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Dissertation Defense for Rena Elizabeth Courtney

  • Date: December 7, 2017
  • Time: 2:00 PM
  • Location: College Hall 215

To:       Students, Faculty and Staff

From:  Gaurav Mathur, Ph.D., Dean of the Graduate School

Re:       Dissertation Defense for Rena Elizabeth Courtney

It is my pleasure to announce that Rena Elizabeth "Liz" Courtney, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Psychology, will defend her dissertation on “The interaction between personality and exercise in predicting perceived stress.”  The first forty minutes of the dissertation defense are open to the Gallaudet community.

While research has shown that exercise may be effective at relieving stress and personality tends to predict perceived stress, little is known about the connection between perceived stress, exercise and personality. The purpose of Mrs. Courtney’s study was to explore the relationship among these variables and to determine how personality and exercise can be used to predict perceived stress. Results revealed that neuroticism, extraversion and conscientiousness significantly predicted perceived stress while exercise, agreeableness and openness to experience did not. Post-hoc analyses examined the correlational relationships between these variables as well as the demographic information and supported previous findings connecting high levels enjoyment of exercise and motivation to exercise with higher exercise behavior. Furthermore, age was related to perceived stress and personality, while gender tended to be related to certain personality characteristics. These findings may lead to more effective exercise prescriptions and increase our understanding of the mechanisms underlying exercise-induced stress reduction.

The members of Mrs. Courtney’s dissertation committee are Dr. Patrick Brice, Department of Psychology, chair of the dissertation committee; Dr. Donna Morere, Department of Psychology; Dr. Deborah Schooler, Department of Psychology; Dr. Kathleen Arnos, Department of Science, Technology and Mathematics; and Dr. Slavomir Zapata, Washington DC VA Medical Center.

Mrs. Courtney entered the Clinical Psychology Program in 2013 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Virginia. She received her master’s degree in psychology in December 2016.  Mrs. Courtney is interested in research concerning the mind-body connection that occurs during exercise, as well as how exercise can be used to recover from trauma-related illnesses, particularly PTSD.  Her predissertation project involved an empirical study of the impact of yoga on Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in military Veterans.  As a research assistant at the Washington DC VA Medical Center, she conducted research on the use and impact of complementary and integrative health (CIH) services in military Veterans, presenting her work at national conferences and helping to publish several papers in peer-reviewed journals. She has served as a peer-reviewer for the Gallaudet University Chronicles of Psychology since 2016 and is currently an editorial assistant for Trauma Psychology News, a newsletter that is circulated to psychologists nationwide.  She has taught several undergraduate courses within the Department of Psychology and served as the graduate assistant to the Institutional Review Board at Gallaudet University from 2014 to 2017.  She has completed clinical psychology practicum experiences at the Washington DC VA Medical Center, Salem VA Medical Center, Neuropsychology Associates of Fairfax, Multicultural Clinical Center, and Gallaudet University Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS). Mrs. Courtney specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of trauma-related illnesses as well as the use of evidence-based treatments to address psychopathology. She is currently completing her clinical psychology internship at the Salem VA Medical Center with major rotations in evidence-based practices, inpatient PTSD treatment and behavioral medicine. She is also completing a year-long experience in the outpatient treatment of PTSD in order to become certified to deliver Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) and Motivational Interviewing (MI) as a provider within the Veterans Health Administration.

Please join me in extending best wishes to Mrs. Courtney for her dissertation defense.

Posted by Elizabeth Gibbons | Posted November 29, 2017 at 9:57 AM


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800 Florida Avenue NE
Washington, DC 20002