The Diversity Digest recently interviewed Vanessa Volpe, assistant professor in the Applied Social and Community Psychology program in NC State’s Department of Psychology. Volpe founded and directed the Black Health Lab as its principal investigator.
Diversity Digest: What is the Black Health Lab?
Vanessa Volpe: The Black Health Lab is a research laboratory that was founded in 2014 at UNC-Chapel Hill by Vanessa Volpe when she began to establish her own research program and train students to address racial health disparities through health psychology research. Located in NC State’s Department of Psychology since August 2019, the lab is a group of individuals united by a passion for informing efforts to reduce racial health disparities in the U.S. through research. Numerous doctoral, master’s and undergraduate student research assistants work in our applied health psychology research laboratory. Check our website for details about our current team.
Diversity Digest: What projects are currently underway in the Lab?
Vanessa Volpe: At any given moment, we have several studies underway. Our studies focus specifically on the experiences of Black people (inclusive of individuals across the African diaspora, such as African American, Caribbean Black, Afro-Latinx, African and bi-/multi-racial individuals) in the U.S. Our current studies examine: 1) how online spaces provide challenges and opportunities for Black individuals’ oppression, liberation and subsequent health; 2) how experiences of and exposures to structural oppression impact health and health care outcomes; and 3) stress-related threats to, and protections against, poor health during young adulthood, a key period for the development of cardiovascular disease risk and the establishment of health behaviors.
Diversity Digest: What are the long-term goals or plans for the Lab?
Vanessa Volpe: We conduct studies to understand the ways that positive and negative race-related experiences impact Black people’s bodies, cardiovascular risk, health care access and health care experiences. Importantly, we aim to incorporate the dynamic and adaptive strengths and resources of Black individuals and communities in the face of oppression into our research.
Diversity Digest: Why is the Lab an important effort?
Vanessa Volpe: We aim to inform efforts to reduce racial health disparities in the United States through our research and its dissemination.
Diversity Digest: How can readers get involved?
Vanessa Volpe: The Black Health Lab currently has two opportunities for NC State students.
- If you are interested in joining the Black Health Lab, we are accepting applications for undergraduate research assistants for the fall semester. We are looking for undergraduates who are interested in researching racial and ethnic health disparities in Black and Latinx communities. Applicants from any discipline are welcome to apply. BIPOC students are especially encouraged to apply. To learn more, visit our website.
- If you are interested in participating in a research study, we are currently conducting a study on Black students’ experiences online through an initial online survey and a two-week daily smartphone survey. Black undergraduate and graduate students (inclusive of individuals across the African diaspora, such as African American, Caribbean Black, Afro-Latinx, African and bi-/multi-racial individuals) are eligible to participate. Participants can earn up to $20 or 3 SONA credits. Take the initial survey.
Please note that the two opportunities are not related (applicants for the position of undergraduate RA do not need to participate in the study, and vice versa). Please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.