Jacob Lawson ’24 — First off, I would like to thank Wabash College for funding my internship and allowing me this great opportunity this summer. I would also like to thank Dr. Neil Schmitzer-Torbert for selecting me to work for him this summer.
This summer I had the privilege to work for Dr. Schmitzer-Torbert in conducting psychological research. Throughout this process, I have learned many great skills such as beginning coding, in-depth literature reviews, and how to complete analyses on large datasets. This summer I started out by testing virtual tasks while also completing a course to get more familiar with the programming language R. Although it was pretty difficult for me to adjust and fully understand the intricacies of coding, I look back now and think it was a great experience. Learning some coding gave me an experience I never thought I would need. Now, I feel this is an area I may invest more into studying. During this time, we also began doing some literature reviews. This process really helped me understand exactly what we were doing in our study, and maybe more importantly, why we were doing this study. Understanding some of the literature related to this field and our study not only helped me with understanding what this field looks like right now but also to know what to look for later on, and the types of things that we can look for in our own data.
Another thing that I have learned during this summer is that there are lots of ins and outs of completing a research study. From ensuring participants complete consent forms, making sure tasks and surveys are running properly, and even how to collect the data when working with participants in person and online. These smaller parts of our research were not something that I had given much thought to prior to this internship but they have made me think more critically about all of the things to prepare for while completing any kind of research study.
As we moved into the middle to late weeks of the internship, the focus began to shift in a unique way. The focus shifted from looking at a general understanding of the field to focusing more on my individual part of this project and the analyses that I focused on. My project focused on data analyses and literature reviews relating to nicotine and one specific virtual task that we used. In doing this I found literature that related to this type of task and was able to use the coding skills that I previously learned to complete analyses of our dataset. As the internship finished up we moved to complete an abstract for a neuroscience convention we are presenting at, which is something I never imagined I would get a chance to do.
All in all this summer has been a great opportunity for me to learn some great skills that will translate to my future as I hopefully continue working in the psychology or neuroscience field. I am grateful for this experience and look forward to the rest of my summers while at Wabash because of it.