Student scholars discuss psychological science at the 13th Psychology Undergraduate Research Conference (PURC)


Co-sponsored by the Department of Psychology, Psi Chi, the Center for Behavioral Neuroscience, and the GSU doctoral program in Clinical Psychology, the 13th Psychology Undergraduate Research Conference was a tremendous success. The program featured 34 posters presented by undergraduate students, covering the full range of research topics in the discipline. The standing-room-only crowd was also treated to a presentation, "Bridging the Gap Between the Classroom and the Lab: Engaging Undergraduates for a Richer and More Rewarding Program of Research" by keynote speaker Dr. Deborah Jones (UNC, Chapel Hill).

Several outstanding posters were recognized with awards. The Diversity Award recipient was Hadrian Mendoza for his poster "Mental Health Stigma and Self-Concealment as Predictors of Help-Seeking Attidudes among Latino/a College Students." Faculty advisor Dr. Aki Masuda co-authored the poster. The presentation by Charmaine J. Mora (co-authored with R. Rodguizez and faculty advisor Dr. Julia Perilla) was recognized with Honorable Mention in this category for "Parenting after Domestic Violence."  The Diversity Award is sponsored by the Psychology Department's standing Committee on Diversity, and highlights the poster that best addresses issuesof social justice; group differences such as gender, race/ethnicity/culture, sexual orientation; or other relevant dimensions of diversity.  Each candidate poster was assessed as to whether issues of diversity were addressed in the theory, methodology, and interpretation of the results (each area has equal weight).

The Center for Behavioral Neuroscience sponsors an annual Neuroscience Award at PURC. This year's recipient was Morgan Mosely and collaborators (M. Reynolds, C. Shah, A. Strahan, and faculty advisor Dr. Nancy Forger) for "Effects of a Caspase Inhibitor on Naturally Occurring Cell Death in the Mouse Brain." Honorable Mention in this category went to the poster by Bello and Frishkoff discussed below.

The competition for the overall Outstanding Poster Award was very close, with many meritorious presentations. The 3rd Place Overall award went to the poster by Alexandra Duncan (co-authored by J. Akin and faculty advisor Dr. Gabe Kuperminc), "Exploring the Utility of the Readiness Ruler in Brief Interventions: How Well Can We Determine the Stage of Change?"

2nd Place Overall was awarded to Kim Braunsroth (faculty advisor Dr. Becky Williamson) for "Level 1 and Level 2 Auditory Perspective-Taking at 3- and 4-Years of Age."

The 1st Place Outstanding Overall Poster Award was made to Nicholas Bello (faculty advisor Dr. Gwen Frishkoff). "Altering Cognitive and Brain Sates through Cortical Entrainment: A Pilot Study of Binaural Beats in Visual Target Detection using Dense-Array EEG" described a research program designed to induce beta or theta cortical rhythms to and determine whether sustained attention might be affected by these entrainments. These pilot data have interesting implications for future studies, including for possible interventions with individuals with attention deficits.

Across award categories, the judges frequently noted impressive levels of understanding and ownership of the studies by the undergraduate student authors. All of the participants and their faculty advisors are to be congratulated for the quality of scholarship and the professionalism that was on display at PURC'13.

Dr. Chantal Poister-Tusher was the faculty coordinator of PURC,