Orange Alert

Syracuse Psychologist Awarded $400,000 Grant to Study Health Behaviors among African American High School Students

Aesoon Park to use grant to focus on teenagers of color

Sept. 30, 2014, by Sarah Scalese

Aesoon Park
Aesoon Park

Aesoon Park, assistant professor of psychology in Syracuse University’s College of Arts and Sciences, is the recipient of a three-year, $400,000 grant award from the National Institute of Health.

A clinical psychologist and member of Syracuse’s Interdisciplinary Neuroscience Group, she will use the grant award to identify protective and risk factors associated with several health behaviors among African American teenagers.

“Disparities in health outcomes across different racial groups are persistent and serious concerns in the U.S.,” says Park, who joined the Syracuse faculty in 2009. “As a first step to reducing health disparities, my study aims to identify psychosocial and biological factors that contribute to individual differences in health behaviors among African American youth.”

According to Park, most studies so far have been done primarily with the ethnic majority or simply comparing ethnic minorities with the majority.

“The enhanced knowledge about health behaviors among African American youth will improve public health by informing the development of ethnically and developmentally sensitive prevention and intervention strategies,” Park adds.

“This prestigious grant award will allow Dr. Park and her team to collect real-world data that will inform our understanding of health disparities observed among high school aged youth," says Peter Vanable, professor and chair of psychology. "Dr. Park's grant adds to a growing list of NIH funded projects among psychology faculty at the University. I'm delighted that she'll have the opportunity to pursue this important project."

Park earned a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Missouri and completed her clinical internship at Yale University, School of Medicine. Her research focuses on how individuals and their social environments interact with each other and influence diverse high-risk behaviors over time. 

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Sarah Scalese