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College of Human Ecology

Corey Miller gains experience with National Institute of Health fellowship

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Corey Miller, current graduate student in the department of food, nutrition, dietetics and health, had the opportunity to travel to Bethesda, Maryland for the summer and participated in the student intern program (SIP) working with Dr. Susan Persky in the Social and Behavioral Research Branch (SBRB) at the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

When the application process began in February, Miller took a chance and applied. The program is very selective and accepted roughly 1,300 applicants out of the estimated 7,100 that applied. In an interesting turn of events, Miller was rejected from the program at first, only to be asked to join soon after  by a senior investigator who was very impressed by his previous research done here at K-State. Miller is the first graduate student in the department of food, nutrition, dietetics and health intern at the NIH.

Miller worked on three projects while at the NIH. The first of the three projects he worked on was diabetes and looking at the health outcomes in association with causal understanding, stigma and self-concept among patients affected with type 1 and type 2 diabetes. What he found was that people needed more education about diabetes because their views were skewed on the subject.

For the second project, Miller assisted with developing materials for a future study called “Parents Take” which deals with whether the nature of information regarding children’s risk of becoming obese leads to differential levels of parental guilt and whether that guilt mediates the relationship between information provision and food choice for the child in a virtual reality cafeteria.

The final project was to come up with a research question to present his findings on. Miller used data from a previous study called Ntech to do so, investigating child feeding in a virtual reality buffet and the influences of message framing and parent emotion. Message framing has been successfully used in a previous study where college students were induced to feel anger or fear, and then given gain or loss framed messages about the importance of fruit and vegetable consumption. Anger is well matched with a gain-frame which is what one will gain from doing a preventive behavior. For example, eating plenty of fruits and vegetables can protect your child's health. Whereas fear is well matched with a loss frame which is what one will lose by not doing the behavior. For example, not eating plenty of fruits and vegetables can endanger your child's health. For the parents to feel anger or fear, participants were randomly emotionally induced by showing them a movie clip from The Ring (Fear) or Crash (Anger) which then proceeded with participants receiving a health message randomized to a gain or loss framing followed by a questionnaire, virtual reality feeding measure, and lastly, another questionnaire. The outcome measure in this study was the number of servings of fruits and vegetables chosen from the virtual reality buffet.

At the conclusion of the program, Miller presented a poster on his findings at NIH poster day. Followed by a couple of manipulation checks, his research concluded that mothers chose more servings of fruits and vegetables when they were angry and received the gain frame message, and fathers chose more servings of fruits and vegetables when they were fearful and received the gain frame message. Mothers followed a hypothesized pattern based on previous literature, however, fathers followed a different pattern. More research is needed to investigate this difference.

When reflecting back on his time at the NIH, Miller said that participating in this program was very beneficial and sparked an interest in other areas of public health such as advocacy and policy, implementing change from the front line.

“It was such a blessing to be given this opportunity to advance my skill set in such a distinguished Public Health organization within the NIH. Many thanks to my preceptor, Dr. Persky” said Miller. “Public Health has many different opportunities to make the world a healthier place. I say find your niche and follow your passion wholeheartedly.” Miller will graduate in December with a Master’s degree in Public Health.

 

This article was posted on Thursday, September 21, 2017, and is filed under College News, Food, Nutrition, Dietetics and Health, Student Research.