CHBS professor leads Psychology student in unique FYRE project

College of Health and Behavioral Studies

Through JMU’s First Year Research Experience program, Health Sciences professor Asmita Mhaskar supports and mentors freshman Psychology major Emily Hoder through a research project concerning music’s effect on specific health conditions.

According to the FYRE website, the program seeks to connect “high-achieving first-year and transfer students with faculty mentors to work together on research or a creative inquiry project.”

Faculty from different colleges across JMU propose projects to the Office of Student Awards, Initiatives, and Research as FYRE projects in their research areas. Mhaskar was seeking opportunities to involve students in her creative research ideas and submitted a proposal to the FYRE program in Fall 2023.

Toward the end of their first Fall semesters, freshmen and transfer students may review the proposals offered and apply to work with faculty on a project that aligns with their interests and goals.

“Research has always interested me, so when I saw the opportunity to start it as a first year, I jumped on it,” Hoder said about why she applied for the FYRE program. The program matched Hoder with Mhaskar’s research proposal.

“I have a history in music, which is what originally drew me to this project,” Hoder said. “I was curious to see how I could tie it to my current study of psychology.”

“In addition to a background and training in health, wellness and complementary medicine, I am also a trained Indian classical musician,” said Mhaskar about her curiosity in the music and health. “Studying how music impacts mental well-being was something I wanted to explore, since it can be applied across a diverse range of populations, including in wellness on campus.”

Hoder reported growing in several ways so far throughout the research process. Along with strengthening time-management and communication skills, she said “research-wise, I feel as though I’ve become much better at identifying what information is trustworthy and what’s most important to look for in research.”

Mhaskar and Hoder shared that their experiences working together on their FYRE project has been enjoyable and beneficial. “It’s an excellent gateway into further research at JMU, that I hope will show off my work ethic to future employers and help me develop the research skills I need,” Hoder said.

Hoder plans to get a doctorate in psychology and become a professor in the future. “This seemed like a great way to bring me closer to that goal,” Hoder said. “I feel like I’ve learned so much throughout my experience with the FYRE program and can’t wait to see how my research journey progresses in the future.”

Additionally, Mhaskar believes research experiences for first-year students support the values of the College of Health and Behavioral Studies. “It contributes to JMU’s and CHBS’s mission of involving undergraduate students in research experiences under our newly acquired R2 status,” she said.

“I think I’ve most enjoyed the learning aspect of the project,” said Hoder. “It’s been interesting to go through studies and discover new information. I like being able to look back and see how far I’ve come from the beginning of this project.”

In fall 2024, the pair looks forward to presenting their research at the FYRE symposium.

“Emily has been enthusiastic and engaged in the project, and we hope to have a poster or presentation for the work,” said Mhaskar.

“[FYRE] is an experience that I’ve greatly enjoyed throughout this semester and would highly recommend it to anyone considering it,” Hoder said.

“Especially if you find a project that interests you, I think it’s a great way to get into research,” she said. “The research advisors understand that you’re a first-year student and do a good job at prioritizing learning about research alongside finding results.”

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by Lindsey Park

Published: Friday, April 19, 2024

Last Updated: Wednesday, April 24, 2024

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