Larisa Gavrilova is a Ph.D. Candidate in Psychological Sciences. She studies how the mind and the body influence each other and can affect health and wellness. Specifically, one focus has been on what kinds of emotions and thoughts most strongly predict cardiovascular biomarkers. Her early findings suggest that either negative and/or intense emotions relate most strongly to higher blood pressure, and repetitive negative thinking like rumination and worry predict higher heart rate. A second interest examines the potential for mindfulness interventions to promote good health. Currently, Larisa and her advisor, Dr. Matthew Zawadzki, are working on the StressFree UC study – a University of California-wide study investigating the effects of mindfulness-based app intervention on stress in UC Merced employees. Participants completed eight weeks of mindfulness training using the Headspace app while wearing a Fitbit to measure effects on heart rate, physical activity, and sleep quality. The overall goal of her work is to develop interventions that improve people’s daily lives and reduce disease. From the StreeFree UC study, she hopes to uncover mechanisms that are driving the beneficial effects of mindfulness while creating a culture of health at the University of California. Larisa is also a mindfulness teacher-in-training and in her free time, she teaches KORU mindfulness course for students at UC Merced to help them manage stress better.