Graduate Center Psychology Student Awarded 2020 Fulbright for Research in Germany

Caroline Zimmermann (Photo courtesy of Zimmermann)

Graduate Center Ph.D. student Caroline F. Zimmermann (Psychology) was awarded a 2020 Fulbright Fellowship for research in Germany, where she will study the psychosocial effects among young adults of social stigmas related to skin disease.
Zimmermann will be collaborating with a research group at the Universitätsklinikum Hamburg-Eppendorf (UKE) in Hamburg, Germany, a leader in psycho-dermatology research. The World Health Assembly and German Federal Ministry of Health have advocated for greater research attention and development of interventions directed at the de-stigmatization of visible chronic skin disease, Zimmermann said.
Zimmermann’s study “aims to examine whether experiences of social stigma among young adults with visible chronic skin diseases affect well-being across a wide variety of health outcomes: mental health, social functioning, sexual health, somatic symptoms, and preventive health behaviors (e.g., physical activity),” she said. “My time in Germany will be devoted to participant recruitment at UKE’s outpatient dermatology clinic and data analysis.”
With support from the Fulbright and guidance from her doctoral dissertation chair, Professor Tracey Revenson (GC/Hunter, Psychology), as well as from Rachel Sommer of UKE, Zimmermann’s study can serve as evidence to boost efforts to raise awareness about psychosocial outcomes for people with skin diseases, she said.
“Bringing this knowledge back to the United States, where there is a substantial gap in this research area, I will be able to compare my findings using an American sample and defend my doctoral dissertation,” she said. “In the long term, I aspire to work in research-based hospitals conducive to developing interventions that aid individuals coping with chronic illness, including skin disease.”
Zimmermann grew up in Baldwin, New York. Her mother and maternal grandparents immigrated to the United States from the Philippines. “Being of mixed race, I was encouraged to embrace all aspects of my heritage and drew influence from multiple cultures and perspectives,” she said.
She earned a master’s degree from Loyola University Maryland and worked as a research assistant at Johns Hopkins. Both experiences confirmed her interest in health research from a psychological perspective. Her thesis explored psychological predictors of medication adherence among African Americans with hypertension. “I found that empowering patients and reducing their stress could improve health,” she said.
Zimmermann is one of four Graduate Students to be awarded a Fulbright award this year. The program provides research and teaching awards to support two to 12 months of work in more than 125 countries. Due to the coronavirus, the Fulbright program has postponed travel until January 2021.

Submitted on: APR 30, 2020

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