Valencia Montgomery, a 2010 graduate of Roosevelt’s College of Professional Studies (BPS Psychology) and currently a graduate student in Roosevelt’s clinical professional psychology program, has just published an article in the January 2011 issue of Environmental Nutrition. Entitled “Pick Blueberries for Brain Defense,” the essay assesses the antioxidant properties of blueberries and their potential for preventing and treating Alzheimer’s Disease.
Montgomery’s article grew out of a much longer and more in-depth research project she conducted for her undergraduate senior thesis requirement in the Professional and Liberal Studies program at Roosevelt. In an email to her former academic advisor, Professor Mike Bryson, she describes the genesis of her interest in the topic:
I was previously employed as a Clinical Research Assistant for the Clinical Nutrition Research Laboratory at IIT. My supervisor, Dr. Britt Burton-Freeman, knew that I was interested in doing a study within a psychology framework, but which had to be nutrition-based as well. She gave me a research article regarding Alzheimer’s and blueberries and asked me to think about the subject. Before I had the opportunity to pursue this, I left IIT; but my interest in the subject continued to grow. After taking classes in Adult Aging Psychology and Brain & Behavior, my interest in the subject area deepened and I began to follow the literature more closely. I have always been drawn to the Geriatric population, and given Roosevelt’s stand on social justice, I believe this is a very important topic considering the vast number of geriatric individuals and the need for clinicians who understand how seniors’ psychopathology differs from younger populations.
The most important things I have learned is that memory decline happens as a part of the normal life cycle. Once people reach the geriatric age, signs and symptoms of various psychological problems do not necessarily fit the DSM criteria. Given that the number of elderly persons in our society is expected to go from 39.6 million to 72.1 million by the year 2030, it is important that we find ways to prevent what some have called an” epidemic” of cognitive impairments in our elderly population.
Montgomery’s publication illustrates the close connections between nutrition and public health, one of the many topics addressed in the SUST 230 Food class in RU’s Sustainability Studies program. It also exemplifies the potential social relevance and clinical value of the academic research students do in RU’s Professional and Liberal Studies adult degree program, which offers a range of majors from psychology to organizational leadership to criminal justice to sustainability studies. To learn more about this program and others within the College of Professional Studies, visit the college website or talk to one of our academic advisors.