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Rising junior Jackie Beeson is a research assistant for STAR Quit, a smoking cessation study being conducted through the Department of Behavioral Health and Nutrition.

STAR Quit study

Behavioral health and nutrition student assists in smoking cessation research

One of the perks of being a University of Delaware student is the remarkable number of undergraduate research opportunities. And rising junior Jackie Beeson is taking full advantage.

Beeson is funded by a University of Delaware Research Foundation grant to assist with summer research under Freda Patterson, assistant professor of behavioral health and nutrition (BHAN) in the College of Health Sciences.

As a research assistant, Beeson focuses on several behavioral change studies, including STAR Quit, a 15-week, six-session smoking cessation study. The research provides cigarette smokers free treatment to help quit smoking, such as medication and counseling.

Beeson focuses primarily on screenings. She determines if an applicant is eligible to participate, and assists with data entry and phone screenings. As a health behavior science major and medical diagnostics minor, Beeson’s goal is to develop her scientific writing skills and improve her quantitative skills with data analysis and interpretation.

During the spring semester, Beeson was recommended for the summer position by Marc Lodyga, a BHAN assistant professor, who strongly encouraged her involvement in behavioral health research.

“If it weren’t for Lodyga’s recommendation, I would not have had this position,” Beeson said. “Our department’s professors and advisers all communicate with one another.”

Soon after Lodyga’s recommendation, Beeson met with Patterson, who informed her of the studies they would be conducting during the summer.

“Once you are in the [BHAN] program and your name is out there, you really have so many opportunities and experiences; the department is willing to teach you and they are willing to help challenge you,” she said. “They give you experiences and opportunities that you might not initially feel qualified for, but they are going to guide you.”

After graduating from UD, Beeson said she plans to attend physician assistant school. The aspiration stemmed from years of interest in hospitals, medicine and health.

She has fueled her interest by shadowing various physician assistants at Delaware hospitals. She will earn more patient care hours before the end of her college career.

Beeson will continue her BHAN studies in South Africa in January 2018, studying global health and physical activity and international community health. She will continue her research under Patterson for the remainder of the summer.

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