MIDDLEBURY, Vt. – Stress is a feeling that most people experience in one form or another on a daily basis and is increasingly understood to be a determinant of well-being. This winter term, students are studying the science behind stress in an interdisciplinary course taught by visiting instructor Adrienne Taren, who graduated from Middlebury in 2009.

The course is rooted in neuroscience, says Taren, but touches on the areas of psychology, behavioral economics, and biology. Taren, who recently completed an MD and PhD at the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University, researches the neuroscience of stress and mindfulness-based stress reduction, and links to behavior and biomarkers of health.

“I think one of the most exciting things is to get students to take this information and actually be able to apply the science in their own lives,” says Taren. Hopefully when they think about when they’re stressed, she says, they’ll better understand what is actually happening at a physiologic level and “how we can modulate our own stress response to benefit us.”

Look for more J-term Scenes throughout the month of January.