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.
May 6th 2015
April 7th 2015
Research by Rebecca Cohen ’15, Nicole Coogan ’15, Rebecca Gallup ’15, Autumn Vogel ’15, Breana Gallagher ’15, Katherine Roach ’16 and Assistant Professor of Psychology Lydia Eckstein Jackson was presented at the 86th Annual Meeting of the Eastern Psychological Association in Philadelphia in March. In collaboration with Professor Jackson, Rebecca Cohen presented her Senior Project on “The Effects of Acute and Chronic Stress on Unethical Behavior”; Nicole Coogan presented her Senior Project work on “The Effects of Short-term Volunteerism on Identification With All Humanity”; Rebecca Gallup presented her work on “The Effects of Loving-Kindness Meditation on Unethical Behavior”; Autumn Vogel presented research completed as part of an independent studies course titled “Self-Objectification, System Justification, and Social Activism”; and Breana Gallagher and Katie Roach presented work they had completed as part of independent studies projects on whether competitiveness predicts unethical behavior.
April 6th 2015
Assistant Professor of Psychology Lauren Paulson and Danielle Jones ’15 presented a 60-minute advanced education session titled “Tech It Out: Implementing an Online Peer Supervision Network for Rural Supervisors” and a 30-minute poster session titled “Connecting Rural Mental Health Workers Through On-line Peer Supervision and Consultation: A Pilot Study” at the American Counseling Association’s National Conference in Orlando, Florida on March 12-15.
April 3rd 2015
Professor of Psychology Patricia Rutledge is the second author on “Patterns of alcohol policy enforcement activities among local law enforcement agencies: A latent class analysis,” which was recently accepted by the International Journal of Alcohol and Drug Research. The first author, Darin Erickson, is a faculty member in the Division of Epidemiology and Community Health in the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota. The other authors are Professor Erickson’s colleagues Kathleen Lenk, Toben Nelson, Rhonda Jones-Webb, and Traci Toomey. The project was supported by a grant from the National Institutes of Health to the first author. Dr. Rutledge’s involvement in the project was supported by the Great Lakes Colleges Association as part of its New Directions Initiative, made possible by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
March 26th 2015
Posted on March 25, 2015 | Filed under Events
Join the Psychology Department for a special brown bag lunch featuring three seniors who will discuss their recently completed Senior Project research. Autumn Vogel will talk about “Activist Theater: The Effects of a Theater Performance on Socio-political Attitudes and Willingness to Engage in Activism.” Matthew Turner will discuss “The Effect of Variety of English on L2 Vocabulary Cued-Recall Task and Learner Attitudes.” And Meghan Murphy will talk about her work on “The Effects of Activating ‘Karma’ on Unethical Behavior.” The lunch will be held on Friday, March 27 from 12:20 to 1:20 p.m. in Carnegie 101. Please bring your lunch.
March 4th 2015
Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience Rod Clark has recently been appointed to the editorial board of the APA journal Behavior Analysis: Research and Practice.
February 27th 2015
MEETING TODAY TO DISCUSS:
Brian Williams and the Malleability of Human Memory
Please join us this Friday, February 27th, for a discussion of the reliability and malleability of human memory.
We will meet on Friday from 12:20-1:20 in Carnegie 101. This week, we invite you to please bring your own lunch.
You may have been following the recent case of Brian Williams (the NBC News anchor who claimed he was in a helicopter crash in Iraq in 2003, only to be exposed a few weeks ago as having fabricated this version of events). Did he lie to make himself look better, or is it possible for him to actually “remember” his version of events? What does this line of research say about witness testimonies?
December 5th 2014
Alumnus Discovers Unknown Passion at Allegheny
It was 2007 – the first semester of Carlos Blandino-Lopez’s freshman year.
Thinking that he someday wanted to be a doctor, he walked into the David V. Wise Sport & Fitness Center preparing to register only for neuroscience classes.
At that time, the course registration process “was like a school fair,” Blandino-Lopez says, with students walking from table to table learning about the different classes available.
That’s when Tom Erdos, a former dance and movement studies faculty member, motioned Blandino-Lopez over to his table. He said he needed more men in his ballroom class.
“I thought sure, why not?” Blandino-Lopez says as he jotted down his name on the Introduction to Ballroom roster.
Unbeknownst to him, the moment changed his life.
“We learned the six major dances in that course, and I found out that I had a knack for dance,” says Blandino-Lopez, who originally is from Anchorage, Alaska, but now lives in Pittsburgh. “I was hooked.”
A (Dance) Step in the Right Direction
With his new passion ignited, Blandino-Lopez filled his schedule with dance classes each semester at Allegheny. During his collegiate career, he also completed independent studies focusing on dance, worked as a teacher’s assistant for ballroom classes, and choreographed performances for the College and community.
In addition, Blandino-Lopez worked with other classmates to produce a surprise performance for Professor Erdos. “The entire production was student-run. We worked on it for a full semester,” he says. “We performed 16 pieces with all different types of dance. Professor Erdos had no idea.”
Blandino-Lopez’s love for dance continued to grow – and he began thinking about how he could continue his passion after graduation. That’s when a coach from Arthur Murray Dance Centers in Miami visited his class.
“She took me aside and told me I could do this as a career,” says Blandino-Lopez, who also was involved in the Bonner program, the Association of Black Collegians/Association for the Advancement of Black Culture, Union Latina, and Orchesis at Allegheny. “That really piqued my interest.”
The following year, the Allegheny senior found himself traveling to Pittsburgh for a job interview with Arthur Murray Dance Centers. Shortly after, he landed a position there as a dance instructor – a job he still enjoys today.
“As a teacher, I love seeing how confidence builds in people,” he says. “Even in college, there were people in my classes who were awkward and really didn’t interact with others. Then they would dance and develop confidence. My passion for dance is fueled by the excitement of seeing people learn.”
Story through Dance
One of the best parts about teaching, Blandino-Lopez says, is being a part of people’s stories. He cites one of his students, an 88-year-old man named Howard, as an example.
“Howard has Alzheimer’s, and the studio is the only place where he gets a sense of normalcy,” he says. “He’s deteriorating in every other aspect of his life, but on some level, he’s progressing here.”
Another student, 74-year-old Judy, was a teacher at Arthur Murray when she was 18.
“It’s so great to talk with her about how things have changed,” he says. “She met her husband through dancing, and now she does it for her own self-confidence and exercise. She told me this is her reason for getting dressed up and leaving the house.
“Over the years, I’ve learned that very few people come here to learn to dance,” he continues. “They come here for something deeper.”
Dance also has affected Blandino-Lopez’s personal life. He met his wife, Elizabeth, while salsa dancing.
“I asked her to dance and she said no,” he says. “Luckily I had the confidence to eventually get her to say yes.”
Although dance was a major focus for Blandino-Lopez at Allegheny – even becoming his minor during his senior year – he continued studying neuroscience, graduating in 2011 with a double major in neuroscience and psychology. He believes this foundation is still applicable to his current profession.
“I’ve always been fascinated with the brain. The reason I came to Allegheny was because I knew it was one of the best in the country for neuroscience,” he says. “It’s really helped me now because I understand the physiological process of how learning works. As a teacher, that foundation helps me to have more patience and understanding with my students.”
Eventually, Blandino-Lopez would like to revisit the connections among neuroscience, psychology, and ballroom dance.
“My senior comp was on ballroom dance and psychological androgyny. I’d like to do more research around ballroom dancing in general,” he says. “A study I read said dancing frequently can reduce your risk for dementia by 76 percent. I’d like to dig into that someday.”
December 3rd 2014
Assistant Professor of Psychology Lauren Paulson and Danielle Jones ’15 presented a 90-minute workshop titled “Tech It Out: Implementing an Online Peer Supervision Network for Rural Supervisors: A Review of What Worked and What Didn’t” at the Pennsylvania Counseling Association’s 46th Annual Conference at the Penn Stater in State College on November 7-9. Paulson is also the first author of an article titled “Building Bridges: A Pilot Program for Training and Support of Rural Supervisors,” to be published in the December 2014 issue of The Clinical Supervisor. In addition, Paulson was interviewed for a cover story, titled “Supervision in Counseling: A Steadying Hand,” in the November issue of Counseling Today.
December 1st 2014
Students Connect Science and Humanities through Interdisciplinary Research
Chris Schuchert ’16 stood in a semi-dark room, arms outstretched, while Laura Holesh ’16 snapped his photo.
Leanne Siwicki ’15 repeated the same pose, with Holesh capturing her image as well.
Although the two theater majors looked as if they were practicing for an upcoming performance, they actually were serving as subjects for a psychological study. Holesh and Annie Utterback ’16 are conducting this independent study with Associate Professor of Psychology Aimee Knupsky and Associate Professor of English M. Soledad Caballero.
According to Utterback, a psychology major and women’s, gender, and sexuality studies minor from Sewickley, Pa., the project came out of an interdisciplinary class she took last semester called “Cognitive Humanities – Expressions of Emotion: When Psychology and Literature Converge” with Professors Knupsky and Caballero. The course was created through the support of a New Directions Grant from the Great Lakes Colleges Association.
“The class was about the study of emotion during the 19th century to present day and the reciprocal relationship between science and the humanities,” Utterback says. “It was about how the study of emotion was shaped by literature and theater and medical records. That provided a basis for our project, where Laura and I are studying facial recognition and emotion.”
To conduct this research, Utterback and Holesh selected 20 poses from a manual on gesture and emotion written in 1806 by Henry Siddons, an English actor and theatrical manager now remembered as a writer on gesture. Each page in the book shows an actor making a gesture, with each page labeled with an emotion like “devotion,” “happiness,” anger,” “despair,” or “enthusiasm.”
Utterback and Holesh then asked theater majors Schuchert and Siwicki to recreate the gestures from Siddons’ book while they took photos of each pose.
The student researchers then will project the photos onto a screen and ask study participants to choose which emotion the actors are expressing. Utterback and Holesh will use equipment in the College’s eye-tracking lab to study where participants are looking on the photos in order to make their guesses.
“The eye-tracker will produce what is similar to a ‘heat map,’ allowing us to see where people are looking in the image and for how long,” says Holesh, a neuroscience and psychology double major and biology minor from Gibsonia, Pa. “This will help us to capture their thought process to figure out what emotion it is.”
“We’ll then be able to see if they’re guessing the emotion that the book said it was and how that’s been congruent over time. We’ll also be able to see what part of the gesture is cuing them to the emotion,” Utterback adds. “It will be interesting to see how emotion has developed over several centuries.”
One of the unique components of this study is that it allows the students to conduct interdisciplinary research, meaning the study involves both science (psychology) and humanities (English and theater).
“The wave of the future is really interdisciplinary research, and Allegheny is leading the way by offering research with interdisciplinary courses,” Professor Knupsky says. “It’s about getting students to realize that humanities and natural sciences really are asking the same questions.”
“I’m very interested in the sciences, but I’m also interested in English and theater. So I really like the interdisciplinary focus,” Utterback says. “I like connecting all these subjects. It requires critical thinking and being creative to tie all these things together. It’s been an eye-opening experience.”
Even though the project is not yet complete, Holesh says she already has learned a lot.
“This project definitely has helped me to read scientific literature, analyze it, and see the process of thinking. The creative process also has helped me with my junior seminar,” she says.
“The study has helped me to realize that psychology and science are a lot different than what I thought they were in high school,” Utterback adds.” Science is a study and a way of thinking more than content. You can scientifically study anything.”
The pair also likes the ability to do hands-on research as an undergraduate student.
“I don’t believe other undergrads are doing research like we are and shaping it in the way we are. Laura and I are involved in shaping what the project is and what we’re researching,” Utterback says.
“One of the main reasons I came to Allegheny was to do research, because I knew the opportunities were incredible. Coming in freshman year, I started doing research. At other schools, I don’t think that’s the experience students get,” Holesh adds.
In addition, they appreciate the close relationships they have developed with professors at Allegheny.
“I truly value my relationships with my professors,” Holesh says. “I adore talking to them about their research. They are more than willing to have you come into the lab and see things and be hands-on.”
Holesh and Utterback plan to continue their research next semester and may use this work as a springboard for their comprehensive projects.