Bo Cleveland’s research interests center around trying to understand how individuals’ characteristics affect how they are impacted by experiences, such as how genetics can change the impact of peers on behaviors, and how these characteristics affect the ways in which adolescents and young adults negotiate challenging experiences, such as addiction and homelessness.
How Genes and Experiences Work Together to Contribute to Risk and Resilience
His research is based upon the belief that environments do not have the same, or even similar, effects on all individuals—and that reasons for this heterogeneity of environmental effects include genetics. His primary research project in this area is the genetic extension of the PROSPER project. This research project, referred to as gPROSPER, examines whether and how the impacts of substance use interventions and family and peer experiences vary across adolescents based on their genetics. For example, do dopamine-related genes change the impact of interventions on adolescent substance use trajectories?
How Homeless Adolescents Build Resilient Lives
He is increasingly involved in researching the experiences of homeless adolescents and the impact of their daily stress on their lives. His research group just finished a smartphone data collection of adolescents who have been kicked out of their homes and are “doubled-up” with others. These data are being used to document the positive and negative social experiences encountered by these homeless youth and investigate the strategies they use to overcome the challenges that define their daily lives.
Daily Lives of People Building Recovery from Substance Use Disorders
His emerging research on youth homelessness has grown out of a decade’s worth of work on the daily lives of young adults in 12-step recovery from addiction, and from an ongoing project on patients in substance abuse treatment. This work, done in collaboration with the Penn State Hershey Medical School, uses smart phones to collect momentary data on mood and cravings experienced by people addicted to opioids. The within- and between-day patterns of mood and cravings will then be used to predict post-treatment recovery outcomes, such as relapse.
In addition to the above, he is collaborating with faculty through the Penn State Gene-Environment Research Initiative to build the Pennsylvania Twin Registry of young children and adolescents. This project focuses on how genes and environments work together to affect child-parent interactions, school readiness, and healthy daily behaviors.
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