Interview with 2017 Christian Scholars Foundation Grant Awardee Eleanor McGlinchey

Dr. Eleanor McGlinchey is one of the two scholars who received a 2017 Christian Scholars Foundation Grant, given to ESN members who are junior faculty. In this interview, she talks about her research, how the CSF grant is supporting her work, and how her faith and her scholarly vocation fit together. Stay tuned for an interview with the other awardee soon. Click here to learn more about the 2018 CSF Grant and apply by March 15, 2018.

Biography for Eleanor McGlinchey

Eleanor (Ellie) McGlinchey, PhD, is an Assistant Professor in the School of Psychology at Fairleigh Dickinson University. She primarily teaches courses in the Clinical Psychology graduate program. Dr. McGlinchey received her BA from Temple University, where she majored in both psychology and religion, and her PhD in clinical science from the University of California, Berkeley. She completed her clinical psychology internship at Albert Einstein College of Medicine/Montefiore Medical Center, and a Research Fellowship at New York State Psychiatric Institute/Columbia University Medical Center.

Her current research interest is on developing psychosocial treatments for childhood and adolescent mood and anxiety disorders, with a focus on identifying biological markers of treatment response. Her research to date has centered on the role of sleep disturbance and circadian rhythm dysfunction as potential precipitating and maintaining mechanisms in mood and anxiety disorders.

Interview with Eleanor McGlinchey

1. ESN: Would you tell us a little bit about your field and specific area of study within that field?

Eleanor: The field I most closely identify with is psychology. However, my main area of study, sleep, has necessarily required some ventures outside of psychology, including biology, neurology and, most recently, immunology. Much of my work has focused on how changes in sleep have a direct impact on changes in emotion. I have been particularly interested in studying populations for whom emotion dysregulation is already a vulnerability and how lack of sleep may exacerbate that vulnerability. In graduate school, I studied how lack of sleep might have an impact on the emotional experiences of children and adolescents and how disruptions in sleep might affect adults with the mood disorder bipolar disorder. I have now shifted methods to study how increasing sleep through treatment for sleep disturbances like insomnia might have a positive impact in decreasing depression in adolescent struggling with this mood disorder.

2. Would you describe your Christian Scholars Foundation Grant project for our readers?

The goal of this research is to begin to delineate behavioral (sleep) and biological (inflammation) markers affecting treatment efficacy for adolescent depression. This study will also examine whether an evidence-based psychotherapy for adolescent sleep disturbance is an effective treatment for adolescent depression. A multi-method approach will be used to investigate whether sleep (circadian rhythm stability, sleep continuity, quality) is linked to markers of systemic inflammation (e.g., elevated cortisol and low melatonin [6-SM]), and whether inflammation predicts treatment response.

3. How does the Christian Scholars Grant support you in this work? 

My goal is to be able to complete this small pilot study in order to apply for a larger grant. I am so grateful for the encouragement that the Christian Scholars Grant has provided to my work. With the support of the CSF grant, I am able to purchase some of the initial equipment that will allow me to complete the current study. In addition, my hope is that the equipment will also support ongoing research in my lab and for graduate students working with me.

4. This is a big question, but I know our readers will be interested in at least the short version of your answer to it. How does your faith influence your scholarship and teaching, and vice versa? 

God has called me into an area of scholarship in which I seek to see one aspect of His good work, human mental health, redeemed. My current research focuses on how improving sleep (and rest) might lead to less depression during adolescence. Sleep is designed by God for human flourishing. Unfortunately, our 24/7 world has grossly undervalued sleep and much of the research on the importance of sleep is ignored. My faith is challenged in this environment and in the “why?” questions of my research every day, but God sustains me through His Word, His Church and most importantly, His Grace. My scholarly path has also led me the University where I currently conduct research and teach. I have been given unique opportunities to share my faith with colleagues who never would have thought that a fellow psychologist could believe that Jesus Christ died for her sins and that my peace ultimately comes from resting in Him. I will continue to pray for God’s grace and provision in my faith and work.

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