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Graduate Program

Developmental and Clinical Student Wins Prestigious NSF Fellowship

Lily Durwood
Lily Durwood

The National Science Foundation's Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) is highly competitive and provides fellowship support for graduate students (master or doctoral) in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Recipients are given a three-year award consisting of a fellowship stipend and an education allowance, in addition to the powerful networking opportunities and resources afforded by being selected as a fellow. 

The Department of Psychology is fortunate to have several NSF fellows in our graduate program. Lily Durwood, a second year student in Child Clinical with Drs. Kristina Olson and Kate McLaughlin, is our most recent recipient of this prestigious fellowship.

Where are you from and where did you complete your undergrad?

I grew up in San Diego, California, and I completed my undergrad at Harvard in Psychology with a minor in Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality.

How did you wind up at UW?

I’ve been in Seattle since 2010. I moved here right after college when I got a job working in HR at Microsoft. After five years at Microsoft, I decided I wanted to return to Psychology, so I came to UW first as a staff member in two labs and then as a graduate student in 2016. I applied to UW because the clinical training is incredible here and because UW is the home of a huge longitudinal study, the TransYouth Project, that is focused on the population that I am interested in, transgender kids. I also really wanted to work with my two advisors, Drs. Kristina Olson and Kate McLaughlin.

What is your research interest and how did you get into it?

I’m interested in figuring out what families should do when they have a young child who may identify as transgender. I became interested in the topic when I was in college and I saw an episode of 20/20 about a transgender child and subsequently learned how little research exists to support families in this situation. 

The name of my NSF-funded project is Concealing an Identity in Hostile vs. Accepting Environments.

How might your research change the world?

Well, I’m not sure if my research will change the ENTIRE world, but I think it will have large implications for a small group of people. Like I said, I’m interested in figuring out what families should do when they have a young child who might identify as transgender. Right now, these families have very little research that can inform a host of decisions they face on how to best support their child (e.g., Should they let their child live as transgender? Does that decision depend on how accepting vs. hostile their child’s social environment is? If the child lives as transgender, should he or she be open about that at school, with friends, etc., or will that be harmful because it will expose them to more bullying and discrimination, etc.? And so on.).

Do you have any advice/tips/suggestions for others who may apply to this opportunity? About graduate study in general?

It was helpful for me to start thinking about my research idea very early (maybe 6 months before the application was due), and I also got feedback from my advisors on the idea very early on as well. That gave me the chance to work on the proposal in a leisurely(ish) way throughout the summer, and I had time to think between drafts. When I applied two years ago and didn’t get the award, I started working on a proposal 24/7 about six weeks before it was due. I think giving myself more lead time and working on it little-by-little was a better strategy for me. On the other hand, my friend Trent has an NSF also and I think he wrote his in a month or two—so maybe it depends on the person.

If you plan to apply for an NSF, I’d recommend reaching out to someone who has applied for one before and is willing to share their materials with you (feel free to email me!). Whether or not you receive the grant, the reviewers give you feedback on your application, and it’s very helpful to read about the kinds of things that reviewers care about. For example, I know from many comments I’ve read that reviewers care a lot about the broader impacts of your research.

What do you hope to accomplish with this funding?

The NSF will give me a lot more time to devote to answering the research questions I mentioned before. To do that, I’ll be flying around the country a lot with other members of my lab to meet with families in our study, and then I’ll be writing up the results, of course! In terms of clinical training, one big goal of mine is to figure out how to explain the research that currently exists in the field to families in a way that makes sense.


Supplemental Reading:

Updates from the Diversity Steering Committee

The Diversity Steering Committee (DSC) is an organization of graduate students and faculty members that oversees events and diversity-related initiatives within the Psychology department. This year, the DSC pushed forward several new projects and initiatives. Here are two highlights.

Biannual climate survey sent to the Psychology department’s graduate students

Beginning a new biannual tradition, the DSC collaborated with the Graduate Program Action Committee (GPAC) to produce our second survey assessing our graduate students’ experiences of the current culture around academics and diversity in the psychology department. The goal of this second survey was to understand how students’ satisfaction with the department and their experiences within the department (positive and negative) relating to diversity may have changed since our last survey conducted in Spring 2016. DSC and GPAC plan to summarize and present results, along with suggestions for improvement, during the 2018 school year.

Initiating a Diversity Science Speaker Series

This year DSC members voted to initiate a Diversity Science Speaker Series aimed at inviting out diverse researchers from across the country who research topics related to diversity. Our goal with this speaker series is to engage the UW community with diversity research and bring exciting scientists to our campus to meet with scientists and share how their experiences with diversity have informed their work. Our first selected speaker is Valerie Purdie Greenaway from Columbia University. Please stay tuned for more information!

Frances.Aunon   Adriana.Germano
Frances Aunon   Adriana Germano

We also sadly report that Frances Aunon (Adult Clinical Area with Jane Simoni)’s time as a DSC co-chair is coming to an end this year. Frances served for the past two years as a DSC co-chair. We continue to look forward to seeing what DSC can achieve under the continued leadership of Adriana Germano (Social Psychology & Personality Area with Sapna Cheryan) and our incoming graduate co-chair.

The DSC looks forward to supporting graduate students in exploring diversity science in their coursework, research, teaching, and other domains of engagement within and outside the UW. Please contact us at for more information.

Supplemental Reading:

Endowed Awards Provide Crucial Support for Grad Students

The Psychology Department is fortunate to have endowments that provide much needed support to our deserving graduate students. We're delighted to announce this year's recipients of the Alcor and Hunt Graduate Student Fellowships.

The Alcor Endowed Scholarship
The Alcor Endowed Scholarships were created by a bequest from Harry and Claire Garlick Peterson to the College of Arts & Sciences in order to support graduate students in Psychology and Music programs. Both Seattle locals, Harry was as a psychologist and Claire was a professional bassoonist for the Seattle and Vancouver Symphonies. Alcor refers to one star which is very close to another star (Mizar), making them appear to be one star, in the Big Dipper constellation. Harry and Clare were amateur astronomers and had also named their boat Alcor.

Annie Fast Ashley Ruba Lindsey Nietmann
Annie Fast Ashley Ruba Lindsey Nietmann

Annie Fast (Developmental Area with Kristina Olson), Ashley Ruba (Developmental Area with Betty Repacholi), Rosemary Meza (Child Clinical Area with Shannon Dorsey), and Lindsey Nietmann (Animal Behavior Area with Renee Ha) are our 2018 Alcor Fellows. The endowment is supporting a wide variety research - generosity in children, children's recognition of facial expressions, habitat behavior of crows, and mental in children in low- to middle-income countries.

The Hunt Endowed Fellowship
In 2006, the Earl "Buz" and Mary Lou Hunt Endowed Fellowship for Graduate Students in Psychology was created by Professor Emeritius Earl "Buz" Hunt and his wife Mary Lou. The award supports students who are pursuing their passions, conducting research independent from their advisors. In 2010, we were able to dispense the first award and it has since supported 16 psychology graduate students who were nearing graduation.

Katy Fladeboe (Developmental Area with Lynn Fainsilber Katz) and Lizzy Karp (Child Clinical Area with Wendy Stone) are this year's Hunt fellows. Katy's research seeks to understand how pediatric cancer diagnosis affects the well-being of children and their families and how to promote healthy adjustments for all family members. Lizzy's research seeks to improve the lives of caregivers to children who have autism spectrum disorder.

Katie Fladeboe Lizzy Karp Megan Ramaiya
Katie Fladeboe Lizzy Karp Megan Ramaiya

The Wagner Endowed Fund
The Ned Wagner Travel Fund was created shortly after Professor Ned Wagner's passing. He served as the Director of Clinical Training in the Psychology Graduate Program in the 1980s. Last fall, several of our clinical psychology graduate students attended one of the largest national psychology conferences, the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies (ABCT) in San Diego, California - made possible by the Ned Wagner Fund. All were appreciative to be able to attend with this financial support to distribute their research widely.

In particular, from Megan Ramaiya (Adult Clinical Area with Jane Simoni):

"I was fortunate to receive Wagner funding to support my research on emotion regulation, suicide prevention, and treatment engagement in Nepal. Thanks to departmental funding, I was able to travel to San Diego to attend the annual Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies convention and present a symposium with other pre-doctoral colleagues in Clinical Psychology, which focused on understanding issues of engagement in CBT among hard-to-reach populations using culturally informed approaches."

These endowments are so incredibly valued, as they help expand and disseminate the important work our graduate students do. You can support UW Psychology graduate students by contibuting to the Alcor Endowed Scholarship Fund, Earl Hunt Graduate Fellowship Fund, and Ned Wagner Memorial Endowment.

Supplemental Reading:

Graduate Accomplishments

Autumn 2017

Linda Zou (Social Psychology and Personality Area with Sapna Cheryan) received a dissertation research grant from the UW's Washington Institute for the Study of Inequality & Race.

Natasha Gulati (Adult Clinical Area with William George) was awarded the 2017 APAGS/Psi Chi Junior Scientist Fellowship which supports graduate students who are within their first 12mos of a training program, in recognition of the research they have begun and to assist them on research growth by providing feedback on their future applications to the National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship.

Megan Ramaiya (Adult Clinical Area with Jane Simoni) received a travel fellowship from the Department of Global Health and shared some of her insights on the research she believes in.

Linda Zou Natasha Gulati Megan Ramaiya Elizabeth Ake Ashley Ruba Matt Enkema
Linda Zou Natasha Gulati Megan Ramaiya Elizabeth Ake Ashley Ruba Matt Enkema

Elizabeth Ake (Developmental Area with Kristina Olson), Ashley Ruba (Developmental Area with Betty Repacholi), Matt Enkema (Adult Clinical Area with Mary Larimer), Saethra Fritscher (Animal Behavior Area with Michael Beecher), Nick Lozier (Animal Behavior Area with Joseph Sisneros), and Ruiyu Zeng (Animal Behavior Area with Joseph Sisneros) all completed their general exams and advanced to candidacy during autumn 2017.

Two students earned their master's degrees: Adriana Germano (Social Psychology and Personality Area with Stephanie Fryberg) and Rosie Walker (Adult Clinical Area with Lori Zoellner).

Bryan Kutner (Adult Clinical Area with Jane Simoni) and Robert Mohr (Animal Behavior Area with Joseph Sisneros) graduated with their Ph.D. in autumn 2017. Bryan is a post-doctoral research fellow at the HIV Center for Clinical and Behavioral Studies at Columbia University and Robert is at Amazon Spheres in Seattle.

Saethra Fritscher Nick Lozier Ruiyu Zeng Adriana Germano Rosie Walker Robert Mohr
Saethra Fritscher Nick Lozier Ruiyu Zeng Adriana Germano Rosie Walker Robert Mohr


Winter 2018

A. Paige Peterson (Adult Clinical Area with Corey Fagan) was awarded the Society for a Science in Clinical Psychology (SSCP) Dissertation Award - congratulations!

Prerna Martin (Child Clinical Area with Shannon Dorsey) was selected for a 2018-2020 Doris Duke Fellowship for the Promotion of Child Well-Being. Her profile can be found on their fellowship cohort 8 website. Prerna has previously provided a perspective on her research in New Delhi's slums, while being supported by the Graduate School's Top Scholar recruitment award. And fellow graduate student, Charlotte Heleniak (Child Clinical Area with Kate McLaughlin) had previously received the Doris Duke Fellowship and her spotlight is located here.

A. Paige Peterson Prerna Martin Charlotte Heleniak Lily Durwood Katie Fladeboe Margarita Zeitlin
A. Paige Peterson Prerna Martin Charlotte Heleniak Lily Durwood Katie Fladeboe Margarita Zeitlin

Lily Durwood
(Child Clinical Area with Kate McLaughlin and Kristina Olson) received an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship. 

Katy Fladeboe (Developmental Area with Lynn Fainsilber Katz)'s paper "Caregiver Perceptions of Stress and Sibling Conflict During Pediatric Cancer Treatment" has been selected as the featured article for the next Journal of Pediatric Psychology. Katy is currently our Lead TA for the 2017-2018 academic year and has been doing a wonderful job!

Margarita Zeitlin (Cognition and Perception Area with Lee Osterhout) was one of the 2018 nominees for the campus-wide Excellence in Teaching Award.

Haley Carroll (Adult Clinical Area with Mary Larimer) was a finalist for the Lancet award at the Consortium for Universities in Global Health conference for her research on intimate partner violence in Peru, which was supported by the competitve Fogarty Kuskaya fellowship.

Raoni Demnitz (Cognition and Perception Area with Susan Joslyn), Brian Jackson (Behavioral Neuroscience Area with David Gire), Hilary Lambert (Child Clinical Area with Kate McLaughlin), and Michael McDonald (Cognition and Perception Area with Cheryl Kaiser) passed their general exams while Leah Lucid (Child Clinical Area with Shannon Dorsey) completed her master's.

Tanner DeLawyer (Behavioral Neuroscience Area with Steve Buck) successfully defended his dissertation, "Brown Induction and Red/Green Hue Shifts" and is now a post-doctoral researcher at the Kochi University of Technology in Japan.

Haley Carroll Raoni Demnitz Brian Jackson Hilary Lambert Michael McDonald Leah Lucid
Haley Carroll Raoni Demnitz Brian Jackson Hilary Lambert Michael McDonald Leah Lucid


Spring 2018

The Psychology Department Scholars (PDS) summer awards, created in 2015, are crucial to both recruitment and retainment. This year's PDS recruitment scholars are Imani Burris (Social Psychology and Personality Area with Stephanie Fryberg) and Kevan Kidder (Behavioral Neuroscience Area with Sheri Mizumori). Continuing retainment scholars are Carly Loyer (Animal Behavior Area with Michael Beecher), Megan Ramaiya (Adult Clinical Area with Jane Simoni), Roy Seo (Cognition and Perception Area with Chantel Prat), and Linda Zou (Social Psychology and Personality Area with Sapna Cheryan).

Jessica Canning (Adult Clinical Area with Mary Larimer) received a travel grant through the Graduate & Professional Student Senate, which allowed her to attend the Research Society on Alcoholism in San Francisco.

Bryan Kutner Imani Burris Kevin Kidder Carly Loyer Roy Seo Jessica Canning
Bryan Kutner Imani Burris Kevan Kidder Carly Loyer Roy Seo Jessica Canning

Check out our newsletter again in the winter for more exciting accomplishments from our graduate students. Have a wonderful summer!