Adviser: Nicole McNeil, ACE Associate Professor of Psychology
Project: “Are the beneficial effects of gesture on learning due to eye movements?”
Brief description: Research has shown that asking children to mimic specific gestures prior to instruction on math equivalence problems helps them generate and maintain correct problem-solving strategies. These findings support the idea that gesturing facilitates learning; however, the gestures children have mimicked in previous studies have all been relational gestures that move children’s attention back and forth across the equal sign. In my project, I will test the hypothesis that the benefits of these gestures are not due to gesture per se, but rather, are due to the eye movements that accompany the gestures. Research conducted with adults indicates that looking back and forth across the equal sign is correlated with correct strategies to solve math equivalence problems. Research also shows that participants’ eye movements predict correct problem solving and that directing eye movements in a pattern that embodies a correct solution leads to successful problem solving. If gesture facilitates learning by eliciting certain eye movements, then this would advance theory and provide educators with a guiding principle for designing learning materials.
Career Goals: My career goal is to be immersed in research at either a major research institution or an educational research organization. Ultimately, my long-term goal is to conduct research that contributes to improvements in instructional methods that advance children’s mathematical understanding.
Adviser: Gitta Lubke, Associate Professor of Psychology
Project: “Searching through multiple haystacks: A statistical learning method for finding important predictors in high dimensional data with multivariate outcomes.”
Brief Description: In my lab, we are generally interested in understanding the impact of genetics on psychological disorders. One approach that we use is to find sites of genetic variation (nucleotide polymorphisms) that are associated with these disorders. The effect of each polymorphism is very small, so I propose to develop and evaluate a new statistical method that might give us more power to detect these effects. One additional benefit of the research is that the method could be used more generally for variable selection with multivariate outcomes, where the number of potential predictors far exceeds the sample size.
Career Goals: My goal is to develop and use novel statistical methods to help address substantive questions in psychology or other social sciences.
Cognition, Brain & Behavior
Adviser: Jessica Payne, Nancy O'Neill Collegiate Chair in Psychology
Project: “How sleep influence the memory for gist over the long term?”
Brief Description: My project investigates how sleeping (and sleep architecture) right after learning affects two different types of memory over the course of 24 and 48 hours. More importantly, I want to know how sleep and the physiological correlates of sleep affect our memory for the gist (or main theme) of events. It has been shown that gist memories persist over time while memories for specific details decay. My research investigates whether this “gist persistence” is dependent or related to sleep right after learning.
Career Goals: I plan to eventually become a full-time professor mainly focused on research and ideally I would study sleep and memory in Puerto Rico, where no one is currently doing research in this field. I am also very interested in the scientific study of dreaming and its relationship to memory.
In addition to the three winners from Notre Dame’s Department of Psychology, the following six graduate students from the College of Science were honored:
- Jennifer Arceo, Chemistry & Biochemistry (Analytical Chemistry);
- Eric DeLeon, Biological Sciences (Physiology);
- Rachel Schluttenhofer, Biological Sciences (Microbiology);
- Shayna Sura, Biological Sciences (Ecology);
- Victoria Tomiczek, Engineering (Civil Engineering); and
- Carmella Vizza, Biological Sciences (Ecology)
Learn More >
- Department of Psychology
- The Graduate School
- National Science Foundation
- Research profiles of the NSF GRFP winners
- Related story: Meet Psychology Graduate Student Allison Gaffey
- Related story: Psychologist Nicole McNeil Receives APA Award
- Related story: Psychology Professor Seeks Clues to Psychiatric Disorders in DNA
- Related story: Jessica Payne’s Research Shows Benefit of Sleeping After Processing New Info
Originally published by al.nd.edu on May 06, 2013.at