Katrina Haberberger (’21) to Present Honors Research Thesis at 2021 John Hopkins University Richard Macksey National Undergraduate Humanities Research Symposium

We would like to congratulate Katrina Haberberger, MS Data Analytics student, whose Honors thesis, The Impact of a Virtual Garden Experience on Caregiver Anxiety, was accepted to the Johns Hopkins University 2021 Richard Macksey National Undergraduate Humanities Research Symposium. Katrina’s research was supervised by her faculty advisor, Dr. Jamie Pinchot. Katrina will present her research at the symposium on April 24-25, 2021.

She will also be presenting her Honors thesis at the RMU Intersections Undergraduate Research Conference on April 23, 2021. The Intersections Conference will be held virtually this year and can be viewed from the conference website.

Katrina’s research focused on studying the impact of experiencing nature virtually on self-reported anxiety. For her study, she collaborated with the local non-profit Hope Grows, featuring their various restorative and healing gardens. Hope Grows is a nature therapy organization in Moon Township, Pennsylvania that seeks to provide respite and recovery from stress to caregivers. COVID-19 has inhibited many caregivers from accessing their gardens, and some may never be able to visit the gardens in person due to the extent of their care receiver’s needs. There is some evidence that virtual experiences of nature can provide stress-relief similar to that experienced in-person, however this has not been well documented for restorative garden environments. The purpose of this research was to understand the way anxiety is impacted for caregivers who experience a virtual representation of the Hope Grows restorative gardens. The results of her study conclude that watching a short, 2-3-minute video of the Hope Grows restorative gardens produces a statistically significant decrease in self-reported state anxiety. As caregivers may experience high levels of anxiety and stress due to the nature of their responsibilities, watching a short video of restorative gardens could be a quick and easily accessible therapy to ensure that those caring for others are also cared for.

Katrina will be graduating in May 2021 with a BS in Statistics and Predictive Analytics, a minor in Alternative Energy and Sustainability, and an MS in Data Analytics. Her research has made an impact on our local community and has been recognized at a national, well-known research conference. Congratulations, Katrina, on this prestigious accomplishment!

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