Three Allegheny College Students Present Research Findings at National Conference

Study on Sleep, Health Behaviors Receives International Media Coverage

MEADVILLE, Pa., – April 12, 2011 – Three Allegheny College juniors – each double majoring in neuroscience and psychology  – recently presented posters at the American Psychosomatic Society’s national conference in San Antonio, Tex.

American Psychosomatic Society Presenters
From left: Prof. Sarah Conklin and students Nicole Piccirillo, Stephen Martinkovich and Ryan Brindle at the American Psychosomatic Society's national conference

Ryan Brindle, Stephen Martinkovich and Nicole Piccirillo shared findings of research they conducted last spring as part of an independent study with Sarah Conklin, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychology and neuroscience. The researchers collected data on more than 100 participants regarding mood and health behaviors such as exercise, diet and sleep.  They then examined the results to test hypotheses from medical literature on sleep quality and mental and physical health outcomes.

At the conference Brindle, of Denville, N.J., presented a poster titled “Depression is Associated with Blunted Cardiovascular Reactions to Psychological Stress in Young Adults”; Martinkovich, of Mars, Pa., presented a poster titled “Evening Chronotype is Associated with Poor Sleep Quality and Mental Health Status in Young Adults”; and Piccirillo, of Walpole, N.H., presented a poster titled “Relationship Status is Associated with Physical Health and Stress in Young Adults.”

“Nicole, Ryan and Stephen presented with confidence and poise alongside graduate students, faculty and medical professionals at the conference,” said Conklin, who accompanied the students to San Antonio. “These promising and accomplished researchers invested a tremendous amount of time and energy in this study, and it was extremely rewarding for me to collaborate with them.”

Conklin and the students’ research also was featured in an article on Medscape, a website published by WebMD for physicians and other health professionals. In addition, Brindle and Conklin recently co-authored an article in the International Journal of Behavioral Medicine on the potential cardiovascular benefits of daytime sleep, in particular recovery from psychological stress. Their research received coverage from media outlets worldwide, including AOL Health, Bloomberg Business Week, Science Daily, the Sydney (Australia) Morning Herald and the Telegraph, based in the United Kingdom.

Brindle, Martinkovich and Piccirillo received financial support to attend the conference from a student-learning fund established by Allegheny graduate Carol Darnell Freund and her husband, William Freund Jr. The students also received assistance from an experiential learning fund supported in part by gifts to the college’s Annual Fund.

The 32nd oldest college in the nation, Allegheny College will celebrate its bicentennial in 2015. One of 40 schools featured in Loren Pope’s “Colleges That Change Lives,” Allegheny is among only 16 percent of liberal arts colleges nationally that require independent research and/or original creative work of all graduates. Ninety percent of Allegheny alumni seeking employment start a career within eight months of graduation, and the college ranks in the top 5 percent of schools nationally whose students go on to earn Ph.D.s.

The national liberal arts college where 2,100 students with unusual combinations of interests, skills and talents excel