Big Bash 2019!

Big Bash is just around the corner, and we hope you can join us for our Psychology Department Reception for alumni, which will be held during Big Bash, on Saturday, June 1st, from 2:30-4pm in Baxter Hall, room 312. If you will be back on campus for a reunion or just to catch up with fellow alums, faculty and staff, we hope that you will be able to drop in!

And, we are hoping to post updates from alumni who have reunions this year (5, 10, 15 years, etc.). Even if you will not be back for Big Bash, send us a short update on where life has taken you since Wabash, and we will post it below (photos are welcome, but not necessary!).  Updates can be directed to Dr. Neil Schmitzer-Torbert: torbertn@wabash.edu.

Class updates

Class of 1954 – 65 year reunion

  • Richard Sadler – Dick Sadler called in with an update from Laguna Woods, CA. He is looking forward to this year’s Big Bash, and recently came across a few of his term papers from Wabash, including two from psychology – one on visual distraction, and another on personnel selection, based on a visit he made to the Ball Brothers factory in Muncie. After Wabash, Dick completed his Master’s degree in labor and industrial relations, before being drafted for the Korean War. One memorable experience from that time was when he travelled over 12,000 miles during a 33 day leave, making very effective use of hitchhike flying: over the entire month, he only spent $100 on air travel for one commercial flight!

Class of 1969 – 50 year reunion

  • Craig Fox – Earned his Master’s degree while teaching at Vincennes University then completed law school at the University of San Diego. As a lawyer, Mr. Fox practiced in Hollywood and Beverly Hills in finance, real estate and contract law.
  • Dan Werbe – Since leaving Wabash, my working career has been about sales and sales management. Eli Lilly taught me the fundamentals of selling, which I have subsequently redirected into other positions and industries. Since 1987, it has been commission driven insurance, particularly life insurance. Working face to face with prospects, making needs assessments, and recommending solutions should there be excessive exposure. I developed a marked preference for selling expensive complicated things to well-educated prospects. My Wabash years helped me to write well and effectively. I have sought to distinguish myself from others by better communicating skills, better listening, and a better knowledge of the subject matter than others. I would develop a strategic plan in advance, and seek to gain the confidence and respect of my prospect. In a nutshell, … know the matter better, speak better, look better, and follow up with respect and common courtesy. What I call basic blocking and tackling skills. I would not hesitate to have my prospects know of my industry awards and recognition. Apart from my working career, I have pursued my avocations in much the same manner. I’d give it my all, my best and nothing less. Extensive preparation, high energy, great determination, coupled with a hunger to learn how to become better at what I was doing. Or I wouldn’t ‘fool’ with it at all. In general, my own personal goals have almost always exceeded those of any associates or supervisors. I would compete against myself, with lofty expectations.

Class of 1974 – 45 year reunion

  • Robert Hall – Being a pre-med, psychology major at Wabash, I would have never thought I’d be in banking for 39 years as a commercial lender assisting businesses thrive and be successful in their industry sectors as well as helping with economic development in our community. Obviously, the liberal arts education gave me the foundation for a successful career and my psychology studies greatly assisted as well, especially with the character analysis of my borrowers 😉 Aside from work, I have loved giving back to my community by serving on numerous, not-for-profit boards and volunteering for their activities– Big Brothers Big Sisters, Junior Achievement, Turnstone Center for Adults and Children with Disabilities, Mad Anthonys, my high school’s Scholarship Foundation and others. But, the biggest impact in my life aside from family, Wabash and my fraternity brothers, is being a Big Brother to my Little Brother(s) for over 12 years. The photo above shows me with my current Little Brother. While BBBS says we make impact in their lives, my Littles have made an impact in mine – it’s Fun!  Volunteer and be a Big!

Class of 1979 – 40 year reunion

  • Joel Rice – I briefly attended graduate school in clinical psychology at the University of Texas before figuring out that it was not for me. After I returned home, I took the LSAT, and applied to law schools. Thereafter, I attended law school at the University of Chicago, graduating in 1983. I am a partner at Fisher & Phillips, a national labor and employment law firm. I have practiced labor and employment law for the better part of 30 years. I am married, live in suburban Chicago, and have two grown sons.

Class of 1984 – 35 year reunion

  • Thom Irelan – I have traveled a bit of a winding road since graduation in 1984. I got a doctoral degree in counseling psychology in 1992. Since then I have worked in a community mental health center in rural southern Illinois, done private practice in Columbia, MO, and then moved to Aberdeen, Scotland where 8 worked in the National Health Service for 14 years. I came back and taught psychology at Westminster College in Fulton, MO for 2.5 years. Last summer I returned to Scotland where I am working in private practice with First Psychology, which is a practice with clinics throughout Scotland. I am an accredited Schema Therapist and provide supervision and training to trainee psychologists and professionals. My Wabash education has stood me in good stead throughout the years!

Class of 1989 – 30 year reunion

  • Scott Baum – I have been  teaching and coaching in high school in the Chicago Area for almost 30 years.  I am currently teaching AP Psychology & Regular Psychology at Niles West High School in Skokie, Illinois.  I have a wife, Margie, and three sons; Scott 18 just graduated from Loyola Academy and is headed to Western Michigan, Sean is 15 and a Sophomore at Loyola and John is 12 and a sixth grader at St. Mary of the Woods grade school.  We live on the Northwest side of Chicago. I will be in attendance this Friday night only, I have to get back for my sons graduation party on Saturday!
  • Dan Couch – I live in Murfreesboro, TN with my wife of 26 years and our 3 children.  Our son, Casey, is a gymnast at The Air Force Academy where he just completed his first year. Our oldest daughter, Kenzie, graduated from high school last week and will be cheering on the sidelines next fall at The University of Tennessee. Our youngest daughter, Cassidy, will start her sophomore year of high school in the fall where she’ll return to the volleyball court as reigning All County libero. My wife,Tina Marie, stepped away from patient care recently at St.Thomas Rutherford where she as been a RN in L&D for 20 years, and into a Nurse Auditor position. I’m still writing country songs for a living and enjoying the work. I recently put my writing skills to a different test as a guest contributor to Wabash Magazine. I wrote an article chronicling the pretty amazing story of my classmate and fraternity brother Curt Selby ’89 and his wife Julie and their insanely successful franchising business, Board and Brush. Look for the article in the next issue Wabash Magazine!
  • Rhys Helt – I have been providing wealth management solutions to clients for 27 years. After graduating from Wabash College in 1989, I started my career in the financial services industry with Prudential Securities. After 16 years with one legacy firm, I accepted the Branch Director position in Indianapolis for RBC Wealth Management in 2009.   As the Branch Director of the Indianapolis office, I oversee the branch and I am working to expand with quality financial consultants in the Indianapolis market.  I still maintain my own group of clients in addition to my management responsibilities. I completed the Certified Investment Management Analyst (CIMA) designation at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania in 2000. By attaining this designation, and ongoing education, I maintain membership in IMCA (Investment Management Consultants Association). In addition, I obtained the professional designation of Accredited Wealth Manager (AWM) through an education program sponsored by RBC Wealth Management and Michigan State University. I have been married to my wonderful wife Christina for 27 years and we have two sons.  My oldest son Rhett will be a senior next year at Wabash College and my youngest son Rhye will be a sophomore at the University of Dayton.
  • Andrew Smith – After graduating in ’89, I returned to suburban Chicago and did some desktop publishing for a printer while getting a second major in English Literature at Benedictine University. Next, I went to work for the Daily Herald newspaper for ten years. For the past eleven years, I’ve been a writing coach at College of DuPage. Along the way, I’ve become a licensed high-school English teacher with endorsements in–you guessed it–psychology and history.

Class of 1999 – 20 year reunion

  • Ryan Holmes – After graduating Wabash, I studied at Indiana University School of Dentistry, earning a Doctor of Dental Surgery degree in 2003.  Since then, I have been in private practice in Fort Wayne, where I started Holmes Family & Cosmetic Dentistry in 2006.  My wife Tobie and I have been married for 15 years and have 2 daughters, Sydney (14) and Bella (11).

Class of 2004 – 15 year reunion

  • Kevin Nolan is an Associate Professor of Industrial-Organizational Psychology at Hofstra University and Managing Partner of Employee Insights, LLC (New York). His scholarly research provides unique insight into the cognitive processes underlying employment decisions and has been published in a variety of outlets including: Journal of Applied Psychology, Journal of Business and Psychology, Corporate Reputation Review, The Psychologist-Manager Journal, Personnel Assessment and Decisions, Human Performance, Public Personnel Management, Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, and Consulting Psychology Journal: Research and Practice. As a consultant, his applied work focuses on improving organizational effectiveness and worker well-being through application of best-practice principles in the areas of organizational change and development. After graduating from Wabash College, Kevin earned a M.S. in Industrial-Organizational Psychology from Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis and a Ph.D. in Industrial-Organizational Psychology from Bowling Green State University. He currently lives on Long Island with his wife, Erin, and sons, Patrick (5) and Brooks (2) – where he is regularly found in the Fall with a cold beverage over a hot grill listening to Wabash College Football games.

Class of 2009 – 10 year reunion

  • Naun Antonio Benitez – After graduating from Wabash in 2009, I earned my J.D. from the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law. While in law school, I was a Legal Writing Fellow in the Dean’s Tutorial Society. I interned in both the public and private sectors, and I gained courtroom experience with the Indiana Federal Community Defenders and the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office. I’m now a Senior Associate at the Marc Lopez Law Firm, and my practice is primarily devoted to criminal defense. I handle a wide variety of felony and misdemeanor criminal cases, and I’m in court almost every day. I love jury trials almost as much as I love my family: Sarah, my wife of almost 13 years, and our beautiful children, Aiden (12) and Adriana (8). When I am not working, the Benitez are always on the soccer field.
  • David Braitman – I graduated from Indiana University School of Medicine in 2015 and went on to the University of New Mexico for my psychiatry residency. I also elected to stay for a forth year in order to be a chief resident. In the past 4 years I also served on the American Psychiatric Association as a representative to their congressional body, wrote a book chapter that will soon be published on foundational research papers in schizophrenia and wrote an article on sleep apnea and psychiatry for the American Journal of Psychiatry- Residents Journal. This past January I was accepted at Stanford University for a two year fellowship in child and adolescent psychiatry and will be moving to Palo Alto this June. I continue my research interests in attention and self-regulation and plan to keep research a part of my career. I have never forgotten all that Wabash (and the psychology department in particular!) have taught me, most importantly to always stay curious.
  • Michael Kaster – After graduation I went to paramedic school and worked as a full time paramedic in Indianapolis. During that time I was in graduate school at IUPUI for a semester before I went to medical school. I graduated medical school and started my internal medicine residency at St. Vincent hospital in Indianapolis. I finished residency in June of 2018 and passed my board exam and am now board certified in internal medicine. After residency I started a fellowship in pulmonology and critical care medicine at Creighton University. I am currently finishing my first of three years in fellowship and live in Omaha with my wife Liz. Liz and I got married May 19th 2018 just before moving to Omaha. We live in Omaha with our two dogs.
  • Wade Heiny – I live in Greenfield, IN with my wife of 8 years and 1 year old daughter. In 2012 I was accepted to attend the Indiana State Police Recruit Academy to become an Indiana State Trooper. I made it through the 6 month training and graduated on December 21st 2012. Since then I have become an active member on the department by joining the Honor Guard team, methamphetamine suppression team, Riot Team, and maintaining numerous other certifications. I was asked to become a field training officer after just three years and have trained 6 new officers. I am now a Detective working multiple high profile cases, this new position allows me to better utilize my degree when interviewing individuals. I attribute much of my success with the Indiana State Police to the work ethic in which Wabash instills in you.
  • James Leuck – Post-graduation I went into training in neurophysiology and completed my credentialing in Electroencephalography (R.EEG.T), Evoked Potentials (R. EP. T) and Intraoperative Neurophysiological Monitoring (CNIM).  I have been practicing intraoperative monitoring and patient care for over 8 years now and have advanced to a management position with my company – Spine-Tek, powered by Neuro Alert.  I travel to 15 hospitals in the Greater Indianapolis area and one 1 in Phoenix as scheduled for surgeries.  I monitor patients’ nervous systems for all types of procedures: spine, brain, cardiovascular, peripheral nerve, tumors, etc. I get to work with great alumni like Dr. Kyle Hayes ’09 and Austin Shurtz ’08 (anesthesiologists), Dr. Rick Sasso ’82 (orthopedic surgeon) and Neurosurgeons Todd Vogel ’04, Zach Dodd ’01, and David Stockwell ’03.  I stay very active as an alumnus of Wabash and Theta Delta Chi and am recently living in Geist after I moved from Fall Creek Place near downtown Indianapolis.
  • Devin Moss – Following Wabash I went on to receive my Doctorate in Physical Therapy from Washington University in St. Louis followed by a residency program in Sports Physical Therapy with Proaxis Therapy (now ATI) our of Greenville, SC. I spent 7 months working in Boulder, CO at a hospital-based sports medicine clinic before moving to Fort Worth, TX where I have worked for Texas Health Sports Medicine for the past 5 years. I am a clinic director of one of 6 outpatient offices where we treat a highly active and engaged population of athletes. I am also currently pursuing an MBA in Health Services Management from the University of North Texas with plans to progress into higher administration. Most importantly, my wife and I have a 1 yr-old daughter who keeps us plenty busy!
  • Stephen Prunier – After Wabash I continued my education at Ball State University where I earned my masters degree in Cognitive and Social Processes, which is the complicated way of saying cognitive and social psychology. I was then accepted into a PhD program at the University of Toledo where I obtained my PhD in Cognitive Psychology. I am currently teaching at Ivy Tech Community College in Indianapolis where I also serve at the assistant department chair of Psychology. Ivy Tech just recently began offering an associates degree in psychology, so I oversee that program and work with students to begin their career in psychology before they transfer at finish their bachelors at other local universities and colleges. Wabash is the place where I found my passion for psychology and I try to pass that same passion down to my current students with every course I teach.
  • Zac Simpson – I married my beautiful wife Sharae in 2015 and since have been blessed to be the father of 3 boys—a 3 year old, an 18 month old, and a 3 week old. We recently moved to Mooresville, Indiana after living in Indianapolis, Maryland, and Georgia. Shortly after graduating from Wabash I joined the Indiana Army National Guard. I am currently a Captain and have served as a satellite communications platoon leader, infantry division network officer, and disaster response unit IT project officer. I was recently granted the honor to command the 172nd Cyber Protection Team. As Team Lead for the multi-state unit I get the opportunity to work with talented cyber security professionals who work hard everyday to secure networks, protect citizen information, and respond to cyberspace threats for their states and our nation. My civilian career has taken me from helpdesk to field service technician to system and network administration to systems architect and information systems security manager. I currently work as an Information Assurance Project Manager for in support of the Atterbury Muscatatuck Center for Complex Operations. It’s a mouthful but essentially I am the in-house cyber guru helping to build and secure our projects. I owe so much of who I’ve become personally and professionally to Wabash College. And although I did not pursue a career in Psychology, much of my pursuits have been framed and influenced by the understanding I gained from my degree. After all the most important part of any network is layer eight. I wish a happy weekend to all my Wally brothers.

Class of 2014 – 5 year reunion

  • Joel Beier – I have recently accepted a position at the University of Wisconsin in Madison where I will work towards a PhD in the Learning Sciences department.  I will study ways in which students develop conceptual understandings of scientific content, specifically, in my first few years I will study the ways in which students develop visual representations of chemical phenomenon.
  • Shane Brown – I joined Enterprise to grab some external sales training back in 2015. I originally joined to grab that experience but then began moving up in the management training program to management where I’ve been for a year and a half. My degree helped me grab the spot but the specific psychology degree has helped me with communication and obtaining most out of employees. But I love the role and the compensation! Haha
  • Nathan Bryant – After graduating from Wabash, I found myself in a position back at Wabash, managing the campus events. I was the Events Coordinator for campus services, making sure all of the events around the college were probably executed. All the while, I chose to change my field of study, graduating from Indiana Wesleyan University with an MBA. I then pursued a career in the field of finance, starting as a Financial Services Professional with Charles Schwab & Co. I am now in the Active Investor Team, as a Sr. Trading Specialist- High Net Worth Clients. Currently, I am pursuing my licenses for becoming a manager in the financial services industry.
  • Rudy Duarte – Since graduating I worked as a software developer for 2 years. One of them being in Indianapolis and another in Santa Ana, CA (my hometown). I started tutoring part time because I felt an “itch” for helping my community. That quickly turned into me working for a nonprofit organization that helps underserved communities, like the one I came from, apply and graduate from college. I served as a college counselor for 2 years and recently, I have been promoted as the Program Director where I over see the programs and services for 660 students as well as overseeing the growth and strategy of 3 of our 4 departments. I also recently got married. Life is good! Thank you, Wabash. It seriously prepared me transitioning between careers and not only fulfilling the roles but also leading.
  • Andrew Fulton – After graduating Wabash in 2014, I moved to Binghamton, NY where I worked as a research technician in a neuroscience lab studying alcoholism and thiamine deficiency. While there I began learning to write software to perform data munging, analysis and visualization and soon discovered a passion in software development. In 2016, I moved to Denver to do a Data Science Immersive, afterwhich I took a position managing a small team automating the data pipeline for a company doing marketing research for telecommunication companies. This past Spring I joined a startup called Quansight, where I have had the good fortune to work with a lot of really talented developers and scientists consulting on and implementing data pipelines and analysis for clients and contributing to the development of open source software for Python’s math and science stacks. In my freetime, I enjoy spending my time with friends and family and taking advantage of all the great outdoor activities Colorado has to offer.
  • Francisco Huerta – After Wabash College I joined Teach for America and began teaching at Hansberry College Prep in Chicago. In 2016 I completed my commitment with Teach for America, and I elected to stay in the classroom. That same year I graduated from Dominican University with a Master of Arts in Teaching. I am currently wrapping up my 5th year of teaching at Hansberry where I’ve developed a 9th grade world history curriculum that is IB aligned as we are an IB World School. I also serve as the school’s advisor for our chapter of the National Honor Society. Earlier this year I was accepted as a member of 2019-2020 Diverse Leaders Fellowship – a program designed to develop leaders within the Noble Network of Charter Schools. I plan to continue in the field of education for the foreseeable future as I have a passion for serving urban youth in the city of Chicago. In my spare time I enjoy running. I ran the Chicago Marathon in 2016 and am currently training to run it again this year.
  • Jimmy LaRowe – Pursued Doctorate of Occupational Therapy from 2014 to 2017. Post graduation took first job in Roswell, NM to rebuild OT program in Med surg, ICU, Mental Health, and Outpatient. Came back to Indiana this year and am now an Occupational Therapist with Angels of Mercy Home Health Care. Previous Director of Iron Wills Bootcamp in Fort Wayne, IN. CEO and Founder of Empoweredby3 LLC, co-owner of Empoweredby3 Wreslting Academy in Fort Wayne and LaOtto Indiana. [Jimmy was back on campus in April, and you can see his Chapel talk, “Response over Reaction – Live to Survive…or Live to Thrive“, here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nDNYo8YAH5Y
  • Derrick McQuiston – After graduation I attended New York University where I received my clinical doctorate in Physical Therapy. At graduation I was a recipient of the Elizabeth C. Addoms Award for excellence in academic and clinical performance. I am now working at ColumbiaDoctors Sports Medicine in Manhattan as a physical therapist.
  • Connor O’Rear – Since graduating in 2014 I have been attending graduate school in psychology at the University of Notre Dame. In my work I study mathematical cognition, with a focus on identifying the best ways to promote math achievement in children from disadvantaged backgrounds. I received my master’s degree in 2017 and will be receiving my PhD in psychology in the spring of 2020. I currently live in South Bend with my wife, Andrea, who I met while at Notre Dame. She will be starting as a visiting professor in psychology at Saint Mary’s College this fall, joining the same department as Terri Aubele-Futch, who was a visiting psychology professor while I was at Wabash (so a cool Wabash connection there!). Once I receive my PhD I plan to pursue a career in academia.
  • Bobby Thompson – Currently I am a teacher at Crawfordsville MS. I teach 6th grade social studies. On top of my teaching duties I am the head coach for Boys’ soccer and track. Outside of sports I am the Academic Super Bowl coordinator for all of CMS, in addition to coaching the state champion social studies team. Despite keeping busy at CMS I also coach all year at Wabash where I am an assistant cross country and track coach. I have had both jobs, CMS and Wabash, for 4 years now. In my personal life I was recently engaged to my fiance, Paige. We will be getting married in the Wabash Chapel next summer. We have two Labrador Retrievers, Luna and Lily. Since graduating I have also kept up with running. I ran my first marathon this past fall and have been the Indiana road mile champion 3 years in a row.
  • Andy Walsh – I’m currently entering my 3rd year at the University of North Texas pursuing a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology with a focus in Sport Psychology. I provide mental health services to the community through our community psychology clinic and will soon also provide mental health services to our students in our university counseling center. I also am trained in psychological assessment, administer these to community members/students, as well as teach the lab portion of our assessment course to our 1st year graduate students. Additionally, I am entering my 3rd year as the sport psychology consultant for the UNT Men’s Basketball program. I’m not completely certain as to where I’ll end up, but I’m thinking the most likely location for me is an Athletic Department or University Counseling Center providing mental health services to individuals, teams, and athletes, as well as providing mental skills consultation to teams and athletes. I should have about 2-3 years left on campus and then will be off to my internship!
  • Bradley Wise – After graduating from Wabash in 2014, I worked two lab technician positions in behavioral neuroscience labs at IU School of Medicine and Indiana University, each for a year. While I initially wanted to pursue a PhD in neuroscience, I began exploring other options. I applied for a lab manager position in a cognitive neuroscience lab at Yale University where I began developing hands-on programming skills. That is when I applied to Cornell Tech, a new tech campus in New York City. While at Cornell Tech, I developed skills in data science and machine learning and took two internships at WeightWatchers and a precision medicine startup called OneThree Biotech. Now I am graduating from Cornell Tech, and I am going to the Bay Area to work as a data scientist at Cisco in July. I will be forever thankful for how my time at Wabash gave me the perseverance to go through this career transition.

#StepUpForWabash

To support our Psychology students simply select
Psychology when making your gift.

Today is a day we #StepUpForWabash and together we will show the world that no other college on the planet does a better job of educating men than Wabash. If you aren’t already aware, Wabash is having another important day today and it would be great for you to join me in supporting the College on the Day of Giving.

Current students Keanan Alstatt ’19, Michael Trebing ’19, and Ben Huynh ’20 and recent alum Nigel Dao ’18 traveled to the Society for Neuroscience Meeting in November 2018 to present the results of their research projects

With your help, Wabash will reach important benchmarks that will enable us to leverage more than $410,000 in lead challenge gifts. The goal is to receive 4,410 gifts on 4.10. As we achieve each goal, we will realize gifts that will have a lasting impact for Wabash students. Support Wabash students and encourage others to do the same!

In Psychology, the donations we received over the past several years have allowed us to support additional summer research interns, to expand research opportunities for students, and to send our students to present their work at regional and national conferences. For example, donations from last year’s Day of Giving allowed us to take three current students, Keanan Alstatt ’19, Michael Trebing ’19, and Thach ‘Ben’ Huynh ’20, to San Diego last November to present their research on decision-making at the Society for Neuroscience Meeting, and to send Keanan and Ben to present at a regional neuroscience at IUPUI this spring.

Today, your support will provide opportunities to students conducting research this summer and over the coming year, and allow them to present the results of their work at regional and national meetings. Funds raised today will cover travel expenses and participant recruitment costs for these projects, which will be critical for our young men to complete their projects. Regardless of the career plans of our students – whether they are looking ahead to graduate school, looking to start their career, or pursuing medicine or the law – we believe that hands-on research, working with faculty is some of the most important training our students receive. To be able to pose key questions, collect data, draw justified conclusions and communicate one’s work – these are key skills for success for all of our students. With your support, we can continue to provide these kinds of excellent opportunities for our students, and we hope you will consider donating to the Special Psychology Fund today to support student research and professional development.

And, for every gift made to the Special Psychology Fund, the Psychology faculty will match $10 dollars up to $850!  To support Wabash and our Psychology students, when making your gift at www.wabash.edu/410, simply select Psychology from the drop‐down menu.

Join us as #OurWabash! Support Wabash students and encourage others to do the same!

And, if you happen to be are on campus later this month, please consider dropping in on our Psychology Research Symposium (Tuesday, April 23rd, from 4-6pm in Detchon International Hall) where our seniors will be presenting their capstone research projects. And, Femi Oluyedun ’12’s keynote address will begin around 6:45 in Hays 104, so it will be a wonderful opportunity to share the work of our current students and alums!

Best wishes, and thank you again for your support,

Neil Schmitzer-Torbert
Associate Professor of Psychology
Coordinator of Faculty Development

Psychology Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/WabashPsych

Celebration of Student Research 2019

Tung Bui ’19 won one of the Wabash College Celebration, Research, Scholarship and Creativity awards for his presentation – “Would attributions help alleviate the envious emotion?”

At the 19th annual Celebration of Student Research, Scholarship and Creativity, (Friday, January 25th, from 1-4pm in Detchon International Hall), senior Psychology majors Keanan Alstatt ’19, Michael Trebing ’19, and junior Ben Huynh ’20 will present on their research on developing new tools to measure decision-making in humans, while Colby Dunigan ’19 and Jorge Rodriguez ’19 will present their summer research on color vision, which was supported by Dr. Gunther’s grant from the National Science Foundation. Several other psychology students will be presenting work conducted for class projects or independent study, and from across the college, and we will also see presentations from several students working in Biology (sponsored by Drs. Heidi Walsh and Bradley Carlson) on their work on the effect of obesity on the hypothalamus and from students working with our Global Health Initiative  (sponsored by Jill Rogers and Dr. Eric Wetzel ) on work related to mental health, all of which should be of great interest to students studying psychology and/or neuroscience!

Below, we’ve tried to gather a list of the presentations that are most relevant to Psychology students and students interested in Neuroscience, but we would encourage you to try to see a bit of everything at the Celebration! If you happen to be on campus, we hope to see you at the Celebration this year, and we are very impressed with the wide range of work that our students have done over the last year!

And, you can find the full schedule of presentations and descriptions of the work here (PDF)!

Posters – 1-2:30PM – Detchon International Hall
#5 Colby Dunigan & Jorge Rodriguez Cortically-Stimulating Gratings Reveal Non-Cardinal Colors Better than do LGN-Stimulating Spots
#15 Keith Kline Circulating Carotenoid Levels in Eastern Box Turtles
#27 Michael Tanchevski & Rithy Sakk Heng Palmitate signaling in Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone Neurons Induces Inflammation and Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress in a TLR4-Independent Manner
Posters – 2:30-4PM – Detchon International Hall
#2 Thach Huynh, John Trebing & Keanan Alstatt Validation of a Translational Virtual Experiential Foraging Task for Humans
#10 Christopher Wilson & Lucas Soliday Effects of a High Fat Diet on Rat Hypothalamus Neurons and a Possible Botanical Remedy
#24 Chaz Rhodes Eye Color Change and Variation in Eastern Box Turtles

Talks

2:40PM Detchon 112 Hunter Jones Small Town Actions towards a National Epidemic: Experiences with Combating
the Opioid Epidemic at the Montgomery County Health Department
3:00PM Detchon 112 Eric Lakomek A Patient’s Perspective in Obtaining Mental Health Treatment

Summer research – Huynh ’20

Thach “Ben” Huynh ’20 spent his summer conducting research with Dr. Neil Schmitzer-Torbert, looking at differences between smokers and non-smokers in a new decision-making task. For this work, Ben held the Parks Internship, generously supported by the family of Wabash Psychology professor Dr. Eldon Parks in his memory:

Last summer I had the opportunity to complete an internship under the supervision of Dr. Neil Schmitzer-Torbert. Our research project focused on the design and validation of a novel computer task that studies naturalistic decision-making in humans. We refer to this program as the “Movie Row Task” (as it is based on a task originally developed for rats and mice called the Restaurant Row). Overall the internship was an invaluable learning experience that allowed me to acquire new skills (e.g., MATLAB) and gain hands-on exposure to research.

We took much of our inspiration for the summer project from research by Dr. David Redish and colleagues (Steiner & Redish, 2014 and Abram et al., 2016). In the former research article, the authors used a relatively new task to study regret and its representation in the brain in rats. The task, the “Restaurant Row Task” (RRT), was a square maze with four spokes of food dispensers at each corner of the square that represented four different food pellet flavors. Rats would travel among these spokes and wait some time to eat the food pellets whose flavor they liked. The rats had the choice to either wait for the food pellets or skip them for other offers. Redish and colleagues characterized “regret-inducing” instances as cases where rats skipped a good offer (i.e., offers of preferred food flavors with low delay time) only to encounter a bad offer (i.e., offers of less preferred food flavors with high delay time.) The authors found that, in regret conditions, rats showed increasing deliberation (i.e., vicarious trial and error) before entering the bad offer zone, higher probability of accepting the bad food offers, and shorter reward consumption time. Along with behavioral results, Redish and colleagues also presented some neural correlates of regret in rats.

Abram and colleagues (2016) designed a version of the RRT, called the “Web-Surf Task” (WST), to test if results from rats tested in the RRT would “translate” to humans, and provide valuable clinical insights. In this task, participants would “surf” among galleries of four types of videos (cat, bike fail, landscape, and dance videos) via clicking on-screen buttons. The idea behind the design of the WST was that human online information-foraging was similar to animal food-foraging. The types of video stimuli were selected based on their different brain area representation which would support brain imaging studies. Abram et al., (2016) showed that the WST was consistent with the RRT and showed high reliability. However, since the participants in the WST did not travel among options physically, the researchers were unable to observe physical behavior (e.g., travel trajectories, etc.) that may be relevant to decision-making (e.g., vicarious trial and error). Indeed, the lack of physical travel was the most glaring inconsistency between the WST and the RRT.

As such, Dr. Schmitzer-Tobert attempted to design another version of the RRT that would combine the physicality of the RRT and the human compatibility of the WST. This version, the “Movie Row Task” (MRT), allowed participants to travel and watch the galleries of videos (used in Abram et al., 2016) in a 3D environment using the arrow keys. My Behavioral Neuroscience class tested the first design of the MRT using samples from Wabash College in the spring of 2018. We found out that the first version suffered from some instruction flaws that prevented participants from showing clear patterns of preference for the stimuli. In many cases participants either did not show any preference for any video type or showed very high delay for all video types. Thus, for my summer internship, Dr. Schmitzer-Torbert designed a second variation of the MRT that fixed the instruction flaws from the original design. We recruited online workers from the Amazon Mechanical Turk to validate this version of the MRT. In addition to healthy participants, we also targeted nicotine-dependent (i.e., smokers) individuals to investigate the effect of nicotine addiction on decision-making on the MRT.

Our second design fared better than the first one in inducing clear displays of preference among the different stimuli types. We were able to replicate some interesting decision-making phenomena from studies that utilized the RRT for rodent samples such as deliberation (Steiner and Redish, 2014), sunk cost (Sweis et al., 2018), and regret (Steiner and Redish, 2014). Particularly, we succeeded in characterizing regret behaviors in human participants on the MRT. Unlike rats (whose behaviors I highlighted above), human subjects tended to skip bad offers in an efficient manner in regret-inducing instances. For “sunk-cost,” we found that when participants had waited for an offer, they would be less likely to quit the offer; more so with increasing wait time. Finally, some deliberation metrics such as total duration and rotation on the task were sensitive to the delay thresholds of each participant. For analyses involving nicotine addiction, however, we were unable to find significant differences between the performances of smokers versus non-smokers on this version of the task. That said we are excited to further this line of research in future studies.

Because this project was “computational” in nature, Dr. Schmitzer-Torbert taught me how to use MATLAB to analyze and visualize data. Learning MATLAB for me was difficult (given my lack of experience in programming) but rewarding. I still recall the satisfaction I felt when I was able to produce my first complete graph in MATLAB. Dr. Schmitzer-Torbert also allowed me to conduct literature review independently, which helped me to hone my research skills significantly. I hope that these skills would benefit me in my future academic career.

As a concluding note, I would like to thank Dr. Schmitzer-Torbert and the Department of Psychology at Wabash College for a wonderful summer experience. I would also like to express gratitude to alumni and donors who made such an experience possible.

#OurWabash

To support our Psychology students simply select
Psych when making your gift.

Today, the entire Wabash community is striving together for #OurWabash! If you aren’t already aware, Wabash is having another important day today and it would be great for you to join me in supporting the College.

Neil Dittmann ’19 and Niki Kazahaya ’18 traveled to the SfN annual meeting in D.C. to present their summer research with support from alumni.

Alexiz Arellano ’18 and Kirby Cox ’18 traveled to the Ohio State University with Dr. Olofson for part of their summer research project funded through alumni donations.

With your help, Wabash will reach important benchmarks that will enable us to leverage more than $400,000 in lead challenge gifts. The goal is to receive 4,180 gifts on 4.18. Doing so will have a lasting impact on our College. Support Wabash students and encourage others to do the same!

In Psychology, the donations we received over the past several years have allowed us to support additional summer research interns, to expand research opportunities for students, and to send our students to present their work at regional and national conferences. For example, donations from last year’s Day of Giving have supported a year-long research project undertaken by Nigel Dao ’18 to assess the effects of obesity on sexual function in male rats. Your donations also helped support student travel to professional conferences, including Niki Kazahaya ’18 and Neil Dittmann ’19, who presented the results of their research on spatial navigation in rats both at a regional neuroscience meeting in Ohio and at the Society for Neuroscience Meeting in Washington, D.C. Tung Bui ’18 presented his summer research both at a national social psychology conference in Atlanta in the fall, and again this past weekend in Chicago for a regional psychology conference. At the same time, Kaleb Hobgood ’19 travelled to Butler University to present on his work on the mechanisms relating mindfulness to mental health and decision-making.

T

Tung Bui ’19 won one of the Wabash College Celebration, Research, Scholarship and Creativity awards for his presentation – “Would attributions help alleviate the envious emotion?”

oday, your support will help provide opportunities to students who will be conducting research this summer and over the coming year. Five students will spend their summer conducting research projects with Drs. Karen Gunther, Bobby Horton and Neil Schmitzer-Torbert. Their research projects will range from probing the mechanisms underlying color vision to efforts to improve and protect spatial memory. Several students will plan to present their work on campus next year, and in regional and national meetings. Funds raised today will cover travel expenses and participant recruitment costs for these projects, which will be critical for our young men to complete their summer research. We think that this will be an excellent opportunity for our students, hope you will consider donating to the Special Psychology Fund today to support student research and professional development.

And, for every gift made to the Special Psychology Fund, the Psychology faculty will match $10 dollars up to $850!  To support Wabash and our Psychology students, when making your gift at www.wabash.edu/418, simply select Psych from the drop‐down menu.

Join us as #OurWabash! Support Wabash students and encourage others to do the same!

Best wishes, and thank you again for your support,

Neil Schmitzer-Torbert
Daniel F. Evans Associate Professor in Social Sciences

Psychology Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/WabashPsych

Celebration of Student Research 2018

Carson Powell ’17 discusses his research with his mentor, Dr. Gunther, at the 2017 Celebration of Student Research

At the 18th annual Celebration of Student Research, Scholarship and Creativity, (Friday, January 27th, from 1-4pm in Detchon International Hall), senior Psychology majors Nigel Dao ’18, Tung Bui ’18, AJ Belden ’18 and T.J. Kilbourne ’18 will present the results of their research, from summer internships and class projects. Several other psychology students will be presenting work conducted for class projects or independent study, and from across the college, we will also see presentations from several students working in Biology (sponsored by Drs. Heidi Walsh and Brad Carlson) on topics ranging from hypothalamic neurons to turtle temperament, all of which should be of great interest to students studying psychology and/or neuroscience!

Below, we’ve tried to gather a list of the presentations that are most relevant to Psychology students and students interested in Neuroscience, but we would encourage you to try to see a bit of everything at the Celebration! If you happen to be on campus, we hope to see you at the Celebration this year, and we are very impressed with the wide range of work that our students have done over the last year!

Posters – 1-2:30PM – Detchon International Hall
#5 AJ Belden Box Turtle Boldness: Responses to Simulated Predator vs. Confinement Assays
#9 Tung Bui Would Attributions Help to Alleviate the Envious Emotion?
#15 Nigel Dao Estrogen Influences Astrocyte Density in Forebrain Circumventricular Organs
of Ovariectomized Rats Following Polyethylene Glycol-induced Hypovolemia
#29 Warren Moseman & Alec Bertsch Transcription Factor C-fos Mediates Repression of GnRH Expression Induced by ER Stress
Posters – 2:30-4PM – Detchon International Hall
#2 Nigel Dao, T.J. Kilbourne, & Zane White Exploring the Moral Foundations of Immoral Personality Traits
#6 Zachary Patton Investigating a Relationship Between Maturity and Responsibility
#8 Joe Pich GPS Tracking of Box Turtles using Arduino Circuits
#16 William Robinson American Toad Urination as a Predator Diversion Behavior

Talks

2:40PM Detchon 112 Christopher Wilson Palmitic Acid Induces ER Stress in Hypothalamic Neurons: Implications for
Obesity and Infertility

Brain Day 2017 – the Science of Brains!

Prof. Walsh helps a visitor map her somatosensory homunculus

The 9th annual Brain Day will be held at the Carnegie Museum in Crawfordsville on Saturday, October 28th from 1-4pm. This year’s theme is “The Science of Brains!”

Since 2009, Wabash faculty and students have partnered with the Carnegie Museum to lead an afternoon of brain-related activities for all ages. Like Brain Awareness Week, which is organized by the Society for Neuroscience, Brain Day is intended to demonstrate basic principles of brain function, and to help us all better appreciate and care for our brains. The Brain Day program is an annual event for children and families, with hands-on activities to demonstrate how our brains work. Faculty from Wabash’s Biology (Dr. Heidi Walsh) and Psychology (Drs. Karen Gunther and Neil Schmitzer-Torbert) departments will be joined by several Wabash students and other volunteers to lead the event.

With generous funding through the Indiana Humanities “One State / One Story: Frankenstein,”* we will be bringing in a new experiments in mind control and upgrading your taste buds! And, several favorite activities will be back, such as the “remote-controlled” cockroach and lots of brains!

For more information, you can visit our event on Facbook, or visit us on the Wabash Psychology and the Carnegie Museum pages!

*Note: Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the Brain Day program do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Summer research – Arellano ’18 and Cox ’18

Seniors Alexiz Arellano ’18 and Kirby Cox ’18 worked this summer with Prof. Olofson, and Alexiz submitted the post below, about their research on attachment:

This summer fellow classmate Kirby Cox and I had the amazing opportunity to work under Dr. Olofson and the Psychology Department of Wabash College. Our research focused on developing a scale that would properly measure the parent–child attachment relationship. It is well established that attachment security is a relationship or secure base that may develop between the primary caregiver and the child overtime, research mostly throughout the strange situation procedure has identified three attachment categories. These are secure, insecure – resistant, and insecure – avoidant attachment (Ainsworth 1973). Secure attachment can be identified as a healthy, high–quality relationship in which children use their parents as secure base for exploration. An insecure–resistant is a relationship in which children have less positive attachment to their caregiver than secure children, one may observe children being clingy or seeking comfort and once distressed they are not easily comforted. Insecure–avoidant children may appear somewhat indifferent towards their caregiver and very independent since they do not tend to physically illustrate distress. However, when looking at physiological tests insecure–avoidant children tend to illustrate higher levels of distress than any other children. Furthermore, when analyzing attachment relationships it is important to note that predictors of attachment differ between mothers and fathers. Recent research has also presented how classic measures of attachment security may not be capturing fathers parenting variability perhaps due to difference in predictors. Therefore, our research specifically focused in developing a proper set of scales that would properly measure both mothers and fathers parenting variability.

Thereafter, Dr. Olofson gave us the NICHD, which is the gold-standard set of measures for assessing attachment security. Kirby and I watched and coded multiple videos using the NICHD scale until we reached good inner rater reliability and essentially felt comfortable with the process of coding. In these videos the parent and child went throughout a structured scenario in which the parent had to help their child find the correct key to open a transparent box where the children’s desired toy was stored. The coding process was very tedious, as we would choose a scale then watch every video a total of four times before coding for each specific dimensions within the scale such as intrusiveness or sensitivity. Kirby and I would code multiple videos each day and reconvene the following morning long with Dr. Olofson to discuss our experience coding. After practically mastering the NICHD scale, our research group had the opportunity to collaborate with Dr. Sarah Schoppe–Sullivan from the Ohio State University’s developmental program. On our visit we focused in communicating about previous scales that we had worked with, pin pointing their pros and cons along with any particular details that would aid our development of a new scale. With the permission of fellow researchers, Dr. Olofson and Dr. Schoppe–Sullivan developed the Wabash-OSU Scales of Challenge & Overprotectiveness. CPB refers to the extent to which the parent encourages the child to go outside of their comfort-zone and push the limits of their current ability; our research group analyzed both physical and expressive CPB. While overprotection refers to the extent to which the parent conveys over – exaggerated worry or concern for the child’s wellbeing and safety. Similarly to CPB, researchers coded for physical and expressive overprotection. Kirby and I had the chance to observe and code new set of videos utilizing the Wabash-OSU scales, this was extremely interesting since we were finally able to code parent-child interactions utilizing a set of measurements that we helped develop.

The last part of the summer internship consisted of waiting to get approved for the IRB through the Ohio State University Psychology department. However, Dr. Olofson did not just give us the rest of the summer off, instead he encouraged us to continue reading about relatable developmental topics such as temperament, emotion regulation, etc. Next Dr. Olofson challenged Kirby and I to modify the transparent box task so we can eventually code the task utilizing the Wabash-OSU scales. This may have been the most difficult part of the internship since modifying the task not only forced us to think creatively but also to work under unfamiliar areas such as woodwork. Kirby and I had to build 16×16 wooden boxes in which children would be climbing. This was all due to the modifications done to the transparent box task as we hoped to capture CPB and overprotectiveness. Furthermore, we also had to arrange camera angles and select the different type of cameras that would be used to record the new task. Throughout the whole process of modifying the transparent box task, Kirby and I continuously experienced something new from learning how to cut plywood to identifying recording errors. This was an extremely interesting experience and once again reminded me of the careful work that goes in psychology since every tiny detail made a difference when designing the new task.

Initially I did not know what to expect coming into a summer internship at Wabash College, especially since this was my first research-based internship. However, I knew that doing research was what I wanted to focus on this previous summer and from the first day on the job the overall experience was great. I immediately felt an intrinsic motivation to continue working and learning about our attachment research. I can confidently state that I learned a great range of skills throughout my summer internship at Wabash College. Since we learned essential research skills such as designing and managing a psychological experiment to learning how to cut and sand plywood. Furthermore, I believe these skills will help me throughout the rest of my academic and professional career as I plan to attend The University of Texas in El Paso for their clinical psychology master’s program. Clearly, the summer internship will look great in my resume but more importantly it gives me the confidence and experience for the following step in my career.

I would like to thank Dr. Olofson and the Psychology Department of Wabash College for this amazing experience. I would also like to thank the donors, without their generous contribution my and many fellow classmates research experiences’ may not have been possible.

 

Summer research – Bui ’18

Tung Bui ’18 spent his summer conducting research off campus at the University of Michigan, and at the University of Oregon, and his internships were supported by a grant from Wabash College’s Dill Fund:

After completing a literature review on the emotion of envy for an independent study in the spring semester of 2017 at Wabash College, I was motivated to carry on my research project into the summer. Previous researchers have done intensive work on what factors, both intrinsic and extrinsic, lead to an envious state. There have also been findings with respect to behavioral and emotional consequences of envy. However, the field has not seen much work regarding how to attenuate the emotion and forestall the undesirable outcomes.

With great thanks to the Dill Grant, I was able to travel to Ann Arbor and spend roughly a month to carry out a the project. Working in the laboratory of Dr. Garcia at the University of Michigan, we mapped out the study design to test a potential alleviating effect of attribution on envy. We started with asking online participants (i.e., MTurkers) to imagine a friend who outperformed them in some domains then to write about (I) what advantages their friends had, or (II) what disadvantages they had that might leave them in an inferior position. This phase of the project was intended to serve as a pilot test for the envy (i.e., writing about a friend) and attribution (i.e., writing about one’s own disadvantaged or a friend’s disadvantages) manipulations. We ended with a significant result for the writing stimulus to induce an envious state. The writing paradigm for attribution, nevertheless, did not turn out efficacious.

We dedicated the second round of pilot tests to a disparate manipulation of attribution. We induced attributions by asking participants to indicate how much they agreed with two statements that attributed their low performance to either (a) their friends’ situational advantages (i.e., family’s financial support, better education, social connections), or (b) their friends’ dispositional advantages (i.e., hard work, boldness, self-confidence). Making situational attributions significantly predicted the level of envy in the subjects, nonetheless, in a reversed direction compared to our hypothesis; in other words, the more participants disagreed with the situational attributions, the less envious they felt of their friends.

In interpreting the results, we realized there could be a few alternative explanations for the observed relation. Either being allowed to write about whatever or asked to indicate agreement with prepared statements, that could be the reasons why their friends outperformed them, the participants could have been influenced by potential advantages that they had not thought of initially but now started pondering upon. In the same line of reasoning, the participants could have disagreed with the statements simply because the majority of what they were thinking about did not correspond to the domain(s) in which they were initially envious of their friends.

Even though my research internship at Michigan ended shortly after this third phase, I have continued to receive support, both professional and financial, from Dr. Garcia’s lab since then. The next step will be to utilize an in-lab design to keep participants focused on specific attributions and record their levels of envy via another measure.

Leaving Michigan, I arrived shortly in Eugene to commence my second research experience in Dr. Hodges’s Social Cognition lab. The project under analysis related itself to the mediation effect of similarity on the relation between stereotypes and empathic accuracy, i.e., how the extent to which the readers’ interpretations of the targets’ thoughts were similar to what the targets actually reported, affected the accuracy of using stereotypes in reading thoughts. I was trained and given plenty opportunities to work on coding skills in such studies.

In another part, I handled organizing data for multi-level model regressions. This analysis has recently risen as a powerful tool in counting for multiple error terms, aka. confounding variables, in perplexed relational models. For example, the effect of using stereotypes about middle easterners in conjecturing their thoughts was not a straight relation in which the prevalence of stereotypes predicted interpretation accuracy. Organizing raters’ ratings was essential to quantifying the hypotheses into a meaningful multi-level model.

In addition, I attended weekly sessions that focused on a review paper of empathic accuracy and shared reality. We went through several stages of pulling together a broad image of a psychological construct that has been under intensive research. Relevant work was scrutinized for useful findings; varied findings were then grouped properly to create revealing categories; novel ideas and appealing suggestions were tagged in accordingly. Intermittent discussions served to induce efficient brainstorming and allowed research assistants to contribute their own viewpoints on the subject.

My summer concluded on such a good term, having provided me with valuable professional development. I would like to thank the Psychology Department of Wabash College for their academic support, the Dill Grant for the financial support, and the University of Michigan and the University of Oregon for their wonderful summer research internships.

Summer research – Kazahaya ’18

Senior Niki Kazahaya ’18  and Junior Neil Dittmann ’19 spent part of their summer conducting research with Dr. Schmitzer-Torbert, and the research expenses for his project with humans was supported by donations from the 2017 Day of Giving:

After completing an independent research project with Professor Schmitzer-Torbert during my freshman year, I was excited to intern again in his laboratory this summer. Working alongside fellow psychology major, Neil Dittmann ’19, we completed two projects that examined learning and memory in both a human and animal model. More specifically, we looked at the relationship between mindfulness, stress, and hippocampus-dependent navigation strategies in an online human sample. In the animal model, we examined spatial and stimulus-response strategies in rats navigating a maze.

While animals and humans can exhibit different forms of navigation, two techniques tend to be the most prevalent, stimulus-response and place strategies. In a stimulus-response, or simply response, strategy, animals learn to display a certain behavior as a reaction to a particular stimulus. Greater activity in the caudate nucleus of the brain has been found to be associated with acquisition of response strategies (Packard, Hirsh, & White, 1989; Packard & McGaugh, 1996). On the other hand, place strategy is when animals can learn the location of a particular object using spatial cues. Several studies have found that the hippocampus is a necessary component for the development of place learning (Chang & Gold, 2003; O’Keefe & Conway, 1980; Packard & McGaugh, 1996).

In the human study, our primary focus was to examine the relationship between mindfulness and hippocampus-dependent, or place, strategies. Mindfulness is described as one’s ability to be conscious of his/her surroundings without being overly reactive or judgmental of the present moment. Because mindfulness and volume of the hippocampus tend to be positively related (Lu, Song, Xu, Wang, Li, & Liu, 2014), we predicted that participants with greater mindfulness were more likely to use a place strategy when navigating a virtual environment. Previous research has also found that mindfulness and stress tend to be negatively correlated. As a result, mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) techniques have gained considerable attention as an effective method to combat stress and anxiety. A second objective of our research was to determine if an MBSR intervention in a high-stress sample of adults could lead to the adoption of more place strategies.

To test our hypotheses, we recruited young and middle-aged participants through Amazon Mechanical Turk to complete a virtual eight-arm radial-maze, which can be solved using either response or spatial strategies. After the virtual maze task, participants filled out a survey about how they navigated through the environment. Neil and I were responsible for reading these surveys and determining if participants were relying on a spatial or response strategy, and then testing if adults reporting high-stress and low-mindfulness were less likely to use a spatial strategy.

During the other half of the internship, Neil and I continued on a research project from our PSY-233 Behavioral Neuroscience class. A previous study by Packard and McGaugh (1996) examined spatial and place strategies by training rats to obtain a food reward in a plus-shaped maze. With one arm closed off to form a T-shaped maze, rats were trained to find food placed in one arm of the T. During the training phase, the rat began and retrieved food from the same locations. On a probe trial, rats were placed in arm opposite to the starting location. If the rat could accurately locate the reward, it was demonstrating a place strategy. Conversely, if the rat turned in the same direction as it did in the training phase, it was navigating via a response strategy.

However, the experimental paradigm used in Packard and McGaugh (1996) may be limited. When conducting a probe trial in a plus-shaped maze, it is difficult to confirm that animals are relying specifically on either a place or response strategy, as any choice made by the animal, even a random search, counts as a strategy. When approaching the food reward, rats were only able to turn in two directions. As a result, the rats have no other choice than to exhibit either a response or place strategy.

To address this issue, we conducted a study similar to that of Packard and McGaugh (1996). However, we introduced a new form of the maze design that included other areas where the rat could travel during a probe trial, using a symmetrical maze with four starting locations and four goal locations. Most of our work this summer involved testing normal rats and two rats with hippocampal damage on this new maze, and Neil and I were responsible for training the rats, recording the training sessions, and tracking their paths on a Matlab program designed by Professor Schmitzer-Torbert.

This summer has been an incredibly rewarding and formative experience. I especially enjoyed the breadth and range of topics we covered. While our internship was divided into two main projects, we touched on many other areas, such as computer game design, ethical treatment of animals, coding in Matlab, and reading/writing scientific literature. However, the best aspect of our internship was the ability to work extremely closely with an expert like Professor Schmitzer-Torbert. While Neil and I have had previous classes with Professor Schmitzer-Torbert, the internship allowed for much closer collaboration and mentorship with our professor.

I would like to thank the Wabash College Psychology Department, Professor Schmitzer-Torbert, and Neil Dittmann ’19. I am also extremely grateful to all the donors from the Wabash College Day of Giving on April 19th. Because of your contributions, Professor Schmitzer-Torbert, Neil, and I will be able to present our research Society for Neuroscience Annual Meeting and continue our work in the fall semester.