Aria Gastón-Panthaki graduated from Trinity University in 2021 with a B.A. in Psychology and a minor in Theatre. Throughout her undergraduate experience, she conducted research under the guidance of Dr. Carolyn Becker, Dr. Jane Childers, Dr. Nathan Stith, and Dr. Luz Garcini. Each research project taught Aria valuable and unique aspects of research that she hopes to carry on in her future research.
Aria’s research conducted with Dr. Becker ignited Aria’s passion for reanalyzing researchers’ previous biases. Eating disorder research has primarily focused on middle/upper SES white skinny women. In Dr. Becker’s Food Matters lab, Aria strove to break down this misconception by researching the connections between internalized weight stigma, food insecurity, and disordered eating in low SES Latinx community. Then, Aria turned towards investigating the connection with bariatric surgery, food insecurity, and disordered eating in a nationwide sample. Aria will be presenting her findings at ABCT in 2021. This research allowed her to look past current misconceptions in the eating disorder world and shine a light on populations that have been ignored in the past.
Working in Dr. Garcini’s lab allowed Aria to learn how to investigate the experiences of marginalized communities especially vulnerable ones. The primary focus in Dr. Garcini’s lab was research on undocumented immigrants. This is a population that is often ignored in psychology research. This work emphasized the importance of building trust in vulnerable communities. This trust can be the key to increasing participation in vulnerable populations.
With these varying research experiences, Aria intends to implement the unique aspects of each type of research to future projects. These research experiences help Aria realize her passion for researching historically marginalize adolescent populations. She hopes her future research can improve mental health in this population through practical interventions. With the Stress & Development Lab, Aria intends to continue exploring her interests of working with adolescents and exploring adolescent mental health risk factors.