Robert Rainer

Mentor: Dr. Natalie Ebner
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
"I originally became involved in research as a result of my passion for science, pursuit of knowledge, and interest in my psychology courses. I wanted to develop a better understanding of the research process and to have the opportunity to contribute to the field of psychology. The Social-Cognitive and Affective Development Lab particularly drew me in because of the focus on physical functioning in their studies and being involved in this lab has provided me with an invaluable learning experience."


Psychology - Behavioral and Cognitive Neuroscience



Research Interests

  • Physical Function
  • Cognition
  • Behavior

Academic Awards

  • University Scholars Program(2016)
  • University of Florida Anderson Scholar of High Distinction Award
  • Pi Kappa Phi - Alpha Epsilon Scholar Award
  • Hospital Volunteers of Venice Scholarship Recipient


  • Pi Kappa Phi
  • Englewood Sailing Association


  • UF Health Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine Institute
  • UF Health Shands Hospital Emergency Department
  • Englewood Sailing Association

Hobbies and Interests

  • Weightlifting
  • Scuba Diving
  • Taekwondo

Research Description

Anti-inflammatory Effect of Oxytocin in Aging
My proposed research project will be a part of a study on chronic administration of intranasal oxytocin in healthy aging. This study is currently being carried out by the Social-Cognitive and Affective Development Lab under the direction of Dr. Natalie Ebner. The goal of my project is to determine the anti-inflammatory effects of oxytocin in a sample of older adults. In addition, I plan to examine the extent to which inflammation reduction affects physical and socioemotional functioning in these older adults. The study will use a double-blind, placebo-controlled experimental design. Participants (≥ 63 years old) will be randomly assigned to either the experimental group or the control group. The experimental group will self-administer an intranasal spray containing oxytocin over a period of four weeks while the control group will administer a placebo spray. The study involves three baseline visits, an intervention phase, and three post-intervention visits. During the baseline visits, participants’ level of inflammation will be determined (i.e., IL-6, CRP, and TNF- α). Also, participants will complete several physical, cognitive, and socioemotional measures. As part of my research project, participants will complete a 6 minute walk test that will evaluate gait speed and pre/post heart rate and blood pressure and also the Positive Affect and Negative Affect Schedule that will serve as an assessment of current mood. Inflammation markers and all physical, cognitive, and socioemotional measures will be repeated in the post-intervention visits.