Undergraduate researchers present at conference
Undergraduate research students presented a poster at the 4th Annual Four Corners ABA Regional Conference in Santa Fe, NM this spring.Read more
This regional conference is an excellent opportunity to hear
some about the latest services, social issues and research in the areas of
autism, psychology, special education, and other various fields.
These undergraduate students have been working hard over the
- formulating their research questions
- collecting data
- organizing and analyzing data
- writing up their results
As a culminating experience for our undergraduate
researchers, two students had the opportunity to complete the research process
with the dissemination of their results at this conference. Both students
received excellent feedback. We also enjoyed visiting Santa Fe, NM for the
“It was an honor to present our research results at the
Four-Corners Association for Behavior Analysis Annual Conference,” student
Cheryl Robinson said. “As undergraduates, the conference gave us a glimpse of
some of the discoveries behavior analysts have recently contributed to the
field of psychology and the questions they wish to answer in the future.
Listening to the numerous presentations covering various
disciplines of behavior analysis was enlightening and thought provoking.
Presenting our research project, titled Animal-Assisted Therapy in
Autism Treatment, was a unique experience that resulted in making
the acquaintance of several interesting people through discussing our findings.
We had the opportunity to talk to the majority of the
conference attendees and are proud to say that our feedback on the presentation
was very positive. The conference was a great way to further our knowledge of
behavior analysis and meet some of the leading members of the Association,
while having a contributing role as well.”
Robinson, C., Renfro, C., Lugo, A., Schwalbach, J. &
Gardner, A.W. (2011). Animal-Assisted Therapy in Autism Treatment.
Poster presented at the 4th Annual Four Corners ABA Conference – Santa Fe, NM.
Psych majors receive distinguished senior award
Psychology majors Ashli Benally and Nicole Greenough were among the 40 seniors who received the Gold Axe award in 2011. The Gold Axe Award has been presented since 1933 to seniors demonstrating outstanding achievement and distinguished service to the University and the community.Read more
Ashli Benally is from Klagetoh, Arizona, and came to the
university for the psychology and criminal justice programs. While here, Ashli
was involved in the Student Conservation Association and was a Native American Bible
Study leader through the Intervarsity Christian Fellowship association.
In addition, Ashli is a Native American Peer Mentor. Ashli
reports that her experience in the Department of Psychology has enhanced her
knowledge of the human condition and has given her critical intellectual
“NAU has changed my life,” she said. “Being a student here
has given me so many opportunities to work with and reach out to many Native
American students, and to encourage them to continue higher education. I became
involved in many organizations, and this has opened my eyes to new experiences
and perspectives. I completely value what I have learned at NAU, and I will
forever use the tools that I have been provided.”
After graduation, Ashli will be fulfilling a life-long dream
of moving to New York City. In New York, Ashli will begin preparing for entry
into a graduate program. Her career goal is to obtain an advanced degree in
counseling or clinical psychology and then to work in the mental health field
on the Navajo reservation.
For Nicole Greenough, Northern Arizona University offered a
variety of new experiences. Coming from Laguna Hills, California, Nicole
thought a medium-sized university in the mountains and forests would be a
change from having grown up by the beach.
Beyond her double majors in psychology and criminal justice,
Nicole was involved in assisting with the annual HIV testing program offered on
campus through the Coconino County Health Department and with PRISM, including
serving as the organization’s president.
During the fall 2010 semester, she completed an internship
at Victim Witness Services.
Because of her time here, Nicole believes she’s become more
independent and—through her experiences with academic course work and a commitment
to service organizations that help others—she has been able to realize her own
potential to affect change for causes she believes in.
Her commitment to excelling in both of her majors also has
led Nicole to believe she’s become more organized; as she said: “It’s nearly
impossible not to be organized when you’re taking five classes!”
After graduation Nicole will be entering a graduate program
in forensic psychology at Marymount University in Arlington, Virginia.
Marymount’s highly regarded forensic program offers elite internships at the
FBI and the U.S. Justice Department.
Nicole believes that her interests in both psychology and
criminal justice can best be merged in a forensic psychology program where she
will be trained in the psychology of criminal offenders. Eventually, Nicole
would like to work for the Justice Department.
Both Nicole and Ashli graduated in May 2011.
Internships give students real-life experience
Spring semester was an exciting time for students enrolled in Psychology 408 (Fieldwork and Internship). Students served as interns in eleven community settings and, together, completed over 2800 hours of supervised psychological or behavioral-intervention services.Read more
Students were placed at a variety of sites around Flagstaff,
- the Guidance Center
- Parenting Arizona
- Victim Witness
- the Women’s Shelter at Northland Family,
- the Exodus Program of the Coconino County
Students who enroll in Psychology 408 are placed in a
variety of sites where both the client population and the daily tasks for an
intern vary daily (and, sometimes, drastically!).
This semester, interns:
- worked on targeted interventions to prevent
self-injurious behavior among children with autism
- provided structured activities and life skill
development sessions for women who had experienced intimate partner violence
- taught gymnastics to children in a residential
As their final exam, students presented to their peers,
faculty from the Department of Psychology, and internship site supervisors, on
their internship experience. The luncheon celebrates the many accomplishments
that psychology interns have completed during an intense—and rewarding—semester
applying their psychology course work into an applied setting.
For further information on Psychology 408C
(Fieldwork Experience), contact Dr. Andy Walters.
Psychology student studies environmental science
Brittney Van Der Werff graduated from NAU as a Psychology major in 2008 and will earn a master’s degree in environmental science from the University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources and Environment in May 2011. The University of Michigan is one of the top institutions in the conservation psychology movement, and Brittney relied heavily on her experience as a psychology major at NAU to pursue her interest in environmentally focused behavior, education, and communication.Read more
She worked with four other graduate students on a master’s
thesis project focused specifically on assisting a reservation community in
Arlee, Montana, develop effective educational materials for a local river
She also worked as an intern at the Valles Caldera National
Preserve in New Mexico, where she created interpretative stations for visitors
to learn about experimental land management practices, local ecosystems and
Upon graduation, Brittney plans to return to the
Valles Caldera National Preserve and expand the environmental interpretation program
she developed during her internship. Eventually she would like to return to
school to earn a Doctorate in environmental education and interpretation.
Our grad students go on to great things
Azucena Bravo was admitted to the school psychology MA program at New Mexico State.Read more
Jen Christopher was accepted to the psychology doctoral
program at the University of Southern Mississippi.
Jake Lackow will be attending the Ph.D. clinical program at
Debra Marcus was accepted into the MA neuroscience program
at Southern University of New York at Buffalo.
Jacob Miller was admitted into the European Graduate School
MA communication program in Saas-Fee, Switzerland.
Justice Morath has been accepted to Utah State University. He
will be pursuing his studies in the Experimental and Applied Psychological
Science Program (EAPS) with an emphasis in Cognition, Brain and Behavior in Dr.
Kerry Jordan’s Multi-sensory Cognition Lab.
Mike Purcell has been accepted into the Ph.D. program in
Molecular, Cellular, and Integrative Neuroscience at Colorado State University.
Skye Schenck was admitted to the MA Counseling program at
Arizona State University.
Melissa Scott will be attending medical school at Scott
David Shade was awarded a FY’ 11-12 Hooper Undergraduate
Research Award titled Studying Abroad: The Changes that College Undergraduates
Experience in regards to Cultural Awareness and Environmental Sustainability.
Samantha Wells will be attending the
industrial/organizational MA psychology program at Florida Institute of
Matthew Young, a 2010 graduate of NAU, is
currently working on a MA Degree in Human Relations and Labor Relations at the
University of Minnesota, Minneapolis. He has just been accepted as an intern
with McQuay International as an HR Generalist Intern.
Students earn awards and scholarships
On April 29, 2011, The College of Social and Behavioral Sciences hosted an event showcasing student and faculty achievement.Read more
Virginia Blankenship Undergraduate Research Award
Melissa Nadel won this award, which is given to
high-achieving psychology students who have presented their research at a
national or regional conference.
Dr. Blankenship, who received the President’s Award and
college Outstanding Teacher Award, joined the Northern Arizona University
psychology department in 1990 as the department chair and retired in 2009.
William Gibson Outstanding Student
in Psychology and Public Service Award
Kaycee De Jong won this award, which recognizes a psychology student who has demonstrated
high academic standards and desires to better the community through volunteer
activity or public service.
Dr. William Gibson joined the psychology department in 1970
and retired in 2008. He has won the college Outstanding Teacher Award and is
active in Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society.
Vicki Green Thesis Award
Mike Getchis and James Murray won this award, which provides
funds to support psychology graduate students’ thesis work. Vicki Green, an
emeritus professor of psychology, served as department chair at the university
from 1995 to 2000 and retired from in 2005.
Vicki Green Graduate School Travel Award
Angela Abbott and Kerisa Shelton won this award, which
supports psychology majors who have accepted an invitation to interview for
placement in a psychology (or closely-related field) graduate program.
Dr. Green desires to facilitate student success and ensure
equal access to opportunities that would enrich student educational progress.
Edward C. and Mary E. Mills Scholarship
Lindsay Gardner was awarded this scholarship,
which is intended to support a psychology major who has a distinguished record
in scholarship and leadership.
Psych faculty recognized for accomplishments
Michelle Miller honored as a President’s Distinguished Teaching Fellow Read more
Dr. Miller was awarded this distinction
- her positive impact and influence on
student learning in a diverse student population
- the reciprocal relationship between her
teaching and scholarship
- her campus-wide leadership in
Congratulations and a huge thank you to
Michelle for all the work she has done for undergraduate education.
University faculty’s commitment to
continuously strengthening teaching is reflected in:
- high student appraisal of university
- strong levels of student satisfaction in
surveys such as the National Survey of Student Engagement
- involvement of students in research
Faculty who are designated as the
President’s Distinguished Teaching Fellows are teacher scholars whose teaching
represents the highest levels of excellence (Quoted from the President’s
Distinguished Teaching Fellow).
Dr. Miller will start her term as
departmental chair as departmental chair on July 1, 2011. We look forward to
Laurie Dickson honored with the President’s Award
Dr. Dickson was honored with this award
for her active participation in developing strategies to retain students and
was awarded an Arizona Board of Regents Learner-Centered Education grant to redesign Psychology 101:
Introduction to Psychology to:
- increase student engagement and
- expand course capacity
- reduce costs
As psychology’s department chair, she
took the lead on a major curriculum revision of our undergraduate program,
linking important learning outcomes with curriculum structure and opportunity
for our department’s undergraduate students.
This revision represented a total
overhaul in the course sequence and also the overall vision for the psychology
major, requiring the development of new course offerings and substantial
expansion of existing course capacity, with no large-scale infusion of
As department chair, Dr. Dickson has
contributed to the psychology department by bringing about an unprecedented era
of faculty engagement and productivity, including a mission to help faculty
identify, develop and ultimately fulfill their professional potential.
Dr. Dickson is very active in the
advisement of students and is a successful scholar because her research,
teaching and service are closely aligned, which extends to multiple positive
outcomes in her instruction, mentoring, and student/faculty collaborative
Dr. Sydeman and Dr. Miller awarded promotion to full professor
Dr. Sumner Sydeman was promoted to professor
and was recognized at the President’s Award ceremony. Building upon his
training as a clinical psychologist with expertise in clinical health
psychology, Dr. Sydeman’s recent scholarly interests include:
- the impact of negative affect (i.e., anxiety)
- psychological factors associated with
coronary heart disease
- and the association of behavioral
variables (i.e., exercise regimens and smoking status) to clinical and
Dr. Michelle Miller was also promoted to
professor and recognized at the President’s Award ceremony. Dr. Miller’s
current scholarly interests include:
- instructional technology
- applied psychology
Her national reputation as a redesign scholar is
supported by the integration of her knowledge of cognition and learning and her
expertise in redesign efforts.