CHBS Seminar series
Strong start for Center for Health and Behavioral Sciences with seminars, research, mentorship
Apr 22, 2021, by Staff Writer
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SMITHFIELD, R.I. – The Center for Health and Behavioral Sciences (CHBS) at Bryant University, which launched in August 2020, is off to a strong start with research and programming developed to educate and train the next generation of leaders dedicated to improving the health and well-being of others. Bryant is removing many of the traditional intellectual, physical, and geographic boundaries to enable interdisciplinary innovation and collaboration that will prepare leaders and practitioners to solve some of the most difficult problems today and in the future.

This spring, the CHBS hosted a three-part seminar series featuring renowned industry experts to discuss the challenges of the global pandemic, critical issues and changes in health care today, and the critical need for multi-disciplinary approaches to solving problems.

“We developed this series to help educate students and the public about the current challenges of COVID-19 and how we can better anticipate and take steps to prevent the devastation we are seeing now,” says Kirsten Hokeness, Ph.D., Professor and Chair of the Department of Science and Technology, and CHBS Director.

All three seminar speakers emphasized the importance of Bryant’s interdisciplinary approach to studying and solving problems.

All three seminar speakers emphasized the importance of Bryant’s interdisciplinary approach to studying and solving problems.

"You bring the perspective of not only medicine and science, but also business, and inclusion, and equality," noted Andrey Zarur, Ph.D., Founder, President and CEO of Greenlight BioSciences in Cambridge, MA, who kicked off the series on March 8. Zarur provided an in-depth look at how the COVID-19 virus has evolved over time, how the vaccines help the body build immunity, and what we can expect on future vaccine development. Watch video.

On March 24, Michael T. Osterholm, Ph.D., Epidemiologist, COVID-19 Expert, and Director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, provided a glimpse into life beyond the COVID-19 Pandemic and how to combat infectious diseases, the “invisible enemy.” This discussion was co-sponsored by the Bryant Honors ProgramWatch video.

“As someone who has long espoused the need for multiple approaches to education..., I can't speak any more strongly in support of what you've done here,” said Osterholm. 

The series wrapped up on April 14 with a talk by Dr. Arun Singh, nationally known Cardiac Surgeon and Adjunct Professor with Bryant University’s Physician Assistant Program. Singh reflected on his journey as a physician and immigrant and the evolution of healthcare since came to the United States from India in 1967. The story is chronicled in his best-selling book, “Your Heart, My Hands.” Watch video.

“Through this seminar series and other interdisciplinary programming at the CHBS, students, scholars, leaders, and practitioners will get the education, training, and research opportunities to successfully navigate the interconnected nature of human health and wellness,” adds Joseph Trunzo, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology and Deputy Director of the CHBS.

Faculty Fellows, research, and programs

The CHBS recently announced the appointment of 15 new Faculty Fellows from seven departments, representing the College of Business and the College of Arts and Sciences (full list below), who will conduct research and collaborate on new program development. They will also provide opportunities and mentorship for student research projects staring this summer.

Recent Faculty Fellows research projects include:

  • "Tackling antibiotic resistance using synthesized antimicrobials," by Professor Chris Reid, Ph.D.

  • "Understanding the circuitry of the brain in Drosophila in order to better understand addiction," by Kristin Scaplen, Ph.D.

  • "The role of hox genes in development using zebra fish as a model system," by Steven Weicksel, Ph.D.

  • "Identifying Opportunities to Manage and Reduce Healthcare Costs: Logistics and Supply Chain Management," by Michael Gravier, Ph.D.

  • "Risk Perceptions and Vaccines,” by Julie Volkman, Ph.D.

Summer Research Institute

The CHBS Summer Research Institute, expected to launch in 2022, will provide paid summer experiential research opportunities for Bryant students. Ten rising juniors will work in teams to design an original piece of interdisciplinary research. Each group will be paired with one of Faculty Fellows who will provide mentorship as well as intensive training in conducting high level, interdisciplinary research in health and behavioral sciences.

Eligible projects may receive additional funding to continue research in the students’ junior year. The Institute will inspire students and serve as springboard for independent studies/capstones and continue to advance a culture innovation and interdisciplinary research throughout the University.

The Center for Health and Behavioral Sciences Faculty Fellows are:

Executive Faculty Fellows 

  • Allison Butler, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology
  • Julie Volkman, Associate Professor of Communication

Faculty Fellows

  • Andrea Boggio, Ph.D., Professor of Legal Studies
  • Ella Browning, Ph.D. Assistant Professor of English & Cultural Studies
  • Rick Gorvett, Ph.D., Professor and Chair, Mathematics
  • Heather Lacey, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology
  • Christine McAuliffe, Ph.D., Lecturer of Psychology
  • Stephanie Mott, Ph.D., Professor of Science and Technology
  • Alex Perullo, Ph.D., Professor of English & Cultural Studies
  • Chris Reid, Ph.D. Professor of Science & Technology
  • Kristin Scaplen, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Psychology
  • Steven Weicksel, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Science & Technology
  • Nanci Weinberger, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology
  • Suhong Li, Ph.D., Professor and Department Chair, Information Systems and Analytics
  • Michael Gravier, Ph.D., Professor of Marketing/Supply Chain Management  


About Bryant University

For 158 years, Bryant University has been at the forefront of delivering an exceptional education that anticipates the future and prepares students to be innovative leaders of character in a changing world. Bryant delivers an innovative and uniquely integrated business and liberal arts education that inspires students to excel. With approximately 3,700 graduate and undergraduate students from 38 states and 49 countries, Bryant is recognized as a leader in international education and regularly receives top rankings from U.S. News and World Report, Money, Bloomberg Businessweek, Wall Street Journal, and Barron's. Visit

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