From April 11 to April 14, I will be representing Fors Marsh Group (FMG) at the Society of Behavioral Medicine’s (SBM) Annual Meeting & Scientific Sessions in New Orleans, LA. SBM does an excellent job showcasing both groundbreaking basic research in behavioral health as well as applications of this research in communities and policy. I am excited to be presenting my research at the poster session on April 12 titled, "Motivation or self-efficacy? Examining which construct better explains the association of body dissatisfaction with exercise."
I will also be a panelist for the session, "Speed networking your career options: Non-academic paths for behavior scientists," on Friday, April 13, from 10:45 a.m.–11:45 a.m. Oftentimes, it can be difficult for Ph.D. students or junior researchers to know what research opportunities exist outside academia. As a senior scientist at FMG, I have been able to continue conducting rigorous, theoretically grounded research, like I did in academia. However, I have also had the opportunity to apply our research findings to improving public health and social marketing campaigns or policy. I’m excited to talk with others interested in non-academic careers about these types of opportunities.
Below are some of the other presentations that I am most excited to attend:
- Friday, 12:45 p.m.–1:45 p.m. Panel Discussion: Theories and Techniques of Behavior Change Interventions SIG Presents: The Accumulating Data to Optimally Predict Obesity Treatment (ADOPT) Project.
- Friday, 3:30 p.m.–4:45 p.m. Paper Session 31: Digital Health Innovations in Tracking and Self-Monitoring.
- Friday 5 p.m.–6 p.m. Keynote Panel Discussion: Communicating Behavioral Medicine to the Public: Lessons Learned from Leading Journalists.
The ADOPT project was convened by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to help understand individual variability in response to obesity treatments such as diet, physical activity, and bariatric surgery. One of the initial tasks of this group was to identify a core set of high-priority, gold-standard measures for researchers to use in studies. The ADOPT project has the potential to apply concepts of precision medicine to behavioral health research. Understanding which factors predict or modify treatment success has the potential to impact the field of obesity greatly.
As an obesity researcher, I have found it extremely exciting to watch the development of mobile health (mHealth) technology for tracking physical activity. In my own research, I’ve used smartphone applications and Fitbits to measure activity objectively. Each year that I attend SBM, I’m always impressed and excited by the new technologies available and the creative ways they have been used in research. As much progress as mHealth technology has made for tracking physical activity objectively, nutrition research still has no objective way of accurately measuring dietary intake. I’m hoping that this session will elucidate some of the progress that has been made in this area as well.
The field of behavioral medicine has two main goals: (1) to understand how to help people live healthier lives, and (2) to communicate that information in a way that is meaningful, truthful, and applicable to the public. James Hamblin and Gretchen Reynolds have built their careers around communicating complex topics to general audiences. Effectively communicating our science and our findings to others helps ensure that interventions and policies are as successful as possible and that our research is not misinterpreted by consumers.