News

Catching Up with Psi Chi

This year’s theme for Psi Chi is “Rebuilding Together.” At the end of the Spring 2017 semester, we bid farewell to our longtime faculty advisor, Dr. Susan Whitbourne, and our graduating Executive Board members. With open arms, we welcomed our two new faculty advisors, Dr. Rebecca Stowe and Dr. Heather Richardson, as well as three new Executive Board members. Together, we are taking one step at a time to rebuild our chapter. Our goals for this year are to build membership, form new relationships with the community, start new fundraising projects, and create new traditions.

Current Executive Board members: From left to right, Kimberly Whitney (Secretary), Jenny Guo (Treasurer), Elise Commons (Co-President), David Benford (Co-President).

A Visit to the Infant Cognition Lab

The primary research goal of the Infant Cognition Lab is to discover the cognitive capabilities of infants early in development. The lab, directed by Erik Cheries, Ph.D., is part of the Developmental Science Center within the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at UMass Amherst.

Research in the lab examines the early foundations of conceptual thought. Studies performed are designed to be simple, fun shows which infants watch, allowing the scientists to examine their intuitions about objects, numbers, and the thoughts of other people. These studies use basic behavioral methods (such as looking, reaching, and crawling preferences) to investigate what infants understand about objects and people. The lab is particularly interested in how infants' early expectations about their physical and social world relate to rudimentary notions of identity, number, and socio-moral judgement. The researchers examine these questions in babies to help provide insight into how our own minds work.

Christina Roth ’11, Founder and CEO of the College Diabetes Network

Christina Roth ’11 is the Founder and CEO of the national nonprofit organization, the College Diabetes Network (CDN). This organization creates opportunities for students and young adults living with type 1 diabetes (T1D) to connect, share, and succeed in their academic and professional life. CDN includes a central online resource for young adults, friends, and family who want to learn more about how the disease can be managed effectively. Their programs seek to guide students through the many new experiences and challenges of attending college with T1D.

Linda Isbell Receives New Grant Aiming to Improve Medical Decision-Making for Patients with Mental Illness

Linda Isbell, professor and social psychologist, has received a five-year, $1.71 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality to study the influence of emotions on medical decision-making and diagnostic errors among emergency medicine (EM) physicians and nurses. She will lead an interdisciplinary team, collaborating with co-investigators at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and the UMass Medical School in Worcester. Through qualitative interviews, controlled experiments, and clinical case scenarios, the researchers will look at how patients with and without mental illnesses are treated.

Daniel Anderson Elected Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science

Daniel R. Anderson, professor emeritus of psychological and brain sciences, has been elected a fellow of the Association for Psychological Science (APS). Fellow status is awarded to APS members who have made “sustained outstanding contributions to the science of psychology in the areas of research, teaching, service, and/or application.”

Krystal Cashen and Genna Santorelli Receive Wendy Helmer Memorial Graduate Student Award

The Wendy Helmer Memorial Graduate Student Award is a peer-nominated award that is presented annually to a graduate student in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences who embodies Wendy’s sprit and positively influences the PBS community. Longtime Psychological Services Center secretary, Wendy was a proud supporter and friend of the PBS Graduate Student Diversity Committee. The recipient of this award works to foster an environment of collaboration and support and, with a sense of humor and contagious energy, improves the overall quality of life in the department. Just as Wendy did, this award recognizes a passionate individual who challenges the status quo and actively contributes to an environment that embraces inclusion, community, collaboration, mentorship, and social justice. 

PBS welcomes Sabrina Flagg as Graduate Programs Administrative Assistant

PBS welcomes Sabrina Flagg as our new Graduate Programs Administrative Assistant. She will provide guidance to prospective and current graduate students in a broad variety of ways, ensuring their program needs are addressed. Flagg will serve as an assistant to the Graduate Programs Director, Michael Constantino, overseeing the workflow and operation of the program. Some of her duties include supporting graduate student admissions, processing scholarship and travel grant applications, and counseling students on program requirements. She will work with graduate students to secure research and teaching assistantships, and tuition waivers. Registering for graduate program courses and off-line/independent studies will also be covered by Flagg. She will keep program policies up-to-date, also providing information to students on fellowships, internships, grants, and post-doctoral openings.

David Reinhard Receives Grant from the Society for Personality and Social Psychology

David Reinhard, a new Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Psychology of Peace a Violence Program working under the supervision of Bernhard Leidner, received a new grant from the Society for Personality and Social Psychology (SPSP). His research project entitled “De-escalating Conflict in International Rivalries” aims to understand how rivalries between nations can lead to conflict escalation, and whether this understanding can be leveraged for conflict reduction and prevention.

​Researchers including Luke Remage-Healey Discover Bridge Neurons in the Swamp Sparrow

Researchers including Luke Remage-Healey, psychological and brain sciences, and Jeffrey Podos, biology, report the discovery of sensorimotor “bridge” neurons involved in the imitative bird song learning of the swamp sparrow. The authors explain how these bridge neurons, “simultaneously and selectively represent two critical learning-related schemas: the bird’s own song, and the specific tutor model from which that song was copied. Furthermore, the prevalence and response properties of bridge neurons correlate with learning ability – males that copied tutor songs more accurately had more bridge neurons. Our results are consistent with the hypothesis that accurate imitative learning depends on a successful bridge, within single cortical neurons, between the representation of learning models and their sensorimotor copies.”

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