Newsletter Article

NRSA Recipient Combines Technology and Counseling

Frank Schwebel
Frank Schwebel

Frank Schwebel (Adult Clinical graduate student working with Mary Larimer) is our latest student to receive predoctoral funding from NIH (NRSA, or National Research Service Award) for his research on expanding access of evidence-based practices to the public. The background of this research award was covered in a previous article.  Learn more about Frank below!

Let's start with the basics, where are you from and where did you complete undergrad/masters?

I was born and raised in Tucson, Arizona and moved all of 90 minutes north to complete my undergraduate education at Arizona State University. I was extremely fortunate to work in the lab of the late Dr. Alex Zautra who played a huge role in helping me get into graduate school and who is greatly missed.

How did you wind up at UW/why did you apply here? What do you think about living in Seattle?

The UW Clinical Psychology Program has a fantastic reputation and upon interviewing here and meeting faculty and students I could easily see why. It was a no-brainer to accept the offer to enter the program despite Seattle’s reputation for less than stellar weather. As it turns out, the rain isn’t that bad and the city and surrounding areas have so much to offer that I can’t imagine a better place to live.

What is your research interest and how did you get into it (what inspires/motivates you)?

Broadly speaking, I am interested in behavior change, development of counseling protocols and programs, and applying technology to counseling. During my time here, I have focused on the treatment of adolescent substance use. Working to help teens with drug problems has been a passion of mine because of its prevalence and harmfulness, and because of the potential to remediate these problems at an early stage. Because teens are so attached to cell phones and computers, technology seems to offer an innovative new avenue for providing help.

How did you learn about your funding opportunity and tell us about the application/waiting process?

I think I first heard about the NRSA during our intro week “class.” Since then it had been a goal of mine to apply for and secure funding. This was my third time applying after receiving good (but not quite good enough for funding), scores before. This meant that I didn’t have to make many changes to my application but the waiting process was long (five months), and frustrating. It really helped that I was encouraged by my advisors to keep at it.

How did you feel when you learned that your application was accepted and that you will receive funding?

I was enormously excited when I saw my score this time around and very relieved to have secured funding for two more years in Seattle. I also was attending a conference in Berlin at the time and that only added to the excitement!

What is the name of your project and the funding source?

“Using supportive text messages to improve outcomes for adolescents in alcohol and other drug treatment.” The study was funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).

Do you have any advice/tips/suggestions for others who may apply to this opportunity? About graduate study in general?

Stick with it. Applying for a grant is a long, confusing, and fickle process. If it is a good idea and something you believe in, keep trying. Also, ask for help, particularly from more experienced graduate students. You are probably not the first person from the department to apply for the grant and other students and advisors are valuable allies to have in this process.

What do you hope to accomplish with the funding and/or while in the UW Psychology graduate program?

I am excited to now have the time to complete this study that will serve as a strong foundation to continue doing research after receiving my Ph.D.

What do you like doing in your spare time?

I spend a good deal of my spare time playing soccer, working out, and tending to my P-Patch. I also am obsessed with the U-District Farmer’s Market and recently started doing yoga.

The last book and/or movie you saw and enjoyed?

“But What If We’re Wrong: Thinking About the Present As If It Were the Past” by Chuck Klosterman. An entertaining read that sparked plenty of conversation and debate with friends.

What you plan to do once you complete your Ph.D.?

Say “Trust me, I’m a doctor” a whole heck of a lot and then look for a faculty position that allows me to continue with this research!


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