For WVU School of Public Health student Brittany Smith, Italy offers much more than stunning architecture, historic art and delicious cuisine. Last month, it was a place for her to share her passions with a global audience.

Traveling to Naples, the undergraduate student attended the 26th annual conference of the International Society for Research on Identity.

Founded in 2000, the Society for Research on Identity provides scholars from around the world with a forum to share their ideas and research regarding the problems and prospects of human self-definition across the lifespan.

“This research project allowed me to begin to look at identity formation and how it plays a role in human health, giving me insight into a little-discussed topic."

- Brittany Smith

Smith’s passion and work focuses on childhood adversity and trauma and the impact it has on the individual, community and society at large. Her research project, “Negative Life Events and School Connectedness on Positive Identity Development,” was accepted for presentation at the event.

“This research project allowed me to begin to look at identity formation and how it plays a role in human health, giving me insight into a little-discussed topic,” said Smith. “I was able to learn new ways of data collection. The presentations expanded my thinking and put me on a path to look at things more rigorously.”

Smith at the Colosseum in Rome.
Smith at the Colosseum in Rome.

In addition to giving and attending the presentations, Smith had the opportunity to participate in professional development workshops on theory development, qualitative methods and data management while at the conference.

For Smith, the most exciting part of the experience was networking with researchers from around the world. A connection she made with a professor from SWPS University in Poland has opened the door for future research into a subject not studied by many researchers — something Smith says she dealt with personally.

“We plan to work on a project together that looks at childhood adversity, identity and perfectionism,” said Smith. “My own childhood adversity resulted in me developing maladaptive perfectionism to cope. Researching perfectionism will provide insight into this possible negative consequence of childhood adversity.”

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jw/06/07/19

CONTACT: Kimberly Becker
WVU School of Public Health
304.293.1699; Kimberly.Becker@hsc.wvu.edu