Wheeling Jesuit University

Students Present Physiological Research to WV Legislature

WHEELING, WV, Jan. 24, 2012 -- Wheeling Jesuit seniors Jessica Florian and August Capiola will be sharing with the West Virginia Legislature their findings on the effect that jasmine scent can have on stress reactions in enclosed spaces. The duo was selected to present their research results as part of the ninth annual Undergraduate Research Day that will be held on Thursday, Jan. 26 in Charleston.

The annual event, which takes place from 8:30 - 11:45 a.m. in the Capitol rotunda, helps members of the legislature and the executive branch understand the importance of undergraduate research by talking directly with the students who perform the research and create the projects.

"This is a great event for our students who work hard on research projects throughout the year. What's especially important is that this annual event helps our lawmakers understand the importance of undergraduate research as they meet the students that are most affected by state budgets and programs that benefit higher education," said Dr. Bryan Raudenbush, Wheeling Jesuit psychology professor and director of undergraduate research. (From left are Jessica Florian, August Capiola and Dr. Raudenbush.)

Forty-two percent of Wheeling Jesuit undergraduates perform research with professors during their college career.

Florian and Capiola are both from nearby Washington, Pa. and are psychology majors. Their project deals with the topic of anxiety and stress response in individuals.

The project is entitled, The Effect of Jasmine Scent Administration on Physiological and Psychological Stress Reactions in Enclosed Spaces.

"Enclosed spaces can cause significant anxiety and stress responses in individuals, which may hinder their ability to perform certain tasks. This study assessed the effects of jasmine scent administration on physical and psychological stress reactions in enclosed spaces," explained Raudenbush, who has done many studies on the sense of smell and its importance to human psychology and behavior.

Raudenbush mentored the students through the research and is accompanying them on the trip to Charleston.

Participants in the current study completed the protocol on two separate occasions. For each participant's first visit, they completed questionnaires related to mood and anxiety prior to and after spending 20 minutes in a sensory deprivation tank. During this time objective physiological measures of heart rate, galvanic skin response and respirations were recorded. For the participant's second visit, they repeated the experimental protocol either in the presence or absence of jasmine scent. Participants receiving jasmine scent on their second visit showed decreased heart rate, galvanic skin response, and psychological and anxiety and stress scores than did the control group who did not receive jasmine scent.

"These results are particularly important in terms of reducing stress and anxiety in participants undergoing enclosed medical procedures, such as an MRI," Raudenbush said.

All research presented to the legislature this week will be in the areas of biochemistry, biology, chemical engineering, chemistry, communications, computer science/information technology, economics, engineering, English, environmental sciences, environmental studies, geology, mathematics, physics and psychology.

Undergraduate Research Day is under the auspices of the West Virginia EPSCoR Office, which is responsible for development, administration, management, and implementation of the state's experimental research improvement program.

Wheeling Jesuit offers many opportunities for students to work with professors, performing research and is now planning its annual daylong student research symposium, coming up on Tuesday, April 17. For more information on undergraduate research opportunities or admission to Wheeling Jesuit, please contact the University at 800-624-6992 or visit online at www.wju.edu.

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