Student NameMeher Kalkat
Faculty Mentor NameRobert Leeman
CollegeHealth and Human Performance
MajorPsychology-Behavioral Cognitive Neuroscience
MinorHealth Disparities in Society
Research InterestsHIV Interventions, Addiction Behaviors, PrEP Uptake
Academic AwardsIBM Watson Scholarship (2017); Benacquisto Scholarship (2017)
OrganizationsU Matter We Care; AWARE Ambassador; Gator Advance
VolunteeringFootprints Buddy and Support Program; Equal Access Clinic Network
Hobbies and InterestsSpoken Word Poetry, Piano, Baking

Why I got involved in research:

I think that research is one of the best ways to connect information you learn in classes and through volunteering experience to the topics you care about and questions you want to answer. For me, I have worked closely with those undergoing substance abuse treatment as well as LGBTQ+ populations and my research allows me to coalesce these interests and work on interventions to solve the problems that these topic areas currently face. That’s what makes research exciting for me-it allows me to be immersed in an entire system of problem-solving and investigation that can impact and inform how treatment of these vulnerable populations is conducted on a broader scale.

Research Project

Advancing New Computer-Based Help on Risky Behaviors (ANCHORS)

The purpose of this study is to conduct a series of 4 focus groups (n=30) consisting of young (ages 18-30) HIV-negative Men Who Have Sex With Men (MSM) and to obtain qualitative data regarding their alcohol use and sexual behavior. The focus groups will also assess participants’ perceptions of a web-based intervention designed to address alcohol/substance use and risky sexual behavior. The data collected from the focus groups will be audio-recorded, transcribed, and analyzed for thematic categories to be addressed while finalizing the mobile intervention. The focus-group study design optimizes the content, cultural appropriateness, and design of the current web-based intervention as a measure for moderating substance use and risky sexual behavior in young MSM at highest risk for HIV.