University of Vermont

The College of Arts and Sciences

Department of Psychological Science

Undergraduate Award Winners: 2011

2011 award winners

Back, L-R Justin Parent, Robert Brenna III, Erika Weisz, Prof. William Falls
Front Stephanie McDonough, Christina Moore, Anne Brady

Anne E. Brady (John Dewey Award)

During the summer of 2010, Annie was awarded a Summer Research Internship Award through the Honors College to collect data examining how aggressive behavior patterns, particularly those common among females (e.g., gossip, social exclusion), may be related to narcissistic personality traits in children and adolescents. This is a very prestigious award to complete an independent research project in the natural sciences. Anne independently developed her research proposal and spent the summer collecting data at a nearby summer camp to address her research questions. She is also currently completing an Honors Project in the Social Development Laboratory regarding the association between narcissistic personality traits and both physical and relational forms of aggression in both male and female adolescents.

Robert L. Brenna III (Donald Forgays Outstanding Senior Award)

Inspired by research discussed in his social psychology class, Robert developed a proposal that subsequently won him an Undergraduate Research Endeavors Competitive Award (URECA). Now Robert devotes a good chunk of his time to determining whether shared subjective experiences (e.g., seeing the same image in an inkblot, having the same random association) can foster liking for members of a racial outgroup. Importantly, Robert has taken past research and made it "real" by choosing to investigate this hypothesis in the context of face-to-face encounters.

Stephanie R. McDonough (Heinz Ansbacher Award)

Stephanie's Honors Thesis project examines the effects of an undergraduate weight and health management course, VTrim, on students' self-esteem, and ways in which these effects may vary with students' motivation to enroll in the course. The results of this project may inform the design of more effective and healthy weight loss programs and identify psychological factors that might be involved in healthful dieting. Stephanie is the recipient of both an Honors College Undergraduate Research Opportunity Award (URECA) as well as an Academic Programs for Learning and Engagement (APLE) award to fund her research project.

Christina C. Moore (George Albee Award)

Christina was particularly fascinated by the ways that teachers can promote positive youth development, particularly among children who are otherwise at risk (e.g., children with aggressive and disruptive behavior problems). Christina was awarded the Jeffords Center Scholarship, the only recipient of this award for this academic year, and has spent the last two semester collecting data in local schools to examine the potential protective role of teacher preference in at-risk children's social development. Christina's research questions are novel with respect to research in developmental psychology: although a number of researchers examine how relationships with peers relate to later functioning, almost no research examines the role that teacher preference may play in buffering at-risk children from negative developmental outcomes. If Christina's hypotheses are supported, the results will have important implications for interventions for at-risk children.

Justin M. Parent (Heinz Ansbacher Award)

Justin's independent study for two semesters last year primarily consisted of working with an advanced level graduate student in the Clinical Program, involving both academic work and "hands-on" experience of coding videotapes for fidelity purposes. Justin also has been extensively involved in a project which is being conducted at the University of North Carolina- Chapel Hill. In this project, mothers of young oppositional defiant children are being taught parenting skills to address their children's problem behaviors. Justin has been involved in all of the training (including coding videotapes), much of the planning of the project, and taking a leadership role in assembling a team of coders.

Brittany E. Raymond (John Dewey Award)

Brittany Raymond When Brittany began work in Professor John Green's laboratory, they were about to pilot a new behavior task, set-shifting in a cross-maze; she was instrumental in getting this task up-and-running. She took the lead on the initial experiment and trained another undergraduate as her assistant. She is a co-author on a manuscript that recently received a revise and resubmit from the journal Behavior Neuroscience. Brittany applied for and received an Undergraduate Research Endeavors Competitive Award (URECA) award to conduct an independent project in Professor Green's laboratory this academic year. In collaboration with Professor William Falls, Brittany is currently examining the anxiolytic and anxiogenic effects of long-term exercise in rats.

Erika Weisz (Donald Forgays Outstanding Senior Award)

Erika has developed an independent research project for her Honors Thesis. Specifically, Erika is interested in examining whether the psychological costs of engaging in relational aggression (e.g., depressive symptoms) differ for children who are versus are not popular in their peer group. In addition, Erika is examining whether this buffering effect differs for males and females. Erika's Honors Thesis will be the first study to examine whether peer popularity protects relationally aggressive children from developing depressive symptoms over time. This longitudinal approach is essential to clarify the potential role that peer status may play in the association between aggressive conduct and psychological adjustment.

Undergraduate Awards