Elizabeth Jakob Oversees Two-Day Workshop for Teaching Fellows

The College of Natural Sciences and the College of Engineering recently held the third annual two-day, spring training workshop for 26 graduate students and postdoctoral researchers accepted into the Teaching Fellows program. The training is overseen in part by Elizabeth Jakob, Behavioral Neuroscientist in Psychological and Brain Sciences and associate dean of the graduate school. The Teaching Fellows program gives participants valuable teaching experience while receiving guidance from faculty mentors. 

Alice Coyne Receives the Second Annual Keith Rayner Memorial Graduate Student Research Award

Alice CoyneAlice Coyne, a fourth-year student in the Clinical Psychology Program working with Dr. Michael Constantino, was awarded the second annual Keith Rayner Memorial Graduate Student Research Award. Data from Alice's project, Explaining the “Therapist Effect:” Determinants of Between-Therapist Differences in Alliance Quality and the Alliance-Outcome Association, will be used to develop an empirically-supported therapist training manual. Congratulations Alice!

Michael G. Wessells 73 MA, 74 PhD Receives Distinguished Alumni Award

Michael Wessells received the Distinguished Alumni Award on Monday, April 24 in the Great Hall of the Massachusetts State House in Boston. UMass Amherst Alumni Association President Michaella Morzuch presented the award. Also in attendance was UMass President Marty Meehan, Chancellor Kumble R. Subbaswamy, and Dean of Natural Sciences Steve Goodwin.

Wessells is a professor of clinical population and family health in the Program on Forced Migration and Health at Columbia University. His work emphasizes the resilience of children, families and communities and impact of distress due to armed conflict, disasters, family separation and deprivation of basic needs. In addition to research and teaching, Wessells has focused on psychosocial and child protection supports for war-affected children primarily in sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and Latin America ("Distinguished Alumni", par. 1). 

Undergraduate Research Symposium 2017






The Psychological and Brain Sciences Undergraduate Research Symposium was held on April 27 in Tobin Hall. Undergraduates had the opportunity to share their research with faculty, graduate students, and peers. The symposium provides a celebration of the vast undergraduate research opportunities in the department. Students presented at the Massachusetts Undergraduate Research Symposium the following day.

View more photos here:

Joseph Bergan Receives Armstrong Fund Award

The Armstrong Fund for Science has announced its awards for 2017, which will grant $30,000 each to two projects over the next two years to encourage transformative research on campus that introduces new ways of thinking about pressing scientific or technical challenges.

Joseph Bergan, assistant professor in psychological and brain sciences, will receive $20,000 the first year and $10,000 the second year to support his project, “Molecular profiling of intact biological tissues through accelerated antibody staining.” He hopes to develop a new strategy for preparing tissue samples with antibodies for microscopy so individual proteins and biomolecules can be studied by microscopy “where they reside,” without the need for thin sectioning and time-consuming antibody staining. “Through a series of recent advances in tissue histology and microscopy it is now possible to render large intact tissue samples transparent while preserving the architecture of biomolecules. Thus, fine structures can be precisely imaged deep inside tissue samples without the need for sectioned tissue,” he notes.

Bergan adds, “If successful, this technique will have broad implications for fields like neuroscience and cancer research where the function of individual molecules is determined over a wide range (nanometers to centimeters) of scales.”

UMass Amherst News and Media Relations. (2017, April 19). Bergan, Irschick, Grosse, Umberger Receive Armstrong Fund Awards. Retrieved from

Lap-Ching Keung wins Katz Award at CUNY

​Lap-Ching Keung was just awarded the Jerrold J. Katz Young Scholar Award at the 2017 CUNY Conference at MIT. The award “recognizes the paper or poster presented at the Annual CUNY Conference on Human Sentence Processing that best exhibits the qualities of intellectual rigor, creativity, and independence of thought exemplified in Professor Katz’s life and work.”

Lap received the award for his paper, co-authored with Adrian Staub, “Closest conjunct agreement in English: A comparison with number attraction,” presented at the 2016 CUNY Conference on Human Sentence Processing at the University of Florida. The paper presents evidence from both production studies and eyetracking during reading that agreement with a conjoined subject (e.g., The dog and the cat…) is not reliably plural when the second conjunct is singular.

Congratulations Lap!!

Professor Nilanjana Dasgupta Wins Application of Personality and Social Psychology Award

​Nilanjana Dasgupta, professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences and director of CNS faculty equity and inclusion, has won the 2016 Application of Personality and Social Psychology Award from the Society for Personality and Social Psychology. Dasgupta was recognized for her “groundbreaking research” that examines unconscious or implicit bias, with specific focus on the plasticity of implicit bias, for example, “the ways in which variations in social contexts cast imprints on the mind to influence the self-concept, attitudes, beliefs and behavior toward others.”

Professor Emeritus Jerrold Meyer proposes less invasive diagnostic test for Cushing’s Syndrome

Neuroscientist Jerrold Meyer, Psychological and Brain Sciences, is co-author of a recent paper in Endocrine: International Journal of Basic and Clinical Endocrinology that describes a promising new noninvasive method – measuring levels of the hormone cortisol in hair samples – of testing for Cushing’s syndrome, a disorder of excessive cortisol secretion. Meyer, whose lab conducted all cortisol measurements used in the study, collaborated with endocrinologists at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Though other researchers have explored using cortisol in hair samples to study patients with Cushing’s syndrome, the authors believe theirs is the first study to correlate serum and urinary cortisol levels with the hair assay to validate it as a new diagnostic tool. News Office release