Fighting substance abuse by understanding the impact of childhood trauma

Psychology student wins graduate research fellowship from NSF

July 6, 2020

For a long time, Matthew Broussard has wanted to understand how childhood trauma can lead to substance abuse in adults. 

Reading a news article about research happening at Arizona State University on this topic is what led him to enroll as a transfer student. The topic also was the focus of his application to the National Science Foundation’s Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) last fall. Matthew Broussard was named a 2020 recipient of the National Science Foundation's Graduate Research Fellowship Program. Photo courtesy of Matthew Broussard Download Full Image

Broussard, a first-generation college student who recently graduated from ASU with a double major in psychology and philosophy and a minor in religious studies, won a GRFP. The fellowship provides him with a stipend and covers his graduate school tuition, which means next semester he will be researching the impact of childhood trauma on substance use as a master’s degree student with Scott Leischow in ASU’s College of Health Solutions. Broussard plans to apply to doctoral programs in clinical psychology after completing ASU’s Master’s in the Science of Health Care Delivery program.

“Matt is really bright and enthusiastic and is addressing critically important topics that impact a lot of people in the U.S. and around the world,” Leischow said. “Matt’s research links psychology to the College of Health Solutions, and we are excited to have him as a student in our program. He is going to gain significant knowledge and expertise about the health care system that will round out his experience, given his background in psychology and desire to be clinician.” 

From the ASU Department of Psychology to the College of Health Solutions

As an undergraduate, Broussard worked in four addiction research labs, including as a lab manager for the Social Addictions Impulse Lab (SAIL), led by Julie A. Patock-Peckham in the Department of Psychology. With Patock-Peckham, Broussard studied how emotion regulation and mental health affected drinking behavior in college students. 

“Matt is a delight to work with and wants to learn everything about the research process. His passion for studying trauma and substance use combined with his love of statistics means he is already a talented addictions researcher, which is rare for someone at this stage in their career,” Patock-Peckam said.    

For his doctoral research, Broussard plans to study how emotion regulation can act as a bridge between childhood trauma and substance abuse in adults. He also wants to examine the role of health care providers and health care delivery in addressing the effects of childhood trauma on later substance abuse.

“My goal is to create a way to examine how childhood trauma might lead to a reduced ability to regulate emotions during stressful events and how that contributes to substance abuse,” Broussard said.

Broussard plans to combine biological measures like heart rate, respiratory rate, cortisol levels and microfacial expressions with subjective measures like answers to questionnaires that assess how people are dealing emotionally with current stressors and past trauma.

“The current treatments for trauma — childhood, war, sexual assault — are not as effective as we want them to be,” Broussard said. “I hope that understanding the relationship between biological markers and subjective experiences will lead to improved treatments in the future."

Science writer, Psychology Department


ASU launches new tech consulting credential

Program provides master’s degree level instruction from business faculty and 9 credit hours toward an online Master of Science in Information Systems Management

July 7, 2020

As part of the most innovative college in the country for five years running, the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University has to keep moving forward. W. P. Carey’s latest step toward continual innovation is its Professional Credential in Tech Consulting to help students upskill while continuing to work and gain a professional certificate right away.

Students can complete the new Professional Credential in Tech Consulting 100% online over the fall 2020 semester. It uniquely provides master’s degree level instruction from W. P. Carey faculty and nine credit hours toward an online Master of Science in Information Systems Management (MS-ISM) program, which students can begin as early as fall 2021. get professional credential in tech consulting online Photo by Shelley Valdez/Arizona State University Download Full Image

“ASU has been a leader in online education, and the W. P. Carey School of Business launched its first online degree program two decades ago,” said Dan Mazzola, director of the MS-ISM program and clinical associate professor. “One of the very first ‘stackable’ credentials available for an information management degree provides our program and our students — as well as the companies who hire and employ them — a distinct competitive advantage.”

ASU Online and ASU Continuing and Professional Education will deliver the program, with coursework based on a current specialization in W. P. Carey’s on-campus MS-ISM program. Future credentials may include cloud and data analytics.

Students will be able to lead in a range of industries, including financial services, health care, marketing and technology upon completion of the Professional Credential in Tech Consulting.

The 17-week program begins Jan. 8, 2021.

Shay Moser

Managing Editor, W. P. Carey School of Business