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Tag Archive 'Psychology Department'

More than 45 students presented their research or thesis research at the Psychology Research Poster Presentation April 24 in Beckham Hall. Oluwaremilekun Ojurongbe ’14 presented her study, “Illegality, Criminality and the Taxpayer’s Burden: The Incomplete U.S. Immigration Narrative.” Her advisor was Sarah Carney, visiting faculty with the Psychology Department.

More than 45 students presented their research or thesis research at the Psychology Research Poster Presentation April 24 in Beckham Hall. Oluwaremilekun Ojurongbe ’14 presented her study, “Illegality, Criminality and the Taxpayer’s Burden: The Incomplete U.S. Immigration Narrative.” Her advisor was Sarah Carney, visiting faculty with the Psychology Department.

Victoria Mathieson ’14 presented her research on “Identity, Appraisal, and Emotion: The Role of Culturally Relevant Pedagogy among Latino/a Middle School Students.” Her advisor was Patricia Rodriguez Mosquera, associate professor of psychology.

Victoria Mathieson ’14 presented her research on “Identity, Appraisal, and Emotion: The Role of Culturally Relevant Pedagogy among Latino/a Middle School Students.” Mathieson’s advisor was Patricia Rodriguez Mosquera, associate professor of psychology.

(more…)

The Wesleyan Faculty Writing Group meets frequently to work on independent writing projects in a group atmosphere. Pictured at a March meeting is, clockwise from left, Psyche Loui, assistant professor of psychology, assistant professor of neuroscience and behavior; Hilary Barth, associate professor of psychology, associate professor of neuroscience and behavior; Mariah Schug, visiting assistant professor of psychology; Sarah Wiliarty, associate professor of government, director of the Public Affairs Center; Lauren Caldwell, assistant professor of classical studies; and Anna Shusterman, assistant professor of psychology.

The Wesleyan Faculty Writing Group meets frequently to work on independent writing projects in a group atmosphere. Pictured at a March meeting is, clockwise from left, Psyche Loui, assistant professor of psychology, assistant professor of neuroscience and behavior; Hilary Barth, associate professor of psychology, associate professor of neuroscience and behavior; Mariah Schug, visiting assistant professor of psychology; Sarah Wiliarty, associate professor of government, director of the Public Affairs Center; Lauren Caldwell, assistant professor of classical studies; and Anna Shusterman, assistant professor of psychology.

Once a week, a group of Wesleyan faculty gather to work on individual projects. Although they come from different departments – psychology, classical studies, government, among others – they’re all working towards the same goal: to write, be published, and celebrate each others’ accomplishments.

The Wesleyan Faculty Writing Group, founded in 2010, provides an opportunity for faculty to come sit in a shared space and work on any writing projects they are pursuing. Participants are currently working on book proposals, book manuscripts, articles, reviews, grant and fellowship applications and op-eds.

“All of us have found that the occasional change of scene provided by the Writing Group – just moving outside our individual offices for a few hours once a week – can provide a welcome boost to productivity,” said Lauren Caldwell, assistant professor of classical studies.

Caldwell, who considers herself one of the group’s “regulars,” is using the group time to work on a forthcoming book, Roman Girlhood and the Fashioning of Femininity, and a book review of Susan Mattern’s The Prince of Medicine: Galen in the Roman Empire. She also wrote an op-ed published in The Hartford Courant

“The group also has allowed us to meet faculty outside our departments and divisions and to gain a real appreciation for the breadth of faculty research across the university,” she said.

In the past few years, Hilary Barth, associate professor of psychology, associate professor of neuroscience and behavior, has had papers published in several journals including Cognitive Development, the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General and Current Biology. She is now using writing group time to work on additional journal articles and a grant proposal. She credits the writing group for helping “in some way with everything” she’s published during this time.

“For me, it’s really helpful to have a quiet, dedicated space and time for writing without distraction,” Barth said. “The group members keep each other on task well. Interruptions are minimized, and that is a lot harder to impose when you are by yourself, given the many other personal and professional tasks that always need to be done.”

Mariah Schug, visiting assistant professor of psychology, also had papers published in Cognitive Development and an op-ed on same-sex marriage in The Hartford Courant while taking part in the writing group. Schug also used the group time to focus on two grant proposals she submitted this semester.

“The breaks can be very isolating for faculty. We find that working together, instead of separately in our own offices, helps us to stay focused and motivated over the breaks. We have all found the group to improve our productivity.”

The group meets at various locations on campus including a conference table in the Judd Hall Lounge, the conference room the Public Affairs Center, or in a classroom in the Allbritton Center. In 2013, the group acquired its own printer and coffee maker, “making us an official group,” Caldwell said.

Wherever the group works, they maintain a quiet atmosphere and occasionally consult with each other about writing-related issues.But unlike a writing workshop, the Writing Group does not present their work to colleagues for feedback. Participation isn’t mandatory, and faculty choose to attend when they can.

The group currently meets about once a week and meets daily throughout the summer.

For more information email Lauren Caldwell.

Mike Robinson studies the role of uncertainty in gambling, and how in a certain environment, the lack of predictability can spur more malicious, compulsive, gambling

Mike Robinson studies the brain mechanisms underlying motivation and reward and how they come together to produce desire. (Photo by Olivia Drake)

In this issue of The Wesleyan Connection, we speak with Mike Robinson, assistant professor of psychology, assistant professor of neuroscience and behavior, who joined the faculty in January.

Q: Welcome to Wesleyan, Professor Robinson! Please fill us in on your life up to now.

A: I was born and grew up in France, in the west suburbs of Paris, but my parents are both British, so that makes me bi-national and bilingual. I went to high school in France and decided to go to university to study neuroscience at the University of Sussex in the U.K. Then I went to McGill University in Montreal, Canada to do a master’s and a Ph.D. in experimental psychology. From there, I went to the University of Michigan for a post-doc before coming to Wesleyan. So I’ve almost jumped a country per position.

Q: What brought you to Wesleyan?

A: I was attracted by the balance Wesleyan offers—both the work-life balance, and the work balance between the amount of research and the amount of teaching. I really enjoy both teaching and research, but I always felt like I’d have to compromise one or the other if I went to a research institution or a more teaching-intensive small liberal arts school. I feel like Wesleyan has the perfect balance. Plus the opportunity to be with really high-quality students, which I thought would be really stimulating and almost like working with grad students. I currently have four students in my lab, and so far I’ve been very impressed by them.

Q: What classes are you teaching this semester?

A: I’m teaching one course called “Motivation and Reward.” In the fall, I’ll be co-teaching “Intro to Neurobiology” with Jan Naegele (professor of biology, professor of neuroscience and behavior, director of the Center for Faculty Development), and a research methods course on research in animal behavior. Next spring, I’ll be teaching “Motivation and Reward” again, and an advanced research course looking at where a lot of my research is focused, which is gambling, diet-induced obesity and drug addiction.

Q: Please tell us more about your research interests.

A: I’m interested in understanding how the brain works. I’ve always wanted to do something that helps people in as direct a way as possible, considering I’m not doing human research. I started out doing research on drug addiction. My Ph.D. work looked at the ability that we may have to affect memory after it’s been created and consolidated, either strengthening or weakening it. (more…)

Professor Jeanine Basinger is teaching “Marriage in the Movies: A History," starting April 21.

Professor Jeanine Basinger is teaching “Marriage in the Movies: A History,” starting April 21.

Always wanted to take a course with legendary film professor Jeanine Basinger? Miss the first run of Professor of Psychology Scott Plous’ wildly popular “Social Psychology” MOOC? Now’s your chance!

The next round of Wesleyan’s massive open online courses (MOOCs) is starting up this month, with “Marriage in the Movies: A History” launching April 21. Basinger, the Corwin-Fuller Professor of Film Studies, is teaching the course based on her book, I Do and I Don’t: A History of Marriage in the Movies.

“This is essentially a descriptive course on stories and stars and business strategies,” says Basinger, who is also chair of film studies and curator of the cinema archives. “It provides information and shows clips for support and example. It’s not philosophical; it’s not a formalist analysis. It’s a simple study about content in the movies designed for people who love films and would like to have more information about some of them and have, what I hope, will be a fun conversation on the changes that evolved over time in stories about marriage that were made in Hollywood.”

In the course’s intro video, Basinger says the course will explore “how Hollywood had trouble telling the story and selling the story of marriage on film.” (more…)

Newly tenured faculty are, from left, Lisa Cohen, Abigail Hornstein, Miri Nakamura and Anna Shusterman.

Newly tenured faculty are, from left, Lisa Cohen, Abigail Hornstein, Miri Nakamura and Anna Shusterman.

The Board of Trustees recently conferred tenure to four Wesleyan faculty. Their promotions take effect July 1.

They are: Lisa Cohen, associate professor of English; Abigail Hornstein, associate professor of economics; Miri Nakamura, associate professor of Asian languages and literatures; and Anna Shusterman, associate professor of psychology. Other tenure announcements may be released after the Board’s May meeting.

“Please join us in congratulating them on their impressive records of accomplishment,” said Wesleyan President Michael Roth.

Brief descriptions of their areas of research and teaching are below:

Lisa Cohen joined the English Department’s creative writing faculty in Fall 2007. Her courses are focused on nonfiction writing, the literature of fact, modernism, and gender and sexuality studies. She has published a wide range of essays and the critically acclaimed book, All We Know: Three Lives (Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 2012). In this work, she presents the biographies of three 20th-century women whose significance in modernist culture in England and the United States is equaled only by their absence from previous historical investigations. Critics have widely recognized the stylistic achievement of her writing, as well as the innovations of her archival project and her reframing of the genre of biography.

Abigail Hornstein teaches courses in a variety of areas, including corporate finance, investment finance, and econometrics. She has a particular interest in multinational strategy and China, and her work addresses such questions as how corporate characteristics affect the quality of corporate capital budgeting decisions, and how corporate and country-level governance mechanisms affect both foreign direct investment in China and the stock listing patterns abroad of Chinese firms.

Miri Nakamura teaches courses on literary and filmic approaches to Japanese modernity. More particularly, she works on Japanese literature from the Meiji era to the outbreak of the Second Sino-Japanese War in 1937 – with a focus on fantastic fiction, including robot literature and gender theory. In her forthcoming book, Monstrous Bodies: The Rise of the Uncanny in Modern Japan, she brings methodologies from literary studies, cultural history, and critical theory to bear on understanding the link between monstrosity and femininity in the modern Japanese imagination.

Anna Shusterman offers courses in developmental psychology and on relations between language and thought. Always interested in building bridges between laboratory-based findings and real-world interventions, she focuses on the cognitive development of young children and that of populations with varied linguistic backgrounds. Her research has shown multiple ways that humans become more effective at spatial and numerical reasoning once they master the relevant language, such as “left” and “right” in the domain of space or the natural numbers in the domain of mathematics.

Jillian Roberts ’15

Jillian Roberts ’15

Jillian Roberts ’15 presented a poster at the Annual Meeting of the Eastern Psychological Association in Boston, Mass. on March 15.

The poster, titled “Influence of minimal group membership on children’s ideas of equality,” is co-authored by Jessica Taggart, research associate and Psychology Department lab coordinator, and Hilary Barth, associate professor of psychology, associate professor of neuroscience and behavior.

Roberts developed the project herself and has conducted the research over the past two years.

Psyche Loui, assistant professor of psychology, assistant professor of neuroscience and behavior, presented a talk at a symposium held March 6-8 at the University of Rochester Medical Center’s Schmitt Program on Integrative Brain Research (SPIBR). Her talk, titled, “Action and Perception in the Musical Brain,” described current research from her lab and others that related to the structure and function of the brain to music perception and production, with examples from tone-deafness, absolute pitch, music learning and strong emotional responses to music.

Beverly Daniel Tatum '75

Beverly Daniel Tatum ’75

Spelman College President Beverly Daniel Tatum ’75 was presented with a national academic leadership award from the Carnegie Corp. of New York in December 2013. She was the first recipient from a historically black college and the first ever in the state of Georgia.

Tatum was selected because of her work supporting female students pursuing  science, technology, engineering and math at the university.  More African-American women earned doctorates at Spelman in those fields between 1997 and 2006 than at Georgia Tech, Duke and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill combined. Tatum was a psychology major at Wesleyan who went on to earn her Ph.D. from the University of Michigan.

With the award comes a $500,000 grant toward Tatum’s academic initiatives. She plans to use half to help establish an endowed computer science faculty position at the college and the other half to help create the President’s Safety Net Fund, to financially assist students in emergency situations who are nearing graduation.

Patricia Rodriguez Mosquera, associate professor of psychology, and her former student, Leslie Tan BA/MA ’11, are co-authors of a paper published in the Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, Nov. 19, 2013.

In the paper, titled, “Shared Burdens, Personal Costs on the Emotional and Social Consequences of Family Honor,” the authors present two studies on the consequences of threats to family honor. In Study 1, 99 Pakistanis (67 females, 30 males, 2 undisclosed) and 134 European-Americans (65 females, 69 males) reported a recent insult to their family where the offender was either a family or a non-family member. The insults targeted the family as collective or individual family members other than parents. Across targets, insults to one’s family had more negative emotional (e.g., more intense anger, shame) and social (greater relationship strain) consequences for Pakistanis than for European-Americans. Study 2 examined whether these effects extend to insults to parents. Fifty-one Pakistanis (29 females, 22 males) and 58 European-Americans (30 females, 28 males) responded to an insult-to-parents or an insult-to-self scenario. Insults-to-parents and insults-to-self elicited similar emotional responses among Pakistanis. By contrast, European-Americans responded more negatively (e.g., more intense anger) to an insult-to-self than to an insult-to-parents.

Psyche Loui is teaching "Cognitive Neuroscience" this semester.

In Psyche Loui’s “Cognitive Neuroscience” course, students learn how the brain enables the mind. Pictured on the computer monitor are 2-D and 3-D views of diffusion tensor images, which are a type of Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the brain.

In this edition of The Wesleyan Connection, we speak to Psyche Loui, a new assistant professor of psychology, assistant professor of neuroscience and behavior.

Q: Professor Loui, welcome to Wesleyan! Please tell us about your life up to now. Where did you grow up and go to school?

A: I’m from Hong Kong, originally. When I was 13, I moved to Vancouver, Canada, so I’m Canadian. But I just got a Green Card, which is exciting. I went to Duke as an undergrad, where I was a psychology and music double major and earned a neuroscience certificate. Then I went to grad school in psychology at the University of California at Berkeley. I was jointly advised by faculty in psychology and neuroscience and in music. My main interest is music perception and cognition.

Before coming to Wesleyan, I was a post-doc and then an instructor at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, which is one of the teaching hospitals of Harvard Medical School. My post was in the Department of Neurology—which is a little bit different than my psychology/ neuroscience background—but my lab focused on music and the brain, so that fit really well with my interests.

Q: What brought you to Wesleyan?

A: After a few years of being at a big med school, it’s easy to be kind of jaded and feel like the science is dependent on grant funding, connections and politics. It’s been very nice coming here and feeling like there’s still the energy of being creative and asking good questions, and the integrity. That’s what struck me. And the people were really so nice.

I applied very selectively within the northeast area. I wasn’t really in a rush to leave the Harvard situation. Among the interviews I had, Wesleyan definitely stood out as the nicest place to be.

Q: What classes are you teaching this year?

A: I’m teaching “Cognitive Neuroscience” this semester, which is the study of how the brain enables the mind. We spent the first third of the class studying the physics behind it—How does fMRI work? (more…)

Psyche Loui, assistant professor of psychology, assistant professor of neuroscience and behavior, recently had a paper, “Effects of Voice on Emotional Arousal,” published in Frontiers in Psychology. Loui is lead author, and co-wrote the paper with Justin Bachorik, Hui C. Li and Gottfried Schlaug of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center/ Harvard Medical School, where Loui worked as an instructor before coming to Wesleyan this year. The study explores the effects of lyrics and the voice on the emotional processing of music and on listeners’ preferences. The researchers found robust effects of vocal content on participants’ perceived arousal, independent of the familiarity of the song. Females were more influenced by vocals than males, and these gender effects were enhanced among older participants.

The study, published online Sept. 7, can be read here.

Clara Wilkins, assistant professor of psychology, has studied perceptions of discrimination against whites and other groups who hold positions of relative advantage in society—such as heterosexuals and men—since she was a graduate student at the University of Washington. She became became interested in the topic of perceptions of bias against high-status groups after hearing Glenn Beck call President Barack Obama racist. (Photo by Olivia Drake)

Clara Wilkins, assistant professor of psychology, has studied perceptions of discrimination against whites and other groups who hold positions of relative advantage in society—such as heterosexuals and men—since she was a graduate student at the University of Washington. She became became interested in the topic of perceptions of bias against high-status groups after hearing Glenn Beck call President Barack Obama racist. (Photo by Olivia Drake)

Clara Wilkins, assistant professor of psychology, is interested in research showing that whites are increasingly likely to see themselves as victims of racial discrimination, despite persistent gaps in income and other forms of inequality between blacks and whites in the U.S. Perceiving bias against whites is even more pervasive in white young adults than in the population as a whole, with 58 percent of whites aged 18-24 agreeing that, “discrimination against whites has become as big a problem as discrimination against blacks and other minorities.”

In a new study, Wilkins and Joseph Wellman, postdoctoral fellow in psychology, investigated how whites react to claims of anti-white discrimination. Specifically, they were interested in learning how espousing a rosy worldview about basic fairness in society affects those reactions. The results were published online Aug. 15 in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology in an article titled, “Status Legitimizing Beliefs Predict Positivity Toward Whites Who Claim Anti-White Bias.”

The paper, also co-authored by Cheryl Kaiser at the University of Washington, can be read online here. According to Wilkins, it is the first empirical study demonstrating that whites’ reactions to claims of anti-white bias are shaped by their ideology, and it has important implications for legal cases on topics such as affirmative action.

For their study, the authors had white participants read a story about a white man in his 30s who failed to receive a promotion at work. The promotion was given instead to a co-worker named Tyrone (a stereotypical black name). (more…)

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