Meet the NSF GRFP recipients – Ana Sheehan
Ana Sheehan is pursuing a doctorate in clinical science in UD’s Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences. Her research on personality and individual differences focuses on understanding not only why adults engage in risk-taking behaviors, such as aggression, substance abuse and suicidality, but identifying when they are most at risk for engaging in these behaviors.
“A significant barrier to reducing engagement in risk-taking behavior is our inability to predict windows of heightened risk,” said Sheehan. “I’m interested in using assessment techniques, including wearable devices and ecological momentary assessment, to trach physiological and behavioral changes associated with increases in risk-taking behaviors as they occur in real time.”
Sheehan, who was awarded a bachelor’s degree from Vassar College, has served as a research assistant at Brown University. Through her work at Brown, she became fascinated with how everyday technology, from iPhones to Fitbits, could be leveraged to tell us more about how risky behaviors emerge in real time.
“I think technology offers a really unique opportunity not only to learn more about these behaviors but also to inform prevention and intervention efforts targeting these pervasive health problems,” said Sheehan.
At UD, Sheehan has been mentored by Naomi Sadeh, assistant professor of psychological and brain sciences. Along with Sadeh, Sheehan’s lab mates, Nadia Bounoua and Rickie Miglin, have been integral in helping her develop and conceptualize her research ideas and encouraging her to bring these concepts to the lab. She also thanks them for their support during the application process, including reviewing her submission materials.
The recipient of a University of Delaware Graduate Scholar Award, Sheehan’s career goal is to become a researcher at an academic institution or academic medical center, working on projects that integrate novel technologies to help us understand the cognitive mechanisms underlying risky and self-destructive behaviors.