Fall 2018 Newsletter


Welcome from the Chair

caren rotello

Dear Friends,

Fall is such a wonderful time in Amherst. Campus is buzzing with new and returning students, and we all get caught up in the excitement.

We have many new faces in PBS this fall, as several new faculty have joined us in Tobin Hall. We’ll profile them all for you over the course of the year; in this issue, you can learn what inspires Tara Mandalaywala and Allecia Reid. Read on to learn about some great research conducted by undergraduates who participated in the inaugural Lee Science Impact Program last summer, to hear about recent awards given to our faculty and students, and to hear about the successes of one of our alumni. 

Please remember to send us your news. Alumni, #MeetMeInTobin to tell us what you’re up to, stop by our Alumni pages to tell us your stories and share your favorite UMass memories. Better yet, come visit! We’re holding an Open House and we’d love to catch up in person.  We can’t wait to see you again!


Caren Rotello



News Highlights

The National Register of Health Service Psychologists has presented the 2018 Judy E. Hall Early Career Psychologist Award to Katherine Dixon-Gordon. The award recognizes excellence in a National Register credentialed psychologist with fewer than ten years of postdoctoral experience, and the associated $2,500 stipend supports a project that advances the mission, vision, and values of the National Register.
Read full article

Patrick Sadil, a fourth-year student in the Cognitive Psychology Program working with Dr. Rosie Cowell, has received the third annual Keith Rayner Memorial Graduate Student Research Award. Data from Patrick’s project, Visual Recollection: filling in the blanks for non-declarative information, will test key assumptions underlying theories that attempt to explain how people recognize something that they have encountered before—such as a person, an object, or a context. These results will offer insight into the relationship between the kinds of processes that support recognition and the kinds of information used during those processes. 

The William Lee Science Impact Program (Lee SIP) is a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) within the College of Natural Sciences designed to expand and broaden participation in undergraduate research. The program provides students the opportunity to work on fun, novel, and interesting scientific questions by matching them with faculty members with similar research interests.
Read full article

This past summer from June 30th to August 10th, students from UMass Amherst attended the Summer Seminar at Trinity College, one of the oldest American summer programs at Oxford University. It is still guided by its original intention: to introduce a wide range of students to the best of Oxford University's academic and social traditions. Participants also had the opportunity to explore England and Europe, both on their own and on Friday field trips. PBS offered our first ever course The Psychology of Sherlock Holmes taught by Tamara Rahhal.

Clockwide from top: Members of the course The Psychology of Sherlock Holmes, the class visits a historic pub, course teaching assistants and instructor Tamara Rahhal.

David Reinhard, a postdoctoral research associate in the Psychology of Peace and Violence Program working with faculty member Bernhard Leidner, has received new grants from the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues (SPSSI), the Society for the Study of Peace, Conflict, and Violence (APA Division 48), and 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.
Read full article



Alumni Profile

As a double-major in psychology and theater, Joshua Mauro ’12 identified with several communities within UMass that were a great source of motivation and guidance. Now an admissions coordinator for Signet Education, his team guides students through the college application process and prepares them for a successful academic career.

Read full article



PBS Labs

The Sleep Monitoring Lab, directed by Rebecca Spencer, is part of the Human Testing Center within the Life Science Laboratories. It houses three bedrooms and a central control room for observing sleeping participants.

Read full article



New Faces

PBS Welcomes New Faculty

Assistant Professor, Developmental Science

Read interview with Tara

Assistant Professor, Social Psychology

Read interview with Allecia

Assistant Professor, Clinical Psychology

Interview coming soon

Assistant Professor, Social Psychology

Interview coming soon

Lecturer, Behavioral Neuroscience

Learn more about Amanda

Lecturer, Developmental Science

Learn more about Danielle




Alexandra Jesse to Associate Professor

Jennifer M. McDermott to Associate Professor

Lori Astheimer to Senior Lecturer



In the Media

Rebecca SpencerA team of UMass Amherst neuroscientists led by Rebecca Spencer report for the first time evidence that naps and overnight sleep may work together to benefit memory in early childhood. UMass News, Boston Globe

Kirby Deater-DeckardA study co-authored by Kirby Deater-Deckard, in the journal Family Relations, finds that mothers who have greater emotional control and problem-solving abilities will more likely have children with fewer behavioral problems. UMass News, Studyfinds.org

Robert FeldmanRobert Feldman comments in a story about why people lie. He says it is part of everyday life and that some types of lies, white lies, are harmless. The Independent
Feldman was also interviewed on Connecting Point about his research on lying. WGBY

Linda TroppA feature story about how cooking and eating together can help overcome social and cultural differences includes comments from Linda Tropp. She conducted a study in 2011 that found intergroup contact lessens people’s preconceived prejudices by reducing their fear of being threatened and increasing their ability to show empathy towards other groups. Nautilus



Upcoming Events

tobin hall

Explore Tobin Hall, meet current faculty and students, and learn about our research!

You'll see demonstrations using the latest technology in brain sciences while discovering how much the building has changed since its opening in 1972.

Friday, November 2, 2018
4:30 – 6:30 pm

Tobin Hall
UMass Amherst


Register for our open house

No cost to attend. All are welcome.
Light refreshments will be served.

View the full schedule of Homecoming activities at UMassAlumni.com/Homecoming.

Photos courtesy of University Photograph Collection, Special Collections and University Archives, UMass Amherst Libraries.



Conference and Publication Highlights

Linda Tropp recently gave a talk on intergroup contact in the context of K-12 education to the staff members, advisory board, and Teaching Tolerance ‘Excellence in Teaching’ award winners at the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). Her talk was part of a three-day summit organized by Teaching Tolerance, held in Montgomery, Alabama.

The SPLC uses "litigation, education, and other forms of advocacy" to contest hatred and bigotry, and support the ideals of equal justice and equal opportunity. Their Teaching Tolerance project provides an array of lesson plans and resources to educators seeking to combat prejudice and cultivate equality in the classroom.

Learn more about Teaching Tolerance

From left: SPLC founder and chief trial attorney Morris Dees and Linda Tropp.

mri scanner at umassThe First Neuroimaging Dataset from the Human Magnetic Resonance Center is Published

Without counting, we can estimate the number of objects in a visual scene. This intuitive sense of numerosity is thought to be a precursor to our high-level math skills. Postdoctoral associate, Dr. Michele Fornaciai, and his mentor Dr. Joonkoo Park have recently used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and electroencephalography (EEG) to discover brain regions involved in the transformation of the raw sensory representation into perceived representation of numerosity. 

Published in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, this work sheds new light on the neural dynamics of visual perception in general. This is the first dataset collected at the newly established Human Magnetic Resonance Center to be published.



Moving On

We recognize our recently appointed Professors Emeriti.