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2018 Cohort Profiles

Aleyda Arreola

student profile

I am interested in the social cognitive development of pre-school aged children. For my thesis, I plan to examine how prosocial behavior, language, and intergroup biases are related. After completing the Master of Arts in Psychological Research program, I hope to receive my Ph.D. and become a professor so that I am able to conduct my own research while also sharing my admiration of psychology in a classroom setting.

Supervisor: Dr. Warnell

Christopher Baroody

student profile

Because the human mind does not exist in isolation, psychological researchers must consider the effects of culture and economic status on the subjective experiences of the individuals they are studying. The research questions which most interest me exist at this level, where self and society intersect, specifically within the context of the sub-cultures and psychological states associated with criminality. One of my research objectives then is to analyze how consumption of the artistic and narrative expressions of criminal sub-cultures influences the perceptions and identities of those thus exposed.  By collecting and analyzing such data, we can better understand the psychological makeup of those more likely to be influenced by the cultural expressions of outlaw subcultures and thus deconstruct the appeal and influence thereof.  While these specific issues most intrigue me, the realm of psychology exists at the frontier of an indispensable branch of science and medicine, and I hope to further refine my aims and objectives through my contact with the faculty and students of the university.  In a broader sense, I am intrigued by issues dealing with self-identity, perception, and the influence of culture and society on individual psychological states.

Supervisor: Dr. Osborne

Dalton Edwards

student profile

My research interests are in cognitive neuroscience. Currently, I would like to work to develop practical and economic portable electroencephalogram (EEG) set ups to be used with more naturalistic tasks and environments as opposed to conventional laboratory environments. My thesis is based around assessing data from EEG tasks performed in a laboratory versus naturalistic environment. I plan to pursue a Ph.D. in the future.

Supervisor: Dr. Trujillo

Alyse Finch

student profile

My research concerns neuropsychology and cognitive health. I am interested in research concerning memory and learning, specifically how memory is affected as people age. My overall goal is to study neural degenerative disorders and cognitive impairment in individuals with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. At present, I am conducting research that investigates the dual-process model of memory and the difference between memory recall and familiarity in young adults. For my thesis, I hope to incorporate the use of electroencephalography and event-related potentials to further explore those ideas. In the future, I wish to pursue a Ph.D. in Neuropsychology and continue research within an academic setting.

Supervisor: Dr. Deason

Ashley Frost

student profile

I am currently focused on research seated in sex, gender, stereotypes, in-groups, and LGBTQIA+ experiences. My research aims to better understand current social perceptions and influence legislation aimed at educating youths about these topics on a public level. My goal is to enhance the understanding of perceptions of sex, virginity, consent, and personality change with milestone educational achievements.

Supervisor: Dr. Mendez

Ethan Gibeaut

student profile

My research is focused in health psychology. I am interested in the factors that influence adherence to generalized and professional medical advice. I hope to gain a better understanding of those factors (be they interpersonal, cultural, or social) and the influence that they hold over responsible use of prescription drugs, general lifestyle habits, and the misuse of prescription-strength drugs. In the future I hope to pursue a doctoral degree.

Supervisor: Dr. Haskard-Zonierek

Merab Gomez

student profile

In broad terms, my research interests are a combination of social, health and cross-cultural psychology. Currently my thesis is focused on psychosocial factors in relation to social media activity and interactions. My professional goals are to attend an experimental psychology PhD program and work within academia. I’d like to continue developing my research interests as a professor.

Supervisor: Dr. Howard

Eduardo Hernandez

student profile

My research focuses primarily in the field of cognitive psychology, specifically, the study of memory and language. I’m interested in understanding the underlying mechanisms, limits, and ways to improve our memory retention. To do that, I must research and understand the circumstances and stages of processing where memory fails. Similarly, I’m interested in the areas of directed forgetting, semantics, and episodic memory. I’m very interested in the area of bilingualism and the difference in language processing between monolinguals and bilinguals. Currently, I’m interested in discovering the impact speaking multiple languages has on a person’s cognitive development. Furthermore, for my thesis, I hope to research and further identify the benefits that bilingualism can bring an individual. In a world where there is an increase in cross-cultural interactions and international affairs, it is imperative that the benefits of said skill be thoroughly studied. Lastly, I hope to incorporate research techniques such as eye-trackers in order to study the relationship between pupil dilation, memory, and language. In the future, I hope to complete a PhD in Cognitive Psychology and work as a professor and researcher in a university setting.

Supervisor: Dr. Tooley

Rabecca Hernandez

student profile

My research interests fall into the field of clinical psychology. Specifically, I am interested in substance use, addiction, and post-traumatic stress disorder. I am currently investigating the relationship between substance use stigma and patient/health care provider communication. In the future, I hope to pursue a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology and further develop my career as a clinician and researcher.

Supervisor: Dr. Haskard-Zolnierek

Brian Hill

student profile

In the cross-cultural component of psychology, the variable and invariable psychological aspects of a diverse range of cultures are intriguing to begin to ascertain, learn, and understand. Why people think, act, and perceive the world is a construction of the environment in which they were raised or have lived in. I have always had a fascination with the social component of psychology, eager to understand how the daily interactions of people can be attributed to the assorted places of origin and cultures from which they are derived.  Moreover, I want to understand the implications of demographics on role development, and whether this development has similarities across varying origins and cultures. In addition to cross-cultural psychology, I have a great interest in of human sexuality, specifically studying different types of sexual fetishes in varying populations, including bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, sadism and masochism. I hope to combine my interests in  psychology of human sexuality, social psychology, and cross-cultural psychology to conduct research on the differences in interpersonal attitudes towards sadists/non-sadists, males/females, and African Americans/Caucasians. Regarding my career pursuit, I would like to get my M.D. and become a plastic surgeon.

Supervisor: Dr. Mendez

Sierra Kaiser

student profile

My research interest is in human sexuality, specifically related to sexual fluidity and the developmental changes of sexual orientation from childhood to adulthood. My thesis will focus on how attachment styles, relationship satisfaction with parental figures and other life events influence changes in sexual attraction. After completing my M.A. in psychological research, I plan to pursue a doctoral degree to help further develop my research and data analysis skills. My professional goals are to become a professor and run my own research lab at a university.

Supervisor: Dr. Hu

Kyle Kilchrist

student profile

My research interests are primarily in neuropsychology, particularly in relation to what factors may affect the performance of individuals during neuropsychological assessments. I am currently interested in how the presentation of an assessment from the test administrator’s perspective might affect results of the test. I also have interests in biological psychology, especially in relation to biomarkers of abnormal behavior. In the future, I plan to pursue a career in pediatric neuropsychology.

Supervisor: Dr. Etherton

Dalton Klare

student profile

I am interested in psychopathology and the psychosocial correlates of using and abusing drugs. I am particularly interested in self-destructive behavior, dysfunctional coping strategies, and impulsive decision making. My thesis intends to investigate the mechanisms that increase risk for drug use among college students and young adults of sexual minority status. My goal is to identify risk factors to develop and inform targeted preventative and rehabilitative intervention efforts focused on reducing LGBTQIA+ youth substance use and substance use disorders. After earning my Master’s degree, I plan on pursuing a PhD in Clinical Psychology with the ultimate goal of becoming a professor and conducting research at a university.

Supervisor: Dr. Schepis

Alyssa Kopecki

student profile

I am interested in cross-cultural psychology, social psychology, and cognitive psychology. Particularly, I am interested in attraction, scale development, and memory. My thesis project will focus on the role of affect and cognition in interpersonal attraction. In the future, I would hope to develop reliable and valid psychological scales that can be used in cross-cultural research.

Supervisor: Dr. Davis

Anna Madden-Rusnak

student profile

I am interested in the intersection between computational neuroscience and real-life health issues. Specifically, in neurodegenerative disorders, like Alzheimer’s, I am interested in how we can use technology to help reduce the prevalence of this disease and limited access to diagnostic tools among Americans today. I study EEG and how we can use algorithms on the data from resting state readings to predict diagnoses from Mild Cognitive Impairment to Alzheimer’s. Using this more affordable, and less invasive method, might be a great solution to creating a more accessible option for managing the growing issues of Alzheimer’s among our aging population.

Supervisor: Dr. Trujillo

Aspen Madrid

student profile

On a general level, I am interested in the study of human memory and cognition. I am particularly interested in the development of false memories, potential interventions, and investigating concepts of memory in applied settings. Through my research, I hope to cultivate a better understanding of false memory within the field of psychology, as well as provide the public with meaningful information about memory and its fallibility. My thesis will focus on the use of cultural priming to promote more accurate cross-racial face recognition and identification in forensic settings.

Supervisor: Dr. Oberle

Mark Stern

student profile

Broadly, I am interested in cognitive psychology and neuroscience. My specific research interest is investigating how Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) may enhance certain cognitive functions such as memory, a topic that is being debated in the current literature. tDCS is a non-invasive neurostimulation device that applies a small electrical current to the head via electrodes. It has been shown to improve cognitive function in patient populations, but not always in healthy populations. Through my research, I plan to investigate how these tDCS devices modulate certain cognitive functions. After completing my master’s degree, I plan to pursue a doctoral degree in psychology with the career goals of teaching and doing research.

Supervisors: Dr. Deason & Dr. Trujillo

Courtney Wilson

student profile

My research interests include emotion regulation styles and stress response regarding different characteristics of personality and cognitive processing, specifically personal preferences in music. I am also interested in the cognitive and behavioral processes related to stress disorders and generalized anxiety, addictive and impulsive behaviors, and attention processing.

Supervisor: Dr. Graham