Overview and Projects

The Lai Lab works on numerous projects concurrently. Many of these projects intertwine the fields of biostatistics, clinical psychology, and public health. Topics of study include child trauma, traumatic stressors, and disaster exposure. Some of our current projects are listed below:

Project Disaster-SMART (Statistical Models of Academic Recovery Trajectories) Schools
National Science Foundation
Principal Investigator: Betty S. Lai, Ph.D.
Award Number: 1634234

Little is known about the trajectories of academic recovery of schools following natural disasters. This information can help inform postdisaster recovery efforts. To answer these questions, data from public schools in the path of Hurricane Ike (2008) will be examined. Data will include school demographic information and standardized testing results (used to quantify academic performance) from the predisaster (2003 – 2008) and postdiaster (2009 – 2011) periods.

For more information, visit the project website!

Growth Mindset
A growth mindset perspective emphasizes that ability may be developed through effort, whereas a fixed mindset perspective treats ability as fixed and immutable. Growth mindset perspectives are associated with increased motivation and self-efficacy among students faced with challenging material.  Since graduate biostatistics courses are often demanding, enhancing growth mindsets among students in these courses may be a promising intervention for increasing motivation, self-efficacy, and achievement. This is particularly important in public health, as biostatistics is a foundational discipline critical for analyzing and interpreting data to address public issues. The purpose of this study is to present the initial development of a growth mindset intervention for use within the University System of Georgia. Specifically, this intervention focuses on 1) psychoeducation about learning and 2) “open” tasks illustrating multiple methods for addressing problems.

Child Trajectories of Postraumatic Stress After Natural Disasters
National Institute of Mental Health
Principal Investigator: Betty S. Lai, Ph.D.
Project Number: 1R03MH113849-01

There is little information known about how and why children differ in their post traumatic stress symptom (PTSS) patterns after disasters. It is essential to identify what groups of children are most susceptible to chronic PTSS trajectories in order to effectively treat children most vulnerable to PTSS. This project will synthesize data across four studies to determine trajectories associated with mental health outcomes and risk factors of PTSS, with the long term goal of developing risk models to more efficiently allocate limited postdisaster resources to combat children’s PTSS.

More Projects

  • Child Fatality Analysis, Department of Children and Families, State of Georgia
  • Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC) Study, Hedge Funds Foundation
  • Evaluation and Dissemination of Parents as Teachers and SafeCare (PATSCH), Annie E. Casey Foundation