April 16, 2009
the assistance of a St. John’s University doctoral fellowship, Ph.
D candidate Grace Kong co-researched an article on the impact of
in-home cognitive-behavioral therapy in the elderly living in rural
Alabama. Published by the Psychology of Aging, a journal
of the American Psychological
Association (APA), the article draws attention to the lack of
access to healthcare among rural older adults.
St. John’s doctoral fellowships are funded on a two-year basis to
qualified students who wish to provide faculty members with
research-based assistance. These stipends provide more than
monetary aid to students---they encourage academic advancement and
training outside of the classroom. Candidates enhance their
academic and professional careers through research training, data
compilation and journal publication.
“This fellowship broadens my career options,” says Ms. Kong. “I had
the opportunity to participate in big research projects,
collaborate with other scholars and contribute to advanced data
analysis, which ultimately led to my work being published in a
According to Psychology Professor
William Chaplin, Ph.D, St. John’s administrators understand the
importance this type of support has for students who are unable to
advance their academic careers without additional financial aid.
The University has a dedicated and bright student population who
embraces the chance to publish works such as the Pearl
The Pearl Project
Under the tutelage of Dr. Chaplin, Ms. Kong’s contributions
included data management, analysis and quality control.
Coined the “Pearl Project,” the study sample consisted of 60
percent African-Americans and 40 percent Caucasian-Americans, a
majority of whom live at the poverty level.
“We wrote this proposal targeting the rural elderly since they are
one of the most underserved residents in the community,” Dr.
Chaplin explains. “We saw this as an opportunity to potentially
learn about a group that has historically lacked visibility.”
Data management is the foundation of scientific research and is an
applicable part of every study produced. Through research and
data analysis, practitioners are able to uncover the best practices
in treating the disadvantaged in society.
Funded by the National Institute of
Health (NIH), Dr. Chaplin and Ms. Kong were primarily
responsible for research analysis and data management. The Pearl
Project is cited by the American Psychological Association as a
core example of how effective in-home care delivery can improve the
quality of life in the elderly and decrease depression, anxiety and
other psychological symptoms.
“Data management is extraordinarily difficult, says Ms. Kong.
“As researchers the collection of data is the basic framework for
all facets of psychological study.”