InCHIP Lecture Series kicks off with developmental psychologist Sarah Lynne

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This past Thursday, the Institute for Collaboration on Health, Intervention, and Policy hosted the University of Florida’s Sarah Lynne, Ph.D., to talk about her practical research on youth wellness and human ecology. 

Lynne is a prevention scientist focused on the applications of her research to produce tangible social progress. Lynne’s background as a childhood development researcher at the National Institute on Drug Abuse informs her perspective on the link between societal contexts and youth behaviors. 

The lecture, titled “It’s not the Destination, it’s the Journey’: Ecologically Informed Pathways to Health and Well-being,” detailed Lynne’s many studies on the environmental factors that may push developing youth toward productive or risky behaviors. 

According to Lynne, a guiding principle of her research has been to “understand the underlying mechanisms that lead to wellness, and … leverage that knowledge to improve youth outcomes.” 

Lynne’s research utilizes an integrative approach to make these improvements a reality. This involves working alongside local communities, schools and lawmakers to address the real issues affecting modern children and adolescents. 

She described one such study on youth alcohol use within the Cherokee Nation of eastern Oklahoma. 

“We conducted alcohol purchase attempts at 88 to 125 outlets monthly over the course of ten months. Across all of these attempts, approximately 76% of outlets sold alcohol at least one time to a person who appeared to be under 21 without age identification … (This data) changed the community’s approach to protecting young people,” Lynne stated. 

Developing effective strategies for the progress of youth wellbeing motivates Lynne’s research, but conducting accurate studies requires evolving methods to meet the ever-changing landscape of the modern day. 

Dr. Lynne spoke on this problem. 

“We, as academics, are continuously advancing our methods, our analytic tools, and our evidence base to understand some of the developmental pathways, the malleable risk and protective factors, and the prevention programs that can work to address the needs and health inequities of our young people,” Lynne said. 

The full lecture features more of Lynne’s studies and highlights the steps taken to address their findings, including the effects of cannabis legalization on adolescents, the correlation between report cards and child physical abuse and many more. The full video is available on the UConn InCHIP YouTube channel. 

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