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Laura Finch

Pronouns: She/Her

Senior Research Scientist

Laura is an NIH-funded behavioral health researcher with a penchant for crafting and refining written language.

Laura is a health psychologist interested in understanding how psychosocial factors impact mental health, physical health, and health behaviors and harnessing this knowledge to promote health and well-being across the lifespan. Drawing upon foundations in health and social psychology, human development, and nutrition, her work employs survey, behavioral, mHealth (mobile health), and physiological assessments in experimental, field, intervention, and observational panel studies. Laura also holds methodological expertise in the collection and analysis of physiological measures (i.e., cortisol, heart rate) and has assessed mental health (e.g., stress, depressive symptoms) and health behaviors in young adults, adults, and older adults. Over the past 13 years, Laura’s research and collaborations have produced 15 publications and over 35 scientific presentations across the U.S.

Laura has analyzed data from NORC’s National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project (NSHAP) to examine links between the social world and health; for instance, her most recent work examines associations between weight discrimination and diabetes. Laura has also utilized data from the NSHAP COVID-19 Study and NORC’s General Social Survey (GSS) to understand changes in mental health that accompanied the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

In 2023, Laura was awarded an NIH R21 grant focusing on the behavior of comfort eating in a national census-matched sample of U.S. adults. For this project, Laura (Principal Investigator) and her team will apply a lifespan, mixed-methods approach to 1) understand the developmental etiology of comfort eating; 2) identify factors associated with self-efficacy to quit comfort eating; and 3) determine which sub-populations may be at elevated risk for poor health associated with comfort eating. 

This NIH grant builds upon over a decade of Laura’s research evaluating the psychophysiological effects of comfort eating. Laura was awarded several competitive local and national fellowships that supported this line of research, including a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, a UCLA Graduate Summer Research Mentorship, a UCLA Dissertation Year Fellowship, and an NIH NCI T32 Postdoctoral Fellowship in Preventive Medicine. Her experimental and intervention comfort eating research was also supported by her receipt of a University of California Intercampus Consortium on Health Psychology Trainee Seed Grant, as well as a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Evidence for Action Grant. 

An avid writer and editor, Laura enjoys bringing research ideas to life through written language in the grants she submits with NORC colleagues and non-profits, academics, and organizations across the country. She cut her teeth as a Writing Consultant at UCLA, helping graduate students from all fields polish their scientific writing.

Education

T32 Postdoctoral Fellowship

Northwestern University

PhD

University of California, Los Angeles

MA

University of California, Los Angeles

BS

Cornell University

Honors & Awards

Dissertation Year Fellowship | 2017

University of California, Los Angeles

Graduate Research Fellowship | 2014

National Science Foundation

Project Contributions

National Social Life, Health & Aging Project

The first nationally representative study of the intersection between social and intimate relationships and healthy aging

Client:

National Institute on Aging

Oakland Promise Brilliant Baby Evaluation

Assessing the impact of a “two-generation” intervention on college attainment

Client:

Oakland Promise

Publications