Portrait photo of Anne Kalomiris

Clinical psychology grad student first at Miami to receive NIH Kirschstein fellowship

A father holds his daughter's hand as they walk.
Anne Kalomiris, a graduate student and Miami Univeristy’s first Kirschstein-NRSA recipient, conducts research on the relationships between parenting behaviors and risk for children to develop anxiety.

Anne Kalomiris, a docotoral student in clinical psychology, is the first Miami University student to receive a Ruth L. Kirschstein Individual National Research Service Award (NRSA) from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

According to NIH, the purpose of this prestigious fellowship is to “enable promising pre-doctoral students with potential to develop into productive, independent research scientists [and] to obtain mentored research training while conducting dissertation research.”

The dissertation research project Kalomiris proposed as part of her application examines whether young children’s temperaments and their mothers’ parenting styles affect their risk for developing anxiety. As part of this study, Kalomiris will analyze saliva samples and electroencephalogram (EEG) data from children about to enter kindergarten to search for neurological markers of anxiety risk.

Spit camp

The funding Kalomiris receives from the NIH will allow her to attend “spit camp” and receive other training. At spit camp, she will learn how to measure how much of the stress hormone cortisol is in the saliva samples she collects. She will also attend training focused on statistical analysis, and she’ll visit a mentor at Penn State who will help her better understand EEG methodology and teach her about functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).

Because Miami doesn’t have any fMRI equipment, Kalomiris would not have an opportunity to learn about this technique for measuring and mapping brain activity without access to outside training. “This fellowship is broadening what’s available to me and opening doors for what I can pursue in my future career,” she says.

In addition, because of the stipend she will receive from NIH, Kalomiris will not need to teach or do clinical work to support herself. “It protects my time,” she says. “I’m excited to be able to just focus on my research and on my training.”

Developing patterns

Kalomiris’s study piggybacks on a longitudinal study conducted by associate professor of psychology Elizabeth Kiel, who is also Kalomiris’s research advisor. In her study, which began in 2011, Kiel brings children and their parents into the lab at annual intervals, beginning when the children are a year old.

This summer, Kalomiris will collect data from a cohort of children from Kiel’s study who will be entering kindergarten in the fall. This phase of the study will focus on examining how the children’s brains respond to making simple mistakes because this is relevant for anxiety risk. She will use data from when those same children were toddlers to understand how the interaction between the children’s temperament and the parenting they received in toddlerhood influences the way their brains function just before kindergarten.

Kalomiris expects to find that specific parenting behaviors may contribute to or protect against the development of neurological-markers of anxiety in children, particularly for those children who tended to react intensely to new things in toddlerhood. She says that identifying links between early parenting, temperament, and anxiety risk could help clinical psychologists customize treatment for their patients.

“If we find that only kids with certain temperaments are really susceptible to certain parenting behaviors,” Kalomiris says, “then we can target parental behavior interventions to the families that are going to be most benefitted.”

But Kalomiris’s fellowship is about more than laying the groundwork for a single intervention. Unlike with most NIH grants, the Kirschstein-NRSA supports an individual, rather than a project. NIH has funded Kalomiris, not because they think she has one good idea, but because they think she has the potential for many more. It’s a huge vote of confidence for any young researcher, but Kalomiris has taken it in stride and is already thinking about giving back.

“I’m still surprised and honored I was even given the opportunity,” she says. “I’m hoping someday I will get to mentor graduate or undergraduate students myself, and can help them get excited about research.” That’s just one more way NIH will see a return on its investment in Anne Kalomiris.

Written by Heather Beattey Johnston, Associate Director of Research Communications, Office for the Advancement of Research and Scholarship, Miami University.

Photo of Anne Kalomiris courtesy of Anne Kalomiris. Photo dad and daughter by Spirit-Fire via Flicker, used under Creative Commons license.

A European-style building made of two different kinds of stone. The building has many windows with decorative trim. Stone stairs lead to a heavy wood door in the center of the building.

Tricia Callahan named NCURA Global Fellow

A map of Europe, showing Ireland, the United Kingdom, Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Poland, France, Switerland, Lichtenstein, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Italy, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, and Montenegro. The country of Luxembourg is highlighted.

Tricia Callahan, OARS’ Director of Proposal Development, was recently named a 2015 Global Fellow by the National Council of University Research Administrators (NCURA).

As an NCURA Global Fellow, Callahan will travel to the University of Luxembourg for a two-week period sometime during 2015. While there, she will engage in an exchange of knowledge about research administration operations and practices.

“Miami is among the top universities nationally for study abroad. Many of our faculty members teach and conduct research internationally, and the number of international constituents at Miami – both faculty and students – is on the rise,” Callahan says. “So it’s imperative that we keep abreast of the latest rules and regulations pertaining to travel, study, and research abroad.”

According to NCURA, the Global Fellowship Program “hopes to create a pool of individuals who are able to interpret a multitude of various sponsor requirements and to assist their institution with administrative compliance – from application submission through financial reporting and closeout.”

Panel gives prospective NSF GRFP applicants advice

Blue, green, and white GRFP logo. The letters "GRFP" are the focus of the logo. Written smaller, underneath "GRFP" are the words "NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program."

Current NSF research fellows, their advisors, former panel members, and prospective applicants gathered September 23 to share and learn about the NSF GRFP (Graduate Research Fellowship Program).

The mission of the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program is twofold:

  • Support individuals who have demonstrated the potential to be high achieving scientists and engineers early in their careers (college seniors, and first and early second year graduate students)
  • Broaden participation in science and engineering of underrepresented groups, including women, minorities, persons with disabilities, and veterans.

The GRFP is unique in that awards are portable between accredited U.S. institutions and allow for project and advisor flexibility.  Current fellows and advisors concurred that in addition to an applicant’s project, the applicant’s history, background, experience, and demonstrated desire and ability to conduct research are also important.

Awards are made for five years, supplying three years of fellowship support ($32,000 stipend per year + $12,000 educational allowance per year).  With funding rates at 17%, it is important that applicants “stand out” among their peers.  Applicants are encouraged to:

  • Demonstrate a history of research and outreach experience
  • Show how their background and outreach activities will contribute to the broader impacts review criteria
  • Select references who can write strong letters attesting to the applicant’s ability to conduct research and who can address the applicant’s unique background for creating broader impacts and/or broadening participation within the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) disciplines

Said current psychology Fellow Taylor Tuscherer, “Showing is better than telling.  It’s not enough to say you are enthusiastic about research; you must demonstrate that enthusiasm by talking about your research and outreach experiences.  For example, rather than say that you are ‘passionate about research,’ discuss the number of labs you have worked in, the techniques and machinery you are familiar with, and list the number of projects you have worked on over the years.”

Potential applicants should read and re-read the current program guidelines (NSF 14-590).  The guidelines outline the program,award information, eligibility requirements, submission instructions, and the review criteria.  In addition, FAQs are available on the GRFP homepage.

Panelists encouraged students to:

  • Begin writing early
  • Have someone read a draft of their application prior to submission
  • Contact their references early
  • Write a clear hypothesis and objectives
  • Use headers to outline the two review criteria of intellectual merit and broader impacts

Program deadlines for the 2015-16 competition are as follows:

  • Engineering; Computer & Information Science and Engineering; Materials Research: October 29, 3014
  • Mathematical Sciences; Chemistry; Physics and Astronomy: October 30, 2014
  • Social Sciences; Psychology; STEM Education and Learning: November 3, 2014
  • Life Sciences; Geosciences: November 4, 2014
  • All letters of reference: November 6, 2014

Applicants must register with NSF FastLane and apply via the GRFP module.  For assistance with your application, please contact Tricia Callahan (529-1795).

Learn more about graduate-related funding by following @MiamiOH_OARS and @MiamiUGradSch on Twitter.

Written by Tricia Callahan, Director of Proposal Development, Office for the Advancement of Research & Scholarship, Miami University.