Students Published in National Research Journal


By: Bailey Ballard

Senior students Ava Hughes, Kylie Knox, and Alex West were published in the Journal of Therapeutic Schools & Programs under the National Association of Therapeutic Schools and Programs.

“I think it’s exciting,” said Ava Hughes, senior psychology major. “I mean, people could be reading our research in their labs and classes!”

Kylie Knox, a senior psychology major, agreed with this statement and said, “I think that it’s an enormous accomplishment and I’m very proud to have been published with this lab specifically, because I think that the work that we do is really important.”

The research was conducted under the supervision of faculty mentor Dr. Lee Gillis and guidance of alumni and lead author Garret Cook.

“The study that was just published had a few different angles, but overall, we were trying to investigate what types of factors were contributing to clients’ recovery journeys,” said Cook, “We wanted to better understand how factors like mindfulness and age of onset drug use were influencing clients’ treatment progression.”

The published section was titled “A Journey Through Adventure Therapy SUD Treatment,” is an evaluation of a substance abuse disorder (SUD) program for young adult men at Shunda Creek Wilderness Addiction Treatment Center in Alberta, Canada.

“I like to think our research can have a huge impact on the field of psychology by providing a better understanding of what’s contributing to the successes and failures of Adventure Therapy treatment,” said Cook. “My hope is that this article can open other doors and inspire future research topics, such as a deeper investigation of the life of clients after they leave treatment.”

According to Cook, the research began during the first semester of his senior year in August of 2020 and took about a year to complete. Final edits were made to the article, seven months after Cook’s graduation.

“Ava was incredibly creative with the way she approached our research and was always full of good ideas and Kylie was instrumental in helping write the article itself and was always available to help flesh out the more complicated sections of the paper,” said Cook. “Alex’s ability to organize, analyze, and simplify our (quite large) data sets was imperative to the group’s understanding of the data.”

Ava, Kylie, and Alex all became a part of undergraduate research when they were sophomores. Ava and Alex were connected to the lab through Dr. Glillis, chair of the Department of Psychological Science. Kylie became connected with undergraduate research through Dr. Heppner’s, an associate professor of psychology, lab.

“I really do think that like psychology research and undergraduate research is one of the best things that the school offers,” said Alex West, senior psychology major and English minor. “It’s something that I think everyone should try and jump on.”

All three seniors expressed that they hope to continue doing research in the future and being involved with research, though their future careers will not center research entirely. However, the seniors recommended that any student interested in undergraduate research get involved.

“I’m about to graduate and I’ve applied to a Recovery Center, which aligns perfectly with what our lab does. I probably wouldn’t have known that I wanted to do something involved with that if I hadn’t tried undergraduate research,” said Knox. “It can really help you find a direction for your career even if your future career is not research related.”

Students may become involved in undergraduate research by talking with professors of their respective major departments. Many departments across campus offer opportunities for undergraduate research.