The Charger Blog

Graduate Students Present Mental Health Research at Prestigious Conference

Sanmit Jindal ’24 MPH and Krupa Ann Mathew ’24 MPH collaborated with each other and with their faculty mentors as they gathered data at one academic conference and presented their findings at another. It was an exciting opportunity to explore research, to network, and to examine adolescent mental health.

April 26, 2024

By Renee Chmiel, Office of Marketing and Communications

Left to right: Dr. Alvin Tran, Krupa Ann Mathew ’24 MPH, and Sanmit Jindal’ 24 MPH.
Left to right: Dr. Alvin Tran, Krupa Ann Mathew ’24 MPH, and Sanmit Jindal ’24 MPH.

For Sanmit Jindal ’24 MPH, attending a conference on the West Coast this semester didn’t only give him the chance to network and explore the field of behavioral medicine. It was also a unique opportunity to gain experience presenting his research.

A fellow in the University’s WeEmbody Lab, Jindal and his classmate Krupa Ann Mathew ’24 MPH traveled to San Francisco earlier this semester for the Society of Behavioral Medicine’s 46th Annual Meeting and Scientific Sessions. It was their first time presenting at an academic conference, and they shared the data they had collected and analyzed.

Passionate about mental health, Jindal and Mathew focused their research on the readiness to screen eating disorders and mental health disorders in adolescent populations through school-based health centers in Connecticut. Jindal says it was an incredible learning experience.

“Attending the Society of Behavioral Medicine conference and presenting a poster on my research was an incredible opportunity that allowed me to network with fellow researchers, practitioners, and professionals in the field of behavioral medicine,” said Jindal. “The experience also contributed to my professional development by improving my skills in effective poster presentation, public speaking, and networking – essential for my future career in research or related fields.”

‘I believe our research can make a difference’

Jindal and Mathew gathered data while attending the Connecticut Association of School-Based Health Centers annual conference. They invited healthcare practitioners to participate in their survey, then analyzed their data under the guidance of their faculty mentor Alvin Tran, Sc.D., MPH, an assistant professor in the Department of Population Health and Leadership.

The student-researchers developed their own research questions and designed the surveys, gaining hands-on experience gathering and analyzing data. They also used statistical tools such as SPSS, and Dr. Tran guided them through the process of creating their research posters and writing their abstracts.

The conference offered Chargers invaluable networking opportunities.
The conference offered Chargers invaluable networking opportunities.

Mathew says the experience was an important way to gain an understanding of how to conduct and present research while also deepening her understanding of her field. It also enabled her to understand and appreciate the challenges that individuals may face when it comes to fostering their mental health, as well as the importance of early intervention.

“Dr. Tran's words always echo in my mind, reminding me of the importance of our work,” said Mathew. “Presenting at this conference was an honor, and I never expected our abstract to be accepted. I believe our research can make a difference and spread awareness about mental health and the importance of readiness to understand and timely treatment for school-age children.”

‘Step onto center stage’

Director of the WeEmbody Lab, Dr. Tran was excited that Jindal and Mathew had the opportunity to share their research at the conference. His students have attended many public health conferences, such as those hosted by the Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE) and the American Public Health Association (APHA) Policy Action Institute.

"Having the opportunity to present novel research at an academic conference is an enriching experience,” he said. “It allows our students to step onto center stage and showcase their work to leading experts in their field. Presenting also gives our students an opportunity to network with other researchers and experts. This is often how many of our students learn about internship, research, and job opportunities."

‘The students exhibited professionalism’

In addition to Dr. Tran, Yanice Méndez-Fernández, Ph.D., MPH also attended the conference. She was excited to offer Jindal and Mathew her support, and she was grateful to share her own work with them and with other professionals at the conference.

“The Society of Behavioral Medicine Annual meeting is a great opportunity for our public health students to network with professionals and to showcase their research projects,” said Dr. Méndez-Fernández, an assistant professor in the Department of Population Health and Leadership. “As a faculty mentor, I appreciated the opportunity to further develop my relationship with the students outside of the classroom.

“Students showed their support by attending my poster presentation and I enjoyed speaking with them about my research,” she continued. “Throughout the meeting, the students exhibited professionalism and were eager to learn from experts in the field.”

Students and faculty members were charged up to attend the Society of Behavioral Medicine’s 46th Annual Meeting and Scientific Sessions.
Students and faculty members were charged up to attend the Society of Behavioral Medicine’s 46th Annual Meeting and Scientific Sessions.
‘A model for the kind of professional I aspire to become’

For Mathew, the importance of mentorship and learning can’t be overstated. A Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI) ambassador for international students and for the School of Health Sciences, she is passionate about advocacy and making an impact in the field of public health. The conference was a meaningful opportunity for her to do just that.

“Attending the SBM conference was a great opportunity for me because it is a prestigious scientific conference where groundbreaking research results and the work done by professionals is presented,” she said. “Behind all data lies a story waiting to be told. It is through the synergy of research and advocacy that we pave the path toward a brighter tomorrow.”

Jindal, who has a background in medicine and a deep desire to make a difference in the lives of others, hopes to use research to integrate clinical practice with public health for a more holistic approach. He is grateful for his faculty mentors at the University who have guided him in his journey while offering inspiration and encouragement.

“Their guidance, expertise, and insights have helped me navigate research projects and career decisions effectively,” he said. “My mentors have fostered my professional growth by providing feedback, sharing best practices, and advising on essential skills. Most importantly, observing their dedication and passion has inspired me. They are serving as models for the kind of professional I aspire to become.”