Michelle Aiello, '17


Michelle Aiello, '17





Michelle Aiello was born and raised in Miami, Florida. She received her Associates in Arts from Miami Dade College. She is currently pursuing a bachelor's degree in Psychology at the University of Central Florida. Her passion for translational research relating to anxiety disorders has led her to become an Undergraduate Research Assistant at UCF RESTORES, UCF's Anxiety Disorders Clinic, under the guidance of Dr. Deborah Biedel and Dr. Sandra Neer. Michelle is currently researching the effect compassion mediation has on heart rate variability of veterans with PTSD under the guidance of Dr. Ariel J. Lang as apart of University of California San Diego, STARS Summer Research Program. She plans to obtain her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology in hopes of conducting research, becoming a college professor, and helping other first generation students achieve their goals.

Undergraduate Major


Future Plans

Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology

Summer Research

Is meditation good for the heart?: A study of the effect of compassion mediation on heart rate variability among veterans with PTSD

Abstract: The present study investigates the effects of Compassion Meditation (CM) on heart rate and heart rate variability (HRV) among veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). CM is a meditative practice focused on the wish that others and the self may be free of suffering. CM has been associated with positive mood, a sense of belongingness, and reduction of anxiety, all of which may benefit patient with PTSD. In addition, past research has found various connections between HRV and meditative practices. Data for these analyses were drawn from the first phase of a feasibility and proof of concept study of CM for veterans with PTSD. Seven veterans diagnosed with PTSD were recruited to complete CM in two-hour group sessions once per week for eight weeks. Veterans’ heart rate is recorded for 5 minutes before, during, and 5 minutes after each of the eight sessions. It was hypothesized that veterans’ resting HRV would increase from before to after the group, while heart rate during meditation would decrease over the 8 weeks. If the results support this hypothesis then, CM may regulate the autonomic nervous system of veterans dealing with PTSD, providing an insight into one mechanism by which CM may be effective to reduce PTSD symptoms.

Graduate School

Georgia State University (Ph.D.)

Michelle Aiello, '17