On the surface, Minnesota stacks up as one of the healthiest states in the US on average. But it’s also home to some of the nation’s biggest racial and ethnic disparities. Richard Lee and his team of collaborators aim to reduce this gap by focusing on the wellbeing of some of Minnesota’s youngest residents.
What makes a winning smile? This question is of interest to social psychologists, facial reconstruction surgeons, computer scientists, everyday people, and even late-night talk-show hosts. A team of University of Minnesota researchers took to the Minnesota State Fair to find out. The findings are worth smiling about.
“I was not tied down to a major or a specific track in my life,” senior Shivani Venkatesh says. Her interest in psychology and the human mind prepared her for a path she didn’t expect to take, and “being in CLA made that an easy transition.”
“Once I started working in the mental health field I never really looked back.” Psychology student Hayley Brendalen has already begun using her life experience to benefit others. She currently volunteers at the Defense of Veterans Brain Injury Center. It’s there that she finally found something she wants to spend her life doing.
It is not inconceivable that future high school students won’t have to take the SAT or the ACT, says Professor Deniz Ones. They’ll download some apps on their mobile devices, link their wearable sensors, and let colleges collect data for a couple of months. Ones is a member of the mPerf research team, conducting a multimillion dollar project about using data from wearable sensors to predict and measure workplace performance. It could have far-reaching impacts for all workplace and educational assessments.
How can undergraduates actually impact the communities around them? Mary K. Onchiri, a senior in the College of Liberal Arts, researched to what extent social-environmental factors indirectly impact the relationship between neighborhood and psychological distress.
What motivates people to start exercising? How can some people simply walk away from cigarettes, while others struggle? University of Minnesota’s professor Alex Rothman applies an experimental medicine approach to identify strategies to impact health-related behaviors.
Transfer student Lindsay Horejsi tried a number of jobs before deciding to go back to school. Read about her position as a research intern for the Center for Homicide Research and her post-graduation plans.
Meet the three psychology undergraduate students—Abigail Barthel, Shelby Wilcox, and Feng Gooi—who received the Sharon Borine Award in fall 2016. These awards are given each semester and acknowledge undergraduate seniors whose final submissions for their major project course are of the highest quality.
Social psychology professor Jeffry Simpson’s areas of research include attachment processes, social influence in relationships, social development, and health outcomes. He studies how relationships work within a psychological model based on attachment theory, which claims there are basically three types of people: secure, avoidant, and anxious.
Associate Professor Cheryl Olman started a new class that pairs University of Minnesota undergraduates with 7th and 8th graders at Murray Middle School to create their own science fair projects. Through the class, the undergraduates learn to be supportive mentors by working with younger students, while the middle school students learn to understand basic scientific ideas by working one-on-one with the undergraduates.
Professors Monica Luciana and William Iacono are directing the Minnesota site of a fascinating new study of adolescent twins and non-twins, which promises to shed light on issues ranging from substance abuse to the impacts of screen time and energy drinks on the developing adolescent brain.
New Assistant Professor Nicola Grissom studies mice to help us understand the genetic causes of neurodevelopmental disorders, such as autism, in humans. “The more we understand how the brains of people with autism are different, the more we can help them adapt to the world,” she says.
PhD student Brittany Marcus-Blank is fascinated with understanding human behavior, and she brings that passion to her research in industrial and organizational psychology. “I love the idea of using psychological principles to solve practical business problems,” she says.
Most people would assert that volunteering is a good behavior and essential for the community, yet of the people who hold this belief, few actually volunteer. This contradiction is of particular importance to Professor Mark Snyder, who has spent more than 20 years studying volunteerism.
Professor Andrew Oxenham is the scientific co-director of the University’s new Center for Applied and Translational Sensory Science. This center brings not only new technology to the disposal of the psychology department, but also the potential for greater collaboration between the social, physical, biological, medical and engineering sciences, and industry partners.
Patients’ mental health can play a large role in their physical recovery. Professor Patricia Frazier is currently working on an online psychosocial intervention for patients with voice disorders to examine whether it can improve patient outcomes.