Teresa Travnicek '20

Teresa Travnicek

Major: Psychology
Bio: Teresa Travnicek is a senior at Fordham University Lincoln Center pursuing a degree in Psychology and a minor in Art History on the Pre-Health track. She currently works at PRIDE Health Research Consortium of Hunter College and is completing an honors thesis under the mentorship of Fordham's Dr. Yip. She is interested in research related to sexual identity, substance use, and behavioral medicine and aims to expand her professional experience in these areas after graduation.

Title of Research: Health Indicators in Sexual Identity Development: An Exploratory Study of Sexual Identity and Biomarkers in First-Year College Students
Mentor: Dr. Tiffany Yip
Abstract: Young people negotiate exploration and flexible commitments across multiple identity domains, including sexuality. Sexual identity- the synthesized set of internal understandings based on elements including, sexual attractions, behaviors, and desires which comprise an individually and socioculturally salient sense of one’s sexuality (Savin-Williams, 2011)- is one such identity domain which develops during youth and throughout adult life. Young adults of all sexual orientations may encounter opportunities for sexual identity exploration as well as internal, social, and cultural constraints during this developmental process (Morgan, 2013). The present study sought to provide an exploratory assessment of associations between sexual identity processes, physiological health indicators, and subjective scores of perceived stress in a mixed heterosexual and nonheterosexual young adult sample and to map indicators of stress and immune functioning onto the dimensions of sexual identity development. 65 first-year undergraduates in their first two weeks of college completed a survey including the Measure of Sexual Identity Exploration and Commitment (Worthington et al., 2008) and Perceived Stress Scale (Cohen et al., 1983) and were asked to provide hair and blood samples as well as height and weight measurements as a component of participation in the Fordham University Sleep Study led by Dr. Tiffany Yip. Anthropometric assessments and biomarker data were used for analysis of body mass index, hair cortisol concentration, C-reactive protein levels, and leukocyte telomere length. Findings of statistical analyses will be discussed in the context of subjectively reported and biologically measured stress, minority stress theory, and implications of sexual identity development processes and experiences on young adult health outcomes.