Undergraduate Summer Research Fellowship Program
Kristin Czajka


Kristin Czajka


Kristin Czajka



Salivary Alpha Amylase as a Biomarker for Stress Reactivity

Kristin Czajka, Biopsychology
Faculty Mentor: Professor Naomi McKay, Psychology

Kristin is a senior Biopsychology major and Biology minor who will be graduating in spring 2020. She was a departmental senior awards finalist and is expecting to graduate with high honors. She is interested in the study of brain pathology. After graduation, she plans to pursue a Ph.D. in neuroscience and to focus her post-doctoral research on neurodegenerative diseases.

During her fellowship, Kristin found that salivary alpha amylase was an effective biomarker in place of salivary cortisol in cohorts that display a blunted cortisol response to stress. Furthermore, she found that body mass index (BMI) had an impact on salivary alpha amylase levels and that those that were overweight/obese did not physiologically respond to stress in the same manner as normal weight individuals. Her research has been submitted to the Journal of Pyschoneuroendocrinology for publication in April 2020.

Kristin Czajka