From left: Senior Garrett Cash, senior Avery Trinh, Professor Susannah Moore, junior Joshua Wenger, and senior Katie Zuercher attended the Virginia Association for Psychological Sciences conference, with all students presenting research.

Psychology students present research, with one winning best paper, at state conference

Four psychology students presented their research at the Virginia Association for Psychological Sciences conference on April 1. After two years of cancellation due to COVID, seniors Garrett Cash, Avery Trinh and Katie Zuercher, and  junior Joshua Wenger were finally able to present their research from last year.

Among all the participants, Wenger came away with the the Frederick B. Rowe Award for Best Undergraduate Paper, a paper that he also recently published in an academic journal

The conference schedule includes opportunities for students and professionals to present research as well as professional development sessions for practitioners in assessment challenges such as competence, multimethod approaches, resource-seeking, ethics, state regulations, diversity and culture, and incorporating assessment technologies. Presenters included speakers from the board of psychology.  

This was Trinh’s first in-person conference. He presented two sets of research: a psychology senior research project with Scott Barge, vice president for institutional strategy and chief information office, using a survey on sense of belonging. The other was with professor Susannah Moore’s childhood maltreatment data. “It was cool to connect with all the different people, and really nice to see what other universities are doing research-wise,” Trinh said. 

The event was also an opportunity to network: Trinh received several business cards from different university faculty members, a newsletter seeking submissions, and graduate program information from nearby James Madison University. He was also able to reconnect with a former coworker at JMU, where he did institutional research last summer.

Zuercher also appreciated the opportunity to see what other researchers were doing. “VAPS was a great way to continue viewing the research process and continued to give me a newfound respect for our fellow researchers,” she said. “It was great to be able to see other topics of research and really just shows how much of our psychological world we have to explore.” 

Psychology professor Susannah Moore accompanied the researchers. “This conference provides students the opportunity to showcase their strong research abilities in a professional setting,” said Moore. “Many of our students are looking toward grad school, and this is a great experience to learn about how academic research is communicated to a broader audience.”

Cash also found value in the preparatory aspect of the experience. “It was good preparation for future research and conferences,” said Cash. “I appreciated the opportunity to share my research and receive feedback from peers.”

Wenger “valued the opportunity for both poster and oral presentation sessions,” he said. “It was good practice and helped me solidify my preferred presentation style.” 

Presentations included: 

Oral Presentations

  • Motivated memory: The effect of reward on encoding and retrieval -Joshua Wenger  (award)
  • The relationship between objective health measurements, maltreatment, trauma, and psychopathology -Joshua Wenger

Poster Presentations

  • Working memory: The effects of reward for an unrelated task. Joshua Wenger 
  • Sense of belonging: The need for a new survey. Avery Trinh
  • Childhood Maltreatment’s Effect on Metabolic Syndrome. Avery Trinh
  • Effect of acute light therapy session on facial expression recognition and mood change. Garrett Cash
  • Survival processing paradigm and first-person shooter (FPS) video games. Katelyn (Katie) Zuercher

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