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NMSU doctoral student excels in RISE program

Balancing a doctoral-level course load and service as an officer in the U.S. Air Force Reserve, New Mexico State University student Amileah Davis already has a full plate. Yet Davis also finds time to be an active member in the biology department's Minority Biomedical Research Support - Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement (MBRS-RISE) and the Postdoctoral Scholars Program. Earlier this month, she co-coordinated a well-attended university health disparities symposium.



New Mexico State University doctoral student Amileah Davis serves as a graduate assistant in the Department of Biology's Minority Biomedical Research Support - Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement (MBRS-RISE) to the Postdoctorate Scholars Program (NMSU photo by Darren Phillips)

Davis, who is seeking a Doctor of Philosophy degree in counseling psychology and works as a graduate assistant, joined the RISE program last spring. For four months, Davis worked to recruit speakers, prepare a topic and set up a discussion panel and student poster presentation.

"Putting together the symposium and balancing school was hard work," Davis said. "I am lucky to have really motivated RISE faculty and mentors as a support system to keep me going. Professor Elba Serrano [RISE director] pushes us all to do great things."

The symposium was held July 8 in the Corbett Center Student Union auditorium with 70 students, faculty and community members in attendance. The topic was trauma and trauma treatment and featured speaker Capt. Timothy E. Rogers of the 49th Medical Group at Holloman Air Force Base, Dr. Alexander P. Lin of Brigham and Women's Hospital, and a panel discussion that included Rogers and Lin, as well as NMSU College of Education faculty Jonathan Schwartz and Aishah Ortega. Davis also served as the master of ceremonies throughout the day.

As a graduate assistant, Davis works under Schwartz, contributing to interdisciplinary research regarding an intervention for soldiers with post-traumatic stress disorder that incorporates "biofeedback" relaxation activities and video gaming.

"We are trying to see if we can incorporate treatment through something most of them already enjoy doing," Davis said. "It's a great way to bridge treatment, since sometimes folks on active duty can go two weeks to a month between appointments with their psychologists."

In addition, she conducts research on another project with Schwartz regarding how mixed martial arts bouts may spur aggressive behaviors and attitudes among viewers.

Davis is a recipient of the Air Force F. Edward Herbert Health Professions Scholarship in Clinical Psychology and a second lieutenant in the Air Force Reserve. Her dissertation focuses on the barriers to mental healthcare encountered by women who serve in the military. After graduation, Davis will be an active-duty psychologist with the Air Force. She also hopes to continue conducting research and potentially teach at the US Air Force Academy. Davis currently volunteers as an affiliated faculty member of the Department of Aerospace Studies, where she teaches an introductory-level course for new AFROTC cadets.

"I hope to secure a residency with one of the Air Force's training hospitals before I graduate," Davis said, "That will be the best training for the job I'll have after I get my Ph.D. -providing much-needed services to airmen."