Oglethorpe Psych Students Excel at Research Conference

The annual Georgia Undergraduate Research in Psychology Conference was recently hosted by nearby Kennesaw State University. More than 110 students from nearly 20 universities presented either research posters or talks. Many were honor students from their respective universities—which this year included universities from surrounding states as well.

The Oglethorpe Psychology Department was represented by seven students who had their work accepted for the conference: Jahnavi Delmonico, Julia Fukuda, Cassie Hendrix, Allison Moore, Justin Sabree, Brittany Weiner and Janet Wood. They presented a mixture of research posters and talks based on the original data they had collected in their respective studies from the past year. In addition, all of them participated in a juried competition sponsored by the Georgia Psychological Association (GPA) for best research at the conference. Judges consisted of executive members of the GPA and professors of research methodology.

For the fourth year in a row, an Oglethorpe student earned first place! Specifically, Cassie Hendrix submitted a study she completed during her “Theories of Personality” course on the effects of anxiety on people’s ability to correctly interpret the emotions expressed in facial expressions. She presented her research in a 250-seat auditorium, where she led the audience through a Powerpoint presentation of her study, followed by a question and answer session. Cassie and I (as her faculty sponsor) received certificates of recognition and Cassie received a cash award. She joins previous GPA-sponsored conference winners Ilana Olin and Mary Beth Bidgood (2009), Alyx Buonanotte (2010), and Balbir Khalsa and Brittany Weiner (2011).

Participants had the opportunity to attend all the talks and poster sessions, as well as listen to a keynote address and attend a career/graduate school panel discussion. It was an excellent opportunity to meet students and professors from other schools and to learn from fellow excellent researchers.

All of the students gained valuable experience, practiced publicly presenting and defending their work, and had a good time spending the day with each other and the department faculty. Congratulations to all of you!

Editor’s Note: The Oglethorpe University Psychology Department routinely encourages its students to submit original research they have designed and conducted to professional research conferences. Our students typically attend several conferences during their undergraduate education. Submitting one’s work for peer review by experts in the field and then defending that work in a professional setting is wonderful training for graduate school, professional schools (e.g., medical and law) and many careers.

OU Students, Alums Present at Psychological Conference

Brittany Weiner '12 (left) celebrates her award-winning research with fellow presenter Ashleigh Grizzle '10.

Nine Oglethorpe University psychology students and recent graduates presented their research at the 2011 annual meeting of the Southeastern Psychological Association (SEPA) in Jacksonville, Fla. SEPA is one of the largest psychology associations in the U.S. and is the Southeastern regional branch of the American Psychological Association.

All submissions to this conference represent high caliber original research and were peer reviewed by experts in the field. As most applicants are professors and graduate students, this is an impressive accomplishment for our undergraduates and speaks to their high level of ability as well as the quality of research training in OU’s
Department of Psychology.

Notably, Brittany Weiner ’12 won the award for top undergraduate research paper on Minority Issues, titled “Attitudes towards transsexual parenting.” She presented her paper orally as part of a special session for award winners, and received a $250 cash prize on her research.  Brittany’s paper also explored transphobia, a form of sexual prejudice directed specifically toward transsexuals.  She found that those high in transphobia (more prejudice) believed that a homosexual and a transsexual couple were more emotionally unstable than their counterparts.

“I’m especially interested in social psychology,” said Weiner, a psychology major.   “After completing the transsexual parenting study, I immediately [looked] for ways to decrease prejudice toward these minority groups. I am currently in the process of conducting my honors thesis, in which I am trying to reduce prejudice toward gay men.”

Other students who presented their work include: 

− Livia Balaban ’12, “The relationship between public self-awareness and trait compliance”

− Alexandra Buonanotte ’10, “The effect of guided and self-guided meditation on mood”

− Ashleigh Grizzle ’10, “Potential limitations of contact: Examining contact’s effect on disability prejudice”

− Rebecca McAlister ’11 and Nicholas Etherington ’10, “Effects of reinforcement on intrinsic motivation”

− Brittany Weiner ’12, Morghan Brandon ’13, Jolinda Powell ’12 and Tiffany Zimniak ’13, “Coping and its relationship to perfectionism and test anxiety.”  (This study was selected as one of the best submissions and was showcased on the first night of the conference in a special “SEPA Sampler” session along with other highly rated research projects.)

Rebecca McAlister ’11 and Nicholas Etherington '10 with their research presentation about the “Effects of reinforcement on intrinsic motivation.”

Presenting at a professional conference is a valuable learning experience and excellent preparation for graduate school.

“The psychology major in general prepares me quite well for grad school,” said Weiner. “The psychology professors are amazingly encouraging and supportive of my research (and everyone else’s as well). Whenever I have an idea, they’re always willing to make time for me to discuss it and help me put it into action.”