Newsletter Section

Undergraduate Program

Katie Champoux: Life-long Husky Awarded McFarlane Scholarship

Katie Champoux
Katie Champoux

"I've been a Husky my whole life - I was born at the UW, attended UW camps in the summers, and the UW was my first choice for college."

     - Katie Champoux


A Husky from day one, Katharine (Katie) Champoux will enter her final year at UW as the recipient of an Irene Dickson McFarlane Tuition Scholarship. These $5000 scholarships rotate annually between the four divisions of the College of Arts and Sciences, and are intended to honor and support the College's very best undergraduate students. 

Katie, who is pursuing a double major in psychology and neurobiology, was nominated by the Psychology Department with the strong support of her research mentor, Dr. David Perkel, who describes Katie as "having shown the maturity and focus of a mid-career graduate student." Dr. Perkel, a professor of biology and otolaryngology, further notes that Katie "exemplifies the very best of what one hopes to see in a student and scholar at her stage." Katie's research in Dr. Perkel's lab examines the neural mechanisms of memory, learning, and vocalization by studying how juvenile songbirds learn and practice their songs. 

With plans to ultimately become a pediatrician or family medicine physician, Katie's is taking full advantage of the wide range of both classroom based and experiential learning opportunties available to her. "I view my undergraduate coursework as a precious time to learn about other people and stretch my thinking," explained Katie in her Scholarship application statement, "as well as to accomplish the pre-med requirements and earn a bachelor's degree." Equally passionate about giving back to the community, Katie has volunteered with the Child Life program at Seattle Children's Hospital and with the Little Bit Therapeutic Riding Center where she helps children and adults with disabilities in equine-assisted therapies.

Katie discovered her interest in psychology in a high school Advanced Placement course. "From the very beginning," she recalls, "I've enjoyed learning about human behavior and the neural pathways involved in memory and learning." Special shout-outs go to Psychology Lecturer Dr. Ann Culligan and Psychology Professor Dr. Jaime Diaz, both for the fascinating subject matter of their courses and for their outstanding teaching abilities. Over the coming academic year, Katie plans to take the remaining courses needed for her psychology and neurobiology majors, as well as a range of elective courses as she prepares to apply to medical school.


Kayla Oliver: Hagenstein Research Travel Awardee

Kayla Oliver
Kayla Oliver

"This may sound odd to most people, but my interest in getting a degree in psychology is due to my desire to work with animals."

     - Kayla Oliver


Kayla Oliver, a junior psychology major, is the recipient of a Hagenstein Research Travel Award. Made possible by the Ruth H. Hagenstein Endowment, these travel awards assist undergraduate psychology majors who plan to attend professional conferences. As a psychology major, Kayla's focus has been in the area of comparative animal behavior.  "I am fascinated with examining how animals behave in both the wild and captivity," says Kayla, "and I plan to go into research observing communication between highly social animals." 

Not surprisingly, Kayla will use her $1000 award to attend the 54th Annual Conference of the Animal Behavior Society, in Toronto, Canada. At the conference, Kayla will present her own independent research on canine behavior in off-leash dog parks. In addition to presenting her research, Kayla looks forward to the chance to connect with a number of professors and graduate students. Kayla's mentor is Psychology Research Professor Emeritus Dr. Jim Ha. 

With plans to eventually earn a Ph.D. in animal behavior, Kayla advises new or potential psychology majors to take advantage of networking opportunities. "Talk with your professors and TAs about anything in psychology that seems interesting to you," she counsels, noting that others' ideas and perspecitives might just lead you to find your true passion. Hopefully, the Hagenstein Research Travel Award will take Kayla further down the road to her educational and professional goals!

Khalil Somani: No Limits!

Khalil Somani
Khalil Somani

"I think the biggest piece of advice I would give to psychology majors is don't limit yourself. The Psychology Department at UW offers so many amazing opportunities. Do research, get out and volunteer, take all kind of classes - especially biologically based ones!"

     - Khalil Somani


Earning degrees in psychology and human centered design and engineering (HCDE), Khalil Somani was one of two graduating seniors featured as speakers at the Psychology Graduation Celebration that took place on June 5. In fact, Khalil's parents, Shabir and Salma, have a lot of celebrating to do this year as Khalil and sisters Areesa and Selina - who are triplets - are all graduating from college (Areesa from Seattle University and Selina from Western Washington University).

Khalil recalls that his passion for psychology came at a very young age. "In elementary school, I held informal therapy sessions during reading time for kids who were having a bad day," he remembers, "and while I did not really follow the scientifc method, I managed to make people's day a little better." He also asked his parents if they could replace all of his sister's allergy medicine with placebos to see if she would still sneeze. Khalil seemed like a natural! Once at UW, he found his home initially in the Psychology Department, ultimately branching out to study in the HCDE program, as well. "The HCDE major is highly focused on applying a knowledge of people and human behavior to building solutions for people," explains Khalil, "and it has given me the opportunity to use my psychology degree with a new understanding of technology and design." 

Khalil's research endeavors have also crossed disciplines while remaining fundamentally related. In his freshman year, he began working with Psychology Associate Professor Dr. Chantel Prat in the Cognitive and Cortical Dynamics Laboratory (CCDL). Khalil credits this experience with helping him to discover his love of learning through exploration and experimentation, noting that the CCDL "kick-started" his journey in research. Next steps in that journey included working with Psychology Associate Professor Dr. Shannon Dorsey in the area of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and as a paid research assistant with Mechanical Engineering Assistant Professor Dr. Kat Steele, helping to design a system for long-term EMG measurement in patients with neurological disorders.

A big fan of Psychology Professor Dr. Jaime Diaz and Psychology Lecturer Dr. Lauren Graham, Khalil encourages other students not to shy away from the more biologically based classes, noting that they "offer a great perspective on the physical mechanisms behind human behavior which are so critical to understand." A veteran of UW's biology, chemistry, and organic chemistry sequences, Khalil emphasizes that the biologically based classes offered by the Psychology Department were more engaging than others and ultimately taught him more.

Next steps for Khalil include some summer travel with family and friends prior to beginning work as a Digital Strategy Consultant on the Customer Experience team with West Monroe Partners, in downtown Seattle. He is excited to jump into a job that will allow him to tap into what he has learned from both of his majors.

Lyris Tudhope-Locklear: Bringing It Back Home

Lyris Tudhope-Locklear
Lyris Tuhope-Locklear

"My goal in completing my undergraduate degree and coming to the UW was to gain as much informed experience and information as I could in order to take what I learn back to my rural community and provide the best services."

     - Lyris Tudhope-Locklear


One of two graduating seniors featured as speakers at the June 5 Psychology Graduation Celebration, Lyris Tudhope-Locklear is taking her academic journey full circle back to her hometown of Port Townsend, Washington. That journey began at Peninsula Community College where Lyris earned an Associates of Applied Science degree in Addiction Studies. After working as a chemical dependency counselor at an outpatient clinic and at the county jail, Lyris transferred to UW in the fall of 2015. 

Characterizing her move to UW as both challenging and exciting, Lyris says that her experiences at UW showed her that the country girl actually has a city streak in her! She observes that while many students who transfer to UW hope not to be identified as transfers, feeling that they are somehow having a "differenct Husky experience," she actually embraced that identity, becoming an advocate for transfer students. In the fall of 2016, Lyris served as a peer leader for PSYCH 299, the Psychology Transfer Academic Community (TRAC). This course for first-quarter transfer students aims to give them an in depth orientation to the Psychology Department, the major, and resources available to them, as well as helping to offer support and create community in the students' transitional quarter at UW. Lyris ultimately took her advocacy for the transfer student population all the way to the top... speaking to the UW Board of Regents about her Husky transfer experience.

In addition to speaking at the Psychology Graduation Celebration, Lyris has in common with fellow speaker Khalil Somani a tremendous appreciation for Psychology Lecturer Dr. Lauren Graham and Psychology Professor Dr. Jaime Diaz. She refers to meeting Dr. Graham as an "amazing and empowering experience." "Dr. Graham's influence on my mind went beyond just learning about neuroscience (though I loved that beyond measure)," recalls Lyris, "but she was also an inspiration for me and from that first quarter I continued to seek her counsel on the topics of graduate school, research, and professional development."

Another highlight of Lyris's experience as a psychology major included spending a full year conducting research with the UW Fetal Alcohol and Drug Unit, looking at trends in substance use rates in substance using mothers across the changes in medical and recreational marijuana use laws. She is excited to be able to take scientific and evidence based practices back to the work that she will return to in her hometown where she will be employed as a chemical dependency counselor at Safe Harbor Recovery Center and Outpatient Services. This coming January, Lyris will also begin a master's program in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at Northwestern University.  Her ultimate goal is to continue to serve her local community on the Olympic Peninsula as a licensed mental health counselor.

Undergraduate Accomplishments

The Psychology Department is proud of the accomplishments of our undergraduate students. We honored the achievements of many of these outstanding students at the inaugural Psychology Awards Luncheon in May. Check out some of the highlights from this year:

On May 19, most of our Psychology Honors students as well as a large number of their colleagues - 70 psychology majors in all - participated in the campus wide Undergraduate Research Symposium.

Kayla Oliver
Kayla Oliver

This spring, Psychology junior Kayla Oliver was the recipient of a Hagenstein Research Travel Award. Made possible by the Ruth H. Hagenstein Endowment, these travel awards assist undergraduate Psychology majors who plan to attend professional conferences. Kayla will use her $1000 award toward expenses to attend and present her research at the 54th Annual Society of Animal Behavior Conference. Kayla's research mentor is Psychology Research Professor Emeritus Dr. Jim Ha.

Katie Champoux
Katie Champoux

Psychology and Neurobiology major Katharine (Katie) Champoux was awarded a Irene Dickson McFarlane Tuition Scholarship. These $5000 scholarships rotate each year through the four divisions of the College of Arts and Sciences and are meant to honor and support the College's most meritorious students. Katie, who ultimately plans a career as a pediatrician or family medicine physician, was nominated by the Psychology Department with support from her research mentor, Professor of Biology and Otolaryngology Dr. David Perkel.

Miriam Bassok with students
Nadia Kako, Jordan Epistola, Xiyao Wang, Program Director Dr. Miriam Bassok,  Jiwon Jung, and Hohjin Im 

Members of the 2017 Psychology Honors cohort showcased the results of their research at the Psychology Honors Poster Session on May 30. The poster session, along with the completion of a senior thesis, marks the culmination of a two-year intensive research program. Congratulations to our honors students on this impressive accomplishment: Homer Aalfs, Santino Camacho, Daniel Cho, Jordan Epistola, Hohjin Im, Chonghui (Gabriella) Ji, Jiwon Jung, Shi Roselie Lu, Christopher Perry, Sarahi Ponton Junes, Alexander Preston, Kyle Visitacion, Kelsey Walker, Xiyao Wang Yiyu Wang, and Shin-Phing (Christine) Yu. Job well done! To learn more about these students and their areas of research take a look at the poster session program.

The 2017 Guthrie Prize was awarded to Santino Camacho and Hohjin Im. Named for the late Psychology Professor Edwin R. Guthrie, the prize was established to encourage excellent writing about psychology that is both broad in scope and accessible to the non-specialist. Santino won in the Best Empirical Paper category. His paper, "Does perceiving Asian Americans as experiencing prejudice facilitate greater inclusion of Asian Americans in the racial minority category?", was sponsored by Sapna Cheryan. The winner in the Best Conceptual/Literature Review/Research Proposal category was Hohjin Im. Hohjin's paper, "Cultural differences in feedback interpretation and mindset: implications for intervention," was sponsored by Ann Culligan.

Homer Aalfs
Homer Aalfs

Each spring, the College of Arts and Sciences awards the Dean's Medal to a top student in each academic division. Homer Aalfs was the Psychology Department's nominee for the Dean's Medal in the Natural Sciences Division. Homer will graduate Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and a minor in Environmental Studies. Homer completed his psychology honors work under the direction of Psychology Research Professor Lynn Fainsilber Katz. Following graduation, Homer will begin work as a researcher in the Katz Lab and plans to apply to Ph.D. programs in psychology.

Congratulations to the Psychology majors who were selected to be part of this year's Husky 100 cohort. These outstanding students are Hakikat Bains, Katie Bui, and Reina Kluender. The Husky 100 recognizes 100 undergraduate and graduate students from the three UW campuses, in all areas of study, who are making the most of the Husky experience.

This year five Psychology majors were selected to be part of the McNair Scholars cohort. The Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Program provides strong mentorship and guidance for students who are planning to pursue doctoral studies. Congratulations to the 2016-17 McNair Scholars Santino Camacho, Sarah Gage, Reina Kluender, Mi'Lexus Milton, and Kelsey Walker.