MiSSiLe; Military Social Science Laboratory (Blais)
Broadly speaking, Dr. Blais’ program of research focuses on individual (PTSD, depression, suicide, physical health) and interpersonal (relationship satisfaction, sexual function, social support) outcomes associated with military-related traumas, including combat and sexual assault/harassment. The goal of her program of research is to inform the development or augmentation of screening measures aimed at identifying at-risk groups and augmenting existing clinical interventions to provide a more holistic approach to healing from trauma. She has several lines of inquiry open and is excited to attract lab members who can contribute and grow this program of research.
Mission: Military Moms
The transition to motherhood is a complex time and good outcomes are made possible by adequate support, physical well-being, good psychological health, and access to medical care. Pregnancy in the military is widely understudied, which has led to a gap in our understanding of how to best support mother and child during this time.
Military moms are at risk for a number of conditions that complicate pregnancy and childbirth, including increased risk for PTSD, sexual violence, and low work support. The goal of this project is to follow military moms during pregnancy and the immediate post-partum period to understand factors that lead to successful outcomes and triggers that create distress for mother and baby.
This project is funded by the Society for Military Psychology (Division 19) of APA.
Military Sexual Assault Severity Studies (M-SASS)
A wide body of literature shows that exposure to military sexual violence is associated with greater risk for PTSD, depression, and substance and alcohol misuse, as well as suicide. This body of literature, while large, has two primary limitations: exposure to military sexual violence is typically measured in a present/absent manner, ignoring the severity of these exposures and such studies rarely focus on interpersonal outcomes such as sexual function and satisfaction, sexual compulsivity, and sexual risk taking. The studies in this program were designed to address these literature gaps with the goal of improving interventions aimed at reducing the sequelae of sexual violence.
This project is funded by Utah State University.
Pathways to Healthy Sexual Well-Being Following Military Sexual Assault
Exposure to sexual violence during the military can lead to maladaptive coping as service members/veterans (re)engage in sexual activiies. What these coping strategies are, how they develop, and how they are maintained is understudied. The current study seeks to fill this literature gap to inform treatment interventions focused on decreasing sexual risks.
This project is funded by Arizona State University
Maya Bina Vannini
Maya Bina Vannini (she/her) - is a first-year doctoral student under the primary mentorship of Dr. Rebecca Blais. Her research interests are centered around mechanisms promoting the co-occurrence of transdiagnostic outcomes following trauma, particularly within underserved veteran and service member populations. Maya Bina graduated from University of California, San Diego in 2021 with a B.S. in Clinical Psychology and a minor in Ethnic Studies. As an undergraduate, Maya Bina worked as a research assistant at the VA San Diego under Dr. Ariel Lang, investigating mindfulness interventions for female service members and veterans. Upon graduation, she completed a post-baccalaureate research assistantship under Dr. Brett Litz in the Massachusetts Veterans Epidemiological Research and Information Center at the VA Boston, investigating treatment for moral injury and traumatic stress in service members and veterans. In her spare time, Maya Bina enjoys reading and spending time with friends and family.
Bingyu Xu (she/her) - is a third-year doctoral student working with Dr. Rebecca Blais interested in the outcomes of combat and military sexual trauma and ways of promoting resilience and recovery among veterans. Bingyu graduated from Brandeis University in 2019 with a B.A. in Psychology and Economics. As an undergraduate, Bingyu worked as a Research Assistance at Massachusetts General Hospital’s (MGH) Community Psychiatry Program for Research in Implementation and Dissemination of Evidence-Based Therapies (PRIDE) under Dr. Luana Marques, where Bingyu assisted a study assessing the quality of cognitive behavioral therapy for posttraumatic stress disorder in large systems and resource-limited community settings. Upon graduation, Bingyu worked as a Clinical Research Coordinator at the MGH Home Base Program which serves veterans and family members struggling with the invisible wounds of war. In her spare time, Bingyu enjoys hiking with her 4-year-old Shiba Inu and 6-month-old miniature australian shepherd. Bingyu is looking forward to exploring the mystical hiking trails in Arizona.
- Blais, R. K., Tirone, V., Orlowska, D., Lofgreen, A., Klassen, B. … & Zalta, A. K. (2021). Self-reported PTSD symptoms and social support in military service members and veterans: A meta-analysis. European Journal of Psychotraumatology.
- Blais, R. K. (2020). Lower sexual satisfaction and function mediate the association of assault military sexual trauma and relationship satisfaction in partnered female service members/veterans. Family Process, 59, 586-596.
- Zalta, A. K., Tirone, V., Orlowska, D., Blais, R. K., Lofgreen, A.,. … & Dent, A. (2020, e-pub ahead of print). Examining moderators of the relationship between social support and self-reported PTSD symptoms: A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin.
- Blais, R. K., Livingston, W. S., & Fargo, J. D. (2020). Higher depression severity mediates the association of assault MST and sexual function in partnered female service members/veterans. Journal of Affective Disorders, 261, 238-244.
- Tannahill, H., *Livingston, W. S., Fargo, J. D., Brignone, E., Gundlapalli, A. V., & Blais, R.K. (2020). Gender moderates the association of military sexual trauma and risk for psychological distress in VA-enrolled veterans. Journal of Affective Disorders, 268, 215-220.
- Livingston, W. S., Fargo, J. D., Gundlapalli, A. V., Brignone, E., & Blais, R. K. (2020). Comorbid PTSD and depression diagnoses mediate the association of military sexual trauma and suicidal ideation/behavior in VHA-enrolled Iraq/Afghanistan veterans. Journal of Affective Disorders, 274, 1184-1190.
- Blais, R. K. (2020). Lower intimate relationship satisfaction among partnered female service members/veterans is associated with the presence of suicidal ideation. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 76, 1353-1361.
- Blais, R. K., Brignone, E., Fargo, J. D., Andresen, F. J., & Livingston, W. S. (2019). The importance of distinguishing between harassment and assault military sexual trauma during screening. Military Psychology, 31(3), 227-232.
- Kugler, J., Andresen, F., Bean, R. & Blais, R. K. (2019). Couple-based interventions for PTSD among military veterans: An empirical review. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 75, 1737-1755.
- Blais, R. K., Monteith, L., & Kugler, J. (2018). Sexual dysfunction is associated with suicidal ideation in female service members and veterans. Journal of Affective Disorders, 226, 52-57.
- Andresen, F. J., Monteith, L. L., Kugler, J., Cruz, R. A., & Blais, R. K. (2019). Institutional betrayal following military sexual trauma is associated with more severe depression and specific PTSD symptom clusters. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 75, 1305-1319.
- Brignone, E., Gundlapalli, A. V., Blais, R. K., Carter, M. E., Ying, S., Samore, M. H., Kimerling, R., & Fargo, J. D. (2016). Differential risk for homelessness among U.S. male and female veterans with a positive screen for military sexual trauma. JAMA Psychiatry, 73, 582-589.
- Dr. Blais named the inaugural Vice President for Research by APA’s Division 19 (Society for Military Psychology)
- Whitney Livingston named 2021 USU CEHS Graduate Student Researcher of the Year!
- Dr. Blais given the 2018 Award for Outstanding Contribution to Trauma Psychology by an Early Career Psychology by APA’s Division 56 (Trauma Psychology)
- Dr. Blais given the 2018 Charles S. Gersoni Military Psychology Award by APA’s Division 19 (Society for Military Psychology)
- Dr. Blais given the 2016 Arthur W. Melton Award for Early Career Achievement by APA’s Division 19 (Society for Military Psychology)
To apply, please send a resume and letter of interest to Rebecca.email@example.com. Dr. Blais will be accepting 1-2 graduate students.