Liz Spurlock, a senior pursuing a double major in psychology and molecular & cellular Biology, worked with Reginald Alston, a professor in the Department of Kinesiology & Community Health, Jeni Hunniecutt, a visiting research specialist at the Chez Veterans Center, and Kirk Hauser, facilitator of the local Veterans Breakfast Club, to virtually conduct a needs assessment as part of larger effort to engage with local Veterans on the topic of Veteran brain health.
Understanding brain health is key to supporting the Veteran community, both in physical injuries such as TBI, and mental health factors such as PTSD. As a retired clinical psychologist, research scholar at Illinois, and combat Veteran of Vietnam working actively with military Veterans, Hauser is well acquainted with PTSD and associated issues. “The opportunity to work with Liz Spurlock, refreshing from the start, and others at the Chez Center and Beckman Institute, continues to open doors regarding benefits we can provide to the Veteran community.”
Hunniecutt explains that developing an awareness of the nuances of Military/Veteran culture is critical to research engagement with the Veteran community. She has been impressed with how seriously Spurlock has taken this consideration. “I appreciate the way Liz has engaged the Veteran community partner on this project with both curiosity and humility.” Hunniecutt hopes Spurlock gains a thorough understanding of both the importance and process of community-engaged work. “As this modality of research can often take additional efforts of relationship building, my intentions are for Liz’s understanding of research to be expanded and enriched through this project.”
Spurlock has developed an appreciation for the impact these collaborative initiatives can have. “Everyone has a specialty and unique set of knowledge and skills, whether that be researchers of different fields, community stakeholders, or administrators, and collaboration between all of these individuals can make research far more meaningful than individual work.”
Learn more about the project by watching Liz Spurlock’s research lightning talk.