The COVID-19 pandemic is putting significant stress on college students. Mental health researcher shares how to support the well-being of college students this holiday season.

By Molly Gluck and Sari Cohen

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Image credit:Noah Silliman on Unsplash

Traditionally, the holidays are a time to gather with friends and family to indulge in quality time together, delicious meals, and festivities. This year, the pandemic has stripped away the joys of gathering with loved ones, while also intensifying many stressors. For college students, this holiday season will be especially difficult as they cope with academic pressure, travel plans, isolation, and more.

Dr. Sarah Lipson, assistant professor in the Department of Health Law Policy at the Boston University School of Public Health, laser-focuses her efforts on understanding and addressing mental health concerns facing college students. Her recent research uncovered that the rate of depression among college students has increased since the start of the pandemic, and 60 percent of students report that the pandemic has made it more difficult to access mental health care. …


Environmental conservation expert discusses how his new research will play a key role in promoting a greener future.

By Katherine Gianni

For decades, scientists have been warning about potential future effects of global climate change, including more frequent wildfires, longer periods of drought, and sharp increases in the number, duration, and intensity of tropical storms. And since the start of 2020, we’ve seen natural disasters in record-breaking numbers, from the wildfires that ravaged California and Colorado, to most consecutive days with temperatures skyrocketing over 100 degrees in places like Arizona. …


Mental health experts share how to cope with election-related stress and anxiety.

By Molly Gluck and Katherine Gianni

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Photo by Tiffany Tertipes on Unsplash.

There is one thing that Americans can all agree upon this election season: feelings of mounting stress. According to a new survey from the American Psychological Association, U.S. voters are reporting a significant uptick in their election-related anxieties. The survey found that 76% of registered Democrats, 67% of registered Republicans and 64% of Independents said that the upcoming presidential election is causing distress in their lives — a sharp increase when compared to the findings from 2016.

We spoke with Dr. Michelle Durham, psychiatrist and Professor of Psychiatry at the Boston University School of Medicine, and Dr. John Otis, Director of the Behavioral Medicine Program at the Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders and Research Associate Professor at the Boston University Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences to share actionable advice for reducing and coping with election-related stress and anxiety. From limiting 24-hour news consumption, to engaging in healthy, rather than heated discourse online, these professors lend their expertise for navigating a tense political climate — both on Election Day, and beyond. …


By Hilary Katulak and Molly Gluck

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Photo courtesy of Christine Cincotta and The Ramirez Lab

In the United States alone, over 14 million adults suffer from alcohol use disorder. For those that seek treatment, 90% will experience at least one relapse within the first four years. One reason for this is that alcohol withdrawal directly impacts the brain’s stress and memory systems, which may underlie individual susceptibility to persistent drug and alcohol‐seeking behaviors.

Dr. Steve Ramirez, Assistant Professor of Psychological & Brain Sciences at Boston University and research director at 1907 Research, is the principal investigator of The Ramirez Group, where he leads research on how memory works and how to hijack it to treat disorders of the brain. …


By Hilary Katulak and Katherine Gianni

Optical microscopy has been an indispensable tool for studying complex biological systems. The most common technique to record images with a microscope is with a digital camera, which is cost effective, light efficient, low noise, simple to use and involves no moving parts. However, this method is often hampered by problems of speed and complexity when performing 3D volumetric imaging.

Researchers from Boston University’s Biomicroscopy Lab have uncovered an innovative and simple solution. Detailed in a paper published in Optica, the researchers, led by biomedical engineering professor Jerome Mertz, outline a flexible and versatile platform for high speed, high contrast, large field-of-view 3D imaging. The platform makes use of a simple z-splitter implemented with standard widefield microscopy which can be added to existing systems and is easy to replicate — making it an accessible and attractive tool for biological and biomedical research. …


Neuroscientists uncover a middleman between cognitive and emotional brain regions

By Molly Gluck

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(Image source: Mary Kate Joyce and Helen Barbas, Boston University Neural Systems Laboratory and Jess Holz, MFA)

What would life be like if we could only act on emotion? On the flip side, what would happen if no one felt emotion — and we were only guided by reason? Envisioning both scenarios highlights the critical importance of balancing emotion and reason.

Healthy emotional regulation requires communication between cognitive brain regions, like the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), and emotional brain regions, such as area 25. However, these two areas are weakly connected — and until now, it has been unknown how they interact. Boston University neuroscientists Drs. …


From memory boosting to brain washing, Boston University advances the global fight against Alzheimer’s Disease

By Sari Cohen and Molly Gluck

Today, more than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s Disease, and that number is predicted to rise to 14 million by 2050. Whether it is finding a more accurate detection of the neurodegenerative disorder, uncovering new risk factors, or using electrostimulation to improve working memory, Boston University researchers are making headway in the worldwide effort to combat and treat the disease. To commemorate World Alzheimer’s Month, we bring you their top research discoveries.

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Does racism impact cognition? The Black Women’s Health Study — which started surveying 59,000 African American women in their late 30s, and now follows those women’s health histories as their age approaches the mid-60s — reveals that experiences of racism are linked with decreased memory and cognition later in life. The School of Public Health researchers found that Black women who experienced the highest levels of interpersonal racism (such as hearing racial slurs) are 2.75 times more at risk of poor subjective cognitive function than those who experienced lower levels of interpersonal racism. Learn more about how these findings are leading to research examining whether exposure to racism accelerates progression to Alzheimer’s disease in Black individuals. …


Child psychology expert offers advice on how parents can maintain a routine, manage covid induced stress, and support their children’s changing needs.

By Katherine Gianni

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Photo by Charles Deluvio on Unspalsh.

Even in the best of times, parenting young children is a juggling act. Throw a global health pandemic into the mix, along with the fear, uncertainty, and pressure that comes with it, and you’re still juggling, while simultaneously teetering across a tightrope. …


Epidemiologist Dr. Ellie Murray answers all of your COVID questions

By Molly Gluck and Sari Cohen

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Image source: @veradavidovaphotography from Unsplash

In the past year, coronavirus has impacted everyone — drastically transforming our daily lives, routines, and social interactions. Dr. Ellie Murray, assistant professor of epidemiology at Boston University School of Public Health, researches how to make good evidence-based decisions to reduce disease and improve health in human populations. In recent months, she has zeroed in on understanding the spread of COVID-19 and has established herself as a go-to source for safely navigating daily life during the pandemic. …


By Mary Elizabeth Collins and Sarah Baldiga

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Photo by Charlein Gracia on Unsplash.

Think about how much your daily routines have been upended: your work, your home life, how you stay in touch with friends and family.

Now picture going through all that without the stability of a permanent home.

For many young people in our foster care system, the coronavirus pandemic threatens to shatter an already-shaky sense of normalcy that’s crucial for their growth and development. As we navigate our own new norms, each of us can help make sure these vulnerable youth aren’t forgotten in the chaos of crisis.

Losing routine, stability and normalcy — core ingredients for lifelong resilience — can be especially damaging to youth in foster care. Their short lives have already seen a piling-on of challenges, from family separation to instability in temporary home placements. Even in better times, they endure stigma when they can’t easily join the extracurricular, social and cultural activities that other youngsters enjoy. …

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BU Experts

Cutting-edge research and commentary out of Boston University, home to Nobel laureates, Pulitzer winners and Guggenheim Scholars. Find an expert: bu.edu/experts

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