Rebecca L. Acabchuk, Ph.D.

  • Ph.D., 2016, Physiology and Neurobiology, University of Connecticut (Conover lab)
  • B.A., Honors, 1998, Psychology, with a Concentration in Statistics, Cornell University (Advisor: David Dunning)
Research Interests:

Research Expertise: 

     Using evidence synthesis methods to evaluate the effects and mechanisms of mind-body therapies on mental and physical health


     To promote overall well-being through healthy lifestyle and behavior change

Outcomes Investigated: 

      low back pain, concussion/TBI,  stress, anxiety, depression, inflammation, hypertension, resilience,

     self-related processing (e.g., rumination, compassion, self-transcendence), cognitive enhancement,

     healthy aging, well-being, health behavior change, neurogenesis, neuroplasticity


Recent research:

  •     RCT: Comparing various mindfulness tools to aid in stress-reduction for college students through a registered clinical trial.
  •     Meta-analyses:  Analyzing the effects of yoga asanas, pranayama and meditation on 1) blood pressure,  2) TBI recovery, 3) mental health in college students,
  •        4) cognitive processing, and 5) emotion regulation.
  •     Meta-Reviews: Identifying self-regulatory mechanisms of interventions for health behavior change through large-scale meta-review.
  •     Pilot Study:  Leading a yoga intervention for chronic low back pain that investigated epigenetic changes
  •     Interviews/Surveys: Evaluate implementation strategies for integrating mindfulness into schools
Teaching:   My passion is to teach mind-body techniques that empower people to improve their lives, creating healthy habits through mindful living. 

Teaching experience:

  •     Health Psychology – Adjunct professor at UConn, Psychology Department, 2017-present
  •     Mindfulness and Meditation in Science and in Practice – Adjunct professor at Connecticut College, Neuroscience Program, 2016-present
  •     Freshman Year Experience Instructor and Co-Director of Women in Math, Science, and Engineering (WiMSE) Learning Community, 2013-2016
  •     Anatomy and Physiology Lab – Teaching Assistant, UConn, Physiology and Neurobiology Department, 2011-2013
  •     Yoga and guided meditation instructor for 17 years
    In the News: Yoga and Meditation for TBI Recovery (Recorded Webinar)

    First Meta-Analysis Shows Promise for Yoga, Meditation, Mindfulness in Concussion Treatment Plans

    UConn Study Examines Role of Meditation in Stress Reduction

    Meditation Mondays: A Casual Environment for Students to Destress (Led by Dr. Acabchuk)

    UConn Today: 50 years of Health Psychology

    WNPR Interview: Political Stress 


    1. *Ligus K., Fritzson, E., Hennessy, E., Acabchuk, R. L, Bellizzi, K. (2021). Disruptions in the medical management and care of university students with pre-existing mental health conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic. Translational Behavioral Medicine.
    2. *Hoge, E. A., Acabchuk, R. L., Kimmel, H., Moitra, E., Britton, W. B., Dumais, T., … & Schuman-Olivier, Z. (2020). Emotion-Related Constructs Engaged by Mindfulness-Based Interventions: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Mindfulness, 1-22.
    3. *Acabchuk, R. L., Brisson, J. M., Park, C.L., Parmallee, O., Babbott-Bryan, N, Johnson, B. T. (2020). Therapeutic effects of meditation, yoga, and mindfulness-based interventions for chronic symptoms of mild traumatic brain injury: A systematic review and meta-analysis Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being. DOI: 10.1111/aphw.12244
      1.        Featured in Yoga Journal March 2021 (link)
    4. *Acabchuk, R. L., Simon, M., Low, S., & Johnson, B. T. (2020). Measuring mindfulness progress with a consumer-grade EEG device: Caution from a randomized controlled trial. Mindfulness. DOI: 10.1007/s12671-020-01497-1
      •        Preliminary work featured in Yoga Journal (link)
    5. *Spring, B., Champion, K., Acabchuk, R. L., & Hennessy, E. A. (2020). Self-regulatory behavior change techniques in interventions to promote weight loss, healthy eating, and physical activity: A meta-review. Health Psychology Review. DOI: 10.1080/17437199.2020.1721310
    6. *Hennessy, E. A., Johnson, B. T., Acabchuk, R. L., McCloskey, K., & Stewart-James, J. (2019). Self-Regulation Mechanisms in Health Behaviour Change: A Systematic Meta-Review of Meta-Analyses, 2006-2017. Health Psychology Review, 1-142.
    7. *Wu, Y., Johnson, B. T., Acabchuk R. L., Livingston, J., Chen, S. Q., Lewis, H., Park, C. S., & Pescatello, L. S. (2019). The antihypertensive benefits of yoga: A meta-analysis. Mayo Clinic Proceedings.
      •        Featured in several news articles, including Reuter’s Health News (link)
    8. *Johnson, B. T., & Acabchuk, R. L. (2018). What are the keys to a longer, happier life? Answers from five decades of health psychology research. Social Science & Medicine, 196, 218-226.
      •        Featured in UCONN Today Magazine (link)
      •        Featured in interview with local National Public Radio station (link)
    9. *Acabchuk, R. L., Kamath, J., Salamone, J. D., & Johnson, B. T. (2017). Stress and chronic illness: The inflammatory pathway. Social Science & Medicine185, 166-170.
    10. *Acabchuk, R. L., & Johnson, B. T. (2017). Helmets in women’s lacrosse: what the evidence shows. Concussion2(2), CNC39.
      • Most-read paper Concussion published in 2017.
    11. *Acabchuk R. L., Briggs D. I., Angoa-Pérez, M., Powers, M., Wolferz, Jr. R., Soloway, M., Stern, M., Talbot, L. R., Kuhn, D. M., & Conover, J. C. (2016). Repeated mild traumatic brain injury causes focal response in lateral septum and hippocampus. Concussion1(3), CNC13.
    12. *Acabchuk R. L., Sun, Y., Wolferz, Jr., R., Lennington, J. B., Shook, B. A., & Conover, J. C. (2015). 3D modeling of the lateral ventricles and histological characterization of periventricular tissue in humans and mouse. Journal of visualized experiments: JoVE, 99,
    13. *Shook B. A.,1 Lennington J.B.,1 Acabchuk, R. L.,1 Halling, M., Sun, Y., Peters, J., Wu, Q., Mahajan, A., Fellows, D. W., & Conover, J. C. (2014). Ventriculomegaly associated with ependymal gliosis and declines in barrier integrity in the aging human and mouse brain. Aging Cell, 13(2), 340-350. 1Co-first authors.
    14. *Eastman M. B., Acabchuk R. L., Conover J. C. (2016). Age-related changes to the subventricular zone stem cell niche. In Neural Stem Cells in Health and Disease (pp. 35-68).


    • Abstract of Distinction, Society of Prevention Research, 2018. Health Impacts of Mindfulness Interventions in College Undergraduates: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials
    • Swami Kuvalyananda Research Abstract Award 2017. Presented by the International Association of Yoga Therapists for Excellence and Innovation in Yoga Research at the Symposium for Yoga Research, Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, Stockbridge, MA. Role: First author
    • Editorial Associate, Health Psychology section, Social Science & Medicine, 2016-
    • Outstanding Graduate Assistant Award – University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT, 2014. (Awarded to 1 GA per year for outstanding teaching, excellent interpersonal skills, and contribution to the development of the instructional program.)
    • 100 Years of Women Scholarship Award – University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT, 2014. (Awarded to 2 female students per year for commitment and service to women’s issues.)
    • Winner of UCONN’s Three Minute Thesis Contest; International Finalist, 2014
    • Neuroscience Fellowship – University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT, 2014-15

    Outreach, Workshops and Meditation Resources

    • Develop and lead Counselling and Mental Health Service’s Meditation Neurofeedback Program, open to all faculty, staff and students.
    • Provide mental training programs, mindfulness and yoga workshops for the workplace, athletes, recovery groups and other community-based groups and individuals.


    From participants in “Mindfulness in the Workplace” workshops at the University of Connecticut (2019):

    • “Becky is an incredible facilitator. She not only provides a lot of data and research to help everyone understand the power and importance of mindfulness, but she also has a wonderful ability to lead the group in a guided meditation that literally made me experience a time-warp.  I thought she was giving us a 5 minute preview of what a guided meditation would be like and was amazed that 30 minutes had gone by. My entire mind and body were completely relaxed afterwards.  The rest of my workday was a very different experience than a typical day.”

      From workshop entitled “Centering the body for online learning and community dialogue facilitation” (2020)

      • “Dr. Acabchuk’s workshop was interactive, informative, and inspiring. She connected the activities to reflect the workshop’s specific context and purpose.  It was intentional, well-organized, yet exceptionally responsive to the concerns and interests of the participants. Dr. Acabchuk drew from a wide base of knowledge of mindfulness practices. She is an engaging and caring presenter/facilitator, and we hope to work with her again.” –Tina Huey, Ph.D. Associate Director, Faculty Development, Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning University of Connecticut

      From UConn Psychology Club members, on invited speaker presentation (2021):

      • “Dr. Acabchuk’s meditation presentation was super interesting and relevant! She also did a great job of engaging students (even over Zoom), which is refreshing in our current covid/virtual world.” -Katie Mankowski 
      • “Dr. Acabchuk kept our members engaged, asked questions to make the meeting interactive, and was very passionate! It was a great presentation and we learned so much!” -Emma Geissert 
      • “I loved Dr. Acabchuk’s presentation because not only was it interactive but it covered a good combination of research and practical information surrounding meditation. Her tone and obvious passion for the topic made the presentation perfect for anyone, regardless of their preexisting knowledge.” -Melissa Nowak