Emiliya Zhivotovskaya wins the School of Mind-Body Medicine Thomas Budzynski Poster Award, with research on the Effects of Stress on Telomere Length
Each Autumn the School of Mind-Body Medicine conducts a Poster session on Graduation Day during the Fall residential conference. Students and faculty may post a research poster based on either empirical research investigations or library/database reviews. The best student poster on a non-hypnosis topic is awarded the Thomas H. Budzynski Award. Thomas Budzynski was an electronics engineer who had worked on inertial guidance systems on the Blackbird spy plane, and then went on to become a pioneer in the fields of biofeedback, neurofeedback, and energy medicine. This year's Budzynski award went to Emiliya Zhivotovskaya.
Emiliya Zhivotovskaya is a Spring 2013 MBM PhD student in the Healthcare Practice specialization. She is an international Positive Psychology based coach, facilitator, and yoga teacher. She holds a Master’s Degree in Positive Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania, and a bachelor’s degree from Long Island University in Psychology with minors in Fine Art, Business and Philosophy. Emiliya is the founder of the Flourishing Center, which offers programs and services for helping people flourish. She is also the creator and facilitator of the Certification in Applied Positive Psychology program at the New York Open Center, one of the first, comprehensive, and holistic certifications programs in Positive Psychology in the world. Additionally, Emiliya is the Chief Happiness Officer (CHO) at HappCo, the mobile app that gives people research-based tools for building their happiness right on their phones. She is a Certified Professional Coach as well as certified in yoga, Reiki, thai yoga massage, brain gym, motivational interviewing and more. At the core of Emiliya's work is boundless energy and passion for empowering people with tools for making the world a better place.
Emiliya's Poster: After learning about the effects of stress on shortening telomere length in Dr. Fred Shaffer and Dr. Eric Wilmarth’s psychophysiology class, Emiliya was inspired to explore what else impacted telomere length for her final project. Telomeres are proteins that cap the ends of chromosomes. Telomere’s naturally shorten over time. This is how our cells age and naturally die off. Telomere research has grown rapidly since 2009 when the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded to Elizabeth Blackburn and colleagues for their work on telomerase; an enzyme that extends the length of telomeres.
Emiliya wasn’t surprised to find a lengthy list of things that related to shortened telomeres: most types of stress, unhealthy foods, sedentary life style, exposure to pollutants, inflammation, obesity and more. However, some research surprised her. A study by Strandberg, Strandberg, Saijonmaa, et al. (2012) found that people who had even minor alcohol consumption (up to an average of 3.5 oz per week) had statistically significantly shorter telomeres than people who did not drink at all, and that difference increased with greater levels of consumption. She was pleased to find many mind-body skills that related to maintaining telomere length and even increasing it such as mindfulness meditation, physical activity and decreased stress. While no one wants to live forever, telomere length research helps us identify lifestyle choices that can support longevity and well-being.