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Hard work rewarded

Psychology recognizes student, staff research and achievement


By Kelly Foss

The Department of Psychology recognized student and staff achievement recently at the ninth annual Psychology Research Day.

The event included morning talks from undergraduate honours and graduate students. In the afternoon, 42 honours students presented posters of their final research projects.

Award winners
From left are Leanna Lewis, Mark Hewitt, Hayley Mercer, Josh Conway, Julia Greenham, Brianna King and Adam Brown.
Photo: Submitted

“It was wonderful to see the hard work, professionalism and enthusiasm of the students in all aspects of their research,” said department head, Dr. Ian Neath.

Research Day concluded with an awards ceremony where Leanna Lewis received the Best Graduate Student Talk award for Can the FEO Ameliorate the Deleterious Effect of Circadian Rhythm Disruption in and Animal Model of Social Jet Lag?, and Mark Hewitt received the Best Honours Poster award for Can Our Perceptions of Social Mobility Affect How We Feel About Immigrants?

Honours student Josh Conway was also awarded the Robert Adamec Award for Best Neuroscience Poster for The Neurobiology of Addiction-Depression Comorbidity.

 Dr. Jacqueline Blundell, an associate professor with the department and a former graduate student in Dr. Adamac’s lab, presented the memorial award.

“Dr. Adamec was a faculty member who dedicated his life to science and particularly neuroscience and the impacts of stress on the brain,” she said.

“He took the most pride in teaching students and getting them excited about the field of neuroscience and it’s my great honour to present this award in his name.”

Cutting-edge research

This year also saw, for the first time, two prizes awarded for best honours thesis. They went to Hayley Mercer and Brianna King. The original award was endowed by Dr. William (Bill) McKim in 2009.

“We used to give out just one award a year, but the number of honours students kept increasing and it became increasingly difficult to pick just one winner,” said Dr. Neath.

“Last year, the students who went to Science Atlantic raised money to attend and because they raised more than they actually needed, that money went towards creating a second award.”

Ms. Mercer was recognized for her outstanding cutting-edge research in her thesis, titled Using Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation to Predict Cognitive and Physical Impairments in People with Multiple Sclerosis.

Ms. King, whose thesis was titled Preconception Paternal Stress Results in Sex-Specific Increases in Anxiety-Like Behaviour and an Increased Vulnerability to a Mild Stressor in Second Generation Mice was honoured for her ability to communicate a tremendous amount of information and making it accessible.

All-around contributor

The Psychology Society Award was created by the society and presented to Julia Greenham based on her academic merit as well as her involvement with the department, the Psychology Society and in the community.

“Ms. Greenham is an all-around contributor,” said Dr. Neath. “She has been a member of the society for the past three years and has volunteered in a number of research labs. She has also served in the Janeway Hospital’s reading program and has been involved in the palliative care unit at the Miller Centre, and much more.”

Excellence in teaching

The final award of the day was presented to laboratory instructor, Adam Brown. The winner of the Rennie Gaulton Award for Excellence in Teaching is chosen by past winners of the award from nominations made by students.

Dr. Rennie Gaulton was such an inspiration that many people, including some of the department’s own faculty, chose psychology as a major because they had him as an instructor. Members of Dr. Gaulton’s family, including two of his grandchildren, were on hand to see the presentation of the award named in his memory.

“Gerard Martin used to teach the dreaded third-year statistics course that we require all honours students to take,” said Dr. Neath.

“Last year, Gerard retired and therefore refused to teach it again. Adam was the lab instructor for the course and this year he stepped in and taught it for the first time. So, I think it’s particularly impressive he won for the first time teaching a challenging and not-universally beloved course, but one that’s critical for students and their ability to do research.”

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