Newsletter Section


Meet our 2010 Incoming Cohort!

This September, the Psychology Department welcomed 15 new graduate students, including one student in our new quantitative psychology track and three specializing in animal behavior.  The entry of new students into our program is always exciting.  Each new mind pushes our work in new and potentially fruitful directions.  Of particular interest among the 2010 cohort:

  • One student received a Ronald E. McNair fellowship from the University of Washington and conducted independent research through this program as an undergraduate.
  • One student was recently awarded a National Science Fellowship.
  • Five students were awarded Top Scholar Summer Research Assistantships to provide support for them during their first summer with our program.

All members of this cohort took part in a week long orientation organized by lead teaching assistant Tamara Toub.

Photo of 2010 Cohort

Thesis Explores Drinking Patterns of Students in Study Abroad Programs

Photo of Eric PedersonResearch by fourth year clinical psychology graduate student, Eric Pedersen, working with Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences professors Mary Larimer and Christine Lee, examines alcohol consumption by American college students taking part in exchange programs around the world. 

Eric’s thesis research was supported by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and was recently published in Psychology of Addictive Disorders.   Eric found that students drank more when they were studying abroad than they did before they left the US.  This was especially true for students under the legal drinking age in the US visiting countries where individuals under age 21 are allowed to drink.  Students’ pre-travel stereotypes about drinking levels in different countries and their stereotypes about the level of drinking typical of American students traveling abroad also affected how much alcohol they consumed while away.  While most of the students decreased their alcohol intake when they returned home, those students who drank the most while out of the US continued to drink more after they returned home. 

Eric is continuing this line of research with an eye toward developing pre-travel training programs that might reduce alcohol consumption while students study abroad.

Two Ph.D. Graduates with Specializations in Diversity Science

Image of Daniel ByrdThis summer, the UW Psychology Department celebrated Daniel Byrd and Briana Woods as the first Ph.D. graduates to earn a Specialization in Diversity Science along with their doctoral degrees. The Diversity Science Specialization is awarded to students who augment their doctoral studies with training that promotes the research and teaching of issues related to diversity.

Psychology graduate students working toward the Diversity Science Specialization must take a series of approved diversity-related courses and complete a capstone paper or presentation demonstrating their expertise and understanding of diversity issues in psychology. Dr. Woods capped her study of Diversity Science by preparing a paper entitled “A step in the direction of cultural competence: A brief training in addressing racism and privilege in clinical work.” Dr. Byrd completed his work for the specialization by developing and teaching an undergraduate seminar on American race relations.

Image of Briana WoodsThe Diversity Science specialization was created in 2008 as part of the Department’s goal to become a leading research hub for psychological investigation addressing issues related to diversity. Since its creation, UW Psychology’s Diversity Science initiative has inspired several similar diversity research programs at universities across the country.

Developmental Graduate Student Wins Prestigious Travel Fellowship

Photo of Jolina RuckertJolina Ruckert who is pursuing a  Ph.D. in developmental psychology, was selected to receive a 2010 Bonderman Fellowship from the University of Washington.  Bonderman Fellowships enable students to undertake extended, independent international travel. 

Before she starts her journey, she will be completing the Evan's School Nonprofit Management Certificate Program. Jolina will then embark on her travels, studying people’s relationship with fire.  Fire is at the heart of many traditions and cultures and binds people into communities.  Jolina’s travels will take her to a variety of countries in Africa and in Asia, and finally, to the "Land of Fire and Ice," Iceland.

The Bonderman Travel Fellowship allows a dramatic step away from the ordinary lives of graduate students.  Bonderman Fellows are awarded $20,000 for their travels.  While it sounds exciting and enticing, Bonderman Travel is not for everyone.  Fellows are required to travel alone for at least eight months and to visit at least six countries in at least two regions of the world.  As the University website describing the Bonderman Fellowship indicates, the goal is not to further the students’ academic progress toward their degree, nor to provide a setting for their research.  Rather, the Bonderman charge is very simple – travel, learn, explore and grow.

Alcor Summer Fellowship Supports Four in 2010

Four Psychology Department graduate students were awarded Alcor Fellowships for Summer quarter 2010.  These fellowships give recipients the opportunity to spend time working on research projects that facilitate progress through their Ph.D. programs.

The Alcor Fellowships are made possible by a bequest from Harry and Claire Garlick Peterson. Harry spent his career as a psychologist in the field of corrections, mostly in the Puget Sound area. Claire was a bassoonist for the Seattle and Vancouver symphonies.  Alcor is the name of the second star in the handle of the Big Dipper constellation. It figures in many myths and had a personal significance to the Petersons.

Thanks to Alcor funding, Andrew Bock, a fourth year student in behavioral neuroscience, enjoyed having the summer to spend exclusively on his research on the convergence/divergence of callosal connections in primary visual cortex.  Andrew's advisor is associate professor Jaime Olavarria.  Ben Drury, a third year student in social/personality, spent the summer studying how people interpret the legitimacy of prejudice claims made by advocates on behalf of targets of discrimination. His advisors are associate professor Cheryl Kaiser and assistant professor Sapna Cheryan.  Berit (Olsen) Martin, a sixth year student in developmental, spent the summer meeting with faculty to plan a complicated series of analyses for her dissertation which looks at the Stranger Situation measure of attachment between parent and child. Berit's advisor is associate professor Betty Repacholi.  Finally, Gareth Holman, a fifth year student in the adult clinical area, spent the summer completing research for his dissertation before moving on to his required internship at the American Lake VA. Gareth works with professor Robert Kohlenberg.

left to right: Gareth Holman, Andrew Bock, Berit (Olsen) Martin, and Ben Drury
left to right: Gareth Holman, Andrew Bock, Berit (Olsen) Martin, and Ben Drury

Graduate Accomplishments

Spring 2010

The following people were honored at the 39th Annual Psychology Research Festival on June 2, 2010:

Photo of Distinguished Teaching Award Winners 2010The Distinguished Teaching Award for graduate students, given for outstanding service and excellence in teaching, went to Andrew Bock and Sarah Jensen Racz.

Distinguished Service Award Winners 2010The Distinguished Service Award for co-authoring a successful proposal which resulted in a major upgrade of the Department's computing facilities for graduate and undergraduate students went to Andrew Bock and Rick Anthony Cruz.

Graduate Student Service Award Winners The Graduate Student Service Awards honoring graduate students who have consistently demonstrated service to the Psychology Department as a whole, and to the graduate student community in particular, went to Andrew Bock, Rick Anthony Cruz, Lori Wu Malahy and Clara Wilkins.

Sharon Hsu, a third year clinical student, was selected as one of 22 fellows for the 2010 Psychology Summer Institute, hosted by the American Psychological Association. Sharon participated in a one week training program in Washington, D.C. Sharon's dissertation focuses on examining the stress and coping model of alcohol use among treatment-seeking Asian Americans. Sharon thanks her advisors, Alan Marlatt and Mary Larimer, for their support and guidance.

Jennifer Varley Gerdts, M.S., a child clinical graduate student, and Raphael Bernier, Ph.D. (Univeristy of Washington, 2007), are both on staff at the UW Autism Center.  Their book, Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Reference Handbook, was recently published by Contemporary World Issues. Jennifer's Psychology advisor is Liliana Lengua.

Cara Kiff, a child clinical graduate student with Liliana Lengua, was awarded a Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA).

Congratulations to our Spring quarter Master's recipients: Carissa Leeson and Adrianne Stevens

The following students completed their general exams and advanced to candidacy for the Ph.D.: Karen Burner, Ben Drury, Kristie Fisher, Jennifer Varley Gerdts, David Huh, Cara Kiff, Jolina Ruckert, Serap Yigit-Elliott.

Introducing Our Spring 2010 Ph.D.s:

Ilona Pitkanen, a cognition and perception student with Lee Osterhout, defended her disseration "Electrophysiological Investigations of Second Language Word Learning, Attrition and Bilingual Processing."

Adria Martig, a behavioral neuroscience student with Sheri J.Y. Mizumori, defended her dissertation "Ventral Tegmental and Hippocampal Interactions During Spatial Navigation" and is now a Postdoctoral Researcher at Brown University's Department of Cognitive, Linguistic and Psychological Sciences.

Nicholas Nasrallah, a behavioral neuroscience student with Ilene Bernstein, defended his dissertation, "A Neuroeconomic Approach to the Study of Substance Use: Risk and Reward Valuation Following Adolescent Alcohol Exposure," and has joined Yale Law School this fall.

Summer 2010

Jeff Lin, cognition and perception student with Geoff Boynton, received a $10,000 scholarship from Penny Arcade for his research on how vision scientists can contribute to game design, from reducing motion sickness during game play to making games accessible to color blind gamers.

Andrew Fleming, child clinical student with Robert McMahon, was featured as a "Top ESPN Clip of the Day" for his catch during the 2010 World Ultimate Frisbee Club Championship in Prague. Andrew plays with the Sockeye team, which placed 2nd in the Championship and 1st as Spirit of the Game. Congratulations!

Sharon Hsu was honored as the July Volunteer of the Month at the Asian Counseling and Referral Service. The honor is in recognition of the clinical service she has been providing for their clients since fall 2009 (to present) through the Department’s practicum.

Congratulations to our Summer quarter Master's recipients: Gareth Holman, Safia Jackson, Hong Nguyen, Colin Sauder, and Erin Ward-Ciesielski.

The following students completed their general exams and advanced to candidacy for the Ph.D. in Summer 2010: Sharon Hsu, Andrada Neacsiu, Trevor Schraufnagel, and Cory Secrist.

We had a bumper crop of Ph.D. graduates for Summer quarter, 2010. Many of these graduates have begun post-doctoral training and others have assumed academic positions across the country. We wish our graduates the very best life has to offer and hope to hear from them soon!

Neha Chawla, adult clinical, Alan Marlatt
Renay Cleary Bradley, developmental, Lynn Fainsilber Katz
Dan Byrd, social, Christopher Parker and Yuichi Shoda
Joel Grossbard, adult clinical, Mary Larimer
Jeff Jaeger, adult clinical, Lori Zoellner
Hilary Mead, child clinical, Ted Beauchaine
Heidi Montoya, adult clinical, Mary Larimer
Richard Nobles, child clinical, Ana Mari Cauce
Kate Shannon, child clinical, Geraldine Dawson and Theodore Beauchaine
Lindsey Sterling, child clinical, Geraldine Dawson and Theodore Beauchaine
Laura Thomas, behavioral neuroscience, Steven Buck
Sean Tollison, adult clinical, Mary Larimer
Dellanira Valencia-Garcia, adult clinical, Jane Simoni
Ursula Whiteside, adult clinical, Mary Larimer
Briana Woods, child clinical, Mary Larimer

Autumn 2010

Lou Nemec and Family

Lou Nemec was promoted to Major from Captain in the U.S. Army on October 1. He is second year Cognition and Perception with Susan Joslyn.

Eric Pedersen was one of the recipients of the 2010 American Psychological Foundation/Council of Graduate Departments of Psychology (APF/COGDOP) Graduate Research Scholarships. He is an Adult Clinical student with Mary Larimer.

Andrew Bock, a behavioral neuroscience student with Jaime Olavarria, was first author in a paper published in the October issue of Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience, the title is "Diffusion tensor imaging detects early cerebral cortex abnormalities in neuronal architecture induced by bilateral neonatal enucleation: An experiment model in the ferret."