Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences



Committee Chair

Jonathan Boyd

Committee Member

Peng Li

Committee Member

John B. Mertz

Committee Member

Stephen J. Valentine

Committee Member

Matthew J. Dietz


Humans are constantly exposed to a vast number of stressors in our everyday lives from social interactions to physical activity to chemical exposures, to name a few. These stressors have significant impacts on an individual, from the cellular to whole organismal level. The body contains an intricate communication system that elicits a number of both biological and physiological responses as it attempts to maintain homeostasis. Observing these responses to stressors, can offer insight into a number of outcomes, which can be beneficial (increasing life longevity) or detrimental (leading to a disease state). By measuring specific biological adaptations at particular time points, we can better understand the organismal response to these stressors. While human studies provide a unique opportunity to truly understand the organismal response, there are a number of factors that influence individual responses. Therefore, replicating these stressors in vivo can be exceptionally difficult, especially when the primary focus of many studies is on a single stressor, rather than a more realistic combinatory exposure. The work presented in this dissertation had the ultimate goal of building upon previous research with a focus on the biochemical adaptations that take place to protect and maintain optimal organismal function. Specifically, this dissertation observes both extracellular (cytokine) and intracellular (phosphorylation modifications) responses to social, physical, and occupational stressors. Additionally, this work observes both systemic and localized responses in different biological samples (saliva vs ex vivo tissue) to analyze various biomarkers of stress. The findings from this dissertation reveal the rapid responses of signaling mechanisms related to complex mixtures in both human and animal work.