Newsletter Editions

Published: 04/12/2009
Spring 2009


Chile Exploration Seminar

“Nothing could replicate the experience of exploring, learning, and interacting with a culture different from my own. In Chile, I was experiencing different customs that at times reminded me how far I was from my home.” – Allison Lamb (History major)

Image of Taylor Wise with pie on his face
Psych Major Taylor Wise

Those "different customs" hit at least one student right in the face on his first night in Santiago, Chile. Psychology major Taylor Wise was treated to a special 20th birthday celebration that kicked off the Chile Exploration Seminar in August of 2008—complete with an assisted face plant in the birthday cake! Taylor and 17 other UW undergraduates had just traveled over 15 hours and crossed two seasons—but surprisingly only one time zone—to begin a four-week study of the public and mental health systems of Chile.

Having grown from five programs in 2003 to over 40 in 2008, Exploration Seminars—perhaps more than any other study abroad opportunity—give increasing numbers of UW students the chance to get out into the world. These two-to four-week international study programs allow students to explore important and emerging questions in locations where these issues are most relevant. Though he was originally nervous about making the leap from the classroom to a far off field experience, Psychology Associate Professor Jaime Olavarria is now sold on the idea. “I started the seminar a bit afraid, not knowing how it would turn out,” he remembers. “It ended up being a memorable experience that has left me very enthusiastic about study abroad programs and with plans to continue organizing them. It was especially enjoyable interacting with students beyond what on-campus teaching typically affords, and I feel I have made long-lasting friendships.”

Image of ChiliWith a focus on how profound political changes and recent health reform initiatives are reshaping public and mental health care delivery in Chile, Professor Olavarria brought together top physicians, educators, and national policy makers to work with the UW students. Tours of medical facilities and the ability to interact directly with patients and health care providers gave students a hands-on experience that exceeded their best hopes. Geography major Marijke Schwarz Smith explains, “The most poignant and memorable experience was during our hospital tour in Santiago. The direct patient access was something we would never have had in the States without attending medical school.”

Traveling from the nation’s capital and principle urban center of Santiago to the southern lakes region and the cities of Villarrica and Puerto Montt, Professor Olavarria and his students had the opportunity to compare public health services in urban and remote areas, as well as in wealthy and poorer communities. Psychology and political science major Brandon Greger fondly recalls his favorite professor/tour guide, “You could always tell that Jaime was having a blast showing us his home country. His energy was clear to the students and it certainly made our experience all the more powerful and enjoyable. He was the right man for the job!”

Image group that went to ChiliThe group selected by Professor Olavarria to embark on the first psychology focused Exploration Seminar was also just right for the job. Students majoring in such fields as psychology, biology, Latin American studies, public health, and chemical engineering came together to work hard. Novice travelers and globetrotters alike summoned their spirit of adventure to explore a country rich in culture and natural beauty. Young people from diverse backgrounds made lasting friendships… and, made each other laugh. Brandon Greger perhaps best sums up the experience, “Real life is just about as good a teacher as it gets, and you never learn more than when you’re with a smart group of good people who care about something.”

Essence of Success

Image of high school seniorsAs a department, we introduced the study of psychology to 15 high school seniors as part of the Essence of Success Conference. This conference is a partnership between the Office of Minority Affairs and Diversity and the Office of Admissions and encourages African-American students from all over the state to apply to UW. This was our first time participating and we are looking forward to continuing to support this event and other similar programs.

In a quick two hours, we were able to showcase many of the wonderful things about the UW psychology program to these high school students. They particularly enjoyed learning about the undergraduate program and about careers for psychology majors. Many of the high school students were interested in understanding more about how psychology research is conducted. Fortunately, we were able to offer them a tour of three different labs, giving them a strong exposure to the breadth of the field.

In total, the students were able to meet with three undergraduates, five graduate students, two professors and an academic adviser.

Undergraduate Accomplishments

Cady Stanton received a Mary Gates Research Scholarship to fund her study “The Potential for Robots to Aid in the Social Development of Children with Autism.” Her advisor is Peter Kahn.

Christina Rainey and Robyn Laing were awarded scholarship funds from the Arts and Science Undergraduate Research Award Program to support their research projects.

Kristyn Sakiko Funasaki and Cady Stanton were co-winners of the 2007 Guthrie Prize in Psychology. Kristyn’s paper, “Examining the Relationship between Sensation Seeking and 21st Birthday Alcohol Use,” sponsored by Psychiatry Assistant Professor Clayton Neighbors, was chosen as best empirical research paper. Cady’s paper, “The Potential for Robots to Aid in the Social Development of Children with Autism,” sponsored by Associate Professor Peter Kahn, was chosen as the best theory/review paper.

Jeannifer Mao, a senior in Psychology, tought the course “Develop: Production of a Photo Essay” that was featured in the February 22 , 2008 Seattle P.I. “Photos take a peek at freshman lives”

Kelsey Smith received a Mary Gates Undergraduate Research Scholarship to further her work on the role of ventral tegmental dopamine system on hippocampal-dependent learning. She works in Sheri J. Y. Mizumori’s lab.

Jessica Kang, a Psychology honors student, received an APA Summer Science Fellowship. She is one of 12 students selected nationally to participate in this fully-funded, intensive summer training program in the psychology laboratory of a nationally recognized scholar in the Washington, DC area. Jessica is affiliated with both Cheryl Kaiser’s and Tony Greenwald’s labs. She is also working in Cheryl Kaiser’s Social Identity Lab, and received a Mary Gates Research Scholarship. Jessica’s research project examines factors that cause people to view Asian Americans through “model minority” stereotypes and the situations in which these stereotypes lead to prejudice and discrimination. Jessica will be presenting this research at the 2009 Society for Personality and Social Psychology Meeting in Tampa, FL.

Jason Poon received a Mary Gates Undergraduate Research Scholarship to further his work on the role of physiological arousal among gamblers. He works with Mary Larimer at the Center for the Study of Health & Risk Behavior.

Dana Kamara, an honors student in psychology was awarded a Mary Gates Undergraduate Research Scholarship to study the effects of intervention on the recognition of familiar faces in toddlers with autism spectrum disorders. She works with Dr. Sara Webb and graduate student Susan Faja.

Kayla Helem, was awarded the Edith Lucena Riehl endowed scholarship for Fall 2008. She will be doing independent research in Sean O’Donnell’s lab on caste differences in brain development of dampwood termites.

Dana E. Kamara and Nicolle A. Perisho, were co-winners of the 2008 Guthrie Prize in Psychology. Dana’s paper, “Effects of Intervention on Familiar Face Recognition in Toddlers with Autism Spectrum Disorders,” sponsored by Dr. Sara Webb, was chosen as the best literature review and research proposal. Nicolle’s paper, “Behavioral Sex Differences among Captive and Wild Macaques,” sponsored by Randy Kyes, was chosen as best empirical research paper.

Susan McKay, was named a Mary Gates Scholar (including 3 quarters of research funding) and received a Mary Gates Travel award. She is conducting research with graduate student Ursula Whiteside in Mary Larimer’s lab. She recently began work on a component analysis of a successful new brief intervention including Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) skills and motivational interviewing for anxious and depressed heavy drinking young adults.

Cortney Taylor received three quarters of funding from the Mary Gates Undergraduate research scholarship fund. She is conducting research on how the brain controls its response to rewarding stimuli. Her advisor is Sheri J. Y. Mizumori.

Jamie Campanelli won an Animal Behavior Society Turner Travel Award to attend the 2008 Annual Meeting of the Animal Behavior Society in Snowbird, Utah.

Undergraduate psychology majors who were invited to join Phi Beta Kappa in the 2007-2009 academic years

Benjamin Ady Dylan Antovich Layne Brower
Karli Casto Andrew Cate Jill Collymore
Joseph Darda Jessica Donahoe Alecia Dudgeon
Mark Forman Aditya Ganapathiraju Peter Hong
Andrew Klatt Elizabeth Korte Ngoc Le
Jessica Leung Amy Moretti Kaitlin Morrison
Aaron Norr Alix Norton Tracy Spohn
Cady Stanton Johanna Stern Carolyn Thayer
Danielle Ung Megan Valencia Jennifer Mao
Tanya Test Ashley Hirst Angela Lee-Winn
Erica Waliser Spencer Coates Jeffrey Milton-Hall
Robert Fox Jeffrey Girard Kathryn Howell
Svenja Kempin Irina Nikolayev Rika Reid
Alyssa Takatsuki Sterling Thomason  

The invitation is based upon the students’ excellent academic records and interest in the liberal arts

Undergraduates who participated in the Spring 2008 Research Symposium:

Matthew Bennett Phaedra Boyle Darren Branning
Tom Carpenter Natividad Chavez Katey Davis
William Giardino Hillary Havlina Carolyn Higuchi
Dana Kamara Irina Kolobova Robyn Laing
Alfred Lam Glenn Larson Elaine Leigh
Jessica Leung Marielena Lotz Jeremy Luk
Andrew McCornack Susan McKay Christina Meredith
Wayne Nguyen Ann Nguyen Joseph Noh
Jacqueline Otto Mandy Owens Nicolle Perisho
Jason Poon Josephine Quitugua Heather Rieck
Jamie Sanders Andrea Sugar Bie Nga (Angela) Tchao
Anique Thieme Danielle Ung Brent Venters
Tracey Ward Shannon Wiedey Kai Chi (Sam) Yam
Yuri Yano    

To find their presentation time or poster location, go to and search for Psychology students