K’tren Wilson ’24 — This summer, I served as an intern under Dr. Schmitzer-Torbert in the Psychology department on campus. This undoubtedly could not have been done without the support and funding of the WLAIP; to all those involved with the progress and function of WLAIP, thank you for your investment in me and my future! I would also like to thank Dr. Schmitzer-Torbert for selecting me for this position and for all of the work he has done to see that this experience was informative, beneficial, and enjoyable for me.

Throughout the summer, we centered our research around decision-making, specifically how decision-making is impacted. This included initial study and research of the theorized (and most widely accepted) decision-making systems of the brain. This was extremely important to begin with, as much of our work built off of our understanding of the processes and goals of each of these systems to better predict which system might be at play when completing a task or making a decision. What I found most interesting about this portion of the internship was my misunderstanding (or oversimplification) of the ways even I made decisions on a daily basis. It was, then, truly exciting to see how we might go about assessing the nature of the decisions being made by participants in our research study.

For the last few weeks, we have ultimately been conducting in-depth exploratory data analysis on the relationship between nicotine use and performance in a virtual-navigation and foraging task as well as those to various survey measures. This meant looking very closely at a fairly large set of data and learning how to conduct analyses in a program called R-Studio. With this, this summer, I have largely broadened my skills in programming and learned some of what it takes to be an ethical researcher. It was almost as if I was allowed to focus on and wrestle with the confounds that we studied earlier in the internship in the data later in the internship. This experience has undoubtedly been life-changing, and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to explore at least one future career option while working with Dr. Schmitzer-Torbert and the other interns in our group.

I would like to thank the WLAIP again, not only for funding my internship this summer but also for pushing me to even apply for an internship this summer. This program has truly impacted my life in an immeasurable way, and I could never thank them enough!