As Elisa Miyake explains, energy drinks are becoming an increasingly popular caffeinated beverage among adolescents.
“However, little is known about the possible negative outcomes associated with energy-drink consumption among this age group,” says Miyake, a 2012 graduate of Rutgers University–Camden with a master’s degree in psychology.
Miyake explores this significant but understudied topic in her research study, titled “Energy drink consumption and later alcohol use among early adolescents,” to be published in the April 2015 issue of the scholarly journal Addictive Behaviors.
A Ph.D. student in counseling psychology at Arizona State University, Miyake based her manuscript on research conducted for her master’s thesis at Rutgers–Camden, which examined associations between early adolescent substance use and other externalizing behaviors over a 16-month period.
The research focused on sixth- and seventh-grade students attending a Camden charter school, as part of the wider Camden Youth Development Study, an initiative funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse at the National Institutes of Health. The study, led by Naomi Marmorstein, a psychology professor at Rutgers–Camden, examined the development of internalizing disorders, such as depression and anxiety, and externalizing disorders, such as substance abuse, in at-risk youth in Camden.
Miyake primarily found that the frequency of energy-drink consumption at the initial assessment predicted increases in frequency of alcohol consumption 16 months later, even after adjusting for initial frequency of alcohol consumption.
“This implies that energy-drink consumption may be a risk marker for alcohol consumption among early adolescents,” explains Miyake. “Future research needs to examine possible explanations for this association.”
Marmorstein adds that the Camden Youth Development Study will continue to glean results that will aid researchers, clinicians, and policymakers in facilitating youths’ healthy development.
“We are excited to have found this great group of students, parents, teachers, and school administrators who were committed to our joint goal of learning more about youths’ development,” she says.
Miyake credits Marmorstein, her faculty advisor at Rutgers–Camden, for providing the vital guidance and support to conceptualize, implement, and publish the study.
“She has provided me with incredible mentorship,” says Miyake. “She guided me through the process of conducting independent research, presenting findings during professional conferences, and preparing and submitting a manuscript for publication.”
In Marmorstein’s estimation, Miyake proved to be an outstanding graduate student and is now well on her way to becoming a psychologist who will make important contributions in the field.
“She began our master’s program with excellent writing and critical-thinking skills, but without an extensive background in psychological research,” says Marmorstein. “I am pleased that our program was able to provide her with the skills necessary to pursue a Ph.D. and career in the field. I am excited, but not surprised, that this journal recognized the importance of her thesis research and chose to accept it for publication.”
As she pursues her doctoral degree, Miyake affirms that Rutgers–Camden’s graduate psychology program continues to provide the foundation necessary to conduct research, teach, and perform clinical work. At ASU, Miyake has focused her research on discrimination, with a particular emphasis on modern forms of sexism. In addition, her clinical work has centered on at-risk populations.
“While I haven’t chosen a specific path, I hope to continue both activities in my future career,” says Miyake, a Tempe, Ariz., resident.
A native of Laguna Hills, Calif., Miyake earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from California State University–Long Beach in 2007. After graduating, she gained research experience working in a lab examining novel interventions for children diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, and clinical experience working with children with pervasive developmental disorders in schools. The experiences had a profound impact, leading her to pursue a career in the field.