Departmental News and Updates

Eight Interns Complete Research Experience for Undergraduate Programs

REU Conference SM 2

For nearly a decade, the Department of Psychological Sciences has hosted a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program funded by the National Science Foundation and focused on the psychophysiology of compassion. Within this intensive, 8-week program, the REU interns attend research-focused training and work with doctoral-level faculty members and graduate assistants to complete individual research projects.

In addition to providing skills, knowledge, and experiences that will be invaluable in their academic and professional lives, the REU program offered opportunities to develop long-term friendships and to become more familiar with the beauty of northern Arizona. The eight interns in the summer 2017 program presented their research findings on July 14th at a conference attended by faculty, family, and friends.

Chad Woodruff, Ph.D., was the program coordinator, taking the baton from Dr. Larry Stevens who coordinated the summer REU program for many years. Paul Plonski was the assistant coordinator, helping organize lectures (giving one lecture himself). He arranged meals, helped organize our cultural excursion, helped students with statistics and troubleshooting.

Congratulations to the summer 2017 REU interns and thanks to the faculty and graduate students who supported them.

 REU Students 2 SM 2

Faculty MentorGraduate Student MentorInterns 
Meliksah Demir, Ph.D.Jennifer ParadaKrissy WolfKauaikekai Lara
Daniel Weidler, Ph.D.Marah Al-KireJacob CouttsDacia Hernandez
Robert Goodman, Ph.D.Marah Al-KireAndrew HaynesMarlyn Sanchez
Dana Donohue, Ph.D.Jennifer ParadaChaneé HudsonHanna Gravelle

The REU program hosted by the department is on a 3-year funding cycle. Students who are interested in participating in the summer 2018 program should be alert for information on the application process in the spring.   

Five NAU students from the Department of Psychological Sciences, including currently-enrolled students and recent alumni, presented research at the 50th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists.  Eion Cashman was a discussant on a research panel presentation centrally focused on gender divergence.  Alyssa Billington (Spring 2017), a recent graduate from the Department's MA program, presented research investigating variables associated with the acceptance of marital infidelity.  Hannah Harris (Spring 2017) presented research investigating what college students report as their primary interests in enrolling in a college-level human sexuality class.  Jacob Coutts (Outstanding Junior, Department of Psychological Sciences) presented preliminary findings on a study interrogating how familial messages about intimacy, sexuality, and relationships are seen as impacting adults' sexual values.  Daniel Enriquez (Spring 2014), along with collaborators Eion Cashman and Jacob Coutts, investigated potential differences between White-/Caucasian-identifying and Hispanic-/Latino-identified young men on indices of sexual behavior and attitudes about sexuality.  The conference was held in Las Vegas, NV, June 2017.

Group photo:

Group photo 50th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Sexuality EducatorsSeated (L-R) Alyssa G. Billington and Hannah C-J Harris

Standing (L-R) Eion G. Cashman, Daniel F. Enriquez, and Jacob J. Coutts

Cashman, E. G., Steinhart, J. E., & Walters, A. S.  (2017).  Gender divergent or
     gender creative:Changing perspectives on trans youth and young adults.
     Research panel discussion presented at the Annual Meeting of the American
     Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists, Las Vegas,
     NV, 17 June 2017.

Billington, A. G., & Walters, A. S.  (2017).  “Melania said this was okay”:
     Investigating the acceptability of marital infidelity.  Poster presented at the
     Annual Meeting of the American Association of Sexuality Educators,
     Counselors, and Therapists, Las Vegas, NV, 15 June 2017.

Coutts, J. J., & Walters, A. S.  (2017).  “I had a great sex education, but it was
     terrible”: Dimensionalizing what it means to come from a sex positive or
     sex negative household. Poster presented at the Annual Meeting of the
     American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists,
     Las Vegas, NV, 15 June 2017.

Enriquez, D. F., Coutts, J. J., Cashman, E. G., & Walters, A. S.  (2017).
     Sexualities of Latino- and Caucasian-identifying men: Similarities and
     (some) differences.  Poster presented at the Annual Meeting of the
     American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists,
     Las Vegas, NV, 15 June 2017.

Harris, H. C. J., & Walters, A. S.  (2017).  Knowing more: What college
     students say they want to learn in a human sexuality course. Poster
     presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Association of Sexuality
     Educators, Counselors, and Therapists, Las Vegas, NV, 15 June 2017.


Fieldwork Classes Spring Semester 2017

Spring Semester was a busy, challenging, and exciting time for students enrolled in Psychology 408 (Fieldwork and Internship). For the first time in our Department’s history, we were able to offer two sections of Psychology 408. Students served as interns in twenty-five community settings and, together, completed over 5500 hours of supervised psychological and behavioral-intervention services. Students were placed at a variety of sites around Flagstaff including: Adult Probation, The Guidance Center, Flagstaff Community Services, Goodwill Industries, Catholic Charities, and NAU’s Civic Service Institute. 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. This semester, interns worked on targeted interventions to maintain successful progress through adult probation, provided support to women living in residential shelters and receiving aftercare for experiencing intimate partner violence, and social services targeted to gerontological populations.

For further information on Psychology 408c (Fieldwork Experience), contact Professor Andy Walters (andy.walters@nau.edu).

  • winners

    PSY302W Best Overall Poster, Spring 2017

  • Teaching_Award

    Mackenzie Onofry Receives Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant Award

    On April 24th, the Graduate College presented the awards for Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant.  One of the four recipients of this prestigious award was Mackenzie Onofry, a graduate student in the Master of Arts in Psychology Sciences program who is currently serving as a graduate teaching assistant in Dr. Gregory Busath’s Research Methods in Psychology (PSY302W) course.  Mackenzie was a highly regarded SI Leader for the Introduction to Statistics in Psychology course as an undergraduate at NAU and has continued to express her passion for education through her efforts as a teacher at BASIS and as a Graduate Teaching Assistant.  Her work ethic, desire to help students learn, knowledge of statistics and research methods, communication skills, and ability to build relationships with students were some of the strengths cited in her nomination.  There is no doubt that Mackenzie, who will be graduating in May, has a great future ahead as an educator in the psychological sciences.  Also nominated for the award was Jennifer Parada, a first-year student in the master’s program who has distinguished herself as a terrific teacher in the PSY 302W course taught by Dr. Nicole Bies-Hernandez.  Graduate assistants perform vital functions within the university and it’s wonderful to see Mackenzie and Jennifer receive such recognition.

  • Psychology Club's Involvement in STEM Night

    On Monday, March 6, 2017, the NAU Psychology Club had a blast participating in Flagstaff's most current and increasingly popular tradition. The 4th Annual Flagstaff Community STEM celebration brought together numerous schools, robotics teams, STEM Clubs, and STEM-related businesses, all with the purpose of celebrating and learning more about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics). The NAU Psychological Sciences department has participated in this cherished community event for three years in a row. This year, the Psychology Club chose the theme "Myths in Psychology". This booth consisted of a multitude of activities for children and adults to learn about popular psychological misconceptions. While parents were able to examine brain models and diagrams, children were encouraged to play a Q&A game, which consisted of being given a myth and asked to answer if it is true or false. As a reward, candy was given to all who participated. Dozens of Psychology Club members showed up to the event to volunteer and interact with the families. It was a fantastic success!

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    Greg 2N

    Students can Earn New Certificate in Human Resources Management

    Are you interested in helping others reach their greatest potential at work? Do you want to help businesses and organizations manage employees more effectively? Then you may be interested in a new 15-hour Human Resources Management certificate being offered by the department of Psychological Sciences and WA Franke College of Business. This certificate provides research and learning experiences that will be helpful to students in many job settings and especially students considering careers in human resources and/or industrial-organizational (I/O) psychology. Courses will includes topics such as leadership, hiring, training, evaluation of performance, stress and conflict in the workplace, and ways to increase job satisfaction and productivity. Students will gain practical experience through either a human resources internship or participating in I/O psychology research. For more information, please contact Gregory Busath in the Department of Psychological Sciences at Gregory.Busath@nau.edu or (928) 523-1855

  • 408c group
    408c group

    Fieldwork Class Fall 2016

    Fall Semester was an exciting time for students enrolled in Psychology 408 (Fieldwork and Internship).  Students served as interns in fourteen community settings and, together, completed over 2800 hours of supervised psychological and behavioral-intervention services.  Students were placed at a variety of sites around Flagstaff including Northland Family Help Center, Teenage Parenting Program (a division of the Flagstaff Unified School District), Juvenile Probation, Flagstaff Shelter Services, and Parenting Arizona.  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.  This semester, interns worked on targeted interventions to maintain successful progress through adult probation, provided support to children and adolescents living in a residential treatment facility, worked with homeless men on life skills that could assist them in obtaining permanent housing, and provided community educational programs dedicated to sexual assault prevention.

    For further information on Psychology 408c (Fieldwork Experience), contact Professor Andy Walters (andy.walters@nau.edu).

    Seated, from left to right:

    Adisen Hennessy, Gabrielle Marson, Tessa Grabowsky, Brianna Hughes, Stephanie Fry, Kristen Parks, Krista Henderson.

    Standing, from left to right:

    Hannah Harris, IsaBella Vento, Erika Peña, Raquel Daniels, Kelsey Lamberton, Anna Robertson, Rachel Palsce, Julianna Aliberti.

  • Quad S3 CP
    Quad S3 CP

    Annual Meeting of the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality.

    Three graduate students from the Department of Psychological Sciences recently presented portions of their research at the Annual Meeting of the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality. Eion Cashman, in collaboration with Dr. Nora Dunbar, gave an oral paper presentation titled, Lost in Labels: Comparison of Health Outcomes between Exclusive and Non-Exclusive Sexualities in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. Alyssa Billington presented a poster on infidelity, “A Swan Would Never Cheat. But a Tiger Wood”: Perceptions of Infidelity. And Emily Wilson presented a poster examining perceptions about sexual assault, Perceptions of Sexual Victimization: Does Survivor Ethnicity Matter?

  • National Teaching Conf 2c
    National Teaching Conf 2c

    Presentation at National Teaching Conference

    Dr. Nora Dunbar and five of her students in graduate statistics presented at the October 2016 Annual Conference of the Teaching of Psychology in Atlanta Georgia.  Their presentation, titled Using Secondary Data Analysis Projects to Teach Statistics through Replication-Extension: Learning through Experiences with Real (Messy) Data, showcased the benefits and challenges in using secondary data in teaching statistics.  Their presentation, which included both instructor and student perspectives, was well received, generating a blog post from highly regarded authors in the field of statistics education remarking on the usefulness of the material. The link to the blog post can be found here. The presentation was an invaluable experience for the students and further evidence of the department’s commitment to excellence in education and student development.  

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    Ann Huffman and Heidi Wayment

    Ann Huffman and Heidi Wayment (Primary Investigators) from Psychological Sciences and colleagues in NAU Department of Athletic Training (Debbie Craig, Lead Primary Investigator, and Monica Lininger, Primary Investigator) have been awarded 2.25 year grant ($399,377) grant awarded from the NCAA/Department of Defense. One of 10 funded national projects, their study "Changing the culture of concussion reporting: A cultural analysis and implementation model" utilizes innovative as well as time-tested approaches to study the impact of athletic culture on concussion-related reporting behavior, including cultural analysis of Division I football settings, traditional interview and survey research, as well as athletes' implicit and explicit attitudes regarding concussion-related reporting behavior. These methods are incorporated in a community-based participatory research paradigm in order to work with key stakeholders at four Division I football programs to design and assess interventions that will be effective for their programs.

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    Brookshire, Kristina 225x150

    Kristina Brookshire

    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.

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    Irving, Louis 225x150

    Louis irving

    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.

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    Esposito, Michael 225x150

    Michael Esposito

    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.

  • Hans and Al_Kire
    Hans and Al_Kire

    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!

  • PSY in SAS photo
    PSY in SAS photo

    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!

  • Wayment news photo
    Wayment news photo

    The Quiet Ego

    Research 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 Hampshire.

  • Klinefelter and Dr. Huffman Symposium
    Klinefelter and Dr. Huffman Symposium

    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.

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    Student Presentations Column image

    Student Presentations

    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.

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    Dmitrieva 225x150

    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.

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    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

  • Poster Team
    Poster Team

    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.

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    Andrew S Walters 225x150

    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.

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    Tristan Swatts 230px

    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.

  • Dr. Collier
    Dr. Collier

    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.

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    Nicole Bies Hernandez 225x150

    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.

  • Tidikis and Donohue
    Tidikis and Donohue

    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.

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    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.