Meet ABCT’s Featured Lab
Evan Forman, PhD, directs the Center for Weight, Eating and Lifestyle Science (WELL Center) at Drexel University's Department of Psychology
Dr. Forman is a Professor of Psychology and is the founding Director of the Center for Weight, Eating and Lifestyle Science (WELL Center) at Drexel University. Within the WELL Center, he oversees tenure track and research faculty, staff, and postdoctoral fellows, as well as undergraduate, Masters students, and Ph.D. students. Dr. Forman has a smaller "sub-lab" that focuses on designing, refining, implementing, and evaluating innovative behavioral and technology-based treatments for obesity and related eating problems. Dr. Forman has authored approximately 150 manuscripts, and is the author of the Effective Weight Loss books (Clinician Guide and Client Workbook) for Oxford Press's Treatments that Work series. In addition, his research has been continuously supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for over 10 years. Some of his larger funded projects include Mind Your Health, which is evaluating a novel acceptance-based behavioral treatment (ABT) for obesity; Project Dash, which is evaluating the effect of gamification and of computerized neurocognitive training aimed at helping individuals stay adherent to a healthy diet; OnTrack, a smart phone-based Just-in-Time Adaptive Intervention (JITAI) that uses machine learning to predict and prevent lapses from a weight control diet; and ReLearn, an investigation of an Artificial Intelligence (AI) approach to optimizing intervention features for weight control. Dr. Forman was a previous chair of the Committee of Science and Practice for APA Division 12 (Society for Clinical Psychology) and a recent recipient of the ABCT Mentorship Award.
How do you stay current with developments in the field?
The best way to stay current and informed, in my opinion, is to write the Introduction/Background sections of grant proposals, manuscripts, and chapters. I also read through a few key journals every month, look at citation alerts that I receive, discuss relevant manuscripts with students and colleagues, and attend conferences.
What conferences do you regularly attend and why?
I have attended ABCT virtually every year for the past 15 years, despite the fact that it always seems to fall on my birthday! I think of ABCT as my academic home, and believe it is a showcase of rigorous and relevant research. The Society of Behavior Medicine (SBM) conference is also especially relevant because of the subject matter and also because so many researchers there are investigating the use of technology to improve psychological treatments. Other conferences I attend are the Obesity Society and Eating Disorders Research Society.
How long have you been a member of ABCT?
About 15 years
How has ABCT helped you professionally?
ABCT has always been an amazing place for me to see leaders in the field present their latest work, discuss ideas with colleagues, and, best of all, reconnect with colleagues/friends/former students. I often come away from the conference with new ideas, and sometimes with new collaborators.
How do you see the future of ABCT for both you and your students?
I think ABCT will continue to evolve in interesting ways. For instance, I see it becoming focused on empirically supported treatments and not necessarily on cognitive and behavioral treatments. Not unrelated, I believe that the role of technological innovations will increasingly play a role at ABCT.
I know that my students will participate by presenting our work at ABCT. However, I hope that they also take on student leadership positions at ABCT, which I think is a highly worthwhile activity.
Are your students members of ABCT? If so, what has been most useful for them?
Yes, many of my students are or have been members of ABCT. Many aspects of ABCT have proven useful to them. Not only have students presented posters, but a number have given talks at ABCT, which I believe to be especially good experience (not to mention an excellent social anxiety exposure). I have encouraged students to take the initiative in setting up symposia and panel discussions (as a moderator), which is a specialized form of networking, and allows for an intensive participation in ABCT whether or not the student has data to present in a given year. Students have also gotten a huge amount out of participating in a SIG. Finally, it goes without saying, that ABCT is a great place for students to meet faculty and students in other labs who are working in similar lines of research, and also potential future internship supervisors and employers.
For prospective students: Who should consider applying to your lab, and how can they find out more?
We have assembled two sites for prospective students. We have a more conventional webpage that discusses who should apply, how to apply, and so on. We also have put together a comprehensive set of information about our current and former students, including outcomes of those students.
We asked questions of WELL's students:
1) What is your area of research interest?
2) How has ABCT been helpful to you?
3) If a student were thinking about joining ABCT, what activities would you recommend they get involved in?
I am interested in the development and prevention of eating disorders in adolescents and young adults and the effect of athletic body shape standards on body perception and development of eating disorders in adolescents and young adults.
ABCT has given me opportunities to learn about research outside my area and connect with other researchers who are interested in concepts similar to my interests.
I would recommend submitting your work as a poster or symposium, and attending special interest groups relevant to your research. Going to different talks during the convention can also be a really good learning experience for students.
My research interests focus on the use of technology, specifically smart phone-based ecological momentary assessment and passive sensing systems, to predict and intervene upon triggers of dietary lapse among people who are overweight and following a dietary prescription.
ABCT has expanded my knowledge of cutting-edge research that uses technology to augment treatments related to weight-related behavioral outcomes. In addition, ABCT has been valuable in facilitating networking with a range of individuals, from prominent researchers to other students, working in my area of research.
I would recommend getting involved in special interest groups (SIGs) that align with your research or clinical interests, submitting a poster presentation abstract, and attending the annual conference to hear first-hand about new developments in your area of interest.
My research focus is on developing and testing electronic/mobile health (e/mHealth) approaches (e.g., incorporating wearable sensors, advanced analytics) to assessing and intervening on weight-related behaviors implicated in CVD risk, particularly eating. I have pursued this line of research by using mHealth technology to deliver evidence-based interventions that directly target problematic eating.
ABCT has primarily been helpful for me a an avenue for networking. Attending the conferences but also being involved in the SIGs is a great way to meet like-minded individuals with whom you can collaborate. It is also an excellent forum for professional development issues as they host events for many different challenges faced by graduate students throughout the years (e.g., applying for internship, applying for postdoc, writing NIH grants, writing manuscripts). ABCT also offers several awards and research grants, so if you are interested in a research career I would recommend applying.
I would definitely recommend signing up for the list serve and becoming involved with relevant SIGs. I would also recommend using the website for student, teaching, and therapy resources.
I am interested in evaluating innovations in the treatment of anxiety disorders using novel treatment modalities, assessment tools, and platforms to enhance treatment delivery. I am also interested in improving the dissemination and implementation of exposure-based treatments.
ABCT has provided a fruitful platform for exploring my research and clinical interests as they have evolved over the course of my training. Further, ABCT has provided me with invaluable experience presenting my own work via symposia and posters. Importantly, I have also met mentors, made friends, formed collaborations, and reunited with colleagues at ABCT conferences.
I would recommend getting involved the Special Interest Groups and early career/mentoring programming, and attending the annual conference
My research focuses on understanding the cognitive and affective processes that contribute to poor dietary decision-making. I am particularly interested in identifying the mechanisms by which novel treatments can be harnessed to enhance motivation for healthy dietary decision-making.
ABCT has given me critical exposure to current research and treatments to improve obesity outcomes. It has also allowed for valuable professional networking opportunities.
I would recommend attending some of the many SIG events and professional development talks at the annual convention.
Pictured in top row are Diane Dallal, Elizabeth Lampe, Caitlin Loyka, Juicebox, Rebecca Crochiere, Austin Powers, Brittney Evans, Evan Forman
Pictured in 2nd row are Molly Wright, Priscilla Whang, Stephanie Manasse
Appended in the front "row" are Joanna Kaye, Stephanie Goldstein