It’s been a busy year as usual for RC Psych! On Thursday April 20th, the Psychology Department took over the first floor of Fintel Library for the Spring 2023 poster session! Students, faculty, and staff from across campus gathered to hear psychology students present their research and experiential learning experiences.
Scroll on for photos from the day and visit us on social media to congratulate our hard-working students!
It’s been a great year of research and experiential learning for RC Psych! We can’t wait to see how these students apply their skills in the future.
Huge congratulations to senior Allyson Herriges who successfully defended her honors project on Tuesday April 18th!
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!
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.
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.”
“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).”
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!
On Thursday December 8th, the Roanoke College community gathered to see psychology students present their latest research and internship experiences. This event is held at the end of every semester and always draws a crowd. As usual, Fintel library was packed with students, staff, and faculty alike to celebrate the hard work of driven psychology students.
Scroll through the photos below to see how our students enhance their learning beyond the classroom!
Psychology students love research! Senior seminar, honors in the major, and independent studies are just a few of many ways students conduct research under the supervision of faculty. These experiences are all presented at the poster session as seen in the pictures below.
HNRS 260 Projects
This semester, Dr. Findley-Van Nostrand taught an Honors-260 course titled The Psychology of Aggression. For their final project, students in the class worked in groups to create informational brochures or flyers summarizing practical applications of the topic they studied throughout the semester. In this course, students from a variety of academic backgrounds learned about the discipline of psychology and its applications.
Many students also shared the workplace experience they gained through internships during the summer or school year. A broad range of internships qualify for academic credit and prepare students for the workforce after graduation.