Academic Awards in Psychology 2023

On Tuesday April 18th, the psychology department was proud to recognize the accomplishments of our fantastic students. In the annual ceremony, twelve students received special recognition for their achievements in psychology through eight awards, and Psi Chi the Psychology Honor Society inducted new members. Read on to learn about this year’s awardees!

Senior Scholar in Psychology

Skyler Pokorny, 2023 Senior Scholar in Psychology

The senior scholar in psychology is the student with the highest GPA in Psychology courses. Ties are broken by highest GPA across all Roanoke College Courses. Congratulations to Skyler Pokorny for winning the title this year!

Charles E. Early Award

Isabelle Mildonian (left), 2023 Charles E. Early Award Recipient. and Dr. Buchholz (right).

The Charles E. Early award is granted in honor of Dr. Charles E. Early, retired Professor of Psychology who taught at Roanoke from 1988-2015. The award goes to the student who best embodies Dr. Early’s love of learning, powerful work ethic, keen intellect, warm humor, and deep appreciation for pie. This year’s recipient is Isabelle Mildonian. Congratulations Isabelle!

Curt R. Camac Student Research Award

Devin Brown (left) and Kristi Rolf (right). Not pictured: Maryam Nishtar

The Curt R. Camac Student Research Award was developed to honor Dr. Curt R. Camac’s support of student research. This year’s recipients were Devin Brown, Maryam Nishtar, and Kristi Rolf. Congratulations to all!

Jan H. Lynch Human Development Concentration Award

Left to right: Dr. Findley-Van Nostrand, Caroline Powell, Kosovare Fetinci, and Dr. Powell.

The Jan H. Lynch Human Development Concentration award is granted to a student who has demonstrated excellence in the Human Development Concentration. This year’s awardees are Caroline Powell and Kosovare Fetinci. Congratulations Caroline and Kosovare!

Karl W. Beck Award

Allyson Herriges, 2023 Karl W. Beck Awardee

The Karl W. Beck award is granted to a student with demonstrated excellence in psychology. This year’s awardee is Allyson Herriges. Congratulations Allyson!

Outstanding Students in Neuroscience Concentration

Outstanding Neuroscience Students Jarod Le (left) and Allyson Herriges (left) with Neuroscience Concentration coordinator Dr. Nichols (center).

This award is granted to students who demonstrate excellence in the Neuroscience Concentration. Congratulations to the 2023 recipients, Jarod Le and Allyson Herriges!

Outstanding Junior Psychology Majors

Left to right: Reagan Middelthon, Hannah Pluim, Sophia Contini, and Brian Schwenk

Seven juniors were recognized for outstanding academic success and potential for continued success in Psychology. Awardees were (pictured above) Reagan Middelthon, Hannah Pluim, Sophia Contini, Brian Shwenk; and (not pictured) Elizabeth Bain, Ciara Fadeley, and Timothy Hoffstaetter.

Psi Chi Achievement Award

Psi Chi Achievement Awardee Kristi Rolf (left) & Psi Chi Faculty Advisor Dr. Kennedy-Metz (right).

The Psi Chi Achievement Award is granted to a Psi CHi member who has best exemplified excellence in scholarship, leadership, and service. Chosen by faculty members in Psi Chi, the 2023 awardee is Kristi Rolf. Congratulations!

Psi Chi New Member Induction

Spring 2023 inductees of Psi Chi

Psi Chi also inducted students who have met the academic qualifications for membership in the Honorary Psychology Honor Society. Congratulations to all new members!

It’s been a fantastic year for RC Psychology and we are so proud of our students! Special congratulations and best wishes to the Class of 2023 as they head off into their future endeavors post-graduation.

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Honors Defense: Allyson Herrigies

Huge congratulations to senior Allyson Herriges who successfully defended her honors project on Tuesday April 18th!

Allyson Herriges ’23 prepares to defend her Honors in Psychology project.
She is joined by her son, Andrew, who has a neurodevelopmental disorder.

Allyson’s project was titled Evaluating the Impact of Zofran Exposure on Embryonic Neural Development in Zebrafish Using a Multi-Method Approach. During the defense, Allyson’s project advisor Dr. Drea was joined by committee members Dr. Lassiter and Dr. Kennedy-Metz.

Below is the abstract from Allyson’s paper:

“Ondansetron, commonly known as Zofran, is commonly prescribed as an antiemetic to pregnant females experiencing severe morning sickness. Zofran is often only given when the mother’s malnutrition poses a much greater risk to the fetus than exposure to the drug. While the drug may cause morphological abnormalities in development, relatively little has been done to examine gene expression changes. In this study we identified four genes (shank3a, shank3b, gabra1, and hgma2) with important links to neural development and, using Danio rerio, evaluated the expression of these genes after embryos were exposed to Zofran in the early stages of development. We also looked at behavioral development, including tail-flips, startle response, and optical response. Preliminary qPCR analysis has shown dysregulation in the specified genes. Embryos exposed to Zofran at laboratory levels showed a significant increase in tail-flipping at 28hpf, with a downward trend correlating to exposure level. These findings may offer insight into potential correlations to neurodevelopmental disorders, like autism spectrum disorder and ADHD, in children of mothers who used the drug while pregnant, and in turn allow doctors to better treat these conditions.”

Allyson will be graduating with honors on May 6th, 2023. Congratulations, Allyson!

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Why Psych? Psychology Week 2023

April 23-29 2023 is Psychology Week, a campaign from the American Psychological Association (APA). In honor of the week, we are highlighting some of the amazing people in the Roanoke College Psychology Department.

We asked two students and a faculty member to share their answer to the question, “Why Psychology?”

Timothy Hoffstaetter ’24

Timothy Hoffstaetter ’24, Psychology Major

Why psychology?

I choose to study psychology because of my passion for helping and uplifting others. Being educated on this subject allows for me to help others live their best and truest life. I also want to shoutout my sister because even though she is not in the field of psychology she inspires me every day to live my life by helping people. 

Dr. Christopher Buchholz

Dr. Christopher Buchholz, Associate Professor of Psychology

Why psychology?

I was drawn to psychology in a search for an answer to big questions like, What is consciousness? Do we have free will? How can we best live happy and meaningful lives? What I love about psychology and the human experience is that I am still learning new answers to these questions. I find joy in that search as well as in sharing what I have learned with others. 

Allyson Herriges ’23

Allyson Herriges ’23, Psychology Major (right) and her son (left)

Why psychology?

I chose to study psychology because I’m the mother of an autistic child. Through my studies I’ve been able to develop a better understanding of the disorder and have become a better parent as a result. I hope to spend my life researching the neurological basis of autism while also helping families like my own navigate the world, and make it a more autism-friendly place.

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Dr. Buchholz Selected for Dean’s Exemplary Service Award 2022-2023

Congratulations are in order for Dr. Buchholz who received the Roanoke College Dean’s Exemplary Service Award last week.

Dr. Christopher Buchholz

The annual Dean’s awards are granted based on nominations from the college community and include awards for exemplary teaching professional life, and service.

“The Dean’s Exemplary Service Award recognizes outstanding faculty service – either at Roanoke College or in the larger community – in ways that advance the mission of the College in seeking to develop students as whole persons and prepare them for lives of purpose and meaning.  Professional service may involve many factors, such as the number, quality, range or focus of service activities; honors or awards received from off-campus organizations; and the time invested relative to the time available for service activities.”

The announcement from the Dean last week highlighted the incredible dedication Dr. Buchholz shows to the College through service:

“This year’s Dean’s Exemplary Service Award recipient (…) lives and breathes Roanoke College and models to others [the] pillar of service. He currently serves on —count them–nine different college-wide committees, task forces, and groups, along with being a Faculty Marshal. This doesn’t even count the myriad service opportunities he participates in within his department.” 

Dr. Powell, Interim Chair of the Psychology Department, stated: “In each of these endeavors, he is thoughtful – considering the needs of the students and the resources of the college; is reliable – if he says he’s going to do it, he does it in an exceptionally timely manner; and is diligent – ensuring all facets are accounted for and completed appropriately.” 

Another colleague commented: “I have also observed (…) him being a stabilizing agent – consistently working to consider, respect, and understand various perspectives on a range of issues, and modeling such behavior not only to students, but also to junior faculty who are themselves striving to serve students.” 

The psychology department is proud to have Dr. Buchholz on our faculty. His dedication has impacted countless colleagues and students and we can’t thank him enough. Congratulations, Dr. Buchholz, and thank you for your service to our community!

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Honors Defense: Devin Brown

Huge congratulations to senior Devin Brown who successfully defended her honors project on Tuesday April 11th!

Devin Brown ’23 poses with her Honors in Psychology t-shirt after a successful defense

Devin’s project was titled The Pen is Mightier than the Brain: the Cognitive and Social Psychology Behind the Handwriting Legibility Effect. During the defense, Devin’s project advisor Dr. Carter was joined by committee members Dr. Kennedy-Metz and Dr. Brenzovich.

Below is the abstract from Devin’s paper:

The handwriting legibility effect suggests that the quality of handwriting can affect the grades that are assigned to student papers. There are both cognitive and personality based theories that give a basis for why this occurs, but there is a lack of cohesive research testing subcomponents of these theories. This research is a controlled experiment designed to fill this gap in the current literature.  To understand how handwriting quality contributes to evaluator perception of author competency, warmth, and similarity, these personality components were considered. For cognitive components, effort to read the essay, truthfulness of the answer, and complexity of the argument were studied. All of these were affected by the quality of handwriting the participants were exposed to except complexity. This research can be used in future studies to find and apply practical solutions to bring more equality in classroom settings for students that may have worse handwriting for a number of reasons. 

Congratulations, Devin!

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The Nutshell Games!

On Tuesday April 11th, three students from Dr. Kennedy-Metz’s psychophysiology research seminar went head-to-head in The Nutshell Games. Students had 90 second to communicate their current research project “in a nutshell” to a diverse audience of students and faculty from a variety of disciplines.

Morgan Micallef ’23

Undergraduate research is a key part of the Psychology Department’s mission. Every psychology major will conduct research in their senior seminar and more than 1 in 3 students are involved in a research lab each year.

Dr. Kennedy-Metz had a mission to teach her seminar students the importance of science communication through a fun and challenging lesson. I spoke with her about how the nutshell games came to be.

“I’ve always felt that the more high-profile (and potentially impactful) someone’s research becomes, the worse they are at communicating why it’s so important to the world.  Science communication is an essential skill that often doesn’t come naturally to us, and, to make matters worse, is chronically under-trained.  So, I felt a responsibility to emphasize the importance of science communication to students at an early stage in their career. ”

“I invited Dr. Patty Raun, Director of Virginia Tech’s Center for Communicating Science, to lead an improv day in my Research Seminar class, encouraging students to step outside of their comfort zone, embrace vulnerability, and communicate freely and meaningfully.”

Devin Brown ’23

“The goal of the subsequent Nutshell Games competition was for students to put this training to the test, and see how well they could communicate their semester-long projects in succinct, accessible terms to a non-specialist audience.  They had 90 seconds to share their research and convey its importance to the larger community, all while being judged by staff and faculty from 5+ departments across campus (including Chemistry, Psychology, Fine Arts, Music, Public Health, and Health and Human Performance).”

 Winning speaker AJ Palmer ’23 (center) is joined by team members Zoë Dunlap ’23 (left) and Allyson Herriges ’23 (right)

Dr. Kennedy-Metz invited students, faculty, and staff from a variety of backgrounds to simulate the real-world challenge of communicating science to people from a variety of backgrounds.

“One of my goals in gathering such a diverse group of staff and faculty was to showcase how difficult it is to distill a body of work and still communicate it effectively to audience members with such diverse backgrounds, along with the relevance and importance of doing so.  In the future, I hope to expand the scope of the Nutshell Games at Roanoke College to include competitors from across departments.”

We can’t wait to see how this competition grows in future years!

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