Major depression disorder (MDD) affects millions of Americans, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Kim Galvez-Ortega, a Purdue University Department of Psychological Sciences doctoral student, has dedicated years of research for better and earlier diagnosis of the disorder. Her work in the Psychophysiological Analysis of Cognition, Emotion, and Reward (PACER) Lab could lead to more effective interventions for better qualities of life for patients.
What made you choose the Purdue College of Health and Human Sciences for graduate school?
I hoped to find a place that provided me with ample research and clinical training opportunities. Fortunately, the clinical psychology program in the College of Health and Human Sciences at Purdue provided me with the opportunity to partake in research that I am passionate about and allows clinical graduate students to receive evidence-based clinical training.
What kind of research are you currently conducting on depression and what has the experience been like in PACER Lab?
I am involved in designing a novel protocol for remote, home-based EEG (Electroencephalography) assessments. This remote EEG protocol is designed to understand the pathophysiology of psychiatric and neurological disorders across time, as EEG is the only technique that can directly record brain activity in real-time. In addition, this protocol will also allow us to address the geographical and financial barriers families may face that may limit their opportunity to participate in research.
I have enjoyed meeting and interacting with families, students and community members participating in research, including training research assistants in conducting EEG assessments. I enjoy having the opportunity to meet individuals from different backgrounds and listening to their stories, including their life goals, as we prep the EEG equipment. Conducting research in the PACER Lab and interacting with many individuals has allowed me to grow personally and professionally.
What inspired your interest in this research area?
Clinical psychology became of interest to me from a very young age. Growing up in a predominantly low-income Latinx community, we often lacked access to mental health resources. In addition, there was often minimal information on mental health in my community, and it was often stigmatized – no one ever addressed mental health struggles. I became inspired to explore mental health disorders to increase awareness on mental health, create resources and develop interventions tailored for historically underserved communities.
What is your proudest professional accomplishment thus far?
My proudest professional accomplishment is getting admitted into the Clinical Psychology PhD program. As a first-generation college student, the path toward higher education was something I dreamt of, but I did not know if it was attainable. Entering the world of academia was very intimidating but also very rewarding. I am eternally grateful for the support my family and my mentors have provided me. They have motivated me throughout the ups and downs of my journey, and they continue to remind me: ‘Sí se puede (Yes, it can be done)!’
What are your plans for after you graduate?
My goal is to continue growing as a researcher. I hope to have the opportunity to design studies and address the need for more research focused on underrepresented populations in psychology and neuroscience. I also hope to continue expanding MDD research in novel ways.
What does Hispanic Heritage Month mean to you? What do you think is important for people to know about Hispanic Heritage Month?
Hispanic Heritage Month is a celebration of our culture, our people, and our contributions to communities. Hispanic Heritage Month to me is about embracing our identity, our roots and our stories. It is time to learn and appreciate the diversity of our world, not only one month of the year but every day of the year.
Written by: Tim Brouk, firstname.lastname@example.org