Featured AME Researcher: Ryan L. Brown, PhD.

Ryan L. Brown, Ph.D. is a social health psychologist and postdoctoral scholar funded by the Bakar Aging Research Institute at the University of California, San Francisco. Trained in psychoneuroimmunology, Dr. Brown’s research focuses on stress-response processes to study healthy aging. Her work frequently captures periods of major life transitions (e.g., spousal bereavement, pregnancy to postpartum) to identify the biopsychosocial underpinnings of adaptive adjustment through stressful life transitions.


We spoke with her regarding her work in this Q & A. 

Can you tell us about your work with the Stress Measurement Network?

Through the Stress Measurement Network, I am focusing on two priorities. First, I have become increasingly interested identifying the context and boundary conditions of when stress can be helpful for aging, and how we can design stress interventions that use brief intermittent and low dose stress to improve cellular responses to future stressors. Second, I am starting the Stress Puzzle podcast because I am passionate about prioritizing accessible, engaging, and informative communication of stress science. I believe science communication, particularly from scientists describing the work in their respective fields, is essential at this point in history. Science communication serves to better reflect scientists as authentic, whole people, and to address the amount of misinformation that is so easily accessible (and often promoted on social media), particularly in the stress and aging domain.

What are your goals with the Stress Puzzle Podcast?

I am so excited to launch the Stress Puzzle! The Stress Puzzle will feature leading experts in stress science discussing their work, situating the research historically and culturally, and offering advice to junior scientists interested in these topics. The biggest goal with the Stress Puzzle is to make scientific content that is both actionable and informational for folks in the field to apply to their research while being accessible and useful for anyone who isn’t immersed in the field.

What research topics do you hope to explore in the future? 

As I transition to a faculty position in the Fall, I aim to further my research on stress, close relationships, and aging from a lifespan perspective. More specifically, I am motivated to (a) interrogate the context, intensity, and chronicity of stressors, (b) study socioeconomic disparities in daily life following social loss experiences (e.g., widowhood, divorce), and (c) characterize changes in stress and relationship dynamics among spousal caregivers as their partner’s disease progresses. I feel so fortunate to have endless curiosity, 7+ years of psychoneuroimmunology training, and UCSF mentors who have supported my curiosity at every step. I look forward to following, and fostering, the curiosity of future mentees.

Read more about Dr. Brown's work here.