The Professor Is In: Martha Greenberg
This month, Martha Greenberg, PhD, discusses her lavender aromatherapy research, as well as an impressive multi-decade career as a Setter.
Associate Professor Martha Greenberg, PhD, is one of the longest tenured professors at Pace. In this month’s edition of The Professor Is In, we chat with Professor Greenberg about her current research and views on more holistic care, her accomplished professional career at Pace (which spans over four decades!), and a truly mind-expanding dinner party.
You’ve done research through the Provost's Undergraduate Student-Faculty Research Grant for a few years now. Can you tell us about your work?
It’s been about four years now [that] I’ve been working with undergraduate students. We’ve looked at the use of lavender aromatherapy via inhalers, and the effects on sleep and test anxiety.
Our results have been pretty good—we’ve found that continued use, several times a day, before any time of tests or measures that [students] might be involved in, test anxiety did go down, and sleep improved. One of the studies—we did a random control study—we included eucalyptus. We only had a few people in that group, but their sleep improved, actually a little over the lavender group. We think that the reason for this was because it was around midterms, a time of year when respiratory problems are rampant. We think the eucalyptus actually opened their nasal passages and allowed them to sleep.
What I hope to do this academic year is to pool the data and write up a manuscript in terms of the pooled data. We had several groups over different times, and some different results. I’ve also written with a colleague about a systematic review on an oral form of lavender called silexin. That’s a formulation from Germany, where the active ingredients in lavender are put in capsules. This is used in Germany and other European countries as the gold standard for treating generalized anxiety disorder. That was published with my colleague in 2018 in the Joanna Briggs Institute of Systematic Reviews—that gets a lot of citations in terms of people who are doing research on aromatherapy and lavender in particular.
What is your favorite thing about working at Pace?
I’ve been at Pace for almost 42 years. I definitely came because of Opportunitas, and stayed because of Opportunitas. Not only do students have opportunity, but faculty and staff have the opportunity to learn and grow at Pace. I’ve been supported in so many different endeavors since I’ve been in Pace. Not only in teaching, but in research, administration—I’ve had opportunities to practice still as a nurse. Because my interests, since around 2000, have been toward the holistic side of nursing and complementary, integrated medicine, I’ve been able to create five or six electives on stress reduction, complementary therapy, holistic nursing, etc.
I know for a fact the courses I teach require a lot of work. What I’ll always get in terms of student comments are, “…this course required a lot of work. However, I learned a lot, and I learned tools I can use for myself, and I can use and will use with patients.”
I think that says a lot in terms of what Pace has offered me, providing an environment to help students at the same time.
What is one thing that you didn’t anticipate to pursue during your time at Pace?
The one thing that I did not expect to pursue at Pace was working in administration. I was department chair of undergraduate nursing from 1995–2000, and then I came back and did it again from 2007–2016.
Being an administrator is really difficult. When you’re a department chair, you’re closing programs, opening programs, electing programs. The amount of curriculum work and communication with faculty to get programs moving is pretty astounding.
You can have a dinner party for any four people, living or dead. Who would you invite?
Timothy Leary, the Dalai Lama, Florence Nightingale, and Herbert Benson—he really started the entire initiative in terms of relaxation and then meditation. He’s changed the course of medicine, and certainly people’s lives.
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