Through Spit Camp, I learned about several topics such as: oral fluids as biological specimens, overview of saliva collection methods and devices, using proper collection, handling and storage, awakening response, diurnal variation, and the basics of enzyme immunoassay techniques used for assaying saliva. Additionally, I was trained in conducting salivary cortisol and alpha-amylase immunoassays in a hands-on lab practicum.
My honors thesis investigates how sex-role stereotypes play a role in the under-identification of child physical abuse. Because sex-related attitudes are more positive toward women than toward men, people are less likely to report cases of child physical abuse that involve mothers abusing their sons. Failure to report cases of child abuse impedes the effective delivery of appropriate health care and social services interventions for abused children. Research has often examined psychological processes that underlie stereotyping, but not biological processes. Spit Camp has provided me a working foundation to measure cortisol, a stress biomarker, to elucidate the neurobiological correlates of stereotyping.