Newsletter Section


2013 Cohort Impresses

2013 Cohort

The 2013 cohort to the UW Psychology Graduate Program joined our Lead TA, Nicole Stettler (Child Clinical with Lynn Fainsilber Katz) for a weeklong Orientation before Autumn quarter began. Students from this cohort came from universities close to home (University of Washington, University of Puget Sound, and Seattle University), from the eastern US (Skidmore College and Temple University) and from across the Pacific Ocean (University of Korea).

Orientation covers many aspects of the graduate school experience including teaching and research responsibilities, campus and departmental resources/policies, and laboratory and field safety protocols, to name a few. It is an intense week. The week ended with a Welcome Party hosted by the Psychology Department. The party fell on one of the last sunny days of Fall which enabled us to celebrate in the back patio area of Guthrie Hall.  Many thanks to Nicole for guiding our new students through the orientation process. 

Our 2013 cohort is quite the accomplished group:

  • Three students were awarded Top Scholar Summer Research Assistantships which will provide them with support during their first summer in our program.
  • One student has scuba certification.
  • One student is co-author of a PsycCritiques book review.
  • Two students have already presented posters at national conferences.
  • Three students were the recipients of the College of Arts & Sciences, Natural Sciences Fellowship in recognition of their outstanding credentials as they entered our graduate program.  
  • Two students received fellowship and assistantship support from the UW Graduate School, the Graduate Opportunities and Minority Achievement Program (GO-MAP). These awards provide tuition waivers, stipends, and cover health insurance.
  • Two have NSF applications in progress.


Supplemental Reading:

McNair Scholar Awarded for Language Research

Photo: Jose Ceballos
Photo: Jose Ceballos

Jose Ceballos is a first year Cognition & Perception student working with Chantel Prat. As an undergraduate at the University of Florida, Jose participated in the prestigious Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Program. The McNair Program assists and prepares undergraduate students for doctoral studies by providing research, academic, and networking support. As a graduate of the that Program, Jose was eligible to be nominated for a graduate Ronald E. McNair Fellowship offered through the Graduate Opportunity and Minority Achievement Program (GO-MAP) of the Graduate School. This highly competitive fellowship provides the recipient with tuition waivers, health insurance coverage, and a stipend for both the first year of graduate training and for the final year of study when the dissertation work is completed.   The Psychology Department is grateful that our promising scholar was selected for such a prestigious award and look forward to watching Jose develop as a scholar and scientist.

Jose was interviewed for this article by Jeanny Mai, our award-winning Graduate program Advisor.

Let's start with the basics, where are you from and where did you complete undergrad/
I was born in Miami but raised in Madrid, Spain for a few years after birth and then
Medellin, Colombia from elementary school until high school. I went to the University of
Florida in Gainesville, FL for undergrad.   

How did you wind up at UW/why did you apply here? What do you think about living in
Good question! Basically, a few really great research experiences in undergrad led me to
want to pursue a PhD in the cognitive neurosciences rather than purely theoretical
linguistics. Chantel Prat’s research in the neural basis of individual differences in language comprehension, along with her neuroimaging experience perfectly matched my research interests. Ultimately, it was how well I connected with Chantel, and my super-positive experience during interview weekend brought me here.

I absolutely love Seattle; the city is beautiful and feels very charming to me (despite the frequent grayness). It’s a weird feeling, but from my first night in the city during interview weekend I had this feeling of “this is it… Seattle is the city for me.” So far I’ve been right about that, I’ve had really great experiences in the city and the surrounding areas!

What is your research interest and how did you get into it (what inspires/motivates you)?

I am broadly interested in the neural basis of language & higher-level cognition. I’m
particularly interested in the interrelatedness of various cognitive functions (e.g. how
multilingualism affects executive function).

I’ve had a curiosity for language since I was a young kid. With a bilingual and multicultural upbringing, I think I developed a pretty strong sense of metalinguistic awareness early on.  This essentially drove much of my intellectual curiosity and academic development, but my desire to study language dates back to my initial exposure to language research and theory with Steven Pinker’s book, The Language Instinct. I remember being mind-blown by this book back in 9th grade, and shortly after signing up for a psychology elective course. This may sound personal statement-y, but much of what inspires me is how much work remains to be done in the field. I’d like to one day be known as a pioneer in language research!

How did you feel when you learned the department nominated you for the award and you
received it?

I believe Chantel first mentioned it over the phone, and I recall thinking “Me? Really…?” It definitely caught me by surprise! I am incredibly grateful and honored to have received this award, as it has allowed me to transition more smoothly into the occasional madness that is grad school.

What do you hope to accomplish/What questions are you trying to answer with the funding
and/or while in the UW Psychology graduate program?

I’m currently working on my first year project where I aim to test the hypothesis that
increased inhibitory control in bilinguals is related to decreased impulsive behaviors
relative to monolinguals. Ultimately, I want my project to provide support for linguistic and nonlinguistic brain-training paradigms to improve inhibitory control and by extension reduce impulsive behavior.

What has been your most interesting finding to date on this project?

The project is currently piloting and we’re just about to start gathering participant data, so the only interesting finding to date is that I-LABS can be awfully scary at night.

On a more serious note… Through my review of the background literature, I was really
amazed at the lack of consensus over the definition of many of these broader aspects of executive function, such as inhibitory control. I initially found this to be a little frustrating, but I then figured it gives me the opportunity to work on projects to help clarify these gray areas in the literature.

Since you're in your first year of graduate study, do you have any advice/tips/suggestions for others who are looking to apply for graduate programs?

One of the questions I hear most frequently is if it’s a good idea to go straight from
undergrad to grad school, with no time off in between. Although many people would likely say no, I think it ultimately depends on how certain you are about grad school being the “right” choice for yourself. Graduate programs are taxing, so I’d advise people to be sure they’re doing something they’re truly passionate about. Five or six stressful years doing work you hate is certainly a recipe for unhappiness!

What do you like doing in your spare time?

I really enjoy exercising in my spare time. I swim almost every night for about an hour, and I’ve also picked up archery here at the IMA on Mondays and Wednesdays. I also hike during the weekends! Swimming, archery, and hiking have really helped me maintain healthy levels of stress over the past few weeks!

The last book and/or movie you saw and enjoyed?

Currently (struggling to keep up with) reading the A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R. R. Martin, and I’m hooked! I use my commute to and from campus to get a few pages in and will sometimes read a few pages before bed. That often turns out to be a bad idea, as I’ll stay up late reading!

What do you plan to do once you complete your PhD?

I’d love to postdoc for 2 years (ish), go onto a tenure-track position, lead my own lab,
teach, and mentor my own grad students, hopefully somewhere on the west coast. I don’t have a sense of where I’d like to postdoc yet, but hopefully that will become clearer to me over the next two years.

Supplemental Reading:

Perspectives from a Ford Fellow

Photo: Arianne Eason
Photo: Arianne Eason

Arianne Eason is a 2nd year Social Psychology & Personality and Developmental graduate student working with Drs. Cheryl Kaiser and Jessica Sommerville. The Psychology Department asked Arianne to provide insight on her experience as a Ford Fellow and as a universal scholar. 

Last year, I was awarded the Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship to fund three years of my graduate training.  Because of this I had the opportunity to attend the annual Conference of Ford Fellows last month.  The theme of the conference was—Knowledge, Community, and Action.  In many ways these three words sum up what I want from my academic career, the foundations of which I am laying now in grad school.  

Knowledge.  The core questions that drive me focus on understanding the factors that lead to the development of racial biases; and how people understand interracial interactions.  We live in an increasingly diverse society, but what do these shifts mean for children and adults’ reactions in mixed race contexts?

Community. There are a few ways in which community link with my time here at the UW and what I seek to accomplish.  First, my research questions are fundamentally linked to a community in which I belong (I am a black female, studying interracial interactions…).

But more importantly, the receipt of this fellowship offered an opportunity to engage/build communities in another way.  Within the department of psychology, I am a part of the developmental and social areas, with advisers in each (helping give me access to knowledge in each relevant area). The fellowship has helped to ensure that I can pursue questions that are of interest at the intersection of the two areas.  So within the department I have a community of scholars that I frequently interact with in both these areas. 

Additionally, because of this fellowship, my community has now expanded to include even more inspirational scholars, both within psychology (at different institutions) and other scholars in different fields.  Together these communities inspire me to continue to pursue my goals, and to ask the questions I find interesting and important. 

Action. One day I hope that the research I do can affect change by creating means to promote more positive interracial interactions and positive attitudes towards out-group members, especially in childhood. 

I am so lucky to be a part of all of these groups, to be a part of a department that wants knowledge to transcend its area distinctions, to have many communities receptive to my interests (including the Ford Foundation, the NSF, and the UW), to have the resources to develop and ask questions that can one day be used to promote change, and to have the time to devote to these interests.  For all of this I am so thankful and cannot wait to find out what the path ahead of me has in store…for now I think it will just be amazing research!

Supplemental Reading:

  • Arianne's NSF research spotlight article from 2012.

Keeping Busy with Diversity Steering

Photo: Teri Kirby
Photo: Teri Kirby
Photo: Joyce Yang
Photo: Joyce Yang

The beginning of the 2013-2014 academic year saw a change in leadership for the Diversity Steering Committee (DSC).  Our previous fearless and capable chair, J. Oliver Siy, graduated with his Ph.D. in Social Psychology & Personality and moved on to greener (or maybe just meaner) pastures as a post-doc at Columbia University in New York City.  Fourth year graduate students, Teri Kirby from the Social Psychology & Personality area and Joyce Yang from the General Clinical area, are the newly minted co-chairs of DSC.  

Our Autumn Quarter kicked off with a running start, heralding in fresh new graduate students.  The DSC recruited new members by presenting at New Student Orientation, actively seeking to diversify the psychology areas represented by our members (in recent years, our members have predominantly been from the Social Psychology & Personality area).  New members this year include: first year General Clinical student, Lizzie Neilson; continuing clinical students, Charlotte BrillSarah Edmunds,  Bryan KutnerKaren PangFrank Schwebel, and Helen Valenstein-Mah; social/personality students, Vasundhara SridharanSianna Ziegler, and Arianne Eason; developmental faculty, Kristina Olson, and lab manager, Gary Xia.

Photo: Karen Chang
Photo: Karen Chang

DSC members had a strong presence at the annual GO-MAP (Graduate Opportunities and Minority Affairs Program) Getting Connected Orientation and Reception on October 17, 2013, an event gathering minority graduate students from all disciplines across campus.  At the event, panels of faculty and students of color oriented new and returning students to the new academic year, sharing tips on how to make it through graduate school as a minority.

Karen Chang, a second year DSC member and Social Psychology & Personality student, attended the orientation and pointed out: 

"It was especially helpful for them to normalize the challenges we might face, and see that there was a way to get through it. A lot of times we see really accomplished faculty members and think they must not be subject to the same fears and experiences as us, so it was really nice seeing that we could be them one day too.

"I [got] to hear two student speakers that were quite inspiring…the first one was urging us to take advantage of what GOMAP has to offer: that they create a space where fostering lifelong friendships was possible, and that they often found support from each other when the going got tough. I think it's a great program that allows you to meet other people of color in different disciplines who might face similar challenges as you.  The other speaker, the president of the Black Student Union, the message I got from him was to go out and make a difference: inspire another student, be involved with the program, be a part of making GO-MAP as great as it is."

Photo: Karen Pang
Photo: Karen Pang

DSC also oversees the psychology Diversity Science Specialization and recently awarded the certificate to Karen Pang, a fifth-year child clinical student working with Elizabeth McCauley.  To obtain the Diversity Science Specialization, Karen completed coursework in Minority Mental Health (PSYCH 580), Cross Cultural Competency (PSYCH 581), and Diversity Science Brownbag.  She also TA’d Psychology of Gender (PSYCH 257) and Psychobiology of Women (PSYCH 357).  We had an opportunity to ask Karen about how obtaining the Diversity Science Specialization has impacted her work in graduate school. 

Regarding her research, she comments:

"My dissertation examines how culture influences the way depression and positive affect are expressed among a clinical population of Asian and Caucasian adolescents. Because cultural issues are such a prominent feature of my research, the specialization was integral in helping me conceptualize my research questions. While experience informed me that a one size fits all approach may not work when dealing with diverse populations, the diversity specialization exposed me to research studies and allowed me to employ empirical grounding to back up my research aims." 

Karen also discussed how she engages with diversity in her clinical work:

"What I have learned from the specialization also influences my case conceptualizations of individuals I see within a clinical setting. Culture and racial/ethnic identity can greatly affect one's understanding of mental health, symptom expression, and choice of treatment. It would be remiss to ignore such an important component of an individual's life." 

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


Supplemental Reading:

Graduate Accomplishments

Photo: Tamara Spiewak Toub, Betty Repacholi, Berit Olsen Martin
Photo: Hooding 2013, Tamara Spiewak Toub, Betty Repacholi, Berit Olsen Martin
Photo: Serap Yigit-Elliott, Kate Sullivan, Rick Cruz, Joel Grow
Photo: Hooding 2013, Serap Yigit-Elliott, Kate Sullivan, Rick Cruz, Joel Grow

Summer 2013

Stephanie Thompson (Child Clinical with Liliana Lengua) completed a Quantitative Minor to supplement her training in our program. The Quant Minor is facilitated by Brian Flaherty and is available to psychology graduate students. 

Two clinical students completed Master's degrees in summer quarter. Jenn Staples(Adult Clinical with Bill George) and Joyce Yang (Adult Clinical with Jane Simoni). Joyce was previously featured for receiving an NRSA to study culture and mental health. The Master's is an optional track for students to add to their program of study. 

The Psychology Department graduated seven PhDs. Our recent grads can be found in post-doc positions in UW School of Medicine, Brown University, Columbia Business School, New York Presbyterian Hospital, and VA Health Care Systems in the Puget Sound and Salt Lake City Utah.

We congratulate Christina Derbidge (Adult Clinical with Ronald Smith), Andrew Fleming(Child Clinical with Robert McMahon), Joel Grow (Adult Clinical with Mary Larimer),Diane Logan (Adult Clinical with Mary Larimer), Tami Rigterink (Developmental with Lynn Fainsilber Katz), J. Oliver Siy (Social Psychology & Personality with Sapna Cheryan), and Kate Sullivan (Child Clinical with Geraldine Dawson and Wendy Stone)!

Autumn 2013

Two clinical students received a 2013 APF/COGDOP Graduate Research Scholarship .Karen C. Pang (Child Clinical with Elizabeth McCauley) received the Clarence J. Rosencrans Scholarship while Janie Jun (Adult Clinical with Lori Zoellner) received support under APF/COGDOP Graduate Research Scholarships in Psychology. Congratulations!

In addition, Janie Jun won the Putnam Trauma Research Award from the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies and will be attending their annual meeting in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Congratulations to Bjorn Hubert-Wallander (Cognition and Perception with Geoff Boynton and Scott Murray), an NSF Fellow, for being selected to meet with the very prestigious National Science Board. This group was appointed by President Obama to oversee NSF and to provide input on science policy to the White House. Our Vice Provost for Research, Mary Lidstrom, stated that Bjorn "did a simply wonderful job and represented the UW extremely well" during their September 19 meeting. Bjorn was previously profiled for his NSF research.

Danny O'Rourke  (Adult Clinical with Ronald Smith) was interviewed for an article regarding the Dawg Dash on Blog Down to Washington, called “How to Avoid Hitting the Wall.”

The Psychology Department has two new NRSA recipients to its long roster, Anita Lungu (Adult Clinical with Marsha Linehan) who received a 1% ranking and maximum impact score 10 and Lyndsey Moran (Child Clinical with Liliana Lengua) NRSA.  Please check back for their research profiles in the summer 2014 issue.

Sam Yard (Adult Clinical with Jane Simoni) completed a Quantitative Minor.

More Autumn quarter milestones will be covered in our Summer 2014 issue. Please stay tuned!