Graduate Fellow Research

Teresa DiTommaso
Graduate Fellow 2017-2018

"During my fellowship, I had the privilege to work with Dr. Alison Stoner on multiple research projects. One of the research projects is a measurement development project focused on individuals with cystic fibrosis and their health-related behaviors. Tasks throughout the beginning of this project included literature reviews, choosing measures for participants to complete, developing and editing IRB proposals, and completing the pre-pilot stage. One major task for this project I was assigned was creating multiple surveys through RedCap that will be used in the pilot. Another major project that Dr. Stoner and I worked on throughout this past year was a project that focused on chronically ill individuals and transition to college. This project involved literature reviews, development and editing of IRB proposals, development of the surveys, participant recruitment, overseeing and managing participation, data collection and entry, and calculating early results. Both of these projects are in the relatively early stages, so it was special to be able to witness the spark of an idea turn into actual data.  In addition to these major projects, Dr. Stoner and I continued to add to her projects on obesity and chronic pain, pediatric pain treatments, and self-esteem and internalizing behaviors.

In addition to working on these projects, I had the opportunity to submit a poster to the New England Psychological Association (NEPA) for their conference in November. Both posters submitted by our lab have been accepted and we will be attending the conference later on this year. Throughout my fellowship, I was able to gain insight into a different field of psychology, build my research knowledge and skills, attain a knowledgeable mentor, and develop a deeper sense of direction moving forward in my time here at Assumption College and beyond."

William Nall
Graduate Fellow 2017-2018

"The graduate fellowship experience has been a highlight of my time at Assumption College. The fellowship allows one to experience aspects of psychological research, development, proposal, and implementation that cannot be found elsewhere. It provides students with an avenue to explore pathways of professional development previously never considered. As a graduate fellow I was able to form strong academic relationships with the professors and professionals outside of the program. The experience vastly expands professional and academic networks that are vital in one’s professional development.

Those interested in continuing education towards a Ph.D should highly consider applying for the graduate fellowship. The fellowship provides an opportunity for students to have their name published and/or to speak at a professional presentation. Being a fellow allows students to obtain accolades in the field which strengthen one’s application towards doctoral programs. The graduate fellowship at Assumption College is a unique experience that should be considered by any potential and current student in the Clinical Counseling Psychology Program."

Allison Shea
Graduate Fellow 2016-2017
Undergraduate Degree: Saint Michael's College, B.A. in Psychology

"For my graduate fellowship I had the amazing opportunity to work with Professor Kuersten-Hogan. Her study was regarding co-parenting, emotional expressiveness, and depression in new parents. First semester my responsibilities were coding co-parenting measures in new parents with their 3 month old baby. Couples engaged in a play task in which each parent took turns playing with the baby separately, playing all together, and discussing the activity. Some of the measures I was coding, for example, were competition, cooperation, and warmth among partners. I also transcribed pre-natal and post-natal interviews. Second semester, I learned a new coding system and am in the process of coding emotional expressiveness between the parents and a doll, representing their baby, before the baby was born. My fellowship consists of weekly meetings with Professor Kuersten-Hogan in order to discuss any challenges in the coding process and future directions. I am greatly looking forward to continuing this work this semester. I would highly recommend any student interested in gaining valuable research experience to take the opportunity to apply for this fellowship."

Jared Manteuffel
Graduate Fellow 2015-2016

"I worked with Dr. Kuersten-Hogan on her coparenting study during my fellowship. My responsibilities included coding prenatal parent play activities with a doll representing their future child.  One theme I coded, for example, was on how supportive parents were of their partner’s playtime with the doll.  My other main responsibility was transcribing and coding interviews with individual parents three months after their child’s birth. I met with Dr. Kuersten-Hogan every week to discuss progress, next steps, and any sticking points. I also had the opportunity to accompany her on her trips to interview parents for the study, which gave me the opportunity to observe the full process behind the videos I was transcribing and coding. I’m looking forward to learning how her study progresses and turns out in the future. The graduate fellowship is an amazing opportunity to learn and grow, and I highly suggest all students pursue this chance."

Katherine Schmidt
Graduate Fellow 2015-2016
Undergraduate Degree: Assumption College, B.A. in Psychology and Human Services and Rehabilitation Studies

"This year I completed my Graduate Fellowship with Dr. Paula Fitzpatrick working on three different projects. The first project was working on uncovering individuals’ perceptions about the biological motions of individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder. We have been able to take this information and present it at multiple conferences, including the New England Psychological Association 2015 Conference and the 18th International Conference on Perception and Action at the University of Minnesota. This project has been such a learning experience because not only was I able to continue the research project I began as an undergraduate student at Assumption, but I was able to take this information to two conferences and share my findings with other professionals in the field of psychology. The second project that I worked on with Professor Fitzpatrick involved data collection at UMASS. For this project I was able to work with colleagues over at UMASS to use an EEG scan in order to measure different brain waves involved in both movement and monitoring movement for both typically developing individuals and individuals with ASD. The third project that I was involved with looked into elementary school students’ handwriting skills and the connections to literacy. Each of these projects has allowed me to practice different skills associated with the field, including everything from data collection and entry to writing a paper and presenting it to colleagues across the country. Overall this experience has not only allowed me to further my experience with research, but also to be able to interpret and understand research studies as I continue on in my career."

Suyi Liu
Graduate Fellow 2013-2014
Undergraduate Degree: Clark University, B.A. in General Psychology

"As a Graduate Fellow at Assumption College, I participate in two different research labs. My main responsibilities are conducting literature reviews, managing research data entry, and composing materials for conferences and presentations. In addition, I had tremendous learning experiences working closely with Dr. Doerfler and Dr. Volungis in conceptualizing research projects as well as participating in data analysis. I also had the opportunity to present at various academic conferences during my fellowship year, such as American Psychological Association, New England Psychological Association, Eastern Psychological Association, and the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies. This graduate fellowship has truly enriched my research experience in preparation of pursuing a doctorate degree in Clinical Psychology."

Elise Deplanche
Graduate Fellow 2013
Undergraduate Degree: University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth
, B.A. in Psychology

"I have spent my year of Graduate Fellowship working with Dr. Cavanagh to examine individual differences in Mindfulness Therapy outcomes. I have helped to prepare and administer pre- and post-treatment assessments of participants' working memory, attention, and skill at Mindfulness techniques. We ultimately hope to find links between cognitive capacities and changes in participants' skill at Mindfulness techniques that will allow future therapists to recognize which clients would benefit most from Mindfulness-based interventions. I love the work that I do because it is highly applicable to my future career as a counselor, and also at the cutting edge of clinical research. Mindfulness is a relative newcomer to the mental health scene, and our study also includes an fMRI component to explore brain changes potentially correlated with Mindfulness Therapy.

I have learned so much from my experience, both about Mindfulness-based interventions and about conducting research in the "real world" (i.e., studying a sample that is not undergraduate students). I have also gained valuable experience with psychophysiological equipment, such as that used for measuring skin conductance and tension in the corrugator supercilii (the muscle on the medial side of your eyebrow that allows you to make an angry face). Additionally, my Graduate Fellowship has allowed me to build a relationship with a professor that I otherwise would not have met. Dr. Cavanagh has been flexible in accommodating my hectic work and class schedule, and has also allowed me to put in extra hours on some weeks so that I can have fewer hours during mid-terms and finals weeks. My experience has been wholly a positive one, and I would recommend the Graduate Fellowship to any student, regardless of his or her interest in research."

Stacy Stewart
Graduate Fellow 2013-2014
Undergraduate Degree: Assumption College, B.A. in Psychology with a Minor in Education

"I work with professor Kuersten-Hogan on her Perceptions of Family study. This study focuses on the coparenting practices of one's parents and how this affects one's view on future family. I learned how to transcribe recorded interviews, and I am currently working on coding this information from the transcriptions. I am excited about learning these skills because they are useful tools to have in field of psychology. I am also fortunate enough to have weekly hour long meetings with our supervisor to go over our progress and plan future tasks. Later in the semester, we will have the opportunity to go on in-home visits interviewing new mothers and their babies for a separate study."

Lauramarie Rahusen
Graduate Fellow 2013-2014
Undergraduate Degree: Eastern Connecticut State University
B.A. in Psychology

"In my fellowship I work on two different studies; a Psych of Women's study and a Serenity study.  For the Psych of Women's study, I run participants who need to meet strict requirements.  This is a long term study where the participants come into the lab with me three times, and are responsible for at homework as well.  For the Serenity study, I run participants who are connected to a physiological response machine. I input the data from both studies into Excel and SPSS, as well as monitor participants with their at- home responsibilities.  I also help manage the scheduling of participants, and sometimes teach the new undergraduate research assistants how our lab works."

Melissa Symolon
Graduate Fellow 2013-2014
Undergraduate Degree: Eastern Connecticut State University
B.A. in Psychology with a Concentration in Child and Youth Psychology

"For my research fellowship I have been researching comorbidity of ADHD, ODD, general anxiety, and MDD. During my first semester I entered data on the symptoms of each of these disorders into SPSS. Currently, my group is researching if irritability is a common symptom in childhood MDD and ODD. This included reading what other researchers have found on this topic, and soon we will start analyzing data."

Juliana Eells
Graduate Fellow 2013-2014
Undergraduate Degree: Assumption College
B.A. in Psychology

"As a graduate fellow I have been working with Dr. Kuersten-Hogan on her Perceptions of Your Family study which looks at one's perceptions of his/her family of origin and how those perceptions might influence ideas about a future family and coparenting partner.  I have spent time transcribing videotaped interviews and then helping to develop a coding sheet, and finally coding those interviews.  We meet on a weekly basis to discuss progress in the study and any issues that come up.  In the coming months I may also get a chance to assist Dr. Kuersten-Hogan on some home-visit interviews with pregnant couples as part of another study she is working on.  This experience has given me an opportunity to get some more hands-on experience in research as well as develop a closer relationship with the faculty member that I am working with."

Kayla Farley
Graduate Fellow 2013-2014
Undergraduate Degree: University of Rhode Island
B.A. in Psychology

"The graduate fellowship for the Counseling Psychology program has provided various experiences in research. I have been involved in several experiments here at Assumption, as well as collaborating with UMASS Medical Center. I have run participants for an experiment examining Autism Spectrum Disorder and social synchrony. I am responsible for reaching out to undergraduate students to help run participants, scheduling students to run participants, and updating the participant schedule. I input data for multiple projects using Microsoft Excel. I also data code tasks that participants complete on the computers in the lab. In the lab, I keep files up to date from the projects I work on. Collaborating with my supervisor has given me the knowledge of how much time and work is put into experiments. The graduate fellowship is a rewarding experience, especially for students who enjoy research topics in psychology."

Gil Poplinger
Graduate Fellow 2013-2014
Undergraduate Degree: Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas
B.A. in Psychology with a Minor in Business Administration

"Through the graduate fellowship program I was able to work with Dr. Maria Kalpidou. This relationship has allowed me to see what analyses must be done in order to promote research. Initially, I was involved in coding data sent from a partnered professor in Greece. Conducting literature reviews helped inform me about the developmentally focused experiments that Dr. Kalpidou is exploring. Additionally, I have transcribed infant-parent interactions to later evaluate variables of interest tied to infant language development. Teaming up with a professor for the fellowship provides a window for understanding the process of conducting research. I was lucky enough to be evaluating while also taking a developmental course. Witnessing the infant interactions has helped me understand infant behavior outside the confines of a text book. Finally, I will be presenting creating a poster and presenting our findings at an upcoming symposium. Also, I drove all the way from Texas to Massachusetts to make sure that I have the best training available to support my career in psychology."

Nabil Georges
Graduate Fellow 2013-2014
Undergraduate Degree: Assumption College, B.A. in Psychology

"I am responsible to review the literature and assist faculty members in designing several research experiments and in writing the IRB proposal for the research projects. I'm also responsible to assist in recruiting participants, manage data collection projects by meeting paper and electronic mailing deadlines, handle and protect confidential sensitive data with integrity, and assist in analyzing data in SPSS. Moreover, I assist faculty members in logistical management of the lab including acquisition of supplies, inventory management, bookkeeping, and strategic planning. 

Currently we are working on two research projects. The first examines how physiological changes in women, more particularly hormonal changes during the menstrual cycle, affect women’s perceptions of emotions. And the second project is an exploratory research on serenity examining the components and the environmental factors that are associated with the phenomenon. Moreover, we are examining the induction of serenity throughout 3 conditions by measuring physiological arousal changes (skin conductance) and psychological changes (self-reports) before, during, and after the exposure."