether people or not are vaccinating.”

Some research interns like Kate Wilburn came to SMAHRT to conduct research that focuses on the intersection of technology and adolescent health. Kate initially discovered her interest in social media through a past internship at Youth Tech Health, which is a community organization that connects adolescents with accurate health information.

“Afterward, I wanted to learn more and dive deeper into how technology can be leveraged to improve youth health through innovative solutions, as well as learn about how technology affects youth health, particularly [their] mental health,” Kate said. “I have also always enjoyed conducting research and was excited to continue to improve image1those skills.”

With this identified interest, Kate chose to work on an independent research project that focused on mental health by exploring college students’ perception of the relationship between anxiety and social media. After presenting at the Undergraduate Research Symposium and the School of Public Health Undergraduate Symposium at the University of Washington, Kate hopes to work on a research paper to summarize her findings.

“My experiences at SMAHRT will be a big help when I eventually apply to graduate school, since research is what a lot of schools are looking for,” Kate said. “If I’m able to get my paper published, it would be particularly helpful! Other than graduate school, the skills I’ve gained give me a very solid research background, which is integral to many public health-related careers.”

Ultimately, SMAHRT research interns get to work on interesting questions and contribute to the growing body of research on social media and technology use.

“Social media is a rimage1_jaymin.jpgelevant research topic, and … an area of society that is heavily under-researched,” said SMAHRT research intern Jaymin Sohal of his research on how college students perceive and identify with antibiotic-related tweets. “My research project is only one small piece to the puzzle. The more important thing is to make sure we are working on solving this puzzle.”

This is our first post in a series on the Undergraduate Research Symposium – stay tuned for parts 2 and 3!

Features, Staff Spotlights, Uncategorized

Staff Spotlight: Brad Kerr

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Brad Kerr

You may have seen the incredible research or programs that stem from the Social Media and Adolescent Health Research Team, but have you ever met the masterminds behind the scenes? These masterminds, also known as our wonderful staff members, contribute to the integrity of SMAHRT on a daily basis. Whether this is planning our annual Summer Scholars, leading projects or mentoring our interns, our staff members are the glue that holds our team together. No matter how long they have been with us, our staff always brings new ideas and fresh perspectives relating to social media and adolescent health.

Some of our staff have been with us for a short time, and some have been here several years. One of those who have been a SMAHRTie for ages is Brad Kerr, one of our current Clinical Research Associates. Kerr graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a B.A. in Psychology and English in 2010 and joined the team in the summer of 2011. This was back when the team was called the Adolescent Health Research Team (AHRT) and was located in Wisconsin. The team’s focus on college students tied in well with Brad’s interest in research and higher education. During this time, Kerr also completed a Master’s in Administrative Leadership, specializing in Higher Education Administration at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 2013.

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After re-locating to Seattle, AHRT became SMAHRT to reflect the growth of social media in society

Kerr never imagined his time at AHRT would lead him to a career in Seattle, and also never thought the team’s name and focus would change. After the re-location from Wisconsin to Washington, AHRT quickly became SMAHRT, incorporating social media in the team’s research. Why the switch? In black and white, when the team moved to Seattle Children’s there was already an “Adolescent Health Research Team” in the area and the goal was to distinguish between the two teams. Additionally, the change was deemed appropriate given the ever-increasing significance of social media in society. There is one more aspect of the new name that is especially great in Kerr’s eyes: the endless opportunities to make puns on the team acronym. It was a SMAHRT idea to tie in social media in the study of adolescent health, and the team has capitalized on the various opportunities to study different aspects of this relationship.

As a Clinical Research Associate, Kerr plays a role in leading projects; ensuring data collection is completed, while also collecting data himself. His favorite project thus far on SMAHRT was the team’s study that evaluated college students’ alcohol and substance references on Facebook over a five-year period. This project always kept him on his toes – there was always something new, interesting and challenging because Facebook was constantly changing and he found this aspect fun to troubleshoot. He is currently contributing to projects that are at all different stages, meaning no two days in the office ever looks the same.

One of his most important and favorite roles is serving as a supervisor and mentor to interns. He helps them move their independent research projects forward and makes sure their work on larger team projects is going well. Kerr trains the interns to use our research methods, helps them brainstorm research project ideas, and assists with anything else that comes up throughout the day. Kerr has served as a dedicated and supportive mentor, always willing to go the extra mile to ensure our interns feel supported in all challenges that arise in tackling new projects.

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Kerr (far right) with his mentor group during the 2016 Summer Scholars Program

What does Kerr find most compelling about social media and adolescent health? He finds the relationship interesting and challenging to tackle these topics as things change rapidly. He finds that new social media platforms emerge quickly, but with no instruction manuals; meaning, we get our hands on them and just start playing. It is not until much later when we start to wonder how these platforms impact our health, and what the best way to use the platform is. Kerr finds it interesting that we can come up with useful guidelines that adapt to the quickly changing social media landscape.

Brad Kerr has been an integral part of SMAHRT since 2011, and continues to be a light in our office that can brighten anyone’s day. Stay updated on Brad’s adventures in March as he jets off to New Orleans to present at the Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine conference! We are so thankful for Brad, and cannot wait to see what is in store for you and SMAHRT!

Features, Scholar Spotlights, Uncategorized

Scholar Spotlight: Megan Stein

 

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After the nice two-week vacation from school, college students are in the midst of acclimating to a new quarter, new courses, and new activities. One of these students getting back into the swing of school is Megan Stein, a first-year at Western Washington University and our Scholar Spotlight for January.  Her intended major is Psychology with a focus on abnormal psychology, which is essentially the science of mental disorders. Stein is a highly motivated student who has already thought about her graduate school goals, and plans to either get a PhD in clinical psychology, or a Psychology Doctorate either in the United States or Canada.

Q: Are there any activities that you are involved in outside of school? If so, what are they, and why do you like to be involved?

A: “Back in High School, I was actually involved in a multicultural Vietnamese club where I fan dance. I got involved in this because I am half Vietnamese, and I grew up with Vietnamese dancing. At Western Washington University, I am in the psychology club,  Mixed Identity Student Organization, the mindfulness club, and NAMI on Camopus. NAMI is an organization which works to advance mental health advocacy, awareness, and resource sharing. I am also on the team of an action research project which aims to increase diversity and inclusion in the psychology department at Western Washington University. I like to be involved in these things to engage in broader discourse and learn other perspectives, be engaged in my community, and to contribute in the well-being of campus. ”

Click here to see a video of Stein’s multicultural Vietnamese club doing their first performance of fan dancing.

Q: What topics/areas of study do you find most interesting related to social media and adolescent health?

A: “I am interested in how social media can do good because right now, I do not think that social media is being harnessed to its full potential. For instance, social media can be used for more effective outreach with communities of need, and social media can help raise awareness of more issues. I have faith in humanity to do better.”

Q: Have you started considering any potential career fields?

A: “I want something that isn’t the same everyday, where I can work on all sorts of different projects. I used to want to be a clinical researcher, but now I am open to everything.”

Q: After participating in Scholars, what is your view about the research world?

A: “I think that the research world comes with challenges but if it is ethical, it is worth it. Honest research is important.”

We love checking in with our Scholar Alumni! If you’d like to see more content like this, check out our Scholar Spotlight on Tommy LaGuardia or our Intern Spotlight on Jesse Gohwer.

 

Features, Intern Spotlights, Uncategorized

Intern Spotlight: Aubrey Gower

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“All these experiences have been influential in exposing me to what research means and how it can be used to influence medicine and our community” – Aubrey Gower, Undergraduate Research Intern

What does a typical day for a SMAHRTie look like, you may ask? Good question! Not only do our team members work on various research studies, but they also fly around the country to present work at conferences, participate at community outreach events and assist in the planning of our annual programs. As our staff work diligently on these projects, our interns are treated no differently. Along with being an instrumental part of the research happening at SMAHRT, they are also encouraged to conduct their own independent project. They are not simply “interns,” but a dynamic part of the team that have a rare opportunity to contribute to and spearhead work to advance the understanding of the correlation between social media and adolescent health.

Just ask Aubrey Gower, a senior at the University of Washington and one of our fantastic undergraduate research interns. Gower is a Biology and Psychology double major, with a minor in Greek and Roman Classics, and has been with SMAHRT for a little over two years. Gower entered the team wanting to pursue clinical medicine with a focus in pediatrics, but interning at SMAHRT has broadened her original plan to include research in her future. Through contributing to different projects, such as the five-year cohort study investigating Facebook profiles and health behaviors among college students, and other experiences like shadowing physicians in adolescent medicine, Gower has been exposed to all the possibilities research holds. Ultimately, she hopes to work with underserved youth populations as a physician with an emphasis on research and intervention, to be able to better understand and better treat these communities.

As stated earlier, SMAHRT interns have the opportunity to conduct their own independent research project, and Gower has completed two of her own projects and has presented both at the Undergraduate Research Symposium at the University of Washington. Her first project was a content analysis looking at college Twitter pages that promote college lifestyles and their negative health behavior content. This was followed by her second project, a survey of college students aimed at understanding drinking behaviors and alcohol references seen over the social media app Snapchat. Gower is currently in the midst of conducting her third independent project with the hope of expanding this into a larger scale project, a pilot cohort investigating app use and problematic internet use among incoming college freshman.

Other than joking around with other members of the team, Gower’s favorite part of being on the SMAHRT team is the weekly team meetings. She loves how almost the entire team is able to come together and discuss current topics relevant in the field of technology and adolescent health, while it also being a time to give updates and simply just engage with one another. As you have probably noticed, Aubrey Gower is not only extremely driven, but extremely busy as well. How does she make it through her chaotic day? Green tea, which makes it possible for her to tackle her day, regardless of what big projects lay ahead.

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Features, Scholar Spotlights, Uncategorized

Scholar Spotlight: Varsha S. Veeramachaneni

Meet Varsha S. Veermachaneni, a motivated senior at Tesla STEM High School, a participant in Summer Scholars 2015, and our Scholar Spotlight for December. Veeramachaneni is currently in the midst of the college application process, where she plans on starting the Pre-Medicine track with the goal of becoming a doctor. Although still in high school, she has spent her summer taking a pre-calculus class at the University of Washington where she has met and connected with others that share her love for math. Along with math, Veeramachaneni is also passionate about learning and practicing various languages. She can currently read and write in five different languages, including English, Spanish, Hindi, Korean, and Telugu. Next on the horizon for Veeramachaneni is learning Japanese.

Q: Did participating in Summer Scholars help guide you towards a certain interest in social media research?
A: “I was interested in social media research before Summer Scholars, but Summer Scholars did strengthen it. For the Washington State science fair, Jesse mentored me on a research project studying the influence of social media on happiness and stress levels with things like how many followers people have, and how many likes they receive.”
Q: In general, what topics of study do you find most interesting?
A: “I am really interested in prosthetics. In my junior year of high school at the Biomedical Engineering Lab, I researched shoulder prosthetics, which was really cool. We used 3D modeling software and a 3D printer to design our own shoulder prosthetic, with the advice of a shoulder surgeon from the University of Washington.”
Q: After participating in Scholars, what is your view about the research world?
A: “Research is so incredible. We need to do research before we take action for anything. We need to figure out the right problem before we can fix it with the right solution. With that being said, I cannot wait for my next research project.”
Q: Who is the biggest inspiration in your life?
A: “My parents are definitely my biggest inspiration. They both came from India and worked really hard to get to where they are today.”

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Features, Scholar Spotlights, Uncategorized

Scholar Spotlight: Margo Nanneman

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Meet Margo Nanneman, a rising senior at Tesla STEM High School and a participant in our Summer Scholars Program in 2015. While staying involved in activities, such as Physics Club, Nanneman has also recently begun the college search. She hopes to attend a research-oriented school upon graduation, as continuing to stay involved with research is extremely important to her. However, Nanneman’s career path is not set in stone, as she wants to ensure she has a plethora of experiences before settling down on an area of study; although she has considered a few potential majors. Currently, neuroscience fascinates her because of the combination of psychology and biology, while still leaving her the option to enter the field of public health and/or research.

Q: Did participating in Summer Scholars help guide you towards a certain major, career path, or field of study?

A: “It definitely opened my eyes to the variety of different jobs available in research. I think that because I’ve been able to see how wide research is and the different topics you can do research on, that has been helpful in realizing there are different options and ways to help people and be part of public health.”

Q: After participating in Scholars, what is your view about the research world? Did your perspective change after being part of this program?

A: “After the first year of Scholars, I began this research project with a team from my school that we’re still working on now. We decided to build and test a device to aid in solar water disinfection in developing countries, and now we’re on to testing the device. We’re in contact with foundations and companies in places like Bolivia, and we’re trying to send them prototypes and trials of our device. We’ve done the whole research project and I thought back to Scholars – Scholars helped me understand that this is a research process, and making sure we get each step done.”

Q: What advice would you give to future Scholars?

A: “I would say to just explore as many opportunities as you can. Eventually, you’ll find something that you really click with.”

Features, Scholar Spotlights, Uncategorized

Scholar Spotlight: Danny Pham

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Over the past two years, the SMAHRTeam has hosted Summer Scholars, a program dedicated to helping high school students get involved in science. We are pleased to introduce our first Scholar Spotlight Danny Pham, participant in Summer Scholars 2015, who is also a member of our Youth Advisory Board, and served as a Scholars Alumni at our program this past summer. This fall, Pham will be starting his first year at the University of Washington Seattle, where he is currently planning on majoring in Applied Mathematics and Analytics. Being a highly motivated student with a passion for math, Pham is also dabbling with the idea of double majoring in Computer Science. His ultimate goal is to become a data analyst after college, while also wanting to keep his career and studies closely connected with research.

Q: Who is the biggest inspiration in your life? Why or how does this person inspire you?
A: “I would say my Grandpa. Along with the rest of my family, he really pushed education and helped me stay on track with my studies. He made me excited to learn.”

Q: What is one career oriented goal you would like to accomplish in your lifetime?
A: “I want to do research somewhere, either has an intern or a director. I am not sure what kind yet, but I want to research something that will be helpful for society”

Q: Did participating in Summer Scholars help guide you towards a certain major, career path, or field of study? If so, how and why?
A: “When I first participated in 2015, there was a panel that included a data analyst, who collected data for the research projects and created graphs and other visuals for the team. I found this very appealing and it gave me a better sense of what I wanted to go in to.”

Q: What advice would you give to future scholars?
A: “Enjoy and learn as much as you can! There is not much research exposure in high school, so absorb as much information as you can. Even if you are not interested in research, you are still able to learn new things and enjoy the experience. But, if you are interested in research, keep pursuing it beyond the program!”

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The Underground Hashtags of Social Media

Our SMAHRTies spend the majority of their time working on research to identify how to improve adolescent health through social media. Here’s a “behind the scenes” look at what happens before the research paper’s published.

Two of our SMARHTies were interested in the underground hashtags on Instagram and Twitter. Adrienne Ton researched the use of “#selfharmmm” on Instagram as a way to express or promote self-harm. Nina Suthamjariya, meanwhile, researched how the use of “#proana,” “#edrecovery,” “#thinspo,” and “#eatingdisorders” were used on Twitter to express or promote eating disorders. Originally, Instagram had elected to ban hashtags known to promote self-harm because the content associated with those hashtags violated the platform’s policies. However, Instagram recently changed its guidelines to allow users to express emotions associated with the hashtag “selfharmmm,” as long as the images themselves did not promote self-harm. Twitter, on the other hand, does not ban or provide advisories for any content, so users can express and promote risky behaviors like eating disorders without drawing administrator attention.

Both Ton and Suthamjariya found these underground hashtags can create a community among people who support risky behaviors like self-harm and disordered eating, but both SMAHRTies also found hashtag communities can support the recovery of individuals expressing these problematic behaviors. People turn to sites like Instagram and Twitter because it creates a safe space to connect with people that feel similarly to them, and it also gives them anonymity that cannot be found when talking with friends or family.

Using Instagram with the hashtag of “selfharmmm” creates an outlet for users to have the support system they want without it affecting their offline networks of family, friends, or doctors. The online relationships SMAHRT studied proved to be both helpful and harmful, depending on how these hashtags are used. Some Instagram “friendships” encouraged recovery from self-harm, but some users posted content that was triggering to people who self-harm. On Twitter, our SMAHRTies found specific trends and patterns between different hashtags. Hashtags like “#proana” were specifically for people that wanted support for being anorexic, but hashtags like “#edrecovery” supported the recovery of eating disorders and tried to help users stay healthy. Some hashtags, like, #eatingdisorders brought a mix of helpful and harmful messages.

One constant emerged from both Ton and Suthamjariya’s research: Social networking sites are not always bad, nor are they always good. Rather, these sites are a tool that can be used in myriad ways, depending on the intention of the user, a notion supported by much of SMAHRT’s research, hashtag-centric or not.