Celebration of Student Research 2016

At the 16th annual Celebration of Student Research, Scholarship and Creativity, (Friday, January 29th, from 1-4pm in Detchon International Hall), Psychology minor Adam Rains ’17 will present the results of his summer research internship with Dr. Schmitzer-Torbert on the relationship between mindfulness and how people navigate new environments. From across the college, we will also see presentations from several students from Biology, Political Science and Education Studies on topics ranging from hypothalamic neurons to turtle temperament, all of which should be of great interest to students studying psychology and/or neuroscience!

[Edit: Also, we forgot to mention that Psychology senior Max Gallivan '16 presented on his work with Dr. Wysocki in Chemistry, on testing novel fluorophores as palladium sensors!]

Below, we’ve tried to gather a list of the presentations that are most relevant to Psychology students, but we would encourage you to try to see a bit of everything at the Celebration! If you happen to be on campus, we hope to see you at the Celebration this year, and we are very impressed with the wide range of work that our students have done over the last year!

Posters – 1-2:30PM – Detchon International Hall
#25 Adam Rains Trait Mindfulness is not associated with the Greater use of Hippocampally-Dependent Navigation Strategies
#5 Brady Boles Home Range Size and Injury Patterns as a Result of Eastern Box Turtle Temperament
#7 Zachery Campbell Regulation of Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone Production by Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress and Kisspeptin: Implications for Obesity and Infertility
#19 Noah Levi Understanding the Link between Fertility-Related Gene Expression and Obesity through the Unfolded Protein Response
#19 Jared Santana The Role of JNK Signaling in ER Stress-Induced Inflammation in Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone Neurons


Posters – 2:30-4PM – Detchon International Hall
#14 Max Gallivan & Chris Shrack Testing Novel Phenolic Fluorophores as Palladium Sensors at Different Concentrations
#4 Joshua Bleisch Implicit Biases: The Effects of Race, Age, Gender, and Education on Senate Confirmation Times of Federal Judges


2:10PM Detchon 220 Bilal Jawed Sertraline, Sickness, and Stigma: Conducting a Clinical Drug Trial in Uganda
2:40PM Detchon 220 Graham Redweik Protein Kinase C Mediates Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress-Induced Gene Expression in Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone Neurons
3:00PM Detchon 112 Beau Green & Derek Fox How Biological Differences Contribute to Classroom Behavior: The “Achievement Gap”
3:00PM Detchon 220 Travis Flock Elevated Circulating Octopamine Increases Anti-Predator Aggression in Bark Scorpions



Neuroscience Fair Outreach

Anthony Douglas ’17, Mason Hooper ’18 and Alec Bertsch ’18 compare notes

On Friday, Alec Bertsch ’18, Anthony Douglas ’17 and Mason Hooper ’18 travelled across town to Crawfordsville Middle School (CMS) with Prof. Schmitzer-Torbert. Our Wabash students were invited by CMS science teacher, Shannon Hudson, to provide feedback to middle-school students who have been preparing neuroscience research projects. Mrs. Hudson’s students presented ten research projects, on topics ranging from the effect of sleep deprivation on reaction time to methods to speed up recovery from dizziness. This is the second year that our Wabash students and faculty have provided feedback to CMS students on their neuroscience projects. In both years, the range of neuroscience topics and the enthusiasm of the middle-school students for neuroscience was wonderful to see!

Alec Bertsch ’18 reviews a neuroscience research project.

The CMS students will be travelling to Indianapolis in April to present their work at the 2016 Neuroscience Brain and Beyond Fair. In 2015, Mrs. Hudson’s class won top honors in the first Neuroscience Brain & Beyond Fair, where they competed against four other schools. We wish them the best of luck, and are looking forward to another strong performance!

Research participants needed

We are looking for volunteers for a research study on how people find their way around new places, and how this type of learning relates to experience with computers, mobile devices, and video games. Adults who are 18 years and older are eligible to participate.

The study involves an initial online survey, and a 2.5 hour follow-up session. The online survey will take about 15 minutes to complete, and everyone who finishes it by June 20th will be entered to win one of five $20 Amazon gift cards. Some participants will be invited to complete a follow-up study in which you will complete a set of computer tasks involving navigation. The follow-up study will take 2.5 hours or less to complete, and you be paid $25 for completing the follow-up study. Only a limited number of spots are available for the follow-up study.

If you are interested, please complete the initial online survey by June 20th:

Psychology Awards 2015

Each year, the Psychology Department gives out two awards, the Distinguished Senior in Psychology, and the Capstone Award. The Distinguished Senior in Psychology Award is given each year to the senior major who best represents the department’s ideal for outstanding scholarship, research and service, while the Senior Capstone Award is given each year to the senior major who completes the top senior capstone research project. The Capstone Award considers the scope of the senior capstone, the initiative of the major in completing it, and the public presentations that the senior makes (including our Psychology Research Symposium poster session).

At Awards Chapel in April, Yunan “Charles” Wu ’15 was announced to be the Distinguished Senior in Psychology. Charles came to Wabash from Fujian, China. During his time at Wabash, Charles worked with Dr. Gunther on a summer research project, Dr. Horton on an independent study project, and completed summer

Yunan “Charles” Wu ’15 presenting his summer research at Harvard University

internships at both Harvard and Stanford University. For his capstone project, Charles continued his summer research project at Stanford, studying how children interpret inferences in a sentence. Next year, Charles will begin his doctoral studies at Carnegie Mellon University in the area of auditory neuroscience, studying the neural mechanisms underlying how children and adults perceive speech sounds with Dr. Lori Holt.

In addition to his work in psychology, Charles is a double-major in German major and a math minor. He was also involved in the music department and has had several piano recitals in the past few years.

This year, Adam Boehm received the 2015 Capstone Award, for his project: The effects of pornography on male attention and outlook towards women. Adam is a Crawfordsville native and attended Crawfordsville High School. He is a member of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity, was a pitcher for the Wabash Baseball team, and was an active member of College Mentors for Kids.

Adam Boehm’s poster summarizing his capstone research project.

After Wabash, Adam plans to take a gap year before attending graduate school to pursue his PhD in either psychology or neuroscience. He would like to continue his research on how pornography affects the brain, with hopes of helping young adults and adolescents understand the dangers of using pornography.

Go for 2 on 4.22

To support our Psychology students simply select
PsychSpecial650 when making your gift.

If you aren’t already aware, Wabash is having another important day today and it would be great for you to join me in supporting the College.

Brad Wise ’14 presenting his research in Washington D.C. at the Society for Neuroscience Annual Meeting.

Last year on 4/30, the Wabash nation stepped to the plate and raised over $450,000 from 2,200 donors in the first‐ever Day of Giving.

In Psychology, the donations we received last year let us send a recent graduate, Brad Wise ’14, to Washington D.C. in November. Brad presented at the Society for Neuroscience Meeting on a research study that he conducted in a summer internship at Wabash, on the role of nitric oxide in sexual behavior in male rats. This was a great experience for Brad, as he plans to apply for graduate study in Psychology this year, and we could not have done it without your help!

Today, I am asking you to help us Go for 2 on 4.22. This year, we are raising funds for another recent graduate, Andy Walsh ’14.  Andy is a graduate student Sport and Exercise Psychology at Ball State, and he will be traveling to Switzerland next summer to present the results of his research.  Andy’s program will be covering the majority of the costs of his trip, but additional matching funds will be required to make this international trip happen.  We think that this will be an excellent opportunity for Andy, hope you will consider donating to the Special Psychology Fund today to support Andy and other Psychology students.

For every gift made to the Special Psychology Fund, the Psychology faculty will match $5 dollars up to $650!  To support Wabash and our Psychology students, when making your gift at www.wabash.edu/422, simply select PsychSpecial650 from the drop‐down menu.

Stand with me today in supporting Wabash and spread the word!

Best wishes, and thank you again for your support,

Neil Schmitzer-Torbert
Daniel F. Evans Associate Professor in Social Sciences
Department of Psychology, Chair

Psychology Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/WabashPsych

Celebration of Student Research 2015

At the 15th annual Celebration of Student Research, Scholarship and Creativity, (Friday, January 23rd, from 1-4pm in Detchon International Hall) there will be four posters/talks by students conducting work in psychology. Two (by Colin Downey ’15 and Charles Wu ’15) describe work conducted in summer research internships, a third (by Lu Hong ’15) describes the results of an independent study, and the fourth (by Adam Boehm ’15, Daniel Bowes ’16, Keaton Holsinger ’15, Chris Stazinski ’15, Chase Young ’16, Niki Kazahaya ’18, & Adam Rains ’17) describes preliminary analyses from data collected on an immersion trip to Montreal last November.

[Edit: the Wabash web site has a nice write-up on the Celebration, including some quotes from Lu Hong '15, who was presenting research projects in both Psychology and Chemistry]

If you happen to be on campus, we hope to see you at the Celebration this afternoon, and we are very impressed with the wide range of work that our students have done over the last year!

Posters – 1-2:30PM – Detchon International Hall

#3 Adam Boehm, Daniel Bowes, Keaton Holsinger, Chris Stazinski, Chase Young, Niki Kazahaya, & Adam Rains Differences in brain activations during memory-guided and GPS-guided wayfinding in a virtual city
#9 Colin Downey Non-cardinal color mechanisms: Stimulus size matters
#17 Lu Hong Assessing navigation performance in virtual environments on mobile devices



2:10PM Detchon 111 Yunan Wu How do children learn to access the unsaid?



Summer research – Downey ’15

Colin Downey ’15 prepares for a presentation at mGluRs on his summer research. Photo by Dr. Z.

Colin Downey ’15 spent the summer of 2014 doing research at Wabash, and you can read about his experience below:

This summer I had the opportunity to work with Dr. Karen Gunther, PhD, on a color vision study at Wabash College. Our goal was to observe the effect of stimulus size on non-cardinal color mechanisms. We tested individual subjects, including ourselves, in visual search on a computer screen specifically tuned for visual testing. I was the one conducting the experiment on individuals and in the meantime, reading published articles that I was interpreting so that I could use them in my introduction for our paper that we will be working on throughout the 2014-2015 school year. The final goal of the project is for it to be published in a scholarly journal, and for such an experiment to be published, you need significant results, which we have. Our experiment tested the three different planes of color vision, which are red-green/blue-yellow, red-green/black-white (Luminance), and blue-yellow/Luminance. By testing the different color axes, we can combine them to see the difference in how subjects performed within each plane. In addition, our non-cardinal colors were tested as well, which were orange-turquoise and purple/lime. We manipulated the stimulus size from 0.5 – 3 degrees, to see how well subjects performed when testing their cardinal and non-cardinal colors within visual search. The significant results were shown by a main effect in dot size and color axes for the RG/BY, RG/LUM, and BY/LUM, by which we have started a pilot study with smaller dot sizes to see if we can attain results that will further validate our experiment.

Working over the summer at Wabash really helped prepare me for my senior project. Every year a psychology major has to choose a senior capstone, which is an experiment that they conduct and interpret on their own throughout the entire year. This summer project helped me get ahead on my capstone, by acquiring solid data, immersing myself in the articles and “language” of color vision, and taking this experiment to the next level by choosing it as a capstone project. Dr. Gunther and I also worked on drafts of my abstract and introduction of the final paper, which further put me ahead for my senior year. Being involved with research at Wabash College allows the student to be immersed in the field that they choose to study and learn with their professors as colleagues, instead of their students. In addition, summer research gives you opportunities to present your experiments elsewhere, for example, Dr. Gunther and I attended the Optical Society Vision Conference held in Philadelphia, PA at the University of Pennsylvania in October to present our research to a scientific audience specifically within color vision.

Finally, I am also planning on applying to graduate school for neuroscience, and I think that a research internship like the one I participated in will help me get to the next level, especially if our work is published at the end of the year. It was, and is, an awesome opportunity to work for Wabash College for anyone who thinks that they may want to pursue psychology, neuroscience, sensation & perception, cognition, or whatever it may be. Having the opportunity to be around professors everyday and learn from them while it was not the school year, was a humbling and exciting experience that I won’t forget. Lastly, I want to thank Dr. Gunther for giving me the opportunity for this research position and pushing me to be the best writer, scientist, and student that I can be.

A summer (of research) at Stanford – Wu ’15

Wu ’15 presenting work from his previous summer internship at Harvard in 2013

This summer I worked as a research intern at the Language and Cognition lab at Stanford University, where my job was not only data collection, participant recruitment and data analysis, but I also contributed my ideas to the study design and thought about how our study would fit in the bigger picture of research in the particular area. During the internship, I met fellow interns who are extremely brilliant psychologists, linguists and computer scientists hailing from distinct areas of the country and had excellent discussions with them at our weekly seminars. I was able to learn about curiously interesting ideas and perspectives as well as develop friendship with my peers who have similar goals and dreams in the future—to understand language as a cognitive system and more broadly, how the human mind processes and manipulates languages that are inherently symbolic to achieve concrete communicational and social goals.

My project this summer is mainly exploring children’s understanding of pragmatic inferences, in other words, their ability to “read between the lines”. Specifically, we are trying to understand whether children are able to process implicatures given a certain context and if not, what could improve their performance. Pragmatic inferences are ubiquitous in our daily life. For example, if A says : “Is John good-looking?” B answers: “Well, he has a good personality”. In this case, B is not just commenting on the personality of John, but also implying his answer to A’s question—which is very likely a negative one. So a pragmatic inference is when the meaning of a sentence goes beyond its literal sense. We, as speakers, follow certain rules, as summarized by Paul Grice. One of these rules is that one’s speech has to be informative but economic. As adults, we are proficient in dealing with these inferences, whereas children are found to be not as good. However, they are shown to be somewhat sensitive to which sentences are informative and which ones are not. So my mentors designed this experiment to assess children’s real-time processing of implicatures, where children are shown two plates—one has a banana, and the other has a banana and a carrot. If a sentence says: “Elmo’s plate has a banana”, children are expected to look at the plate that only has a banana more than the other one if they understand the speaker’s intentions, like the adults would. And it turns out that children younger than 4 are still not inferring the speaker’s intention. So we added a prosodic cue, which is a contrastive stress on the word “banana”, so the sentence becomes “Elmo’s plate has a BANANA”. We hypothesized that children should be able to pick up the speech cue to help them disambiguate the referent. As of now we only have preliminary data for the study, and they look very promising. I’m hoping to collect more data by the end of this year and see whether our hypothesis can be validated.

In terms of research methodology, the program is very computationally oriented so the interns are taught various extremely useful skills including programming languages like R, Javascript and HTML, experience with version control and code-sharing, and building mathematical models to simulate cognitive processes of language. The interdisciplinary nature and connection with cutting-edge technology really opened my eyes to a whole new world of conducting research and gave me fresh perspectives in the field of psychology.

If anyone is interested in the area of psycholinguistics, I strongly suggest they apply for a research position in the lab and explore what they can offer. For psychology research in general, I passionately encourage my fellow Wabash students to search for resources online in their area of interest and exploit them as best as they can for unique opportunities that could benefit their future career.

-Charles Wu ’15

(Train your) Brain Day 2014

The 6th annual Brain Day will be held at the Carnegie Museum in Crawfordsville on Saturday, July 12th from 1-4pm. This year’s theme is “Train Your Brain!”

Prof. Karen Gunther demonstrates the Rubber Hand Illusion at Brain Day 2010.

With the rise in popularity of “brain-training games” (think of the Lumosity commercials!), you may wonder: can you really change your brain? Well, brain-training games may not be worth your money, but your brain does change every day.

Join us on Brain Day for some simple demonstrations of how your brain adapts when the world changes (in prism-goggles cornhole), train your brain using biofeedback and using the Star Wars Force Trainer, and get tips on how to keep your brain healthy, and much more!

Since 2009, Wabash faculty and students have partnered with the Carnegie Museum to lead an afternoon of brain-related activities for all ages. Like Brain Awareness Week, which is organized by the Society for Neuroscience, Brain Day is intended to demonstrate basic principles of brain function, and to help us all better appreciate and care for our brains.

Wabash Psychology Department Intern Romeo Amao ’13 shows Dr. Keith Baird ’56 and his grandson, Nicholas Johnson, one of the sheep brain samples at Brain Day 2010

This year, three faculty from the Wabash College Psychology Department will lead Brain Day (Karen Gunther, Teresa Aubele-Futch and Neil Schmitzer-Torbert), who will be assisted by several Wabash students.

Prof. Neil Schmitzer-Torbert points out structures in a sheep brain at Brain Day 2010.

We hope that you can join us for another “brainy” years!

Summer psych in Hawaii: Reid ’15

Before starting his work this summer as a Sales Research Assistant Intern at Avangate, Jackson Reid ’15 took in the annual SIOP (Society for Industrial Organizational Psychology) conference in Oahu, Hawaii. The three-day conference included sessions on leadership, big data, high potential talent, self-determination theory, and more. Jackson wrote that his main reason for attending was to determine if he was interested in pursuing graduate study in Industrial and Organizational Psychology after Wabash, and whether he wanted to pursue a Master’s or PhD. After his discussions with many successful IO psychologists from all fields, which included former Presidents of SIOP and big name researchers, he has decided to pursue a PhD in IO psychology.