Research Spotlight: Ana Puig

Q & A with Ana Puig, Ph. D., Research Director in the Office of Educational Research and Clinical Professor in the School of Human Development and Organizational Studies in Education

What research are you currently working on?

I am actively involved in a national study with three institutions of higher education in the southeastern United States (led by Oklahoma State University) that explores adverse childhood experiences and academic performance of undergraduate college students. Our aim is to determine factors that hinder or support ACE survivors in their educational journeys.

Additionally, I am engaged in a study that builds on research I have conducted with the Streetlight palliative care program (https://streetlight.ufhealth.org/) that provides psychosocial support to chronically or terminally ill adolescents and young adults. Our research team has explored the experiences of Streetlight volunteer members, treatment providers, and, more recently, its patients. We are in the process of completing a research proposal for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to support conducting a feasibility study of the program with the goal of manualizing its services and comparing outcomes with other palliative care programs across the United States.

What is the broader impact of your research?

I believe my current research can inform the literature about mental health and psychosocial service needs for undergraduate college students and adolescent and young adult palliative care patients. Both are considered vulnerable groups in need of support. Improving the mental health service delivery for college students with histories of trauma and palliative psychosocial support for adolescents and young adults are central goals of this work.

What other research topics are you interested in?

I am also interested in the integration of mindfulness practices in mental health service delivery and higher education systems. I have been involved with the University of Florida’s (UF) Center for Spirituality & Health (https://spiritualityandhealth.ufl.edu/) and the UF Mindfulness program (https://www.ufmindfulness.org/) since their inception. Both interdisciplinary groups aim to explore the intersections of spirituality, religion, and health and the integration of contemplative practices into our college campus. We have done this by providing teaching and service to the UF community and conducting research on related topics.