Kristina Brookshire is a second year graduate student in the Psychological Sciences Master's program. The Support for Graduate Student program award will support her research that will examine mothers' positive and negative reactions to raising a child who has received an Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) diagnosis. Previous research on this topic has failed to distinguish grief and depressive reactions, and failed to examine positive consequences, such as growth and eudaemonic well-being. Anticipated predictors of grief include a shorter time since diagnosis, greater feelings of loss, external attributions about the diagnoses, and greater functional difficulties experienced by the child. Anticipated predictors of depression include previous experience with mental health issues and previous losses, being female, low SES, greater identity ambiguity, internal attributions, lower social support and greater social strain. Parental stress and ruminative thoughts are expected to be associated with lower life satisfaction, where as positive functional child behavior should be associated with greater life satisfaction. The results from this study should inform some of the basic assumptions made about receiving an ASD diagnosis. Participants will be mothers from throughout the United States who have at least one child with a diagnosis of ASD. Parents will be recruited from the Interactive Autism Network (IAN) Research, an organization that brings individuals, families, and qualified researchers throughout the United States to understand ASD. Dr. Heidi Wayment is Ms. Brookshire's thesis chair.
Louis Irving is a first year graduate student in the Psychological Sciences Master's program. The Support for Graduate Student program award will support his research that seeks to examine public stigma by investigating whether working adults possess negative implicit attitudes toward veterans. Assessing these attitudes will begin to answer the following research question: Is there a public mental health stigma toward veterans? In order to measure implicit attitudes, a veteran/mental health specific version of the Implicit Association Test will be developed. This study will provide initial assessments of the level of stigma toward veterans in the public as well as making available to researchers the first veteran-specific measure of implicit attitudes. Findings will serve as a guide for future researchers and policy-makers in deciding how to best combat public stigma toward and fear of stigmatization in veterans. Dr. Ann Huffman is Mr. Irving’s thesis chair.
Michael Esposito is a first year graduate student in the Psychological Sciences Master’s program. The Support for Graduate Student program award will support his research that seeks to examine the influence of mindfulness on self-enhancement, particularly in the domain of self-evaluation. Self-enhancement can distort the way we evaluate our own personal characteristics and abilities, and mindfulness -- an open, equanimous awareness of present-moment events and experiences -- may reduce the degree people engage in self-enhancement. If so, mindfulness may improve the accuracy of self-evaluation processes. Michael’s research will be part of a budding literature of research that supports the notion that mindfulness reduces the engagement of a variety of cognitive biases. This line of research has implications in clinical, educational, and workplace settings. Dr. Goodman is Mr. Esposito’s thesis chair.
Outstanding Senior Award
During the fall of 2015, the Department of Psychological Sciences went through a process of nomination and vote to identify our top choices for the Outstanding Senior Award to be given to graduating seniors who completed the major in psychological sciences. The two recipients pictured here, Tiana Hans and Rosemary Al-Kire, were given the honor along with a monetary award. Congratulations!
Preview of New Location for Psychological Sciences
Some of the staff and faculty members of the Department were able to take a tour of the third floor of NAU’s Student & Academic Services building. This will soon be the location of the Department’s main office, the faculty and staff offices, and the research laboratories. The move is expected to occur before the start of Spring 2016 semester. Stay tuned for more pictures!
The Quiet Ego
on the quiet ego, by Heidi Wayment, PhD, professor in our department, was
recently featured on The Quiet Revolution. The website is connected to New York Time's bestselling author Susan Cain whose
book "On the Power of Introverts" and whose TED talk is one of the
most viewed of all time. The article explains the qualities and benefits of a
quiet ego. The Quiet Ego Scale was published in 2015, as a joint project with
Jack Bauer, PhD (University of Dayton) and former NAU masters' student Kateryna
Sylaska, now pursuing a PhD in psychology at the University of New
Research on Veteran Job Skills
First year graduate student Zach Klinefelter and his advisor, Dr. Huffman presented their research on veteran job skills to the Transition to Veterans Program Office (TVPO) of the Office of the Secretary of Defense’s Transition Research Forum in August 2015. The forum is chaired by Dr. Ainspan, a research psychologist with the Office of the Secretary of Defense, and is designed for the “who's who” of government military psychologists. Approximately fifty government military psychologists who are involved in policy writing are invited to the monthly forum. Klinefelter and Huffman provided an overview of their work that was presented at APA in Toronto in August. Their research examined whether the skills and abilities gained from the military translate directly to performance in the civilian sector.
Eion G. Cashman and Kaylynne E. Gray both presented results from their advanced research projects at the annual meeting of the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists. The June 2015 conference was held in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Both projects were supervised by Dr. Andy Schrack-Walters. Kaylynne graduated in May 2015 with a major in Psychological Sciences and a minor in Women’s and Gender Studies; Eion also graduated in May 2015 with double majors in Biomedical Science (Emphasis: Chemistry) and Psychological Sciences.
Department welcomes Dr. Dmitrieva.
The Department would like to welcome Dr. Natalia (Natasha) Dmitrieva, Ph.D. as our newest Assistant Professor! Dr. Dmitrieva comes to us directly from her postdoctoral work at Duke University Medical Center, Center for the Study of Aging and Human Development. Dr. Dmitrieva earned her doctoral degree at The Pennsylvania State University in 2011 in Human Development and Family Studies, after completing two majors at UC Irvine in Psychology & Social Behavior and Philosophy in 2005. Dr. Dmitrieva is a developmental health psychologist with expertise in applied statistical methodology. The long-term goal of Dr. Dmitrieva’s research is to better understand how people manage stressors in the context of a chronic illness. In carrying out this work, she has a particular interest in utilizing innovative research methods and statistical analyses (e.g., ecological momentary assessment, latent variable modeling) to address to address rich and meaningful questions that may have been previously difficult to answer. Dr. Dmitrieva will be teaching courses in statistics during the 2015-2016 academic year.
Eat dark chocolate to beat the midday slump, NAU study says
Dr. Larry Stevens and his graduate student Michelle Montopoli's research on the benefits of dark chocolate, published in the journal of NeuroRegulation, is to examine the acute effects of chocolate on attentional characteristics of the brain and the first-ever study of chocolate consumption performed using electroencephalography, or EEG technology. For more information, see the full story in NAU Today.
NAU Student Researchers' Success
Congratulations to undergraduate student (graduate 2015) Victoria Pocknell and her research team (from right to left: Christopher Cuellar, Victoria Pocknell, Alexis Sanchez, and Dr. Mike Alban), for receiving second place in the 2015 SBS Spring Symposium Poster Contest. Their research, which examines cognitive factors affecting freezing as a defensive behavior in humans, was the result of a HURA grant awarded to Ms. Pocknell under the supervision of Dr. Alban. The research will be submitted for publication soon. Victoria’s dedication to research will continue this fall, as she begins the Clinical Ph.D. program at the University of North Dakota.
Andrew Walters AASECT- certified Sexuality Educator
Andrew S. Walters has been designated by the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists (AASECT) as a Certified Sexuality Educator Consultant. AASECT credentials professionals working in sexual health after substantive academic training and supervision. Dr. Walters is the only AASECT-certified Sexuality Educator in Arizona, and also is now Arizona's only Certified Sexuality Educator Consultant. As an AASECT-certified educator consultant, Dr. Walters is able to supervise programs, agencies, and institutions with the development of sexuality- and sexual-health curricula to meet organizational needs.
NAU NASA Space Grant Recipient
Tristan Swatts was awarded a 2015-2016 NAU NASA Space Grant Internship from the Arizona Space Grant Consortium. Tristan’s project, Unpredictable Environmental Noise, will be completed with Department of Psychological Sciences faculty member Dr. Melissa Birkett. Tristan will conduct his research in the upcoming academic year and present the results of his project at the Arizona Statewide Symposium at the University of Arizona in spring 2016. Tristan is a first year student from Sanders, AZ with a major in biomedical science and a minor in psychology.
The Therapeutic Value of Making Art
Ann Collier, assistant professor in our department, has long
believed that her textile hobby is great for relief of stress. In a recent article in The Academic Minute, Sept. 25, 2015, she described the mood
improvement that comes with making things – such activities as quilting,
knitting, sewing, weaving and making rugs.
As a psychologist, she wondered about the therapeutic value of making
art and set up a laboratory study to investigate. The participants, women who were textile
enthusiasts, were asked to reminisce about an anger-provoking situation. Those in the experimental group then went on
to start a textile project while the control group did not. Those in the experimental group returned more
quickly to a happier, less angry place and their inflammatory immune response
(assessed through saliva samples) also showed improvement. Dr. Collier suggests that activities that are
stimulating and engaging may block rumination and are good for improving a bad
mood and deflecting potential health side-effects of that mood.
Dr. Bies-Hernandez's Research Acknowledged with Award
Dr. Nicole Bies-Hernandez's research on teaching effectiveness was recently acknowledged at the National Institute of the Teaching of Psychology in January 2015. Dr. Bies-Hernandez and her coauthors Kris Gunawan & David Copeland were was awarded the The Frank Costin Memorial Award for Excellence given for the poster judged to be most outstanding in terms of contributing to excellence in teaching psychology. The title of the poster was “Teaching Practices that Predict Performance in Undergraduate Psychology Courses.” The purpose of their study was to explore which of the practices are the best predictors of students’ grade performance and learning in large (i.e., 200- or 400-person) sections of an introductory psychology course. For details, see the poster.
Drs. Tidikis and Donohue Team Up for International Research & Teaching Award
Drs. Viktoria Tidikis and Dana Donohue were award an NAU Global and Interdisciplinary Research and Teaching Fund Award for their innovative proposal regarding creativity and intelligence. Their work will bring together NAU (Flagstaff), St. Petersburg University (Russia), Arts Academy (Lithuania), International College of Business (Lithuania), and Vilnius University (Lithuania) in a cross-cultural study of perceptions and understandings of what constitutes creativity. Using measures of creativity and intelligence, Drs. Tidikis and Donohue will examine the cognitive processes believed to underlie creativity and intelligence and examine potential cross-cultural differences.
Graduate Students Participate in Cross-Cultural Training Experience in Republic of Palau
Graduate students Amanda Dunn & Samantha Russell (pictured with Dr. Ann Collier) travelled to the Republic of Palau in January. There, they were part of a team headed by Dr. Collier to train health professionals from Palau's Ministry of Health to deliver an small changes wellness program. This project is part of Dr. Collier's Faculty Grant Program (FGP) titled: Developing a Culturally-Sensitive Obesity Intervention for Pacific Island Families Using a Community-Based Participatory Research Paradigm" under the FY2015 FGP. Ms. Dunn and Ms. Russell are second year graduate students who will be pursuing Ph.D. degrees in areas related to health psychology following graduation from our program.