As a graduate student in the Colorado State University Department of Health and Exercise Science, Sophie Seward seeks to understand the impact of sleep on the risk of disease in individuals. Seward was recognized with the Undergraduate Choice Award and was distinguished as a Research Top Scholar at CSU’s Graduate Student Showcase by a team of undergraduate scholars who judged the Grad Show. Seward looked at traditional shift workers and her research will not only help this population better understand their risks, but also can be used in the future to better conceptualize viable solutions to combat the risk of disease.
What inspired you to conduct this research?
I first became interested in health and exercise science in my undergraduate because I wanted to perform at the highest level as a collegiate runner and later as a marathon runner. However, as I became more involved in research, I learned how important our behaviors like sleep, exercise, and diet impact our risk for future diseases. I appreciate that research in the health field can help people live longer and healthier lives.
What impact do you hope this research will have?
People who work outside of the traditional 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. hours (i.e., shift workers) make up greater than 20% of the United States workforce. Shift workers are at a 44% higher risk of Type 2 diabetes and 17% higher risk of cardiovascular disease compared to people who work traditional hours. However, to date, limited solutions exist to prevent the impact of shiftwork on type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease risk. Therefore, I have teamed up with the Sleep and Metabolism Laboratory to identify solutions for shift workers to combat their heightened disease risk.
What does receiving this award mean to you?
I am very excited to have won the “Undergraduate Choice Award.” Today, I know that I am pursuing my Ph.D. because of supportive mentors during my undergraduate studies. I believe that research should be accessible to everyone and as scientists, it is our job to communicate science effectively. I feel honored to be a small part of encouraging the next generation of scientists.
The Department of Health and Exercise Science is a part of CSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences.