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Student Research Gets PRIME Time Exposure

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    The Department of Psychology hosted its 14th annual Psychology Research Initiatives Mentorship Experience (PRIME) presentation of undergraduate research posters on July 29. Chairman Rod Wellens, faculty, graduate students, family, and friends were on hand to observe what, for some of the 16 undergraduate summer research fellows, was their first professional poster presentation.

    To create their posters, students in PRIME  worked with faculty and graduate student mentors in their laboratories for 20 hours a week for 10 weeks this summer. Their task: to identify a research question, generate hypotheses, design a study, collect data, analyze the results, and discuss the implications of their work. Each student made a brief oral presentation describing their research at the PRIME Poster Presentation.

    Most of the PRIME students have plans to pursue post-baccalaureate training in psychology. To help them understand the important relationship between research and graduate school applications, Victoria Noriega, PRIME coordinator, and Sarah Henry, graduate student coordinator, conducted weekly meetings to discuss topics including protocol for working in a research lab, research methodology, research ethics, becoming a professional, a mentor’s perspective on what makes a good graduate student, and extensive information on how to prepare for graduate school. The weekly meetings also helped students learn about other research being conducted in the department and provide support for their fellow PRIME participants. About two-thirds of the PRIME students will go on to complete their senior honors theses to earn departmental honors.

    The program began in 1998 as part of the national effort to increase minority representation in the biopsychological research and career pipeline. For the first 11 years, the Department of Psychology received funding from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences in a program that was administered by the American Psychological Association. During that time, former Provost Luis Glaser also provided matching funds to expand the program and support students regardless of ethnicity or research interest. When the funding for the project ended, the department allocated partial funding from the Fred C. and Helen Donn Flipse endowment to the Department of Psychology for this purpose. All students received a small stipend to help with expenses over the summer.

    To date, the PRIME program has supported 190 students, each of whom has completed the summer program with a poster and many of whom have gone on to graduate school and research careers, with some becoming university faculty members.

    Pictured above, back row: Sarah Henry, Nick Banerjee, Maureen Myrtil, Brittany Friedman, Andrew Bromley, Victoria Noriega, director of undergraduate studies in the Department of Psychology, and Jillian Armstrong. Second row: Kristina Samour, Amanda Ting, Victoria Tamayo, Audrey Chen, Gilly Bortman, Randi Franklin, and Natasha Benitez. Front row: Alexandra Monzon, Tiffany Caldas, Gayle Rotmil, Merissa Goolsarran, and Ashley Tirado.


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