Degree Program Collaboration, “Learning Labs” Bring Applied Psychology Research on Meditation to Fruition

Project collaborators, from left: Mary Irving, Sabrina Cassese, Dr. Mary Guerrant, Dr. Amy Corbett, Marie Curran-Headley

Something about SUNY Cobleskill’s 1,850 square foot plant conservatory just makes you want to relax. Research led by the Applied Psychology faculty, in tandem with the Sport & Exercise Program, is leading to groups of students visiting the conservatory to do just that. A project aiming to determine whether a link between meditation and stress levels is now underway, led by Drs. Amy Corbett and Mary Guerrant, with Applied Psychology student Sabrina Cassese.

The ongoing research has split students enrolled in “PE151 – Wellness” into three groups: one whose members meet to meditate in the conservatory, ones whose members meditate at locations of their choosing, and one whose members are not meditating. After three separate sessions, the last of which will take place in early May, Cassese will collect and analyze data that will determine the presence and strength of a possible connection between meditation and stress levels among the participating students. Stress hormones, heart rate, and, obviously, environment, are among the factors the research considers.

While research tying meditation to stress levels exists in the literature, this is SUNY Cobleskill’s first attempt at collecting data on the subject. Cassese says she first expressed interest in working on such a research project in Dr. Corbett’s class.

“This is something I personally do not understand,” says Cassese, “but it has been something I want to research.” She credits Dr. Corbett for adding a botanical wrinkle to the research. In turn, Dr. Corbett credits Greenhouse Manager Heather Anthony for making the conservatory accessible to student-participants; Dr. Guerrant – who already teaches a course on health psychology – is lending her expertise and is overseeing the project with Dr. Corbett. Director of Athletics Marie Curran-Headley and Associate Athletic Director/Senior Women’s Administrator Mary Irving are the faculty/staff coordinators responsible for recruiting “PE151 – Wellness” student-participants.

Stay tuned for updates on this project as the data collection and analysis processes commence. For their participation in this project, the identity of all students involved will remain confidential.