Student Research Spotlight: Evan Rushton

by Elizabeth Gallagher '17 and Meredith Whitney '16evan2

Last week, we sat down with Evan Rushton, '16 to discuss the research he has been working on with Psychology Professor Adam Wenzel. Evan presented his research at the New England Psychological Association (NEPA) Annual Meeting at Fitchburg State University on October 10th.

1. Could you briefly describe your research?

We used a within-subjects design measuring for taste threshold and intensity. Before and after, subjects were given two taste modifiers, Miracle fruit, which turns sour tastes sweet, and Gymnema Sylvestre tea which suppressed sweet taste entirely.

2. What is your year of graduation and majors/minors?

I am a senior psychology major with a minor in human relations and work.

3. How did you get involved with this research? Which professor are you working with?evan

In relation to this research, Professor Wenzel and I collaborated. At the end of the spring semester sophomore year, an email went out about a summer research position related to the INBRE grant. INBRE (i.e., Idea Network of Biomedical Research Excellence) is a program that funds research opportunities for undergraduate students to work on biomedical research. I talked to Professor Wenzel about doing something with taste because whenever I would talk to him after class he would always mention something from the class I took with him, Sensation and Perception, such as the miracle fruit. I thought that it was pretty interesting so I was glad to get on board with the project.

4. What is the most valuable tool you have gained from being involved in research?

I think the most important thing gained from being involved in research is experience. Since I am looking to go into graduate school, it is helpful to have experience especially if you are looking to go into a research-oriented field. Also, it gave me the independence and ability to organize a research project. Otherwise, I probably wouldn’t know how to go through the Institutional Review Board application and many other research procedures.

5. What advice would you give to incoming freshman about getting involved in research?

I would tell the freshman to definitely try to get a research position. Get as involved as early as possible with the department and develop a relationship with professors. Eventually you are going to need their help, and they are very helpful to say the least.

6. What are your plans after graduation?

After graduation, I would very much like to go into grad school, or get a job right out of college. I am interested in organizational psychology. If I go to grad school, I am interested in pursing a doctorate.

7. How do you think this experience will benefit your future goals?

In relation to the research that I did, even though it is not directly relatable to Industrial Organizational psychology, it gave me valuable tools in order to understand the research process.

Reflections on the 2014-2015 Year

Congratulations to the Class of 2015! We wish you all the best in your future endeavors. We will miss your smiling faces around the department and in our classes. We look forward to hearing from you as you embark on graduate programs in cognitive psychology and social work, careers in human resources, human services, and clinical research and as you begin service programs like Americorps, just to name a few. As we reflect on the class of 2015, we wanted to share with you some of the many events, accomplishments, and activities of the Psychology Department this year.

pic1In the Fall of 2014, we welcomed our first class of Psychology Student Ambassadors. Congratulations to Mark Shulze ‘15, Evan Rushton ‘16, Elizabeth Gallagher ‘17, Alex Williamson ‘16, Samantha Ferland ‘18, Mackenzie Wild ‘16, and Lissa Jimenez ’16. The Psychology Student Ambassador Program is designed to create opportunities for student involvement in departmental efforts to educate, evaluate, and communicate our scientific discipline with a variety of audiences and methods.

 

pic2 September 20, 2014 – Professor Loretta Brady’s daughter enjoys some dancing to celebrate the Multicultural Day Festival on the “Founder’s Green” at Saint Anselm College.

 

 

 

October 14, 2014 – US Global Leadership Coalition Psychology students and faculty attend an event at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College pic3to hear Senator Kelly Ayotte (R, NH) and former Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge discuss how US diplomacy and training soldiers in negotiation skills saves US and other lives in military encounters. The psychology department offers courses in Social Psychology, Political Psychology, Cross Cultural Psychology and Organizational Psychology where research affirming this message is reviewed and conducted. 

 

pic4November 6, 2014 – Saint Anselm College welcomes Social Entrepreneur and Guest Speaker Corynne Corbett, President of Beauty Swirl, Inc. for a presentation on how the science and art of beauty is changing industries and lives of girls. The talk was preceded by dinner with invited community guests, students and faculty. The event was co-sponsored by the Psychology Department, Business  Department, Office of Career Services, Chemistry Club, Communications Department, and in cooperation with the Balfour Grant through the Multicultural Center.

pic5Psychology Ambassadors Lissa Jimenez ‘16, Mackenzie Wild ‘16, and Alex Williamson ’16 with Corynne Corbett).

 

 

 

 

 

Dr. Flannery, a cognitive psychologist, works to engage students in tasks that will extend their research from her lab into real world problems. Here a social pic13entrepreneur,    Alex Freid, shares his story of winning the NH Social Venture Innovation Challenge, an annual competition for NH college students to pitch their social entrepreneurial business idea to solve one of the world’s persistent problems (http://www.unh.edu/socialbusiness/nh-social-venture-innovation-challenge). This fall,  students from St. Anselm College, mentored in part by Dr. Flannery and other faculty, will be participating in this competition.

 

November 12, 2014 – Dr. Gilbert Foley presented “Me, Myself, and I: Brain Connection in the Early Years” at the NHIOP. The event, sponsored by the Greater Manchester Infant Mental Health Team, enabled professional psychologists, early pic6intervention specialists, students, and faculty to hear from a renowned scientist on how the latest brain development can and should impact early child care education policy and process. Dr. McKenna and Dr. Flannery regularly incorporate these ideas into their Child Development course and research programs. The program was reviewed in a blog post co-written by MacKenzie Wild and Kelsie Cameron, who attended the day-long event (posted on April 9, 2015).

 

December 9, 2014 – Psychology students Michael Doyle ‘15, Kathryn Sheldon ‘15, Marcello Cugno ’15, Hannah Mason ‘15, Coraima Perez ‘15 and Lindsay Donahue ‘15 celebrate the end of their Fall semester internship at Professor Brady’s pic7home. Internship is a unique opportunity for psychology majors entering or in their senior year to gain practical experience in areas of their choice. At the conclusion of their internship Dr. Brady hosts a dinner to celebrate their accomplishments. Psychology majors are highly sought after interns, with many placements offering spots to our majors that are typically reserved for graduate interns. This year students interned with community mental health agencies, Ivy League research clinics, non-profits working with chronically ill children, community engagement programs, traditional and non-traditional secondary education, child protection agency, human resource directors, and traumatic brain injury units.

 

February 1, 2015 – Despite heavy snowstorms, psychology students and faculty enjoy ice-skating on Professor Paul Finn’s lake along with a campfire to warm up! His courses, in Humanistic Psychology, Sports & Exercise Psychology, and Behavioral Statistics sure draw a crowd!

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Fpic10ebruary 20, 2015 –Congrats to Marcello Cugno ‘15 (and ALL of this year’s senior Psychology students) for passing the Major Field Acheivement Test (MFAT) comprehensive exam! St. Anselm Psychology majors consistently outperform 90% of those who take the MFAT.

 

 

 

 

pic11March 18, 2015 – Franki Mullen ’17 experiences what it is like to be a research PARTICIPANT in this “science fair” project for 3rd grader Sergei Carle (Prof. Brady’s nephew). The experiment, entitled “The Phantom Hand” tested whether participant reaction to a false hand would be perceived similar to their own hand.

 

April 8, 2015 – Organized by Professor Troisi and the Psychology Student Ambassadors, the Psychology Department welcomed Dr. Alan Budney from Dartmouth and Dr. John Kelly from Harvard Medical School for the Second Annual Hechtl/Lasky Symposium. The Hechtl/Lasky Symposium is designed to highlight the way everyday people, research excellence, and public policy can work together to make progress for those living with psychological illness.  Professors Richard "Dick" Hecthl and Julian "Jack" Lasky were each great leaders in our department that devoted their careers to promoting wellness through basic and applied psychology research. We are very proud of their contributions and legacy and are honored to remember their contributions to our community in this way.

pic12Kate Martin, ’15, Mark Schulze, ’15, Samantha Ferland ’18, Dr. Al Budney (Dartmouth) Dr. Troisi, Dr. John Kelly (Harvard) and Meaghan DiDonato ’15 pose after the Hechtl/Lasky dinner and symposium.

 

 

 

April 18, 2015 -Meagan DiDonato, '15, Cassandra Rapheal, '15, John Sullivan, '15 and Professors Brady, Flannery, and Rickenbach attended the New Hampshire Psychology Association Academic Convention held at Colby-Sawyer College Under the mentorship of Professor Flannery, Meagan and Cassandra also presented their research during the poster session.  Meagan presented research examined autistic traits, emotional processing, and cardiac reactivity, and Cassie and Meagan both presented a poster titled, "Confirming the N170 in human and animal face recognition: A replication study using Virtual EEG." Students and faculty in the Psychology Department regularly attend academic conferences to present their research, including annual meetings for the Eastern Psychology Association, the American Psychology Association, and the Northeast Psychology Association.

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April 24, 2015 – Each year, Saint Anselm College celebrates the work and success of students with the program series “Showcasing our Art and Research (S.O.A.R).” Included here are some highlights from the S.O.A.R. Distinguished Speaker presentation by Dr. Elaine Walker from Emory University as well as the S.O.A.R. Science Student Research Poster Session.

 

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May 4, 2015 – End-of-year BBQ and fun with students, faculty and family at Professor Loretta Brady’s home.

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Adventures Down Under: Study Abroad in Sydney, Australia

By Mackenzie Wild '16

April 23, 2015

unswThanks to a connection Professor Brady made while on her Fulbright in Cyprus a few years ago, I have had the opportunity to work as an intern with Dr. Eva Kimonis while studying abroad in Sydney, Australia. Dr. Kimonis is a professor at the University of New South Wales—a “Uni” located about 20 minutes outside downtown Sydney, where I live—and has been working on jumpstarting a study on Parent Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT). It is with this year-long research project that I am having the pleasure of helping with for the time that I am here.

This project is concerned with children aged from two to eight years with difficult behaviors and how the parent-child relationship can be improved to remedy these behaviors. If eligible for the experiment, the child and at least one of their caregivers work with the team for a number of weeks (based on the needs of the particular family) going through a variety of different testing situations. lab1After completing the eligibility screening, the child and caregiver(s) are invited to one of the Karitane parenting clinics based on the age of the child (ages two to five are in the toddler clinic, and ages six to eight are in the child clinic) for preliminary assessment. Families are then invited to the UNSW lab where the actual PCIT can begin and take place. Caregivers are trained to encourage positive behaviors from the child via reflection, behavior descriptions, and labeled/unlabeled praise while avoiding negative talk, commands, and questions in both the Parent Directed Interactions (PDI) as well as the Child Directed Interactions (CDI). All behaviors are coded and assessed throughout the experiment to quantify progress made by psychologists viewing behind a one-way mirror and by reviewing the tape recordings.

My involvement with this experiment is twofold. One day per week, I go to the UNSW lab to conduct screening interviews with parents/caregivers and to go through the Dyadic Parent-Child Interaction Coding System (DPICS) for the tape recordings. Screening interviews are conducted over the phone to ensure that the child’s age, behavioral difficulties, and treatment history (the child cakaritanennot be currently receiving psychological treatment in order to participate) are alight with this study. I then use the DPICS to code videos of PCITs that have already been conducted for the behaviors of interest.

Once a week on a different day, I also work at the Karitane Toddler Clinic in Carramar, NSW, located about an hour outside of the city. Here, I am able to administer tests such as the Dynamic Faces Emotion Recognition Task, Theory of Mind: False Belief Task, the Denver Developmental Screening Test, and a few others in order to assess empathy, cognitive ability, and the developmental level of the child.

For someone who aspires to someday be a clinician and potentially run similar experiments on my own, this internship has already taught me so much of value. Not only that, I also believe that there is no better way to learn about the culture of a new country than to work with local families and professionals. Again, I’m thankful for this opportunity – professors at Saint Anselm are always thinking of how they can support their student's interests beyond the classroom.

Dr. Kimonis’ recent work:

Kimonis, E. R., Bagner, D. M., Linares, D., Blake, C. A., & Rodriguez, G. (2014). Parent training outcomes among young children with callous–unemotional conduct problems with or at risk for developmental delay. Journal of child and family studies, 23(2), 437-448.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3913175/pdf/nihms-509125.pdf