Rachel Bond always knew she wanted to help people. In middle school in Springfield, Illinois, when she wasn’t reading her beloved Harry Potter books, she dreamed of becoming a civil rights lawyer and standing up for the rights of the oppressed. But a few years later while Bond was taking her first psychology class at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, she realized she had found her calling. She decided to major in psychology and found a job at a college laboratory that specialized in anxiety and stress disorders. “Our motto was ‘We scare people for science,’” she quips.
As Bond learned more about anxiety disorders, she realized that many people who suffer from panic attacks and other debilitating symptoms weren’t being treated. Some estimates put the number of U.S. adults who will experience an anxiety disorder in their lives at one in three. “When you look at prevalence rates and the amount of services being used, they don’t match up,” she says. “They’re not seeking treatment. They’re just living with it.” One way to help those people would be to come up with short-term, low-cost interventions for anxiety disorders and Bond decided that was something she would like to help develop.
After graduating in 2018 with honors and equipped with a psychology major and rehabilitation services minor, Bond landed a job as a research assistant at the Center for Rehabilitation Outcomes Research (CROR) at the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab. The fact that CROR conducted both quantitative and qualitative research was particularly interesting to her as was the chance “to work with such a prolific and experienced group of researchers,” she says. “I really wanted to get the job.”
Rachel is an outstanding, talented CROR research team member. She consistently offers assistance to her colleagues to ensure that research project tasks are completed on time and with the highestDeborah Crown, MS, CRC, LCPC
As her first project, Bond was contacting people with spinal cord injuries who had been patients at the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab for a longitudinal study that tracks their progress at five-year intervals. It was a little nerve-wracking calling strangers on the phone and asking personal questions but Bond soon became comfortable with it.
Later, she became involved in a CROR study of robotic exoskeletons, motorized external frames that support the body and help facilitate over-ground gait therapy for some people with spinal cord injuries. The purpose of the study, funded by the U.S. Department of Defense, was to determine how people felt about the exoskeletons and whether they provided better outcomes than conventional physical therapy, which is much less expensive. As part of the research team, Bond found herself recruiting participants for focus groups, figuring out the logistics, and helping facilitate some of them herself.
Now with two years of research experience under her belt, Bond, 24, is looking forward to starting graduate school in clinical psychology in the fall at the University of Toledo in Ohio. She fell in love with the campus and the people in the psychology department on her first visit, and was struck by the collegial atmosphere. “I felt like I clicked,” she says. “It feels like a collaborative department, and that’s one of the things I love about CROR.”
CROR Research Manager Deborah Crown says she will miss Bond but is sure she will go on to do important work. “Rachel is an outstanding, talented CROR research team member. She consistently offers assistance to her colleagues to ensure that research project tasks are completed on time and with the highest quality,” Crown says. “I have no doubt that Rachel’s future is bright and that she will continue to make significant contributions in the research field.”