Date of Award

Spring 2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



Committee Chairperson

Teresa Donze-Reiner, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Jennifer Maresh, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Ben Reiner, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Eric Sweet, Ph.D


The world is facing a mental health crisis and one of the most vulnerable groups are college-age young adults. The crisis has only been exacerbated by the Sars-CoV2 pandemic (commonly referred to as COVID-19). One way scientists are attempting to deal with the increasing prevalence of psychiatric disorders is through studying their genetics using genome wide association studies (GWAS). Scientists have begun to uncover genetic variants associated with the development and potential treatments for these disorders. This thesis followed a cohort of diverse, college-aged young adults from West Chester University of Pennsylvania both before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. The cohort had been previously genetically tested using AncestryDNA and through self-reported surveys, both pre and mid-pandemic. Analysis of the data revealed higher rates of psychiatric disorders in the college cohort compared to the general population. Also, an increase in alcohol consumption was discovered during the pandemic. The data highlights the need for special attention and proper resources to be given to this group due to their increased risk of mental health issues.