New First Year Undergraduate Research Program: Animal and Human Models of Stress in Close Relationships
Among humans and many non-human species, individuals have a fundamental need to initiate, develop, and sustain close relationships. For example, early in development, when parents rear their young, multiple relationships characterize this period, including relationships between parents as well as between parents and their young. As children develop, family relationships continue to hold some importance to the child, but so do relationships that develop outside of the family (e.g., mate selection in animal species, romantic and work relationships in humans). Can stressful experiences in relationships in one social context (family interactions in the home/nest) impact relationships in other contexts (social interactions with conspecifics)? If so, what implications might these experiences have on the physical and mental health of both parents and their young?
Beginning in January 2016, Dr. Andres De Los Reyes and Dr. Erica Glasper will begin a new undergraduate research training program that marks the beginning of an exciting collaboration between both of their laboratories. Funded in part by the University of Maryland’s First-Year Innovation & Research Experience (FIRE) program, the research will involve conducting interdisciplinary studies focused on the stressful experiences that might arise with parents and how they relate to their young. These relationships are common to all animals, both human and non-human alike. What makes this work exciting is that it combines the passion and energy for this research across two scientists who study family relationships in very different ways. The program studies WHAT stress in work and family relationships does to mental and physical health in humans in a laboratory run by Dr. De Los Reyes, a trained Clinical Psychologist. The program studies WHY this stress impacts health in non-human animals in a laboratory run by Dr. Glasper, a trained Behavioral Neuroendocrinologist. In essence, research conducted in each lab builds on discoveries made in the other lab, making for a vibrant place to learn about research and the links between the human and non-human animal worlds.