By: Peter Marshall

In a previous Chair’s Corner column in the Psychology Department newsletter, I noted how the synergy between teaching and research is central to the life of Temple as an institution of higher learning. I mentioned various ways in which this synergy can be manifested, including the involvement of undergraduate students in a research laboratory. The article in this issue by Jessie Briggs on the Cognition and Implicit Attitudes Laboratory shows how, by working with faculty mentors, graduate students, and other members of a research group, undergraduate students can become involved in research projects. In some cases, students may eventually have the opportunity to present study findings at a local conference. For instance, there were more than 25 presentations by Psychology and Neuroscience students at the Symposium for Undergraduate Research and Creativity (SURC), the annual Spring event that showcases undergraduate research going on across Temple.

As well as presenting at university events such as SURC, some students are able to take their research to disciplinary conferences outside Temple, an experience that allows them to see the range of questions being addressed in their field and provides opportunities to make connections that may be valuable for pursuing graduate study. However, the expenses related to attending such conferences can be prohibitive for many students who might otherwise wish to take their research findings to the wider world outside Temple.  To help address this problem, we designated the funds raised through the 2018 Owl Crowd and Temple Toast initiatives to providing support for undergraduate students to present their work at major conferences. I’m happy to report that our collective efforts supported travel expenses for sixteen students to present posters at major conferences of national and international organizations such as the Eastern Psychological Association, the Society for Research in Child Development, and the International Neuropsychological Society.  Three other students are presenting their work at the meeting of the Association for Psychological Science in Washington, DC later this month, and one student will be sharing her research at the Annual Conference of the American Academy of Clinical Neuropsychology in Chicago in June.

As well as supporting students to present at professional conferences, we also provided funding for Demetrius Hill to present at the 23rd Annual “Posters on the Hill” session in Capitol Hill at the end of April. At this event, members of Congress and their staff members learned about the importance of undergraduate research through talking directly with student researchers. Demetrius took this valuable opportunity to tell policymakers about his research, carried out with faculty mentor Dr. Debra Bangasser, on the effects of early life stress on later cognitive outcomes.

We gathered some feedback on the conference experiences of some of the students who presented their findings at major conferences earlier this Spring. Read on for some of the comments that we received!

Eastern Psychological Association (EPA) – February 2019 in New York, NY

Ben Muzekari
Faculty mentor: David Smith, PhD

Modulating social influences on fairness perception with transcranial alternating current stimulation
“My experience at EPA was great. This was my first time at a larger conference and the psychology department at Temple definitely prepared me well. I had several people come up to my poster and ask questions and give feedback back on my research, which was a very rewarding experience. I also enjoyed seeing other people's research and spending time with other students from the department.”

Jairo Colon                        
Faculty mentor: Robert Weisberg, PhD

Structure in the Creative Process: A Quantitative Analysis of Improvisation in Jazz
“The poster session went well! We were able to speak to a good amount of people and explaining our research really helped in gaining a better understanding of it. Attending the conference really helped expand my purview of the field and gain more confidence in my work. Because of the way I've developed in my academic career, this was the first conference I've attended and the first chance to see what my peers are doing in different areas of research. Initially, although the others I work with and I are very interested in what we do, I did not know how others would take it. I was worried that others might not see the same draw or be as interested in our work as we were. Presenting at EPA helped me see that the worry was unwarranted and helped validate what we have been doing.”

Rachel Carpenter            
Faculty mentor: Mathieu Wimmer, PhD

Early life stress reduces the reinforcing efficacy of morphine in male, but not female rats
“My poster presentation went very well - I had about eight people who expressed interest in and asked for a full presentation of my research within the hour and twenty minute time slot. Apart from my own presentation, I was able to attend about eight oral presentations and workshops. The variety of options that were available throughout each day allowed me to pick and choose what seemed most enticing and relevant to my own research interests.”

Sara Downey                    
Faculty mentor: Mathieu Wimmer, PhD

Molecular Mechanisms Underlying Incubation of Opioid Craving
“It was a really great experience to attend a conference with a wider scope of focus than conferences I've attended in the past. I was able to attend behavioral neuroscience presentations that used techniques I am familiar with applied to fields of study I know relatively little about, such as chemotherapy and anxiety. I was also exposed to topics and fields of study that I am very unfamiliar with, including fMRI, memory reconstruction, and race perceptions in America. Overall, EPA was a wonderful conference that gave me a chance to explore research beyond addiction and behavioral neuroscience.”

Shaylyne Nolan                               
Faculty mentor: Hongling Xie, PhD

Demographic Differences in Specific Social Media Behaviors among Early Adolescents
“While at EPA, I was able to go to many workshops, where I learned a lot of very useful information regarding graduate schools, interviews, CV and resumes. My career goal is to become a forensic psychologist, so I sought out talks and speakers with people in that field. During the poster sessions, many people stopped to talk to me about my poster, and a few even asked to take pictures. I got a lot of very useful information on graduate schools, how to present myself during interviews, and I made great connections that will be useful throughout my career.”

Yuheiry Rodriguez          
Faculty mentor: Peter Marshall, PhD

Executive function and language abilities differentially relate to indicators of socioeconomic status
“It was my first time attending a conference and I was not sure what to expect. I really enjoyed presenting and getting feedback from other researchers. More importantly, it felt rewarding to see how other people ranging from undergraduate students to professors were interested in my research.  After presenting, I also got the opportunity to attend many interesting talks and poster sessions.  EPA is a great opportunity and I think every undergraduate student who is doing psychological research should try to attend. Lastly, I would like to thank the donors who contributed to the Conference Travel Award because I would have not been able to have this amazing experience without it!”

International Neuropsychological Society (INS) – February 2019 in New York, NY

Caitlyn Vega                      
Faculty Mentor: Tania Giovannetti, PhD

Everyday Multi-tasking is disrupted by Error Detection and Correction
“INS was a great experience for networking, being that I presented alongside a professor from California and another from the Netherlands! It really was an awesome experience.”

Khilah Clark                       
Faculty Mentor: Tania Giovannetti, PhD

Long Term Post-Operative Cognitive Improvement after Cardiac Surgery: A Meta-Analytic Review
“INS was a really wonderful experience for me. I gained insight into new topics in neuropsychology, outside my lab’s interests, by attending the paper sessions. It expanded my interests to careers outside of medicine. There was also a very interesting panel on diversity in the field and the measures that can be taken to continue diversifying the workforce. I hope to attend next year as well.”

Ross Divers                        
Faculty mentor: Tania Giovannetti, PhD

Heterogeneity of Subtle Functional Impairment across MCI Subtypes
“Some highlights from INS for me were the exercise talks and the geriatric talks. An interesting finding from the exercise talks was that an exercise intervention significantly increased cognition for women with vascular MCI. but not men. This was my first time thinking about sex differences in these types of interventions, and I found it really fascinating.”

Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD) – March 2019 in Baltimore, MD

Sarah Pepper                   
Faculty mentor: Elizabeth Gunderson, PhD

Mothers' and Fathers' Motivational Talk to First-Graders: Praise, Enjoyment and High Expectations
“Attending SRCD this year was a wonderful experience. I was able to gain experience and confidence in presenting my own research and also had the opportunity to attend talks from more established researchers. Additionally, I was able to connect with others in my field. Attending a conference as an undergraduate is an invaluable experience that allowed me to have a better understanding of research and collaboration as a whole.”

Ariana Davis                      
Faculty mentor: Deborah Drabick, PhD

Anxiety and Callous Unemotional Traits as Predictors of Conduct Disorder in Middle Childhood
“My experience at SRCD was absolutely incredible! At first, I was nervous to talk about my project with people outside of my lab because it was my first conference and poster presentation. But I quickly realized that I had nothing to fear. It was very exciting to meet other undergrads, as well as graduate students and psychologists who were interested in internalizing and externalizing disorders. I was even introduced to a few prominent researchers in the field who were very supportive. Attending this conference was great exposure to the psychology world in a way I had not experienced and inspired me to continue on with my dream of becoming a clinical psychologist. Thank you to everyone that supported this experience!”

Priscila Colon                    
Faculty mentor: Deborah Drabick, PhD

Neighborhood Factors Moderate the Relation between Callous-Unemotional Traits and Anxiety Disorders
“I wanted to thank everyone that made it possible for me to attend the Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD) Conference. This was my first time presenting my work and it was a life-changing and rewarding experience. This exposure has opened my eyes to the various styles of presentation, the power of discussion, and the infinite world of networking. This experience has both expanded my knowledge and inspired me to explore more of psychology outside of my studies. I am so grateful for this experience and can’t wait to hopefully attend next year’s conference!”

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