Jessica Wells presented research to the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences in New Orleans in February. Her presentation, “IPV and depression: A stress sensitization approach,” explores the stress sensitization hypothesis, which holds that the severity of the effects of later life stress is greater for those individuals exposed to above average levels of environmental stress early in life. Her study explores whether victims of intimate partner violence (IPV) who also have witnessed inter-parental violence in childhood are more severely affected by experiences of IPV victimization later in life. Her results suggest that witnessing parental IPV increases the likelihood of later depression among both males and females.
Wells also co-authored a presentation for the American Academy of Forensic Science in Seattle in February. “Variation in Genes Affecting Dopamine Turnover, Oxytocin, and Serotonin in Inmate and Student Populations” compared inmate and student populations to demonstrate the genetic influence on aggressive and antisocial behavior, which are two of the leading causes of mental health referrals. The presentation found that the strong heritability and environmental issues surrounding criminal activity indicates that underlying genetics can help explain at least some features related to these behaviors.