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Six undergraduate students win HURA Awards

Six of our undergraduate students have been awarded HURA awards. This is the largest number of students our department has received in an academic year. Congratulations to the following students and their faculty mentors! Dylan Barbera: Event related potential correlates of self/other differences, supervised by Dr. C. Chad Woodruff; Shelby Burton: Student-professor rapport, perceived autonomy support, and course outcomes, supervised by Dr. Meliksah Demir. Taran DePaola: ERD analysis of mirror neuron data, supervised by Dr. C. Chad Woodruff; Kaylynne Gray: Developing positive transgender identity: A qualitative study of identity, supervised by Dr. Andy Walters; Josiah Timithee Huggins: Academic dishonesty and anonymity as moderated by ethnic identity and susceptibility to stereotype threat, supervised by Dr. Nora Dunbar; Victoria Pocknell: Priming a Behavioral Freeze Response in Humans, supervised by Dr. Michael Alban.

Undergraduate Student Awards

In April we celebrated the achievement of our outstanding Junior and Senior Psychology majors. Five students earned the “Outstanding Senior Award” : Kirsten Nicole Frey, Samuel Alexander Hickerson, Derek Michael Sirakis, George Brett Velez and Shannon Kimberly Potts. Four students earned our “Outstanding Junior Award”: Louis Herschel Irving, Lauren Nicole Johnson, Victoria Charlotte and Mary-Rose Pocknell . 

Student Highlights

The 2014 Edward C. and Mary E. Mills Award was awarded to Kierra Marshay Begay. Ms. Begay is a Psychology major and Navajo Language minor with a cumulative GPA of 3.6. She is the youngest of six children raised on the Navajo reservation, and the only one of the six to attend college. She hopes to become a clinical psychologist with a specialization in art therapy. Daniel F. Enriquez received the Gabriela Mistral Award at the 2014 Hispanic Convocation. As part of his baccalaureate program, Daniel completed an internship (Psychology 408c) with Northland Family Help Center’s Youth Shelter. He was then offered a job as a Family Support Specialist at the Arizona Children’s Association in Yuma, Arizona. The 2014 Virginia Blankenship Undergraduate Research Scholarship was awarded to Zachary Klinefelter. Mr. Klinefelter double-majored in Psychology and Spanish with a 3.5 cumulative GPA. He will be presenting three research projects at the 2014 meeting of the American Psychological Association in Washington, D.C. His primary interests are in the area of Industrial/Organizational Psychology. Mr. Klinefelter has also demonstrated a commitment to service, acting as a missionary for two years in low-income communities in Oregon and California. During this time, he organized food drives and served as an employment counselor.

Graduate student highlights

The 2014 Vicki Green Psychology Thesis Award was presented to Joseph Barbour to support his thesis entitled “Predictors of Student Veteran Well-Being and Performance.” His work investigates the role that self-concept plays in the academic performance and well-being of veterans. The award will provide a monetary incentive to his research participants, who constitute a very small subset of the NAU population and will, consequently, be difficult to recruit. The 2014 Vicki Green Graduate School Travel Award was presented to Aifrica Standing Bear. Ms. Standing Bear will be attending a Ph.D. program in Counseling Psychology at the Texas Woman’s University in Denton, Texas. She hopes, one day, to go into private practice in counseling, serving a diverse client set within a rural environment. Both Mr. Barbour and Ms. Standing Bear are pictured in the photo above along with our undergraduate student winners.

 Graduate student alumni

Desiree Sharpe

Desire Sharpe

Desiree Sharpe, who received B.S. and M.A. degrees from the Department of Psychology at NAU, has received a Ph.D. from the program in Behavioral and Brain Sciences at the University of Georgia. Dr. Sharpe’s dissertation, “Cognitive Consequences of Maternal Maltreatment in Juvenile Rhesus Monkeys” was completed at Yerkes National Primate Center. Dr. Sharpe’s dissertation research focused on mistreated juvenile monkeys (analogous to 7-8 year old humans) and prefrontal cortex-mediated cognition such as impulsivity, cognitive flexibility, and working memory. Her research indicates that animals who had been neglected were more likely to "give" up on cognitive tasks and animals who had been abused were more likely to make mistakes on a working memory task. Throughout her doctoral program, Desi taught classes in Physiological and Comparative Psychology, Brain, Intelligence, and Creativity (Duke University’s Talent Identification Program), and Research Methods. Desi was supervised in her dissertation work by Irwin Bernstein, Ph.D., and Mar Sanchez, Ph.D. (Emory University and Yerkes National Primate Center).

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Kateryna Sylaska

 Kateryna Sylaska received her baccalaureate and MA degrees from NAU.  For her masters’ thesis, Kateryna worked with Dr. Heidi Wayment on the Quiet Ego Scale.  Kateryna is pursuing a Ph.D. in social psychology at the University of New Hampshire.  She is currently a doctoral candidate at UNH; she teaches Introduction to Psychology and Statistics in Psychology. Kateryna’s primary scholarly interests include investigating the social and psychological sequelae of intimate partner violence within romantically partnered relationships.  She has authored or co-authored eight publications, including  Sylaska & Edwards (2014), Social reactions and the disclosure of intimate partner violence, Trauma, Violence, and Abuse, and Sylaska & Walters (2014), Testing the extent of the gender trap: College students’ perceptions of and reactions to intimate partner violence, Sex Roles.

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Erin M. O'Mara, Ph.D. Assistant Professor, University of Dayton

My time at NAU was an invaluable experience that was crucial in achieving my goal of getting my Ph.D. in Social Psychology. The psychology department at NAU offers rigorous coursework in research methodology and statistics, and providing their students with a strong foundation in research design and data analysis. Additionally, while at NAU, I gained valuable research experience, both collaborative and independent, that shaped and guided my program of research in my doctoral program and today as an assistant professor.

Huffman’s contributions to Industrial-Organizational Psychology

Huffman’s contributions to Industrial-Organizational Psychology 

In March, 2013, Dr. Ann H. Huffman and Dr. Stephanie R. Klein published a highly regarded book about how industrial-organizational psychology contribute to environmental sustainability in organizations. The edited volume, entitled “Green Organizations: Driving Change with I-O Psychology,” reflects expert opinion from the fields leading researchers who embrace a scientist/practitioner model to solve real-world issues. This volume has been called a “landmark” publication that will serve as a “catalyst and vanguard” in the field of Industrial-Organizational Psychology. Dr. Huffman is also the 2015 Division Program Chairperson for the American Psychological Association, Division 14 (Society of Industrial-Organizational Psychology) to be held in Toronto. In August, the 2014 Organizations and Natural Environment Division of the Academy of Management (ONE) Book Award was awarded to Dr. Ann Huffman and colleague for their 2013 edited volume. 

NSF REU program going strong

NSF REU program going strong

Since 2010, the NAU Department of Psychology has hosted a unique summer research experience program, sponsored primarily by the NSF, called Hojooba’ bee la’ hooniil, Undergraduate Studies into the Social Psychophysiology of Compassion. Hojooba’ bee la’ hooniil is a Navajo expression meaning “loving kindness as healing for the suffering of others” and our REU internship seeks to better understand, through well-designed psychosocial research, the nature of this important construct. Each summer, the principal investigator, Dr. Larry Stevens, oversees a program of eight undergraduate students from around the country. Each of the students works with an NAU Department of Psychology faculty research mentor to design, to conduct, and to present, both locally and nationally at the annual APA convention, outcomes of a Compassion research project. Past research topics have included Effects of Compassion Training on Electrocortical (EEG) and Questionnaire Measures, Compassion for Others: The Road to Happiness, Effects of a Compassion Intervention, Determination and Compassion: The Psychological Effects of Belief in Free Will, The Relationship between Self-Compassion and Exercise, Relational-Interdependent Self-Construal and Compassion, Compassion for Others, Friendship Experiences, and Happiness Among Students and Non-Students, Self-Other Discrimination and Empathic Abilities, and many others.

New grant funding for obesity prevention and treatment

New grant funding for obesity prevention and treatment

Dr. Ann Futterman Collier recently received a Pilot Grant Program (aka TRIF) grant from NAU to explore the best methods to deliver obesity prevention and treatment programs with local tribal communities. Investigators at NAU will collaborate with a Southwestern Tribe (community leaders and community members), and Flagstaff Medical Center’s Fit Kids Program, in the hopes of determining if remote telehealth prevention tools, used in conjunction with local health educators, can instill and support healthy living activities in Native American families that lack access to robust healthcare and preventative services due to their rural locations. Dr. Collier was also recently awarded an NAU Faculty Grants Program grant to develop a similar program in the Pacific Island country of Palau. She is also a co-investigator on a grant awarded to Dr. Leslie Schulz and Dr. Catherine Propper titled “Native Americans Exploring Global Health Disparities;” (NIH Minority International Research Training Grants program; MHIRT). The MHIRT program allows 1-2 Native American and minority students each year to work with Dr. Collier on her research in Palau.