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Nancy Kenney and Alan Marlatt are lauded by Kathy Lustyk of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, for their mentorships, in this Embry-Riddle Newsroom article.

Excerpted from Embry-Riddle Newsroom article

From Bedside to Bench: Dean Kathy Lustyk Pays it Forward to Students


As a pre-med student at the University of Washington in the mid-1980s, Mary Kathleen Lustyk was working the graveyard shift in an emergency room, handling triage when she had a sudden, terrifying realization: She didn’t want to be a surgeon, after all. Frustrated by people clogging the ER with complaints of sniffles and hangnails, Lustyk had to admit she wasn’t cut out for daily interactions with patients.

“I’m much better-suited for research and teaching and mentoring students in a lab,” says Lustyk, now dean of the College of Arts and Sciences on Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s Prescott, Ariz., campus. “I wanted to work at the bench instead of the bedside.”

Lustyk met with University of Washington faculty member Nancy J. Kenney , now director of Undergraduate Studies. “She gave me entry to her laboratory,” Lustyk recalls. “She was a pivotal person and an excellent mentor to me.”

After earning a Ph.D. degree in physiological psychology with a minor in endocrinology, Lustyk landed an assistant professorship at Seattle Pacific University, and she established the first psychophysiology lab on that campus. Since then, her investigations of human and animal regulatory behavior have changed thinking about the value of behavioral interventions in treating physical conditions.

Lustyk’s continuing research confirmed that women may tend to experience more stress, and they may be more emotionally reactive during their monthly luteal phase, following ovulation but before menstruation. “That got me thinking about what people do when they’re stressed,” she says. “They self-medicate with pills, alcohol and other substances.”

Working with the late G. Alan Marlatt, a leader in the field of addiction science, Lustyk explored whether mindfulness can reduce stress and craving – two factors that contribute to the 80-percent relapse rate among people with addictions. Her research showed that a “Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention” method was beneficial for addressing both factors. Lustyk’s work has also focused on how mindfulness can help balance the body’s automatic “fight-or-flight” sympathetic nervous system reactions with “rest-and-digest” parasympathetic responses mediated by the vagus cranial nerve.

Read the entire article here .