Research in Biobehavioral Health

The Penn State Biobehavioral Health Department maintains several on-campus labs that are staffed by experts and consultants with specialties in a diverse array of biological assessments. These laboratories offer a variety of services for researchers and educators.

Biobehavioral Laboratories

Sleep Health and Society - (Dr. Orfeu Buxton)

Research focuses on the causes and consequences of sleep deficiency: causes of sleep deficiency in the workplace, home, and society; health consequences of sleep deficiency, especially cardiometabolic outcomes; use of biomarkers in field studies.

Stress and Health Lab - (Dr. Graham-Engeland)

The overall mission of the Stress and Health Lab at Penn State University is to examine the effects of psychological stress and stress responses on physical health. One long-term goal of our research is to provide a better understanding of the many influences on chronic pain and to develop novel and inexpensive supplemental therapeutic approaches for pain.

Smoking and Health Behavior Laboratory - (Dr. Branstetter)

The Mission of our laboratory is to contribute to the scientific understanding of a range of smoking behaviors including smoking onset, the experience of nicotine addiction, nicotine withdrawal and smoking cessation.

Prevention Research to Optimize (PRO) Health Lab - (Dr. Turrisi)

The Prevention Research to Optimize (PRO) Health Lab specializes in peer, parent, and feedback interventions to help reduce risky drinking and health related behaviors in adolescents, college students, and adults. The research conducted in our lab is considered to be at the forefront of both the Alcohol and Skin Cancer fields.

Bio-Qualitative Research Lab (BioQUAL) - (Dr. Snipes)

The Bio-Qualitative Research Lab (BioQUAL) sponsors behavioral, mixed-methods research on health in order to gain a richer understanding of how cultural beliefs, behaviors, and the environment merge to influence health.

Behavioral Neurogenetics Lab - (Dr. Kamens)

Research in the Behavioral Neurogenetics Lab focuses on the role of genetics in complex disorders. We examine if genetic variation influences behaviors and try to elucidate the biological mechanism through which this is occurring.

Family and Child Health Project - (Dr. Francis)

The Family and Child Health Project aims to identify various biobehavioral mechanisms that influence the development of obesity in children. While the prevalence of overweight and obesity has increased among children from all socioeconomic groups, some groups are disproportionately affected, particularly children living in poverty, and African-American and Hispanic children.

Biobehavioral Health Studies Laboratory - (Dr. Klein)

The Biobehavioral Health Studies Laboratory is dedicated to the investigation of individual differences in the biobehavioral effects of stress. The lab incorporates both human and animal models to evaluate the multiple biological and behavioral factors that underlie individual stress responses.

Behavioral Neuroendocrinology Lab - (Dr. Cavigelli)

Research in the Behavioral Neuroendocrinology Lab focuses on how temperament or personality relates to physiology and health. The larger goal being to determine how and why individuals differ in their behavioral and physiological responses to common challenges and to understand how this influences individual susceptibility and/or resilience to certain disease states and rates of aging.

Biobehavioral Transitions Laboratory - (Dr. Susman)

Biobehavioral transitions refer to turning points in the life span that have the potential for significantly affecting mental or physical health. The Biobehavioral Transitions Lab (BTL) has evolved over the past two decades as a research program devoted to the study of individuals as they pass through important life transitions.

Global Health and Culture Project - (Dr. Airhihenbuwa)

The aim of the Global Health and Culture Project is to understand the mechanism of positive and supportive social, cultural and structural determinants of health and health behaviors.

Molecular Genetics Laboratory - (Dr. Vandenbergh)

The research goal of the Molecular Genetics Laboratory (Vandenbergh Lab) is to understand the molecular basis of addiction, using a combination of human genetic studies and mouse models that focus on nicotine and its effects on the brain.

Stress and Nutrition Research Program - (Dr. West)

The mission of the Stress and Nutrition Research Group and the Vascular Health Interventions Lab is to measure the effects of specific foods and nutrients on multiple coronary risk markers, including cardiovascular responses to stress.

Stress, Health, and Daily Experiences (SHADE) Lab - (Dr. Smyth)

The overall mission of the Stress, Health and Daily Experiences Lab is to explore ‘Mind-Body’ issues as they relate to physical health and well-being. Notably, we study the dynamic interplay amongst stress, mood, behavior, social factors, and physiology, as well as interventions that might promote enhanced health and/or well-being.

Additional Faculty Research

View a matrix of faculty research interests and topics.