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

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Katrina Haberberger finishes her studies at RMU in style. This Spring 2021 honors program graduate with a BS in Statistics and Predictive Analytics and a minor in Alternative Energy and Sustainability, as well as a MS in Data Analytics, was accepted to present her undergraduate honors thesis at a national conference. Katrina will present her study titled The Impact of a Virtual Garden Experience on Caregiver Anxiety at John Hopkins University’s 2021 Richard Macksey National Undergraduate Humanities Research Symposium in late April. Katrina’s honor’s thesis was advised by Dr. Jamie Pinchot.

Katrina’s research focuses on studying the impact of experiencing nature virtually on self-reported anxiety. She collaborated for her study 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.

In her research Katrina analyzed how a virtual representation of the Hope Grows restorative gardens impacts the anxiety of the caregivers who viewed the representation. She concluded in her study 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 may offer an easily accessible and brief break to caregivers to ensure that those caring for others are also cared for.

You can catch Katrina’s presentation also at the RMU Intersections Undergraduate Research Conference on April 23rd, 2021 when she presents her honor’s thesis virtually.

Congratulations to Katrina on her graduation and prestigious accomplishment!