Bridging the Gap Research Award Recipients

2023-24 Awardees

Cathy Slavik, PhD
Postdoctoral Fellow
University of Oregon

Research Project:
Health maps as Behavioral Interventions: Bridging Psychological Distance of Environmental Justice

Institutional Mentors: Alex Segrè Cohen, PhD and Ellen Peters, PhD
SBM Mentor: Sara Wilcox, PhD, FSBM

My research project will investigate how the visual display of environmental hazards using geographic maps, and the psychological distance from such hazards, affects citizens’ understanding of health inequities and motivates changes to health behaviors. Specifically, I’ll be experimentally testing different map-based communications to investigate whether (i) narrative information and (ii) environmental injustices occurring more proximally compared to distally impact the adoption of actions to reduce personal and community exposures to environmental health risks and individuals’ comprehension of those risks.

This award will go towards generating pilot data that will be used to develop a map-based environmental health education tool. It will also equip me with essential research skills as I embark on my journey as an early career investigator and help set me up to apply for additional research funding to implement and evaluate a larger-scale behavioral intervention.

It’s an honor to receive the Bridging the Gap Research Award. I would like to thank the SBM for this opportunity to further develop my expertise and skills as a scientist and for supporting research that aims to tackle health inequities and environmental injustices.



Kristina L. Tatum, PsyD, MS
Postdoctoral Fellow
Virginia Commonwealth University

Research Project:
A Mixed Methods Approach to Understanding the Link between Social Drivers of Health and Quality of Life among Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer Survivors

Institutional Mentors: Jessica LaRose PhD, FSBM and Melanie Bean, PhD
SBM Mentor: Jennifer Ford, PhD, FSBM

My proposed study aims to explore the impact of social drivers of health on health-related quality of life outcomes among AYA cancer survivors, as well as protective factors, using a mixed methods approach. The SBM Bridging the Gap Research Award will yield critical preliminary data for a subsequent application to develop and iteratively pilot test a strength-based behavioral intervention to improve health-related quality of life and promote health equity for Black and Latinx AYA cancer survivors.

2022-23 Awardees

Jessica Rivera Rivera, PhD, MPH
Postdoctoral Fellow in Behavioral Oncology T32 Program,
Moffitt Cancer Center

Research Project: eHealth Genetic Education for Younger Colorectal Cancer Patients

Institutional Mentor: Susan Vadaparampil, PhD
SBM Mentor: Kate Wolin, ScD

My research project proposes an alternative approach to address existing disparities in genetic services by expediting the genetic testing process and facilitating guideline-concordant genetic care to early-onset colorectal cancer patients. In this project we partnered with Nest --a novel, interactive, customizable eHealth platform-- to create and refine a pretest genetic education tool for early-onset colorectal cancer patients from diverse racial/ethnic backgrounds. This project will lay the foundation for a larger study that will test the eHealth genetic education tool in a randomized controlled trial among early-onset colorectal cancer patients.

The SBM Bridging the Gap Research Award will support my work by funding a pilot study that will evaluate and adapt the eHealth pre-test genetic education tool based on patients’ and providers’ attitudes on comprehension, self-efficacy, attraction, cultural-linguistic acceptability and usability of the intervention. The expertise of my SBM Mentor, Dr. Kate Wolin, and the preliminary data obtained from this study will support my future grant applications addressing disparities in genetic services that are targeted to new investigators from the National Cancer Institute and American Cancer Society.

As a Bridging the Gap Research Awardee, I hope to take advantage of the opportunities offered by this program and demonstrate my ability to successfully lead a funded study.



Maricarmen Vizcaino, PhD, E-RYT
Postdoctoral Fellow
Arizona State University

Research Project: The Development of a Plant-Based Diet T2D Intervention for Hispanics

Institutional Mentor: Christopher Wharton, PhD
SBM Mentor: Valerie Myers, PhD

The major goal of my project is to develop a plant-based diet type 2 diabetes (T2D) prevention intervention that is evidence-based and culturally adapted for US Hispanics. My first step will be to conduct an exploration of the cultural elements, perceived barriers, and environmental constraints that may facilitate and/or hinder the adoption of plant-based diets among Hispanic adults at risk for developing T2D via in-depth face-to-face interviews. My second step will be to develop and empirically test a theoretical model that can guide a future plant-based diet T2D prevention intervention for US Hispanics using structural equation modeling.

This award offers me the unique opportunity to simultaneously collect pilot data for my first large grant proposal, expand my research skills, and contribute to our understanding of the optimal approach to develop behavioral interventions that are culturally sensitive and innovative for today’s Hispanic population that is both bilingual and educated like never before. I am hoping that the data I will be able to generate take a step closer towards the elimination of assumptions that we sometimes have as researchers (for example, that Hispanic interventions should only be in Spanish and adapted for a low-literacy level) and impede the progress of behavioral science.

I am honored to have been granted this award. I would like to thank Dr. Sharon Manne and SBM for this incredibly opportunity that supports people like me. Because of my national background, I have experienced many more barriers in my academic path compared to my fellow colleagues. I hope awards like this one is the first of many more to come for future generations of behavioral scientists that have the talent, the passion, and the commitment to make a difference.

Support of the Bridging the Gap Research Awards

Thanks to generous gifts from our members, we are able to continue funding at least one award each year through 2027. With the huge pool of award applications received from postdoctoral student members from underrepresented backgrounds each year, we need more resources to fund additional awards for postdoctoral students in need and ensure a secure future for the field of behavioral medicine research. We need generous individuals like you to support the next generation of behavioral medicine researchers--a generation that shows some of the greatest promise we've seen in years. Our postdoc members deserve the opportunity to thrive and experience the same success as some of the most prominent behavioral medicine scientists who call SBM their "professional home." We can give that to them, together.

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