How Technology Has Transformed Social and Behavioral Research

How is the National Institutes of Health (NIH) leveraging behavioral, psychological, and social sciences research to improve public health?

At 3:30 pm on Wednesday, December 8, Bill Riley, director of the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) at NIH, will answer this question broadly and discuss three research areas of special importance as they pertain to public health in the US: COVID-19, structural racism, and firearms violence prevention.

Riley will talk about how these public health crises have shaped NIH’s support and funding for new research during a virtual event hosted by BU’s Office of Research.

Ahead of the event, The Brink spoke to Riley, a career-long psychologist with a particular interest in how emerging technology impacts behavioral assessment and intervention. Among Riley’s more than 130 studies published in peer-reviewed journals, for instance, is a 2004 paper on the first-ever application of text messaging for smoking cessation. He is set to retire at the end of 2021.

Here’s what Riley had to say about the impact of the pandemic on mental health, how technology is advancing behavioral science and healthcare, and how drastically this field of research has changed since the start of his career.

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