Research Projects


The Stress in Obese Adolescents and their Resilience (SOAR) Study

Poor metabolic control puts teens with obesity at risk for a number of serious health complications. However, not all youth with obesity develop metabolic complications. Dr. Idia Thurston and Dr. Kathryn Howell were awarded an NIH grant (grant number: NIDDK R21DK113344) for this study examining differences in stress, stigma (weight- and race-based), and resilience among youth with and without obesity-related metabolic complications, in order to develop effective strategies for promoting metabolic health. Study is still recruiting individuals from Le Boheur Children’s Hospital.

Teaching Health empowerment tools to combat Racism via Independent thinking, Values affirmation, and Ethnic Pride (THRIVE)

Racial discrimination is a known social determinant of health and a primary contributor to racial and ethnic health inequities. Ethnic identity, or the connection individuals have with their identified ethnic group, is a known protective factor associated with improved health outcomes. The CHANGE Lab was awarded a grant from APA Div 54 to examine the effects of two brief technology-supported interventions, aimed at promoting ethnic identity among BIPOC adolescents (ages 12-17) and young adults (ages 18-25) with self-reported health problems. The intervention and assessment tools are currently under development; active recruitment will begin in Spring 2021.

Community Partners Assessment

To further our lab's mission in eliminating heath inequities, we are interested in engaging communities and community organizations to explore mental and physical health needs of youth and families in B/CS and Houston. We are currently reaching out, interviewing, and developing partnerships with community organizations. Our present focus is to develop a stronger understanding of the most prominent needs of local community organizations and their members, and opportunities for our lab to contribute to health and wellness needs. A few projects that have emerged from the assessment thus far include: partnering with Timothy Project to support youth via a holiday educational fundraiser, and developing a mental health coping toolkit.

Completed Recruitment

The Parenting Through Hardships (PaTH Kids) Study

Dr. Idia Thurston and Dr. Kathryn Howell were awarded an NIH grant (grant number: NICHD R15HD089410) for this study, which examines the relationship between youth resilience and maternal hardships (including: HIV/AIDS, substance use, relationship violence, and risky sexual behaviors). The PaTH Kids Study explores whether maternal mental and physical health affect the relationship between maternal hardships and children’s ability to handle adversity. Recruitment is completed for this study but data are still available.

The Identity Exploration Study (TIES)

What kinds of microaggressions do multi-racial individuals experience? What factors are associated with resilience in the context of microaggressions? Dr. Idia Thurston and Dr. Laura Marks led this study examining the relationships between racial/ethnic identity, microaggressions, and resilience among adolescents and adults aged 18-25 years old. Recruitment is completed for this study but data are still available.

Behaviors, Relationships, and Identity Development (BRAID)

What are the makings of a person’s identity and how do individuals see themselves? The BRAID study set out to answer these questions by learning how people think about themselves and what factors contribute to one’s sense of identity. This study was conducted by Ph.D. student Kristina Decker under the supervision of the CHANGE lab’s director, Dr. Idia Thurston. Recruitment is completed for this study but data are still available.

Cancer Learning in My Backyard (CLIMB) Pilot Study

The cancer burden in the Midsouth is significant and Memphis, TN bears a disproportionate burden of this disease. There is a strong connection linking cancer disparities with socioeconomic, racial, and educational inequity. There is an urgent need for research to address cancer disparities and for the nation to ensure we have a well-prepared scientific workforce to do so. Dr. Thurston, Dr. Michelle Martin, and Dr. David Schwartz were awarded a local grant from the Pyramid Peak Foundation for this study leading an immersive cancer research education program to ignite interest in cancer-related research careers in youth. Study is still recruiting individuals from the community in Memphis, TN.

Coming Soon

Developing the Intersectional Body Ideal Scale (IBIS) for Adolescents

Weight misperception and body satisfaction have important implications for the mental and physical health of adolescents and young adults (AYA) with obesity. However, only a very limited array of body ideals (thinness for women, muscularity for men) have been considered and researched to date. This study will recruit undergraduate students to understand weight misperception and body satisfaction across different ethnicities. We will utilize this information to develop a culturally-relevant body ideal scale for AYA with obesity that takes into consideration the intersection of race/ethnicity, sex, and weight. This study will be actively recruiting individuals at Texas A&M University and in the Bryan/College Station community in Fall 2021.