Spring 2020 Newsletter

Welcome from Department Chair Caren Rotello

Caren RotelloDear Friends,

Phew! We made it through Spring semester 2020! All of us in PBS hope that you and your loved ones are healthy and safe.

To protect the health and welfare of our students, faculty, and staff, we transitioned to remote working and teaching in mid-March. Despite that unexpected and sudden change, we continued many of our normal activities, just doing them in different ways. Our annual undergraduate research symposium—run virtually this year—showcased the inspiring work of our students. Read on to find some “tweets” about their results. You can also learn about our fun virtual graduation celebration for our incredible seniors! Our faculty and students continue to win awards for their research, teaching (Manning Prize!!), mentoring, and dedication to increasing diversity and inclusion. Read on to learn about new grants to PBS faculty on timely topics that matter to us all, including work on the impact of COVID-19 and the influence of emotions on medical decisions of emergency room staff. I do hope you’ll enjoy these stories.

Please take a moment to send us your news. Alumni, #MeetMeInTobin to tell us what you’re up to, or stop by our Alumni pages to tell us your stories and share your favorite UMass memories. (Class of 2020, you’re now eligible! Congratulations!) Most importantly, please take care and stay well.


Caren Rotello


Congratulations Psychology Graduates! On Friday May 8th, we launched our Virtual Graduation Celebration for the Class of 2020, including special video messages from Department Chair Caren Rotello and faculty, a senior slideshow, and commemorative photos submitted by students, families, and friends. Visit our page
Seniors had a great time snapping selfies in our virtual photo booth featuring UMass backgrounds and psych stickers! Check out the gallery
Students, we thank you for all you have endured this semester. May your future be bright and prosperous!
Remember to share your graduation pics on social with: #UMassPBS #MeetMeInTobin #UMass2020 #UMassTogether

Social psychologists interview emergency room doctors and nurses about their emotional health, a topic of increasing concern during the coronavirus outbreak

Doctors and nurses in emergency departments at four academic centers and four community hospitals in the Northeast reported a wide range of emotions triggered by patients, hospital resources and societal factors, according to a qualitative study led by UMass Amherst social psychologist Linda Isbell. Read full article

Gaining a deeper understanding of how the human brain processes language is key to treating and preventing problems that affect our brain, body, and quality of life. Matheus Macedo-Lima ‘20PhD and faculty member Luke Remage-Healey have reported in a recent issue of Hormones and Behavior that estradiol (an estrogen) production in the auditory brain region of the adult male zebra finch is essential for the learning of new sounds.  Read full article

Courtney Pierce-KeetonAlumni Profile:

Finding balance and new potential

As a clinical psychologist and researcher, Courtney Keeton ‘05PhD has made it her mission to better understand and treat anxiety in children and adolescents. With great passion for her clinical work, she guides families through interventions—empowering children with anxiety to overcome their fears and live fuller lives. She has also contributed to many significant research studies that helped to create an evidence-base for widely-used treatments like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Read full article

We honor our outstanding seniors for their academic excellence, contributions to research, and scholarship. As truly exceptional members of our community, we recognize their hard work and dedication to the field of psychology. Hear what seniors had to say about their UMass experience

Every spring we're proud to showcase undergraduate research in a poster-fest attended by students and faculty alike. This year, we took that event virtual using online meeting rooms, and it was a great success! Here are some tweets from our talented students, summing up their awesome projects! Read full article

Research Highlights

Award Highlights

Tammy Rahhal
Tammy Rahhal awarded the 2020 Manning Prize for Excellence in Teaching
Maureen Perry Jenkins
Maureen Perry-Jenkins receives ADVANCE Mentoring Award
Kirsten Helmer (Wendy's wife), Sungha Kang, Sarah McCormick, and Evelyn Mercado
Sarah McCormick and Sungha Kang chosen for Wendy Helmer Graduate Student Award. Evelyn Mercado named Faculty and Staff Ally to Graduate Students.

In the Media

Virtual Workshops

scientist looks through microscope

Stress Biomarkers: Why, What, Where, and How

June 22 - June 24, 2020
This 2½ day workshop will introduce participants to the field of biomarkers of acute and chronic stress. The workshop will begin with an overview of the stress concept and the incorporation of allostasis theory and allostatic load to the field of stress research, and will include laboratory demonstrations of the instruments and techniques used for biomarker measurement.

  • Why you should include biomarker measures in your research
  • What you can measure
  • Where different endocrine, immune, epigenetic, and physiological markers can be detected and measured (including types of fluid, cell, or tissue samples where relevant)
  • How to measure your markers of interest

New this year! Richard Hunter (UMass Boston) will instruct a section on stress-sensitive epigenetic marks (e.g., DNA methylation and histone modifications). Instructors: Jerrold Meyer, Lisa Troy, Katherine Dixon-Gordon, and Richard Hunter.  More information and registration