PBS hosts high school students for Research Intensives Summer Program

Pictured left: Lisa Harvey (advisor), Tobias Shapiro, and Shannon Gair (grad student); Right: Yuying Liu

For 6-weeks this summer, PBS participated in the Research Intensives summer program, placing high-achieving high school students in professional working labs alongside distinguished faculty, graduate, and undergraduate students. Biology, Biochemistry, Physics, and Food Sciences also accepted students into their labs. A community of young scientists was created, giving students a chance to make connections with their peers while living at UMass Amherst. The program culminated in a research symposium where each student got a chance to share their completed project with colleagues and the public.

Creativity in Science | David Nikom ’17

David NikomWith a passion for science, David Nikom ’17 created his own path of learning and fun inspired by great teachers. Interested in neuroscience from an early age following a summer science camp, he’s never slowed down in his push to gain knowledge in the field. Nikom set realistic goals and acquired both the people skills and technical know-how to secure a fulfilling job in the biotech industry.

Finding neuromechanisms of decision making

Xingjie Chen stands at MRI scanner

The Neuro-Learning and Performance Lab combines fMRI and EEG techniques for the first time at UMass Amherst

What areas of our brain are activated when we make decisions? Xingjie Chen, developmental science doctoral student advised by Youngbin Kwak, is striving to uncover the neuromechanisms behind this action. She is studying what happens when people process decision making-related variables and make a final choice, such as when we opt to take a risk or play it safe. Her dissertation research will incorporate both functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and electroencephalography (EEG) technologies used simultaneously to gather data from human subjects. Chen’s project is the first at UMass Amherst to combine these two techniques.

PBS welcomes Lecturer Carolyn Davies

Carolyn DaviesCarolyn Davies received her PhD in Clinical Psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles and completed her postdoctoral training at the Anxiety Disorders Center at Institute of Living/Hartford Hospital. Her research focuses on the assessment and treatment of anxiety and trauma-related disorders, with the goal of improving treatment outcomes for these disorders.

Harold Grotevant elected to Board of Directors of the Massachusetts Adoption Resource Exchange

Harold GrotevantHarold Grotevant, Rudd Family Foundation Endowed Chair and leader of the Rudd Adoption Research Program, has been elected to the Board of Directors of the Massachusetts Adoption Resource Exchange (MARE).  

MARE, a non-profit agency, helps children and teens waiting in foster care to find adoptive homes. The agency is also the central resource in Massachusetts for information on adoption from foster care. MARE collaborates with the Massachusetts Department of Children & Families (DCF) and adoption agencies to connect potential parents and youth. Additionally, public awareness and recruitment programs are  organized to make adoption policies more accessible and to share stories of children who are waiting for adoptive homes.

PBS welcomes Assistant Professor Maria Galano

Maria GalanoWhat is your current area of research and how did you decide to focus on this area?

My research examines how violence exposure affects mental health and development in diverse populations. I use a cultural developmental psychopathology lens to understand how individual factors interact with the family and social contexts to shape pathways to risk and resilience following traumatic stress exposure. The primary aim of my research is to uncover the mechanisms by which early-life violence exposure affects long-term well-being. Going forward, I also want to partner with communities to use this research to develop more targeted, culturally-sensitive interventions for violence-exposed individuals.

Caren Rotello elected to the Psychonomic Society’s Governing Board

caren rotelloCaren Rotello will serve a six-year term on the Psychonomic Society’s Governing Board starting January 1, 2020. The Psychonomic Society is recognized as the preeminent society for the experimental study of cognition. Members are cognitive psychologists who are focused on the application of psychology to health, technology, and education.

Emotions and emergency medicine

doctor uses stethoscope on patient


Undergraduate researcher pursues a deeper understanding of medical decision-making 

Emma Cyr, Commonwealth Honors student in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, has been working as a research assistant in the Affect and Social Cognition Lab. We asked how her research endeavors have informed and prepared her for a future in medicine.  

Do war commemorations influence support for solutions to conflict?

naval soldier plays trumpet in front of american flag

Hanne M. Watkins, postdoctoral research associate in the Psychology of Peace and Violence Program, and her advisor Bernhard Leidner were recently awarded a research grant from the Society for Personality and Social Psychology. The grant will support their research on how war commemorations—for example, Memorial Day or Veterans Day—influence people's support for different types of solutions to geopolitical conflict.

Linda Tropp receives 2019 Nevitt Sanford Award from ISPP

linda tropp smiles in her UMass officeLinda Tropp has been named the 2019 recipient of the Nevitt Sanford Award from the International Society of Political Psychology (ISPP), in recognition of professional contributions to political psychology. Recipients of the award are “engaged in the practical application of political psychological principles, or creating knowledge that is accessible and used by practitioners to make a positive difference in the way politics is carried out.”