COBE Connect

The second Tuesday of each month COBE hosts the COBE Connect lunch lecture series in the VCU Student Commons. Each talk features a different faculty researcher, graduate student or VCU staff member discussing their work as well as a free lunch and opportunity to connect with faculty and students interested in mental health research at VCU.

Fall 2018

September 11 – Collaborating with Spit for Science and COBE: What We’re Up To and How You Can Get Involved!

You’ve seen the t-shirts and know the name, but do you really know the many interdisciplinary collaboration options that Spit for Science and COBE can offer for faculty, staff, and students? Come to our first COBE Connect Lunch talk of the year on Tuesday 9/11, 12 – 1 in the Forum Room of the Student Commons. We’ll share examples of existing collaborations, but we also want to hear your ideas. Free; lunch provided by COBE.

October 9 – Dr. Karen Chartier, School of Social Work, “AsianGlow: College students’ use of strategies to reduce the visible effects of alcohol-related facial flushing”

Alcohol-related flushing occurs in individuals who are unable to metabolize ethanol effectively. One of the most noticeable symptoms is a reddening of the face. This reaction is typically protective and minimizes drinking; however, Dr. Chartier’s pilot study using Spit for Science data finds that is not always the case.

November 13 – Ms Nina Schroder, MSW, LCSW, VCU Counseling Center, “Reboot: Examining Emotional Resilience and Well-being in the Digital Age”

Drawing on emerging published research as well as her clinical experience with “Digital Age” college students, Nina has gained insight into how high use of digital technologies may make young people more vulnerable to stress, impact their cognitive, social and emotional functioning, and inhibit emotional resilience and overall well-being.  Motivated by a desire to empower others to embrace a proactive “wellness” mindset, Nina welcomes opportunities to increase awareness about the risks of high screen use as well as to encourage healthy behaviors and thinking that can build the emotional resilience necessary for successfully navigating life in today’s ever-changing digital world.

For more information about the COBE Connect Lunch Series, contact COBE Administrative Director Marcie Walsh at

Past Events

May 1 – COBE and the Institute for Contemporary Art Mindfulness Kick-Off Event!12 – 1 pm at the new ICA!   Our inaugural session of the ongoing Tuesday lunchtime Mindfulness Meditation @ ICA series was a great success!

These guided sessions will continue to be offered on the 1st and 3rd Tuesdays of each month, through early December. Sessions are free and open to the public. Pre-registration is requested, and can be made in person at the ICA, or through the ICA website.

April 3 – Dr. Abigail Conley, Assistant Professor in VCU’s School of Education’s Counseling and Special Education Department. Topic:Re-victimization and Resiliency: A Trauma-Informed Approach to Working with All Students; 12 – 1 pm in the Forum Room of the VCU Student Commons (lunch provided).

Previous victims of sexual assault (SA) experience a two to three fold increased risk of being re-victimized compared to those without a history of SA.  Findings from Spit for Science, as well as VCU’s Campus Climate Survey on Sexual Violence and Bystander Behavior, confirm high rates of pre-college SA and revictimization while enrolled in college.  This talk will explore trauma-informed practices for working with all students, and highlight the unique needs of students who come to college already having experienced SA. Current bystander models are focused on educating and empowering students to recognize behaviors that endorse rape culture and safely intervene in situations that encourage sexual violence. In addition to focusing on this cultural shift, ways that bystander intervention programs can focus on strengthening the assets found to be protective factors against SA (i.e., resiliency and social support) within the campus community will be explored.

February 27 -Tom Bannard, CADC, MBA, Program Coordinator for Rams in Recovery at Virginia Commonwealth University shares his expertise in “Creating a Recovery-Ready Campus.” Tom’s talk is from 12 – 1 pm in the Forum Room of the VCU Student Commons (lunch provided).

Collegiate Recovery Programs (CRPs) are inspired by the core belief that students should not have to choose between their ongoing recovery and their education. As such, CRPs create structured supports for students in recovery so they can experience success in college – an environment often hostile to recovery efforts.  VCU’s Rams in Recovery Program has become the second largest Collegiate Recovery Program on the East Coast in just 5 years.  Situated within the public health mission of VCU’s Wellness Resource Center, the Rams in Recovery Program strives not only to create a small haven within the larger college environment, but also to transform our campus culture to one that supports recovery and embraces prevention, harm reduction, and mental health supports as crucial elements of a healthy campus.

Please join us to learn more about this highly successful program and engage in a discussion about how VCU can become a national flagship university in addressing, treating, researching, teaching, and engaging the community in the larger discourse surrounding substance use and successful recovery.

Tom is a Certified Alcohol Drug Counselor and has spent most of his career working in homeless services at CARITAS.  A person in long-term recovery, Tom is an advocate for people in recovery or who are struggling with a substance use disorder.

December 5th – Dr. Jinni Su presents on “Genes, Cultural Experiences and Alcohol Use.” The lecture begins at 12pm in the Common Ground Room of the VCU Student Commons.

November 7th – Dr. Chris Reina, Dr. Patricia Kinser, Dr. Jo Robins and Dr. Abigail Conley present “Contemplative Science Research at VCU: Highlights from Four Faculty Members’ Recent Studies.” The lecture begins at 12pm in the Forum Room of the VCU Student Commons.

October 3rd – Join Dept. of Psychiatry associate professor Dr. Nathan Gillespie for “Modeling the Direction of Causation between Cannabis Use and Misuse with Annual Income Across the Lifetime,” a discussion using twin data to examine the genetic and environmental risk factors in cannabis use, misuse and annual income, and how they are related. The lecture begins at 12pm in the Forum Room of the VCU Student Commons.

September 12th – COBE Research in Action Marcie Walsh, Administrative Director, COBE

May 2nd, 2017
Multidimensional Perfectionism and Well-Being
Dr. Philip Gnilka, Assistant Professor of Counselor Education, Virginia Commonwealth University

April 4, 2017
Service Utilization and Mental Health at VCU
Jessica Bourdon, PhD candidate in Clinical and Translational Sciences, VCU, founder, Translational Partnership for Mental Health

February 28, 2017
Uncovering the Science Behind E-Cigarettes
Tory Spindle, PhD candidate, VCU Health Psychology, researcher, VCU Center for the Study of Tobacco Products

February 7, 2017
Seven Years of Spit: An Update and Overview of the Spit for Science Study
Dr. Danielle Dick, Director, COBE, Primary Investigator, Spit for Science and Professor, VCU Psychology

December 7, 2016
The Contemplative Science Research Core
Dr. Kirk Warren Brown, Associate Professor, Psychology

November 1, 2016
Mindfulness 101
Dr. Amanda McGann, Assistant Director for Public Health Research and Education, The Wellness Resource Center at VCU
Elizabeth Bambacus, Student Engagement and Summer Studies Administrator, VCU Strategic Enrollment Management

Active Minds at VCU
Andrea Nguyen, President, Active Minds at VCU (Student Organization)

October 4, 2016
VCU Students Mental Health
Sydney Brodeur-McDonald, Assistant Director, University Counseling Services

September 7, 2016
7 Cups of Tea and Disruptive Innovation in our Mental Health System
Glen Moriarty, CEO, 7 Cups of Tea

May 3, 2016
Drunk in Love
Dr. Jessica Salvatore, Assistant Professor, Psychology

April 5, 2016
Through a Tilted Lens: #Alcohol and Instagram
Dr. Jeanine Guidry, Candidate, Richard T. Robertson School of Media and Culture

March 1, 2016
Political Humility
Dr. Everett Worthington, Commonwealth Professor, Psychology

February 2, 2016
Free Ice Water
John Freyer, Assistant Professor, VCU Arts
Molly Ransone, Assistant Director of Learning Media Innovation, Alt Lab