(Train your) Brain Day 2014

The 6th annual Brain Day will be held at the Carnegie Museum in Crawfordsville on Saturday, July 12th from 1-4pm. This year’s theme is “Train Your Brain!”

Prof. Karen Gunther demonstrates the Rubber Hand Illusion at Brain Day 2010.

With the rise in popularity of “brain-training games” (think of the Lumosity commercials!), you may wonder: can you really change your brain? Well, brain-training games may not be worth your money, but your brain does change every day.

Join us on Brain Day for some simple demonstrations of how your brain adapts when the world changes (in prism-goggles cornhole), train your brain using biofeedback and using the Star Wars Force Trainer, and get tips on how to keep your brain healthy, and much more!

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.

Wabash Psychology Department Intern Romeo Amao ’13 shows Dr. Keith Baird ’56 and his grandson, Nicholas Johnson, one of the sheep brain samples at Brain Day 2010

This year, three faculty from the Wabash College Psychology Department will lead Brain Day (Karen Gunther, Teresa Aubele-Futch and Neil Schmitzer-Torbert), who will be assisted by several Wabash students.

Prof. Neil Schmitzer-Torbert points out structures in a sheep brain at Brain Day 2010.

We hope that you can join us for another “brainy” years!

Summer psych in Hawaii: Reid ’15

Before starting his work this summer as a Sales Research Assistant Intern at Avangate, Jackson Reid ’15 took in the annual SIOP (Society for Industrial Organizational Psychology) conference in Oahu, Hawaii. The three-day conference included sessions on leadership, big data, high potential talent, self-determination theory, and more. Jackson wrote that his main reason for attending was to determine if he was interested in pursuing graduate study in Industrial and Organizational Psychology after Wabash, and whether he wanted to pursue a Master’s or PhD. After his discussions with many successful IO psychologists from all fields, which included former Presidents of SIOP and big name researchers, he has decided to pursue a PhD in IO psychology.

Big Bash 2014 and the year in review

The Psychology Department welcomed alumni back to campus with a reception in the Haenisch Reading Room in Hays Hall, the department’s temporary quarters as renovation work is completed in Baxter Hall.

The Psychology Department reception for Big Bash was held on Saturday, in Hays Hall. We had a great time, and enjoyed catching up with alums who we’ve had as students, and meeting alums who graduated before many of the current department members arrived at Wabash.

Photos from the reception (courtesy of Steve Charles) are posted here. If you made it to Big Bash, we hope that you had a chance to catch up on the recent events at Wabash and in the Psychology Department (a post on our Fall newsletter is available here). We plan to send out another departmental newsletter in the fall, but for now, we wanted to put out a short update to follow up on our Big Bash reception.


Moses Brand ’57 (who attended the Psychology Department Big Bash reception in 2013) talks with Sherm Franz and Professor Rush.

Highlights from 2013-14:

  • Twenty-five senior psychology majors graduated this year. Each senior completed a year-long capstone research project, which he presented at the Butler Undergraduate Research Conference, and at our Psychology Research Symposium.
  • Dr. Olofson received tenure, and was named the McClain-McTurner-Arnold Research Fellow
  • Dr. Bost was promoted to full professor. Dr. Bost will also be serving as the College’s Institutional Research Officer for the next several years.
  • Dr. Schmitzer-Torbert was named Daniel F. Evans Associate Professor in the Social Sciences.
  • Dr. Rush joined the department in the fall, serving as Dr. Bost’s replacement during sabbatical and next year while Dr. Bost serves as our IR officer.  Dr. Rush came to Wabash from University of California, Riverside, and last year he taught Psychology and Law, Cognitive Psychology, Literature Review and Introduction to Psychology. Dr. Rush’s work focuses on memory and eyewitness testimony, and he is working with four Wabash students this summer in research.
  • Dr. Aubele-Futch accepted a tenure-track offer to join the faculty at St. Mary’s University. We will certainly miss her here, but wish her the best in her new position! Over the past two years, Dr. Aubele-Futch has taught in our neuroscience courses, Introduction to Psychology, Literature Review and Hormones and Behavior as a sabbatical replacement. Last summer, she worked with Brad Wise ’14 on a study of the effects of nitric oxide on sexual behavior in male rats, which Dr. Aubele-Futch and Brad will be presenting as the Society for Neuroscience Meeting in Washington, D.C., this fall.
  • Profs. Preston Bost, Robert Horton and Ryan Rush had research articles published in 2013, two of which included Wabash students as co-authors.
  • Another research article appeared in print this spring, describing work that Dr. Olofson conducted with three Wabash students in their senior capstone project on autism.
  • And Dr. Gunther had two articles come out in print this spring, in the Journal of the Optical Society of America A (you can find abstracts for these articles here, and here).
  • Connor O’Rear ’14 was named the Distinguished Senior in Psychology, and Nathan Bryant ’14 received the Capstone award.
  • Andy Walsh ’14 and minor Ryan Cloyd ’14 delivered an excellent pair of speeches at Commencement.
  • Profs. Gunther, Aubele-Futch and Schmitzer-Torbert brought the 5th annual mGluRs undergraduate research conference to Wabash in the fall.
  • The Psychology Department is still housed in Baxter Hall, but if you are looking for us this summer, you’ll have to drop by Hays Hall. While the second and third floors of Baxter are being renovated this summer, we have temporarily moved into two classrooms in Hays Hall, one for office space and one for Dr. Gunther’s lab (in which Colin Downey ’15 will be working as the Parks summer research intern).

4/30 results

Wabash College’s first Day of Giving in April was a great success, raising over $460,000 in a single day. As part of the Day of Giving, the Psychology Department created an “Affinity Challenge” to raise money to support student research by Wabash students (through the Special Psychology Fund).

We created the Special Psychology Fund last year, to help us support a wide variety of student research activities. Currently, the Psychology Department has one endowed fund, which supports a student internship each summer (the Parks Research Internship, which honors Professor Eldon Parks). But, we do not have other endowed funds to support student research (outside of our annual departmental budget).

On the Day of Giving, our Affinity Challenge did not start until the afternoon, but even so we received 17 donations, for a total of more than $400. Next to the total for the day (>400k), this would seem to be a modest amount! But, it is important to note that before 4/30, only one person (a Psychology faculty member) had made a donation to the Special Psychology Fund, so this was a dramatic improvement! And, we were impressed with the diversity of donors, who included alumni, current students, faculty (in Psychology and other departments) and friends of the College.

Brad Wise ’14 presenting his senior capstone work at the Psychology Research Symposium

With the funds that we have received so far, we will be able to send a recent Wabash graduate (Brad Wise, ’14) to attend a national research conference in D.C this fall, to present on work that he did for his senior capstone research project with Dr. Aubele-Futch.

Over the next few years, we are hoping to grow the contributions to the Special Psychology Fund, to continue to support our research with Wabash students, and to provide them with more opportunities to conduct and present excellent work.

Thank you to everyone who contributed to the College, whether on 4/30 or any time. We appreciate your support for the work that we do with Wabash students. If you are considering making a donation to Wabash, you can earmark part of your gift for our psychology students by directing your donation to the Special Psychology Fund.