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Understanding Behavior: From Neurons to Societies

Larisa Gavrilova

Larisa Gavrilova
Professional Title: 
Health Psychology
Research Interests: 

Health Psychology

Bio: 
Larisa received her undergraduate degree in Psychology from CSU Northridge (Cum Laude); she is currently a Ph.D. Candidate in Psychological Sciences at UC Merced. The overall goal of her work is to inform the development of effective interventions aimed at improving health and promoting healthy lifestyle. To achieve this goal, her first line of research investigates the mechanisms through which psychosocial factors (stress, coping styles, emotions) affect health. Specifically, she examines how these factors relate to cardiovascular disease risk factors (e.g., elevated blood pressure, physical inactivity, inadequate sleep, psychological distress) in everyday life. A second interest of hers involves understanding why successful interventions work and what active components underly their beneficial effects. Currently, Larisa and her advisor, Dr. Matthew Zawadzki, are working on the StressFree UC study – a University of California-wide study – investigating the effects of mindfulness-based app intervention on stress in UC Merced employees. From the StreeFree UC study, she hopes to uncover mechanisms that are driving the beneficial effects of mindfulness while creating a culture of health at the University of California. With her work she wants to inform effective interventions that are easily accessible to underprivileged populations and help reduce health disparities. In her free time, you will find her teaching mindfulness to students at UC Merced to help them manage stress better, or at the beach playing with her dogs.