Newsletter Editions

Published: 12/04/2014
Winter 2014

Graduate

Incoming Cohort Truly Diverse

2015 Cohort

In September 2014, the Psychology Department welcomed 14 new students to its PhD program.  For the first time, each of the new class members was admitted by a different faculty member.  This makes for a cohort with research interests that truly reflect the diversity of the scholarship for which our faculty is known. Our new students hail from all corners of the United States and abroad. Most of our new students earned their previous degrees from schools in California (UC San Diego, UC Santa Barbara, UC Davis, San Diego State), while a handful studied on the east coast (Duke, Harvard, Amherst, University of Pittsburgh, and Bucknell). There are a couple who were students close to Seattle or from our neighbor to the south (University of Oregon), while others arrived from the oft forgotten middle of the US having studies at Ripon and Arkansas. Our furthest-traveling new student completed studies in the United Kingdom!

The group is already amassing the types of honors typical of our graduate trainees.  Ashley Ruba (Developmental with Betty Repacholi) was awarded a $1500 travel grant from the International Society on Infant Studies to attend their biennial summer conference in Berlin, Germany where she received an award for "Most Outstanding Undergraduate Submission." In addition, several students received recruitment awards from our department and college such as the Top Scholar, Natural Science Fellowship, and GO-MAP Diversity fellowships.

Incoming students are treated to a weeklong orientation before the official start of the quarter. Orientation is organized by an advanced graduate student who has been selected as the department’s Lead TA. This year's Lead TA is Karen Pang (Child Clinical with Elizabeth McCauley (Seattle Children's Hospital) and Lynn Fainsilber Katz), who did an excellent job collaborating and coordinating the many schedules of staff, faculty, and graduate students. Karen has also written another article which appears in this newsletter on her experience attending a summer school in the Netherlands. Please check it out!

 

Supplemental Reading:


Experiencing Summer School in the Netherlands

Photo: Karen Pang
Photo: Karen Pang

Clinical graduate student, Karen Pang shares her experience spending a week near a national park in the Netherlands as a junior psychology scholar. The summer school provided a relaxed environment where discussions with faculty were received warmly and resulted in shared interests. The scholars ended their week with a bonfire and toasted marshmallows.
Read More


Award Supports Exploration of Parents' PTSD Effects on Children

Photo: Alissa Jerud
Photo: Alissa Jerud

The Elizabeth Munsterberg Koppitz Child Psychology Graduate Student Fellowship is an opportunity available from the American Psychological Association.  The purpose of the award is to support graduate research projects relating to child psychology. Only one student can be nominated per institution and our nominee, Alissa Jerud (Adult Clinical with Lori Zoellner) last year was selected to receive a $25,000 award! We asked Alissa a few questions about herself and her plans for this support.

Let's start with the basics, where are you from and where did you complete undergrad/masters?

I'm from Columbus, Ohio and I completed my undergrad at Cornell University.

How did you wind up at UW/why did you apply here? What do you think about living in Seattle?

I ended up at UW because I was really excited to work with my advisor, Lori Zoellner, given our shared research interests in PTSD. I love Seattle and think that it is one of the most beautiful places in the country, even in spite of the rain.

What is your research interest and how did you get into it (what inspires/motivates you)?

My research interests are in understanding how parental posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) affects children and in optimizing treatment outcomes for individuals with PTSD. I first became interested in studying PTSD in college when I was working on a crisis hotline for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. Many of the individuals with whom I spoke had suffered from PTSD symptoms for years, never having received evidenced-based treatment for their trauma-related difficulties. Thus, I found myself desperately wanting to learn about effective treatments for PTSD. Upon graduating from college, I worked as a research assistant on a treatment trial for adolescents with PTSD. There, I found in a small sub-study that I conducted that the adolescents' PTSD symptoms were highly correlated with their parents' symptoms. Thus, I began to wonder how parental PTSD might affect children.

How did you learn about your funding opportunity and tell us about the application/waiting process?

I learned about the Koppitz Fellowship from Jeanny's weekly emails. I applied for the fellowship in mid-November and found out that I had received the award in March or April.

How did you feel when you learned that your application was accepted and that you will receive funding?

Having previously submitted five other grant applications, none of which had been successful, I was absolutely shocked and ecstatic when I came home one day to find the award letter in my mailbox.  

Do you have any advice/tips/suggestions for others who may apply to this opportunity? About graduate study in general?

I don't have any tips for this award in particular, but I would suggest applying for as many grants as possible. Doing so requires that you have a thick skin, but hopefully the persistence will pay off in the end.

What do you hope to accomplish with the funding and/or while in the UW Psychology graduate program?

I am testing the hypothesis that parental PTSD is related with impairments in child safety signal learning, defined as the ability to distinguish between threat and safety cues. Unfortunately, recruitment has been going slowly recently, so the main thing that I am now hoping to accomplish is simply to recruit my promised 68 parent-child dyads before beginning my clinical internship in the summer.

What do you like doing in your spare time?

Play with my 20-month-old daughter, hike, and do yoga.

The last book and/or movie you saw and enjoyed?

Sadly, I can't remember the last book I read or movie I saw, but my husband and I do watch the Big Bang Theory and Downton Abby, and I love both of those shows!

What you plan to do once you complete your PhD?

I'm not entirely sure yet, but ideally I will go into an academic setting where I can do a mix of clinical work, research, and teaching.

Supplemental Reading:


Research Fellow Seeks to Calm Memories After Trauma

Photo: Libby Marks
Photo: Libby Marks

Libby Marks, a fourth year Adult Clinical student with Lori Zoellner, received a grant from The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) for her project "Reducing Intrusions of Real-World Stimuli via Memory Reconsolidation." A brief introduction to the National Research Service Award (NRSA) has been provided in a previous article. Psychology Department graduate students have been very successful over the years in obtaining research support through this mechanism. We hope to continue this trend, but in the meanwhile, please read on to learn about our latest NRSA recipient!

Let's start with the basics, where are you from and where did you complete undergrad/masters?

I'm from outside of Ithaca, New York. I did my undergrad at Middlebury College in Vermont.

How did you wind up at UW/why did you apply here? What do you think about living in Seattle?

I moved out to Berkeley, CA, a couple of years after undergrad and fell in love with the west coast. I already knew I was really interested in Lori's work, and when I came up here to interview, I knew I wanted to come to UW. I love living in Seattle-- I think it's the one city I could happily live in for all of grad school, given that I grew up in the middle of nowhere and went to college in the middle of nowhere. It's definitely hard being so far from east coast family and friends, but I'm sold on Seattle.

What is your research interest and how did you get into it (what inspires/motivates you)?

I'm interested in intrusive memories after traumatic experiences, and ways in which we might be able to decrease the intensity and frequency of these intrusions. With this project, I'm looking at memory reconsolidation as a possible avenue for decreasing intrusions. Animal research and some human research suggest that fearful memories are particularly malleable upon retrieval. If new updated information is presented within a particular window of time, this updated memory may be more durable than if the new information is presented outside of the window. I'm using a distressing film segment to first induce intrusions, and then looking at differences in in how effective updated information is in decreasing these intrusions depending on when the updated information about the distressing film is presented. I have done research in the PTSD field since undergrad, and became really interested in translational research during a post-grad position in a psychiatry lab at Massachusetts General Hospital. Memory reconsolidation seemed to be fairly well-studied in animal models, but there were some gaps and controversies in the human memory literature. 

How did you learn about your funding opportunity and tell us about the application/waiting process?

Most older grad students in my lab had applied for NRSA fellowships, and when NSF decided they didn't want to fund me, this seemed like the clear next step. Even though the process of applying is a bear, it's great to get a first experience of preparing an NIMH grant application under my belt, since I have the feeling this won't be the last time I ask for their money!  I was fortunate to have examples of other people's NRSA proposals, and Lori was a great mentor throughout the (very stressful) application process. I got lucky and didn't have to resubmit, but worked closely with my project officer from when I got my score until I officially got funding. That part was kind of a blur, cramming to do my IRB and respond to reviewer concerns as quickly as possible, but it all worked out in the end.

How did you feel when you learned that your application was accepted and that you will receive funding?

I was so excited!  I really had no idea what my chances of getting funded were, and I think I'd mentally prepared myself for not getting scored at all. By the time I got the official e-mail, I had a pretty good idea that I was getting funded, but that initial contact from my project officer saying she was going to recommend it for funding was huge. The longer-term reaction has been “oh crap, now I actually have to do this thing!”  

Do you have any advice/tips/suggestions for others who may apply to this opportunity? About graduate study in general?

My number one piece of advice in applying for an NRSA is to get started early, and be aware of all of its components at the outset. There are lots of smaller pieces that got put to the side early on that I had to cram for last-minute (you know, small details like power analyses). Ask other students who have applied what parts took them the longest.

What do you hope to accomplish with the funding and/or while in the UW Psychology graduate program?

With the funding, I'll be able to use the rest of graduate school to do things more in line with my specific interests. I'm looking forward to having more time to myself, and do things like take classes in other departments and fully focus on this project. It'd be awesome to leave here feeling like a real expert in my line of research. I wish the grant got me out of required coursework, but that doesn't seem to be the case... What do you like doing in your spare time?

I love to be outside, run, hike, travel, cook, bake, drink coffee on sunny patios. My answer sounds so Seattle, but I guess that's how you know this city has won me over.

The last book and/or movie you saw and enjoyed?

It's not a book or a movie, but everyone should watch the PBS Nature episode about snow monkeys. It's incredible. Pay special attention to the monkey named Bubbles.

What you plan to do once you complete your PhD?

That's a scary question...I'm still not sure what my ideal job would look like, I think that's something I'm looking forward to figuring out in the next couple of years. There are days when I love research and don't like clinical work, and days when all I want to do is clinical work. My guess would be that I'll want a position that allows me to have both of these things, but the jury is still out.

Supplemental Reading:


Diversity Fellowship Supports Research into the Social Life of Crows

Photo: Exu Anton Mates
Photo: Exu Anton Mates

Exu Anton Mates is a 6th year Animal Behavior student working with Jim and Renee Ha. When he was admitted to the Psychology Graduate Program in 2009, he received a fellowship award from the University of Washington Graduate School Graduate Opportunities and Minority Achievement Program (GO-MAP). During admissions season, GO-MAP solicits nominations of outstanding candidates for their diversity fellowships from departments all across the campus. The Psychology Graduate Program nominated Anton for this special award based on his exceptional merits and qualifications. The Bank of America fellowship provides support for a student's first and last years of study. Anton is finishing up his program with us and is currently supported on the dissertation year of the fellowship! We asked him for his experience while on this award and being involved with the GO-MAP community.

Let's start with the basics, where are you from and where did you complete undergrad/masters?

I grew up in Berkeley, California, completed my undergrad in mathematics and physics at the University of California at Berkeley, and got a master's in mathematics from the Ohio State University.

How did you wind up at UW/why did you apply here? What do you think about living in Seattle?

I applied at UW in order to work with James Ha, because I wanted to study crow behavior and there are only a few labs in the country that focus on that.  I love living in Seattle, mostly because of all the opportunities to get into the wilderness and onto the water.  Having two hours of daylight in the winter is kind of annoying though.

What is your research interest and how did you get into it (what inspires/motivates you)?

I love the mathematics associated with bioacoustics; resolving and decomposing signals is very aesthetically satisfying.  I also find crows fascinating and emotionally engaging animals, and it's exciting to decode the social life of a creature that constantly hangs out with humans but doesn't actually like us that much.

How did you learn about your funding opportunity and tell us about the application/waiting process?

My potential advisor, and my program head, informed me about the GO-MAP Diversity Fellowship while I was applying to graduate school.  There was very little I had to do to apply; the department simply nominated me and sent my file to GO-MAP.  And I hardly noticed the waiting process, since I was more focused on just being accepted into the department!

How did you feel when you learned that your application was accepted and that you will receive funding?

Very relieved.  The dissertation-year funding has benefited me as well as the animal behavior training area since it freed up department funding for other grad students.  And, although I didn't know this until I actually hit my last year, the fellowship comes with the requirement that you register for a seminar in which you discuss your progress on your thesis, and sets up a "buddy system" to assure that progress is being made.  That's very helpful for keeping you on track to meet your deadlines.

Do you have any advice/tips/suggestions for others who may apply to this opportunity? About graduate study in general?

Ask your potential advisor about GO-MAP when you're applying.  If you're worrying whether you're sufficiently representative of a minority or marginalized population to "deserve" financial support from GO-MAP, don't.  Just apply, be honest about your background and let them decide whether you're the right person to fund.

Even if you don't end up being financially supported by GO-MAP, they offer a lot of information and practical assistance for networking with faculty and other students.  This can be extremely useful if you're new to the Seattle area, and feeling isolated or disoriented after your move.

What do you hope to accomplish with the funding and/or while in the UW Psychology graduate program?

I'm interested in determining how crows use alarm calls to assess potential threats. I'm currently presenting crows with ambiguous visual stimuli and various alarm call combinations, to see whether they will choose to mob the stimuli or not.

What do you like doing in your spare time?

Biking, kayaking, dancing and teaching my dog water ballet.

The last book and/or movie you saw and enjoyed?

Arthur Machen's The House of Souls and Tommy Wiseau's The Room, I'm afraid.

What you plan to do once you complete your PhD?

Look for a research postdoc, a state/federal position in wildlife management, or a quantitative analysis job in the private sector.  Depends which one lets me pay my loans off the fastest!

Supplemental Reading:


Graduate Accomplishments

Spring 2014 

The 43rd Annual Psychology Department Research Festival took place May 28, 2014 at the Waterfront Activities Center near Husky Stadium. At the Research Festival, first year non-clinical and second year clinical students present their research in a 15-minute conference-style presentation followed by 5 minutes of questions and discussion. The department also uses this annual gathering of all our faculty and students to present awards which recognize students for their outstanding contributions to the department in various categories.  The following is a list of the 2014 award winners!

Photo: Danny O'Rourke and Sheri Mizumori
Photo: Danny O'Rourke and Sheri Mizumori

Danny O'Rourke (Adult Clinical with Ronald Smith) received the Department Service Award for his years of service as the manager of Psychology Department Human Subject Pool.  Danny is currently completing his clinical internship with the UW Behavioral Medicine-Neuropsychology program. 

Department graduate students honored three of their own for their contributions to the well-being of the student body through leadership with the Graduate Student Service Awards.  The recipients were Ashwin Bhandiwad (Animal Behavior with Joe Sisneros), Karen Pang (Child Clinical with Elizabeth McCauley (Seattle Children's Hospital) and Lynn Fainsilber Katz), and Kayla Upshaw (Developmental with Jessica Sommerville).

Our endowments provided 6 awards to support students and their research. The ALCOR and Hunt fellowships enable students make progress on their graduate work or dissertation preparation without being ties to the demands of a paid teaching or research appointment. The recipients of these fellowships for 2014 were listed in an article in our last issue of this newsletter.

The winner of the Davida Teller Distinguished Faculty award was Professor William George (Adult Clinical)! His lab provided many nomination letters and materials to support his record of mentoring graduate students. This award is highly coveted by department faculty because it is based solely on student input and deliberation. 

Photo: The George Lab
Photo: The George Lab

Congratulations to the research presenters and awards recipients at our Research Festival!

Other Significant Achievements by our Graduate Students in Spring 2014:

Connor McCabe (Child Clinical with Kevin King) is the most recent recipient of the Quantitative Minor. This comes as no surprise since Connor is one of our best and favored teaching assistants for statistics in our department! The Quant Minor is facilitated by Brian Flaherty and is available to all psychology graduate students. To date, 13 students have completed the Quantitative Minor. 

Five students completed their general exams and advanced to candidacy for the Ph.D.:  Haley Carroll (Adult Clinical with Mary Larimer), Meg Grounds (Cognition & Perception with Susan Joslyn), Bjorn Hubert-Wallander (Cognition & Perception with Geoff Boynton), Blake Pellman (Behavioral Neuroscience with Jeansok Kim) and Stephanie Thompson (Child Clinical with Liliana Lengua). When students complete their generals, they receive a pay raise and the opportunity to teach independently as a pre-doctoral lecturer.

The Psychology Department awarded Master of Science (MS) degrees to Colleen Harker (Child Clinical with Wendy Stone), Theresa Hennings (Developmental with Betty Repacholi), Anita Lungu (Adult Clinical with Marsha Linehan), Andy Paves (Adult Clinical with Mary Larimer), James Rae (Social Psychology & Personality with Kristina Olson and Cheryl Kaiser), and Helen Valenstein-Mah (Adult Clinical with Mary Larimer). Students who complete the optional masters are eligible to attend the campus-wide commencement ceremony in the spring.

Five students completed their PhDs in Spring quarter 2014. Student dissertation talks are open to the public and announcements of upcoming talks can be found on the Psychology Department's events calendar (located to the right of the main page). Spring Ph.D. recipients were: Robert Askew (Quantitative with Dagmar Amtmann (Rehabilitation Medicine) and Jane Simoni), Earnest Kim (Behavioral Neuroscience with Jeansok Kim), Jared LeClerc (Cognition & Perception with Susan Joslyn), Jolina Ruckert (Developmental with Peter Kahn, Jr.), and Adrienne Sussman (Animal Behavior with Jim and Renee Ha).

Our recent graduates are now holding positions at Oregon Health & Science University, Google, Northwestern, and Indian Institute of Technology.

At the end of Spring 2014 quarter, we honored all 2013-2014 Ph.D. graduates with a Hooding Ceremony in the newly renovated Husky Union Building. It was a sunny day, filled with many memories and smiles as family and friends supported their grads! 



Photo: 2013-14 Hooding
Photo: 2014 Hooding

Summer 2014

Frank Schwebel (Adult Clinical with Ronald Smith) received a grant ($12,618) from the Alcohol & Drug Abuse Institute's small grants program.

Hollie Granato (Adult Clinical with William George) received a $1,000 grant from the Grant-in-Aid Program and The Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues (SPSSI).

Four students completed their general exams and advanced to candidacy. Congratulations to Hollie Granato (Adult Clinical with William George), Sonya Mehta (Cognition & Perception with Tom Grabowski (Radiology & Neurology) and Geoff Boynton), Lyndsey Moran (Child Clinical with Liliana Lengua), and Jessie Thomas (Cognition & Perception with Ione Fine)!

We had three Master's recipients: Teri Kirby (Social Psychology & Personality with Tony Greenwald and Cheryl Kaiser), Melissa Reilly (Behavioral Neuroscience with Jeansok Kim), and Chelsey Wilks (Adult Clinical with Marsha Linehan). 

Eleven new PhDs were awarded in summer, whew! Congratulations to: Marissa Corona (Child Clinical with Ana Mari Cauce), Rick Cruz (Child Clinical with Kevin King and Ana Mari Cauce), Sharon Hsu (Adult Clinical with Mary Larimer), Yong Sang Jo (Behavioral Neuroscience with Sheri Mizumori), Robyn Laing (Behavioral Neuroscience with Jaime Olavarria), Ashley Maliken (Child Clinical with Lynn Fainsilber Katz), Kimberly Nelson(Adult Clinical with Jane Simoni), Hong Nguyen (Adult Clinical with William George), Martin Ryan (Social Psychology & Personality with Yuichi Shoda), Cory Secrist (Adult Clinical with Marsha Linehan), and Melana Yanos (Behavioral Neuroscience with Matt Kaeberlein(Pathology) and Sheri Mizumori).

Our recent grads can be found at UW Biostructures, UW Rehabilitation Medicine, Seattle Children's Hospital, Stanford University, Utah State University, San Francisco Veterans Affairs, and Brown University.

Autumn 2014

Sarah Faegre (Animal Behavior with Renee Ha), was mentioned in an article, in the Saipan Tribune, about her work on Mariana crows and their release from Rota. Sarah is also a National Science Foundation fellowship recipient.

Congratulations to Haley Carroll (Adult Clinical with Mary Larimer), who was recently selected as a 2014 Society for Psychological Research, Research & Training Fellowship award recipient.

Congratulations to Jessica Chen (Adult Clinical with Ronald Smith) who recently received a 2014-15 Stroum Dissertation Fellowship from the Graduate Opportunities and Minority Achievement Program (GO-MAP). The fellowship provides stipend, health insurance, and tuition support for two quarters while Jessica completes her dissertation. Look for her research feature in our Summer 2015 newsletter!

Anita Lungu (Adult Clinical with Marsha Linehan) is the recipient of the 2014 American Psychological Association Dissertation Research Award! Anita was featured for her NRSA-supported research last summer.

More Autumn quarter milestones will be covered in our Summer 2015 issue. Please stay tuned!