Winter 2018 Newsletter | Awards and Honors

Hallie Brown, Krystal Cashen, Junha Chang, Greg Larsen, and Molly Mather

Krystal Cashen and Genna Santorelli receive Wendy Helmer Memorial Graduate Student Award. Read more

Emily LapinskasMandy Moy, and Stacey Rahab Wainaina receive Bacon Scholarships, awarded to academically high-achieving undergrads preparing to pursue a career in medicine.

Brittni Larcom, Psychology and Political Science, is one of five students selected to be 2018 fellows in UMass Women into Leadership (UWiL), a competitive leadership training and professional development program that prepares women from the state’s flagship public university to pursue public leadership. 

David Reinhard receives grant from the Society for Personality and Social Psychology. Read more

Linda Isbell receives new grant aiming to improve medical decision-making for patients with mental illness. Read more

Dan Anderson elected Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science. Read more

Caren Rotello elected Fellow of Society of Experimental Psychologists. Read more

Holly Laws named Director of CRF Methodology Consulting Services, also receiving a fall 2017 Lecturers’ Professional Development Fund award. Read more

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

linda isbellLinda 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.

Little is known about how to improve clinical reasoning, and even less is known about how emotional experiences may contribute to diagnostic failure. Isbell says, “People with mental health and substance-use disorders are very highly stigmatized in society. Research shows that these patients receive lower quality health care compared to people without these disorders. People who come in to an ER with complications of diabetes, for example, are less likely to be admitted if they also have a mental illness. This health disparity is a crisis in our society.” ("Improve Health Care", par. 3)

Isbell seeks to identify factors that may influence diagnostic reasoning, studying the diagnostic process that occurs between EM physicians, nurses, and patients. She also hopes to develop cognitive interventions, tested through experimentally-manipulated emotional experiences between EM physicians and patient-actors. The physicians’ diagnostic reasoning processes and their errors will be analyzed using a variety of scenarios.

The researchers hope to find simple ways to reduce adverse influences and alter the way routine information is processed by EM physicians and nurses. These interventions could lead physicians to bring more attention to the individual rather than confining patients into a certain category or stereotype. Such knowledge has the potential to enhance patient safety not only for vulnerable, stigmatized populations such as those with mental illness, but for all patient populations.

News Office Release

Lathrop, J. (2018, January 29). UMass Amherst Research Aims to Improve Health Care for Those with Mental Illness

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.”

Anderson’s research focuses on children and television, particularly the cognitive and educational aspects. His published work concerns attention, comprehension, viewing behavior, and the long-term impact of television on development. His current research interests include toddler understanding of television, the impact of television on parent-child interactions, and the effects of adult background television on infant and toddler behavior.

Anderson is also a consultant, assisting in the development of children’s television programs, videos and interactive electronic media. He is an advisor for applied research, strategic planning, and policy issues related to children’s media, serving on several national advisory boards.

APS is an international organization committed to the advancement of psychological sciences across many disciplines. It shares innovative research findings through journal publications and conferences; cultivates new scientific perspectives and connects a global network of members. The organization also supports continued interaction with the public.

To learn more about Daniel Anderson, visit his website.

Association for Psychological Science. (2018, January). APS Fellows.

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. 

This year, we have two individuals who embody Wendy’s sprit and positive influence in the PBS community: Krystal Cashen and Genna Santorelli (pictured left to right) 

Krystal Cashen, graduate student in the Developmental area.  In the words of her peers:

“Krystal is a person who exudes ‘contagious energy’… Krystal has a giant heart and her compassion shines through in her interactions with peers, as well as in her leadership roles.”

“It is no exaggeration to say that anyone who has had the pleasure of working or interacting with Krystal can see how she fosters a community of support and inclusion within the PBS Department.”

“Krystal is enthusiastic, determined, and endlessly motivated to fight for social justice.  She has taken the helm of the diversity committee with such skill, and I think that she absolutely reflects Wendy’s values.” 

Genna Santorelli, graduate student in the Clinical area. In the words of her peers:

“Genna has time and again gone above and beyond to improve the clinical program and the PBS community as a whole. She has served tirelessly as a social justice advocate in her recurring role as a member of the PBS diversity committee.”

“Genna consistently goes above and beyond the call of duty, and does so with a positive attitude that is absolutely contagious.”

“Genna was very close with Wendy, and has worked hard to foster the same loving spirit in her interactions with the PBS community that Wendy demonstrated toward the clinical students.”

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.

Before becoming a Postdoc in the Psychology of Peace and Violence Program in the fall of 2017, David Reinhard received his Ph.D. and M.A. in Social Psychology from the University of Virginia, and his B.A. in Psychology from the University of Michigan. He also worked as a lab manager in the Research Center for Group Dynamics at Michigan’s Institute for Social Research.

Caren Rotello Elected Fellow of Society of Experimental Psychologists

​Caren Rotello, Professor and Department Chair of the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, has been elected a Fellow of the Society of Experimental Psychologists (SEP).  Founded in 1904, SEP is described as "the oldest and most prestigious honorary society in psychology." SEP admits only a handful of leading experimental psychologists in North America as members each year. With a current membership of 220 individuals, they represent about 5-10% of practicing experimental psychologists. Members have expertise in several areas including experimental, cognitive, perceptual, behavioral, developmental, and social psychology, and neuroscience. 

The main goal of the society is "To advance psychology by arranging informal conferences on experimental psychology." SEP holds annual spring meetings at a host university featuring presentations and discussions of papers authored by society members. Meetings are organized by a society member of the host university who serves as the SEP chair for that year. They are open to all members and to students and faculty of the host university invited by the chair. 

The society also grants two awards each year: the Howard Crosby Warren Medal for substantial advances in experimental psychology over the last five years, and the Norman Anderson Lifetime Achievement Award given to senior members with an excellent history of contribution to the field of experimental psychology.

Society of Experimental Psychologists (2017). About SEP: The Society of Experimental Psychologists.


Holly Laws Named Director of CRF Methodology Consulting Services

Holly Laws has been named Director of the Center for Research on Families (CRF) Methodology Consulting Services (MCS). MCS provides consultation in study design and statistical analysis. This team has particular expertise in methods for analyzing non-experimental data that arise in studies of families and dyads, with an emphasis on multi-level modeling, structural equation modeling, and analysis of nested and longitudinal data. MCS also offers free statistical seminars and a limited amount of free methodology consultation services to graduate students and faculty on campus. Laws hopes to expand the specialized methodology workshops that CRF offers, reaching a national audience through consulting and providing online tools.

Laws will co-direct the program with Aline Sayer until Sayer’s retirement in spring 2018.

News Office Release

Laws has also received a fall 2017 Lecturers’ Professional Development Fund award from the College of Natural Sciences. This award of $1,000 will be used towards Laws' professional development in statistical training, to further develop her methodological skill set and support teaching of an advanced statistical course. She will continue her training in Structural Equation Modeling (SEM) with Mplus, giving her valuable tools to use towards the development of future courses.