Howard Leventhal Scholars Announced

Date: March 20, 2024
Media Contact: Nicole Swenarton

Congratulations to Rutgers doctoral students, Naomi Cruz and Alexis Richeson, who were awarded the 2024 Howard Leventhal Scholarship for Trainees. The scholarship selection committee selects two students annually to receive the funds to pursue dissertation research and jump start their investigative careers.

Cruz, who is pursuing her doctorate in health systems and policy from the Rutgers School of Public Health, is focusing her research on understanding the risk and protective factors for adolescent suicidality and eliminating barriers to mental health treatment. Her goal is to shed light on the period immediately following suicide attempts because of the opportunity it can provide for life-changing interventions.

By exploring ways to optimize treatments and reduce disparities, Cruz hopes her dissertation will advance the field of youth suicide prevention research, especially among marginalized groups.

Richeson, who is pursuing her doctorate in prevention science from Rutgers University-Camden, is focusing her research on the relationship between gender stereotyped and religious sexual messaging and feelings towards oneself and one’s relationships. Her goal is to analyze how types of sex education relate to mental and behavioral health outcomes.

Richeson’s research will explore how exposure to different ideologies and sexual messaging may be tied to sexuality and sexual behaviors leading to a better understanding of how sex education can be improved.

The Howard Leventhal Scholars will share the progress of their work through a presentation to Institute faculty and staff after the course of a year. 

Howard Leventhal, a member of the National Academy of Sciences and Board of Governors Professor, furthered health psychology research through theoretical and empirical contributions spanning the fields of emotion, illness behavior, and illness attribution.