Professor Jackson Co-authors Article in “Self and Identity”

Assistant Professor of Psychology Lydia Eckstein Jackson co-authored an article with Drs. Lowell Gaertner (University of Tennessee) and Dan Batson (University of Kansas) titled “Can Affect Disengagement Produce Moral Standard Violation?” The article is in press at Self and Identity.

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Psychology Professors Publish Article in “College Teaching”

Assistant Professor of Psychology Lydia Eckstein Jackson and Associate Professor of Psychology Aimee Knupsky co-authored an article on encouraging students to attend office hours instead of sending emails. The article is in press at College Teaching.

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Careers in Community Organizing for Social Justice on Oct. 7

The Direct Action & Research Training (DART) Center will be hosting an online information session on Wednesday, October 7 at 8 pm to discuss careers in community organizing with individuals interested in uniting congregations and working for social, economic and racial justice.


DART hires and trains organizers to lead campaigns on a broad set of justice issues including:

* Plugging the school-to-prison pipeline
* Fighting for immigrants’ rights
* Expanding access to primary health and dental care
* Prioritizing funding for affordable housing and job training
* Reining in predatory lending practices

Positions start January 11, 2016 in St. Petersburg, Ft. Lauderdale and Miami, FL.

Positions start August 15, 2016 in Charleston, SC, St. Petersburg, FL and Lexington, KY.

Starting salary $34,000/year + benefits, with regular performance based raises.

Fluent speakers of Spanish and Haitian Creole are encouraged to apply.

To find out more about DART or to apply, we encourage you to visit Still have questions? Contact Hannah Wittmer at or (202) 841-0353.


SONA Workshop Fri, Sept 25, 12 pm Schultz East Alcove

Attention all psychology and neuroscience students who plan to use SONA this year to recruit participants. Professor Lauren Paulson will hold a SONA workshop illustrating the basics you need to know to post your study and use the SONA system. It will take place on Friday, Sept. 25th from noon to 1:00 in East Shultz Alcove.

Please be aware this is a one-time workshop. If you cannot make it, you will need to use the resources on our AboutPsych page to learn how to use the system.

​Please contact Lauren Paulson if you have any questions.


Wesley Spectrum now hiring (Sept, 2015)

Wesley Spectrum currently has several job openings. There are a lot of great opportunities for both entry level and experienced candidates.  Please view all openings online at and click on  careers in the upper right.  On the next screen, click the job openings tab. Leave all fields blank and hit search to see all openings. Candidates should also submit a resume by completing the online application.  All candidates are also welcome to contact Amanda (Wiler) Pekor.
  • Clinical Supervisor – School Based Team Model
  • Behavioral Health Worker – Team Model
  • Outpatient Therapist – split cases between Autism Outpatient
  • Mental Health Professional – Team Model
  • Family Therapist – In Home

Professor Conklin Co-authors Chapter in “Neuropsychology of Cardiovascular Disease”

Sarah Conklin, associate professor of psychology, neuroscience and global health studies and chair of the Neuroscience Program, co-authored a book chapter with Matthew Muldoon, MD, MPH, titled “Effects of Cholesterol and N-3 Fatty Acids on Cognitive Function, Decline, and Dementia” in Neuropsychology of Cardiovascular Disease, 2nd Edition, Taylor and Francis.

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Professor Anderson Presents Work at American Psychological Association Meeting

Professor Emeritus of Psychology David Anderson presented a poster at the American Psychological Association meeting in Toronto. The topic was an evaluation he has been doing for the past three years of the Bring in the Bystander program.

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Psychological Science Brown Bag September 4

Friday, September 4th from 12:20 pm -1:20 pm in Carnegie 110

You’re receiving this email because you’ve expressed an interest in receiving updates on our departmental brown bag meetings (“Psychological Science Brown Bags, or “PSBB”). For those of you who have never been to a meeting, this is a friendly and informal setting in which faculty and students discuss the latest research across many sub-fields of Psychology and Neuroscience. We meet a few times each semester. Each year, we also have lots of opportunities to talk about ongoing departmental and Senior project research. You do not currently have to be involved in research in order to participate – everyone is welcome!

We will open our series this year with the question “Learning How to Learn – Strategies for Long-term Retention of Material and Succeeding in College” We will meet on Friday, September 4th from 12:20 pm-1:20 pm in Carnegie 110.

If you’d like to have a look at some strategies before we meet, please have a look at the article “What Works, What Doesn’t”

Everyone is warmly invited, so spread the word and bring a friend! We look forward to seeing you there! Please bring your lunch to enjoy!

Breaking Down Barriers Through Books

Adult NCBC Club

It’s a Wednesday afternoon in a Meadville bakery. Five adults sit around a table, each with a book open, reading “The Phantom of the Opera.”

Some of the individuals enjoy reading aloud. Others prefer just to follow along, but still taking part in the conversation.

The setting may seem like a typical book club. But what’s different is that it’s part of an Allegheny College faculty-student research project, aimed at making a positive impact on individuals’ lives and the community.

The project, called the Next Chapter Book Club, is for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) and other mental health conditions. This is the first summer that Assistant Professor of Psychology Monali Chowdhury and two summer research students, Ian Dempsey and Noelle Lemons, have facilitated the clubs. And it’s the first time a project like this has been done in Meadville.

“The Next Chapter Book Club began in 2002 at the Ohio State University, where I finished my graduate work. Now there are more than 250 clubs nationwide, in more than 100 cities and in 29 states,” Chowdhury says. “With Meadville being a smaller community, I felt there was a real opportunity to bring support like this here. Although we have several goals for the program, our main one is to make a meaningful impact on the lives of community members with IDD.”

Primary Objectives of the Next Chapter Book Club:

  • Develop a model program for literacy learning, social connectedness and community inclusion
  • Enhance social experiences
  • Increase the inclusion of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities
  • Optimize lifelong learning opportunities

The First Chapter
Chowdhury and Dempsey began the project in fall ’14 by reviewing scientific literature on setting up community engagement projects and establishing partnerships with local Meadville organizations that work with individuals with IDD.

Based on this groundwork, they made a presentation in April ’15 at “The Next Chapter Book Club and Beyond: A Conference on Literacy for Adults with IDD.” This national conference hosted Next Chapter Book Club members from across the country, professionals from the field of psychology, special education and social workers, and book club facilitators, as well as parents of individuals with IDD and other advocates. Chowdhury and Dempsey not only served as presenters, but also participated in and co-facilitated onsite book clubs.

Lemons joined the project this summer. Funding for their summer research came from the Shea Family Fund and the Dr. Barbara Lotze Fund for Student-Faculty Research.

Chowdhury, Dempsey and Lemons now facilitate two, 90-minute clubs for adults 20 to 50 years old referred from Child to Family Connections, a nonprofit agency providing adult direct support, among other services to community members with IDD. The book clubs meet weekly at Confections of a Cake Lover in Meadville.

Teen NCBC clubIn addition, the group facilitates two book clubs for teenagers with IDD and other mental health conditions from Bethesda Children’s Home in Meadville. These one-hour sessions take place in a school classroom at Bethesda.

During the first session, each group voted on which book they wanted to read. One adult group chose “The Phantom of the Opera,” while the other chose “The Arabian Nights.” Both of the teen clubs chose “The War of the Worlds.”

“When Professor Chowdhury asked me to join this project, I was thrilled,” says Dempsey, a senior biology major and psychology minor. “We are having fun with this. Allegheny emphasizes community involvement and engagement, and that’s exactly what we’re doing.”

During each session, the facilitators help members sound out words, use words in a new context, use events in the book as bridges to personal stories when appropriate and provide positive, gentle encouragement.

What the Research Says …
Research shows that for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, literacy may decline after their formal education ends, but it also can be motivated by book interactions. “Many people with intellectual and developmental disabilities who are trying to learn literacy may face many barriers. The book club promotes an environment that uses literacy and socialization as a mechanism to address and help alter inequities,” Chowdhury says.

“I really feel like this experience has shaped me,” says Lemons, a junior biochemistry major and psychology minor. “I’m learning about what I can say to get the members engaged in the book and have a conversation. It’s really rewarding. When they come in, they tell us how much they missed us. It’s a great feeling.”

It also feels good when they’ve made a special connection with a member.

“At Bethesda,” Dempsey says, “there’s a boy who really likes to write. After the club, he showed us a project he’d been working on. He was genuinely excited about sharing that.”

“I’m constantly amazed by how creative our members are,” Chowdhury adds. “When we talk about a person with IDD, we might have an image in our mind of someone who doesn’t understand much. While that might be true in certain cases, we have a range of individuals in terms of cognitive function in our clubs, and their creative ability is truly inspirational for all of us. This work helps us to break some of those stereotypes.”

A Civic Autobiography
In addition to making a difference in members’ lives, a large component of this research project revolves around civic engagement. Dempsey and Lemons have done several exercises that allow them to reflect on their civic identities and motivation – which also ties into one of the components of the new Allegheny Gateway.

“Work by various authors has shown that civic engagement activities can prepare a student for success far beyond the classroom in their personal careers and with family life,” Lemons says. “With the book club, we are able to be engaged in the community, and that expands our appreciation of civic engagement.”

This fall, the group plans to expand their work with new and existing members and focus on collecting data to assess how well the book clubs are meeting their goals. Funding for this research will come from the Fahrner Fund for Community Engagement through the Allegheny Gateway. Students in Chowdhury’s upper-level course on autism also will have an opportunity to participate.

“I just like to read; overall I’m enjoying it. I like it (“Arabian Nights”) because of the suspense. I look forward to coming (to the book club) … I wish the book club could go on forever; I would come (to the book club) twice a week.”
~ Member, Next Chapter Book Club, Meadville

Chowdhury already has seen positive results from this summer. For example, she says one of the adult members spontaneously, without instruction from the facilitators, started modeling appropriate reading for another member who had less-developed reading skills.

“This member had taken it upon himself to help his peer with difficult words and prompt the peer to sound out bigger words,” she says. “It was very rewarding seeing this unfold. This aspect of peer mentorship certainly speaks to the social connectedness and literacy learning that the Next Chapter Book Club has as one of its goals.”

Both Dempsey and Lemons feel the experience has made a difference in their lives.

“The more that you interact with people, the more you find out about yourself,” Dempsey says. “For me, this experience has solidified my plans to go to law school by giving me hands-on experience working with and for the people in my community.”

“I would like to someday be a pediatric oncologist, so I know I’m going to be interacting with a wide variety of people,” Lemons says. “Working with those with intellectual and developmental disabilities has helped me gain an understanding of what’s out there and learn how to interact and communicate with them.”

“This experience has been incredibly rewarding for me, as well,” Chowdhury says. “I see our members enthusiastically interacting over books, Noelle and Ian as effective facilitators helping them read, keeping them actively engaged and included in discussion – it is what we had envisioned for this project. I look forward to continuing this collaborative work with our future students and taking this journey forward.”

Year of Meadville
This year’s annual theme is “The Year of Meadville,” which ties into the work Dr. Chowdhury and her students are doing in the community. To learn more about the Year of Meadville, visit

Appropriate permissions have been obtained to use images of book club members.

Source: Academics, Publications & Research

Professor Conklin and Students Present Research at American Psychosomatic Society Meeting

Associate Professor of Psychology, Neuroscience, and Global Health Studies Sarah Conklin presented her research at the American Psychosomatic Society annual meeting held March 18-21 in Savannah, Georgia. Two students attended the conference with her. Nicole Masters ’15 presented the results from her Senior Project conducted with Professor Conklin and Associate Professor of Psychology and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Deb Dickey. Her project was titled “Experiences of physical and emotional abuse are associated with blunted cardiovascular reactions to psychological stress.” The project, currently under peer-review, was a multi-year effort. Her coauthors also attended the meeting: Annie T. Ginty ’09, now at the University of Pittsburgh as a postdoctoral fellow in behavioral medicine; Eliza B. Nelson ’12, now at the University of Saint Andrews School of Medicine, Health Psychology, UK; and Karen Kaye ’14, now at Brandeis University, Psychology. Katelyn Nicewander ’15 also presented the results of her Senior Project, which she conducted with Professor Conklin and Assistant Professor of Psychology Lydia Jackson. Her project was titled “Lavender essential oil aromatherapy does not reduce cardiovascular reactions to acute psychological stress in the laboratory: results from a preliminary randomized control trial.” Katelyn’s project is currently being prepared for peer review.

Source: Academics, Publications & Research