Psychology alumna, Olivia Silke ’15 is on a roll!  She has just completed her M.A. in Psychological Research from CSU Long Beach where she received both the Sally Casanova Pre-Doctoral Scholar award and the Graduate Research Fellows award. This past spring, she won a University Achievement Award for Outstanding Graduate Research Student solidifying her reputation as an academic star. What’s more, she’s been accepted as a PhD student in Psychological Science at UC Irvine. But it doesn’t end there.

In addition to all the above, she was recently awarded the extremely competitive National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship. This $138,000 award will support Olivia’s research into the effects of stress on low-income perinatal mothers and their infants. Broadly, her research interests cover maternal-infant health, mindfulness-based interventions, stress, fetal programming, neuroendocrinology, cellular aging, and preventative medicine.

During her time as a Chapman undergrad, Olivia was active in the Psi Chi International Honor’s Society. She worked in multiple psychology labs, most notably the Health and Well-Being Lab directed by Dr. Julia Boehm which investigates the effect of positive psychology on health. When asked about her experience at Chapman, Olivia had this to say:

My tenure at Chapman was foundational to my current success. Dr. Schandler’s year-long thesis class taught me critical thinking skills and scientific writing techniques. While working with Dr. Julia Boehm I learned the dynamics surrounding an active research project (e.g., IRB approval, data analysis, and teamwork). Although I have since graduated, Dr. Boehm continues to be an active mentor and inspiration. I am blessed to have had these opportunities while at Chapman.

Upon graduating from Chapman in 2015, she was immediately accepted as a Research Assistant at USC’s prestigious Keck School of Medicine. Under the direction of Dr. David Black, she assessed health and pain outcomes for orthopedic patients following a Mindfulness-Based Intervention in the Biobehavioral Research of Mind-Body Medicine Lab. This experience was followed by work in the PRO-Health Lab at CSULB under the direction of Dr. Guido Urizar. Between 2015 and 2019 she delivered nearly 20 oral and poster presentations all over the west coast.

At UCI, she hopes her research will expand current knowledge of mind-body interventions in ways that promote health and well-being, improve psychological function, and reduce suffering for all. Olivia is a model for current psychology majors and all Panthers who strive for academic and research excellence. We wish her the best of luck and look forward to inviting her back to her alma mater to give a research talk in the future.