A new study from Nathan Rose, assistant professor of psychology, examined a fundamental problem your brain has to solve, which is keeping information “in mind,” or active, so your brain can act accordingly. Rose and his team give weight to the synaptic theory, a less well-known and tested model that suggests that information can be retained for short periods of time by specific changes in the links, or weights, between neurons.
With a growing need for skilled data scientists, the University of Notre Dame, in collaboration with AT&T, has announced its new online master of science degree with a specialization in data science. Offered by the Department of Applied and Computational Mathematics and Statistics, with the collaboration of the Department of Psychology, the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, and the Mendoza College of Business, this degree program will prepare graduates for careers as data scientists in a wide range of industry fields fields including management, marketing, information technology, government policy, health care, finance, education and scientific research.
How people react to stress–both psychologically and physically–can have implications for a person’s health and well-being, including how well they age. Professor of Psychology and Associate Vice President for Research Cindy Bergeman is conducting a 10-year study based on how different people respond to stress, why they react the way they do, and the different ways people cope.
Laura Miller-Graff was appointed to the William J. Shaw Center for Children and Families Assistant Professor in Psychology in recognition of her outstanding work as a scholar, teacher, and University citizen.
Scott E. Maxwell, Matthew A. Fitzsimons Professor of Psychology in Notre Dame’s Department of Psychology, is retiring at the end of the academic year. A professor since 1988, he came to Notre Dame as an associate professor in 1982 from the University of Houston. He twice served as chair of the department, has co-authored three books, and has authored or co-authored more than 150 journal articles or book chapters. The following are reflections and tributes to him from academic colleagues from his department and around the country.
While working at a childhood bereavement center after college, Amy K. Nuttall Ph.D. ’15 saw firsthand how resilient kids can be. She was inspired to research parentification, or the act of children assuming adult caretaking roles in their families, in her graduate work in developmental psychology at Notre Dame. She now continues to explore the issue at Michigan State University, where she landed a position as an assistant professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies and directs the Family Stress Lab.
Notre Dame students in the College of Arts and Letters’ newest major see neuroscience and behavior as great preparation for any number of exciting careers. Whether they plan to pursue medical school or graduate school, clinical research or lab work, neuroscience majors can customize the curriculum to fit their needs. Students are also able to integrate research opportunities based on their individual interests.
Computers are astounding devices, but they aren’t great listeners. They can’t lend a hand when users struggle to find a file, don’t understand what they are reading, or fall asleep studying for a test. But that may all change someday soon. Sidney D’Mello, an assistant professor of psychology and computer science at the University of Notre Dame, is tackling research at the intersection of cognition and emotion during complex learning and problem-solving. Through several projects he’s leading or collaborating on, D’Mello is creating real-time computational models built from extensive lab- and school-based research, with the long-term, big-picture goal of making computers more humanlike so they can guide us in learning—at work, at school, and in daily life.
How should a concerned mother discuss issues of diet and weight with her daughter? Very carefully, according to Erin Hillard, a developmental psychology doctoral student at the University of Notre Dame. In an article recently published in the journal Body Image, Hillard and her colleagues reported on results from their study of a representative group of sixth- through eighth-grade girls and their mothers.
The key to improving human memory, Notre Dame psychology graduate student Andrea Kalchik believes, is understanding the circumstances that cause us to forget. “Everyday forgetting is something that impacts everyone to some extent,” she said. “My research has the potential to help improve all people’s lives. I hope that I can make that difference.” Kalchik, a Presidential University Fellow pursuing a Ph.D. in the Department of Psychology’s Cognition, Brain, and Behavior Area, is focusing her research on brain processes—metamemory, episodic future thinking, and prospective memory—that are essential components of human brain function.
Did you receive affection, play freely, and feel supported in childhood? Childhood experiences like these appear to have a lot to do with well-being and moral capacities in adulthood. In a forthcoming article in the journal Applied Developmental Science, University of Notre Dame professor of psychology Darcia Narvaez and colleagues Lijuan Wang and Ying Cheng, associate professors of psychology, show that childhood experiences that match with evolved needs lead to better outcomes in adulthood.
Jessica Payne never dreamed of becoming a rising star in the science of sleep. In fact, until midway through graduate school, she didn’t think much about the subject beyond her own off-and-on problems getting some shut-eye. Now, she can’t keep it off her mind. Payne’s tireless work recently earned her the "Psychonomic Society’s Early Career Award, given to individuals who have made significant contributions to scientific psychology early in their careers.
When you help create two dozen psychological assessment instruments—including one cited more than 19,000 times—the world takes notice. David Watson, the Andrew J. McKenna Family Professor of Psychology, was honored for those accomplishments and many others when the Society for Personality and Social Psychology presented him with the 2015 Jack Block Award for Distinguished Research in Personality. The award recognizes the lifetime achievements of senior-level researchers and is the organization’s top honor for research accomplishments in personality psychology.
Welcome to the annual newsletter of the Department of Psychology at the University of Notre Dame. I hope you enjoy reading stories of the extraordinary achievements of our faculty and students and learning more about our programs, initiatives, and ambition.
Seven years ago, I wrote my first welcome letter for this newsletter. I was the new department chair, and the department was on the move. We hired numerous faculty members at all levels whose research brought dynamic synergy across our four doctoral programs. I affirmed our goal of becoming a premier department where the visibility, importance, and influence of our scholarship was woven seamlessly with our commitment to excellence in doctoral training and high-quality undergraduate education.
For married couples, the odds aren’t good when one partner has anxiety or depression. The presence of such a mental issue significantly increases the risk that the couple will get divorced. Notre Dame psychology Ph.D. student Judith Biesen wants to find a way to improve the outcomes for those couples. With an American Dream grant from the Institute for Scholarship in the Liberal Arts, Biesen is completing a longitudinal study of mental health—specifically, anxiety disorders and depression—and how it relates to marital functioning and satisfaction with the relationship.
A new interdisciplinary fellowship program launched by the University of Notre Dame’s Institute for Educational Initiatives will train graduate students in state-of-the-art quantitative methods, allowing them to examine the impact of educational policies, programs, and practices. Beginning in fall 2016, the Rev. James A. Burns Fellowship is open to prospective students applying to Ph.D. programs in economics, political science, psychology, and sociology who plan to pursue educational research.
Notre Dame faculty from the Department of Psychology have been awarded grants from the Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute (CTSI). Julie Braungart-Rieker, the Mary Hesburgh Flaherty and James F. Flaherty III Professor of Psychology and director of the William J. Shaw Center for Children and Families, was awarded a Community Health Engagement Program (CHEP) Community Based Research Pilot Award for a study, “Reducing Obesogenic Home Environments in Low-Income Households with Mothers of Pre-school-Aged Children.” Jennifer Burke LeFever, assistant research professor in the Department of Psychology, is a co-primary investigator on the grant.
What’s going on in your head while you sleep? The research of Jessica Payne, associate professor and Nancy O’Neill Collegiate Chair in Psychology, shows that the non-waking hours are incredibly valuable for your day-to-day life, especially for helping to commit information to memory and for problem solving. If you ever thought sleep was just downtime between one task and the next, think again.
Notre Dame psychologist Darcia Narvaez has received the 2015 William James Book Award from the American Psychological Association for her latest book, Neurobiology and the Development of Human Morality: Evolution, Culture and Wisdom. The award recognizes a recent book that attempts to bring together diverse subfields of psychology and related disciplines and demonstrates an essential underlying set of themes that serve to unify or integrate the field.
The Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship Foundation recently announced that Michael Dinh has been named a 2015 Goldwater Scholar. Dinh, a junior biological sciences and psychology double major and member of the Glynn Family Honors Program, was one of 260 scholarship recipients selected from over 1,200 applications.