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Psychology showcase

Celebrating a decade of research and teaching achievement

Student Life

By Kelly Foss

The Department of Psychology, Faculty of Science, celebrated its 10th annual research day recently and created a new student award to recognize the milestone.

The day-long event showcased research conducted by master’s and honours students, including talks by seven graduate students and poster presentations of final research projects from 42 undergraduate students.

Group photo
From left are Dr. Jamie Drover, Jessica O’Dea, Sarah Torraville, Jillian Cleary, Lucas Walters, Liam Foley, Anna Walsh and Emma Nolan.
Photo: Submitted

The topics covered a wide range of subfields within the discipline of psychology, including behavioural neuroscience, cognition, cognitive and behavioural ecology, development, health and wellness, and social psychology.

“This is a very big day and it wouldn’t happen without our students,” said Dr. Christina Thorpe, associate professor and member of the department’s awards committee. “That’s the reason why we do this, to celebrate all of the hard work you do. “When I walk around and see the posters and when I listen to the talks, I cannot say how proud I am of every one of you.”

Award recognition

The day concluded with an awards ceremony, with seven awards being handed out.

Jillian Cleary was given the Best Talk Award for Can Endogenous Circadian Oscillators Impair Hippocampal-dependent Learning in an Animal Model of Social Jetlag? and Liam Foley took home the Best Poster Award for Auditory Working Memory: Exploring Differences Between Musicians and Non-musicians.

“Somehow, a week before class ends, you all pull it together.” — Dr. Darlene Skinner

Jessica O’Dea and Sarah Torraville each received the Best Thesis Award for Does Anthropogenic Noise Impair Reproductive Success in Dark-eyed Juncos (Junco hyemalis)? and Exploring the Influence of Phasic and Tonic Patterns of Locus Coeruleus Activity on Exploratory Behaviour and Anxiety in Rats Using Optogenetics, respectively.

“I read all theses, and I know there were times during the semester when you don’t think it’s going to come together – it’s March and you’re still collecting data,” said Dr. Darlene Skinner. “But somehow, a week before class ends, you all pull it together and I’m always amazed. So congratulations to all of you.”

The Dr. Bob Adamec Award for Best Neuroscience Poster was presented to Emma Nolan for Preconception Predator Stress Impairs Spatial Learning and Memory in Adult Offspring Following a Mild Stressor and the Psychology Society Award was presented to Lucas Walters.

New award

This year, for the first time, a new award was given out to recognize Psychology Research Day’s 10th anniversary.

Anna Walsh received the inaugural Award for Outstanding Research Contribution in the Field of Psychology. It is to be given to a student who has made significant contribution to research in the field of psychology throughout their undergraduate career.

The decision is based on their breadth and depth of research-related experience, including involvement in research, contributions to scholarly publishing, dissemination of knowledge, or performing service to advance research.

“Anna organized the first honours mixer for third year honours students to interact with faculty and co-organized the first psychology and health community outreach event this year,” said Dr. Fowler, head of the department.

“She also spearheaded a proposal for the Faculty of Science to get directed studies curriculum in other areas of science within our faculty and was vital in bringing it to the attention of other department heads. She also has extensive laboratory research experience in medicine and psychology.”

Excellence in teaching

The day’s last award, the Rennie Gaulton Award for Excellence in Teaching, was presented to associate professor, Dr. Jamie Drover.

“He cares about his students,” said Dr. Fowler, while summarizing some of the comments made by the students who contributed to Dr. Drover’s nomination. “He’s approachable, patient and eloquent in explaining course material. He encourages learning and success, is an excellent lecturer and engages students in his process. He’s incredibly knowledgeable about his area of psychology and he enriches the material with his own research experiences and insights.”

Dr. Fowler also made a special presentation to Linda Gaborko, the department’s former undergraduate advisor, who retired at the end of 2018.

“We had a gathering for Linda before Christmas, and it was a lot of fun, but we wanted to formally recognize Linda’s 46 years of service,” he said. “Linda helped negotiate thousands of students through their degrees and it’s terrific to have her back to give her a proper thank you.”

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