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Media+Health Lab wins presidential research grant

Aug 7, 2019

Posted in: News

Dr. Jeanine Guidry (left) and Dr. Nicole O'Donnell

Robertson School faculty members Dr. Jeanine Guidry and Dr. Nicole O'Donnell have been selected for a VCU Presidential Research Quest (PeRQ) Fund award. The award is a very competitive internal VCU grant with many application submissions.

Dr. Guidry and Dr. O'Donnell, who run the Robertson School's Media+Health Lab, won the grant together with Dr. Kellie Carlyle and Dr. Carrie Miller from the VCU Department of Health Behavior and Policy at the School of Medicine. Dr. Danielle Dick from the Psychology Department will serve as a research mentor on the grant.

"This is an outstanding recognition of Dr. Guidry, Dr. O'Donnell and their collaborators. Their ground-breaking research on visual social media in health communication is making a great impact in this field," said Dr. Marcus Messner, interim director of the Robertson School. "It is an especially remarkable achievement as Dr. Guidry is only entering her third year as an assistant professor here and Dr. O'Donnell only her second year."

The $49,689 award has been given for the research project titled "#Doesanybodycare: Encourage suicide-related bystander behavior on Instagram." It is a joint project of the Robertson School, the Department of Health Behavior and Policy, and Spit for Science, and will focus on identifying and supporting people at risk to prevent suicide by using computer-based message assessment, in-depth interviews, and eye-tracking research. The grant will allow for the purchase of eye-tracking research equipment which will be installed in the Robertson School Research Lab on the first floor of the Temple Building.

According to Dr. Guidry, the project has the following goals: 1) Identify cues and contextual factors related to college students’ recognition and interpretation of warning signs for suicidality in social media posts; 2) Examine the factors that facilitate college students’ assuming responsibility to help in response to messages with warning signs for suicidality; 3) Explore college students’ ability to respond to potentially suicidal peers and assess whether their proposed response would be appropriate according to evidence-based guidelines.

Eighteen research projects were awarded $500,000 this year from the Presidential Research Quest Fund fund. The fund supports faculty projects that specifically align with the goals and key strategies presented in VCU’s Quest 2025: Together We Transform strategic plan.

“The awardees represent a diversity of disciplines, but they share a common focus. Their commitment to improving the human condition through research that is dedicated to social, economic and health success is a unifying link that will benefit those living in Virginia and around the world,” said VCU President Dr. Michael Rao.

Please read a VCU News article about this year fund awardees.