CEED Summer Fellows and Interns Ensure the Future of our Field is Bright

by Cynthia Bulik, PhD

Every summer, CEED faculty host one or two summer research fellows. We were forced to skip 2020 because of the pandemic, but we were determined to host our program this year, even if it meant daily Zoom-a-thons. Our field lacks diversity. We wanted to make a concerted effort to change that, so we opened the fellowship to BIPOC, DACA, and 1st generation students who might otherwise not have had the opportunity to engage in a rich training opportunity. We were absolutely flooded with incredible applications, from as far away as Pune, India! I wanted to accept everyone, but knew we couldn’t provide that many trainees with a valuable mentored experience, so we settled on five outstanding fellows who were joined by four fantastic summer interns, each of whom were assigned to two mentors and got involved with multiple research projects over the summer.

CEED Summer Fellows and Interns joined by supervisor Grace Wu, speaker Afrouz Abbaspour, and program director Cindy Bulik

The trainees had only three obligations: to attend the daily didactic sessions, to write a blog post for Exchanges, and to give a formal presentation the last week of the fellowship on which they would receive feedback on content and style. The rest was between them and their primary mentors and the goal was to be involved with at least two publications and to absorb as much knowledge and experience as possible working (albeit virtually) with a highly multidisciplinary international team.

CEED researchers and clinicians as well as collaborators and advanced trainees from the U.S., New Zealand, Sweden, Denmark, and Germany provided topical seminars every day for two months on topics ranging from ethics to genetics—all with a focus on eating disorders. Special seminars focused on how to survive and thrive in an academic career and effective grant writing. Each trainee received extensive feedback on their scientific writing as well as their writing for the general public.

The next nine blog posts will be from our summer trainees. We have kept their voices to be true to the enthusiasm and optimism that they have as they enter careers in this and related fields.

Mentorship is a two-way street. We hope that each of the trainees has had a rewarding summer and will take with them many lessons from our dedicated faculty. I know I have a case of empty nest syndrome, but more importantly, I have hope for the future of our field as it is clearly in good hands.

A special thank-you to our mentors at CEED and our sister program in Sweden CEDI: Laura Thornton, Jessica Baker, Melissa Munn-Chernoff, Mae Lynn Reyes-Rodríguez, Rachel, Goode, Emma Forsén-Mantilla, Andreas Birgegård. Stina Borg, Grace Wu, Ian Carroll, Andri Saava, Christine Peat, and Camden Matherne. Also thanks to additional didactic speakers: Martin Kennedy (NZ), David Clinton (SE), Kim Brownley (UNC), Zeynep Yilmaz (DK), Jet Termorshuizen (SE), Benjamin MacDonald (DK), Afrouz Abbaspour, (SE), Tonya Foreman (UNC), Janina Seubert (SE), Hunna Watson (UNC), Maria Seidel (Germany), Ruyue Zhang (SE), and Rachael Flatt (UNC). Special thanks to Emily Carrino for technical assistance and for organizing the didactic program.

Best wishes for a successful career to our 2021 fellows and interns. Below tells you who they are and the topic of their end-of-summer presentations. And please watch this space for their upcoming blogs!

Susana Cruz García (rising 2nd year clinical psychology graduate student University of Albany) Talk title: The Role of Family Engagement in the Treatment of Eating Disorders in Latinas

Mary Takgbajouah (incoming 1st year clinical psychology graduate student DePaul University) Talk title: Food Addiction

Christine Sanzari (rising 2nd year clinical psychology graduate student University at Albany, State University of NY) Talk Title: Orthorexia Nervosa: Distinct Diagnosis?

Jody Elizabeth Finch (rising senior at Georgia State University) Talk Title: Eating Disorder Symptoms in Perimenopausal Women: A Network Analysis

Pratiksha Pawar (4th-year Masters Student in Biotechnology, from Pune, India) Talk Title: Modeling Anorexia Nervosa Using Human ISPC-Derived Neurons

Emily Carrino (3rd year clinical psychology graduate student UNC-CH): Talk Title: Individual and Relationship Functioning Disparities Between Sexual Minority and Heterosexual Couples

MaKenna Mcgough (rising junior at UNC-CH, Morehead Cain Scholar) Talk Title: The Importance of Medical Training in Eating Disorders at the Primary Care Level

Dani Coan (rising senior social work major at NC State) Talk Title: Black Women and Eating Disorders

Sophie Padalecki (rising sophomore at Elon University) Talk Title: Eating Disorder Myths in the Media