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Douglas Hoston, a PhD student from the Department of Learning and Instruction teaches a class in an urban school.

Published May 21, 2019

Doctoral student receives award for research in urban education

Study examines how trauma impacts underrepresented students

Douglas Hoston, a PhD student from the Department of Learning and Instruction (LAI), received a scholarship award from his international fraternity, Omega Psi Phi, for his research evaluating how stress affects underrepresented students. Hoston is collaborating with Richard Lamb, associate professor from LAI, regarding the impact of John Henryism, a belief that low socioeconomic groups may not have the resources to successively cope with psychological stressors.

Hoston and Lamb are working to reduce the learning environmental factors that lead to chronic stress for underrepresented students. The study is being conducted in the Neurocognition Science Laboratory (NSL), a virtual reality research facility in GSE designed to investigate the changes in the brain and behavior during learning. Lamb is the director of NSL.

“Chronic stress leads to hypertension, depression and anxiety that needs to be examined to improve the well-being of college students,” said Hoston. “We are striving to inform schools of the conditions that improve the development of learning by reducing the stress of underrepresented students.”

Hoston became inspired to examine the cultural differences that impact learning after he settled down in Cleveland, OH. He was raised all over the world, as a result of his father being in the U.S. Air Force. Hoston’s 12-year-old son is his inspiration to obtain a PhD.

“I have learned over the years that there are good mentors, peers and programs that are interested in assisting me through my academic journey despite institutional barriers,” Hoston said. “My support system has been key to handling stress and managing my obligations, both personal and professional.”

Hoston credits Lamb for his mentorship and constant support, and he plans to advance his research through the dissertation process and develop opportunities to implement interventions. Ultimately, Hoston hopes these interventions will soften the harsh effect of John Henryism.

“I chose UB for my education because of how the university embraces diversity and supports intersectionality in research,” said Hoston. “I am learning how to better my research techniques to have greater human impact on the work I do.”

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