O2X THRIVE Specialist:
Kelly Bennion, O2X Sleep Specialist (Ph.D, Ed.M., NFL Cheerleader)
Education and Professional Affiliations: Boston College (Ph.D.), Harvard Graduate School of Education (Ed.M.), currently a tenure-track Assistant Professor of Neuroscience and Biopsychology at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, CA.
About the Specialist:
Dr. Kelly Bennion is an O2X Sleep Specialist. Dr. Bennion received her Ph.D. in Psychology with a concentration in Cognitive Neuroscience from Boston College, and is currently a tenure-track Assistant Professor of Neuroscience and Biopsychology at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, CA.
Her research uses a combination of behavioral, eye tracking, polysomnography (overnight sleep monitoring), and neuroimaging (e.g., fMRI) approaches to understand the effects of sleep and stress on memory for negative and traumatic experiences. She has published several peer-reviewed articles on sleep and emotional memory consolidation, including showing that those with higher stress levels at the time of a negative experience have better subsequent memory for that negative information, but only following a period of sleep.
As Dr. Bennion’s research has important implications for understanding PTSD and other clinical and affective disorders, she has received grants supporting her research from sources including the US Department of Defense, National Science Foundation, American Psychological Association, and Psi Chi. She has also spent time at the Duke- National University of Singapore Medical School as a visiting scholar, researching the effects of sleep restriction on adolescent cognition.
Dr. Bennion has been passionate about teaching and education for as long as she can remember, and has an Ed.M. in Mind, Brain, and Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Her commitment to teaching has been acknowledged by her receipt of the Professor of the Year Award (College of Liberal Arts, Cal Poly), the Teaching Excellence in Psychological Science Award (American Psychological Association), as well as the Donald J. White Teaching Excellence Award (Boston College).
Dr. Bennion is also passionate about mentorship and outreach. She has founded three mentorship programs for psychology and neuroscience students at Boston College and Cal Poly, coordinated neuroscience outreach events throughout the greater Boston area for children, college students, and older adults, and has organized several events promoting Women in Science.
Dr. Bennion feels strongly that one should value health, fitness, and work-life balance, and she has accomplished this largely through fostering her love for dancing. Dr. Bennion has been an avid dancer since age 7, and danced professionally in the Boston area from 2010 to 2016. She was a member of the Adagio Big Band Jazz Company, the Boston Cannons Dance Team, and was a New England Patriots Cheerleader – ending her tenure as an NFL cheerleader with the Patriots’ Super Bowl XLIX victory in her home state of AZ in 2015, until this year when she tried out on a whim for the San Francisco 49ers Cheer squad and made it.
Dr. Bennion’s scientific commitment to researching the importance of sleep on cognition and emotional well being, and her personal commitment to maintaining a healthy, physically active lifestyle makes working with O2X a perfect fit.