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  1. Abstract Background

    Mental health for engineering undergraduates is an urgent topic for engineering educators. Narratives of engineering education requiring suffering may create or exacerbate problematic perceptions around stress and mental health in engineering. This study explored the roles of stress and mental health in engineering culture. We sought to explore: (1) how engineering students describe their experiences related to stress and mental health and (2) norms and expectations engineering students share about stress and mental health. Qualitative interview data were collected from 30 students who had previously responded to a college-wide survey.


    Codes related to experiences with stress and mental health in engineering were organized in a bioecological systems model and analyzed for emergent themes depicting engineering culture. The study identified three themes related to stress and mental health in engineering culture: (1) engineering workload as a defining stressor, (2) specific barriers that prevent engineering students from seeking help for mental health concerns, and (3) reliance on peers to cope with stress and mental health distress.


    Our analysis provided insight into how engineering students perceive norms around stress and mental health in engineering and how this impacts help-seeking for mental health challenges. These findings have important implications for developing interventions andmore »positive cultures that support student mental health.

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  2. Abstract

    Goal-directed behavior is dependent on neuronal activity in the prefrontal cortex (PFC) and extended frontostriatal circuitry. Stress and stress-related disorders are associated with impaired frontostriatal-dependent cognition. Our understanding of the neural mechanisms that underlie stress-related cognitive impairment is limited, with the majority of prior research focused on the PFC. To date, the actions of stress across cognition-related frontostriatal circuitry are unknown. To address this gap, the current studies examined the effects of acute noise-stress on the spiking activity of neurons and local field potential oscillatory activity within the dorsomedial PFC (dmPFC) and dorsomedial striatum (dmSTR) in rats engaged in a test of spatial working memory. Stress robustly suppressed responses of both dmPFC and dmSTR neurons strongly tuned to key task events (delay, reward). Additionally, stress strongly suppressed delay-related, but not reward-related, theta and alpha spectral power within, and synchrony between, the dmPFC and dmSTR. These observations provide the first demonstration that stress disrupts the neural coding and functional connectivity of key task events, particularly delay, within cognition-supporting dorsomedial frontostriatal circuitry. These results suggest that stress-related degradation of neural coding within both the PFC and striatum likely contributes to the cognition-impairing effects of stress.

  3. Free, publicly-accessible full text available October 1, 2023
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  7. Humans live in complex socio-ecological systems where we interact with parasites and pathogens that spend time in abiotic and biotic environmental reservoirs (e.g., water, air, soil, other vertebrate hosts, vectors, intermediate hosts). Through a synthesis of published literature, we reviewed the life cycles and environmental persistence of 150 parasites and pathogens tracked by the World Health Organization's Global Burden of Disease study. We used those data to derive the time spent in each component of a pathogen's life cycle, including total time spent in humans versus all environmental stages. We found that nearly all infectious organisms were “environmentally mediated” to some degree, meaning that they spend time in reservoirs and can be transmitted from those reservoirs to human hosts. Correspondingly, many infectious diseases were primarily controlled through environmental interventions (e.g., vector control, water sanitation), whereas few (14%) were primarily controlled by integrated methods (i.e., combining medical and environmental interventions). Data on critical life history attributes for most of the 150 parasites and pathogens were difficult to find and often uncertain, potentially hampering efforts to predict disease dynamics and model interactions between life cycle time scales and infection control strategies. We hope that this synthetic review and associated database serve asmore »a resource for understanding both common patterns among parasites and pathogens and important variability and uncertainty regarding particular infectious diseases. These insights can be used to improve systems-based approaches for controlling environmentally mediated diseases of humans in an era where the environment is rapidly changing.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 8, 2023