Student Spotlight Award Recipient - Ethan Lester

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Congratulations to Ethan Lester on being selected as one of the Student Spotlight Award recipients!

The purpose of this award is to highlight students who are doing important work in the CBS community whether for research, clinical, and/or volunteer-humanitarian efforts.

This is a way to highlight their achievements, let the ACBS community know important work students are doing, and possibly provide a platform for mentoring/collaboration/professional development/conversations around highlighted areas.

Learn more about Ethan:

Background of CBS Research/Clinical/Volunteering efforts/achievements:
I am a functional contextual clinical scientist who primarily aligns with a contextual-behavioral theoretical orientation. I place a high value on the individual’s context, with consideration of the individual’s historic and current cultural factors, interpersonal dynamics, and unique learning histories. My research has broadly focused on the exploration and application of mindfulness and acceptance-based practices using novel experimental and intervention-based designs. I have studied the effects of an 8-week Mindfulness-Based-Stress Reduction intervention for college students with ADHD, the acquisition of mindfulness via a behavior analytic matching-to-sample task, and the effects of mindfulness and acceptance-based practices for older adults’ experiences of ageism. Much of my clinical work operates from an Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) approach, in which behavioral, relational, and humanistic-existential theories and philosophies emerge from my work. I am currently on my clinical internship at Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School where I both research and implement mind-body interventions for medical populations. In particular, I treat patients who are experiencing neurological illnesses and adjustment difficulties due to their medical status. At MGH/HMS, I see older adult outpatients from a philanthropic neurology clinic who are experiencing emotional distress related to recent neurological diagnoses and health anxiety. I also work in the neurocritical intensive care unit with patients and families who have experienced acute neurological injuries (e.g., strokes, tumor resections), and participate on a DBT team and group. I am in love with what I do and I always incorporate contextual behavioral sciences into my science and practice. It just fits.

Three sentence summary of CBS research/clinical/volunteering efforts/achievements: 
I currently use CBS philosophies to inform my research and clinical care of patients and families at Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School. In particular, I work with patients who have significant neurological illnesses and I integrate mind-body-brain-behavior interventions from a CBS perspective to help treat the whole person. My research primarily focuses on mindfulness and acceptance-based interventions for older adults and medical patients.

Links to any relevant publications you have participated in:
Lester, E.G., … Vranceanu, A-M. (under review). The Resilient Youth with Neurofibromatosis (RY-NF) Mind-Body Intervention: An Adolescent RCT. Neurology

Murrell, A.R., Hulsey, T.C., Ergüder, L., Lester, E.G. (under review). Supporting Parents, Teachers, School Psychologists and School Counselors Using ACT, Compassion, and Mindfulness.

Lester, E.G. & Murrell, A.R. (in review). Becoming Mindful of Measurement: An experimental-experiential study of state mindfulness measures. Mindfulness. Manuscript submitted for review.

Lester, E.G., Murrell, A.R., & Dickson, D. (2018). A Mixed Methods Approach to Understanding Misconceptions of Mindfulness Meditation. OBM Integrative and Complementary Medicine. Accepted for publication

Al-Jabari, R., Murrell, A.M., Callahan, J.L., Cox, R.J., & Lester, E.G. (In press), Do Distress Level and Waitlists Impact Termination in a Training Clinic. Teaching and Education in Professional Psychology.

Lester, E. G., & Murrell, A. R. (2018). Mindfulness Interventions for College Students with ADHD: A Multiple Single Case Research Design. Journal of College Student Psychotherapy, 1-22.

Moyer, D. N., McMakin, D. Q., Page, A. R., Murrell, A. R., Lester, E. G., & Walker, H. A. (2018). The Impact of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy on Positive Parenting Strategies Among Parents who have Experienced Relationship Violence. Journal of Family Violence, 33, 4.

Murrell, A. R., Lester, E. G., Moyer, D. N., & Lincoln, T. (2018). Three tweets to the wind: Providing context via simulated social media to decrease stigma toward problematic drinking. The Behavior Therapist, 41, 4

Murrell, A. R., Jackson, R., Lester, E.G., Hulsey, T.C. (2016). Psychological Flexibility and Resilience in Parentally Bereaved College Students. OMEGA Journal of Death and Dying, 76, 3. doi: 10.1177/0030222817693154

Murrell, A. R., Lester, E.G., & Sandoz, E.K. (2015). Grounding Turbulent Minds: The Challenges of Mindfulness-Based Interventions for College Students with ADHD and How to Overcome Them. The Journal of College Student Psychotherapy. 

My differences matter to me. I grew up a Hispanic Jew as a product of my parents’ interracial-interreligious marriage. My next-door neighbors were Muslim and Hindu, and I celebrated Christmas with my grandmother and her entire Spanish-speaking neighborhood. I was fortunate that my experience of diversity was always welcomed and celebrated. My doctoral education has allowed me to further explore through clinical research the meaning of my own diversity and fellow humans’ experiences. Consciously working with diversity is ever present in my clinical work, teaching, and research. I have counseled members of marginalized groups and have actively and compassionately advocated with and for these groups. My training has brought me closer to a multitude of individuals’ experiences, including those of children and college students with ADHD, sexual minorities, older adults with neurocognitive impairments, inpatients with disabilities and traumas, and outpatients with little financial stability and social support.
With the guidance of my major professor telling me to “pursue research that matters”, my journey has led me to seek out and meaningful research experiences in contextual behavioral sciences. My hope is that my research tells a story – one of commitment to the alleviation of human suffering through empirically-supported CBS treatment techniques. I am an enthusiastic clinical scientist with a drive to pursue research that matters. In all, I am a person who feels deeply about others - I am in love with the art and science of psychology and plan to do the work that matters for years to come.

Future goals:
I plan to continue working at MGH/HMS as a postdoctoral fellow in psychology in the Integrated Brain Health Clinical and Research Program honing skills in intervention development and clinical research design and implementation for the forseeable future.