Psychology hosts annual day to recognize student achievement

Apr 19th, 2022

Kelly Foss

The Department of Psychology in the Faculty of Science celebrated its 12th annual Research Day recently and recognized both student research and staff teaching.

The full-day event, which was organized by Dr. Carolyn Walsh, the department’s deputy head; and Dr. Darcy Hallett, the graduate officer; showcased research conducted by the department’s undergraduate and graduate students. It covered a wide range of subfields within the discipline of psychology and encompassed areas such as animal behaviour, behavioural neuroscience, clinical psychology, cognitive psychology, developmental psychology and social psychology.

In the morning, nine master’s students gave talks while 41 honours students gave poster presentations in the afternoon. The day concluded with an awards ceremony.

“Research Day is my absolute favourite day of the year,” said Dr. Christina Thorpe, head of Psychology. “I get to come and celebrate how amazing everyone is. For many of the fourth-year students, I had you in my second-year writing course and now I get to see how much you have changed and blossomed in the last two years.”

Undergraduate awards

Ashlee Coles, Hannah Murphy, Alesha King and Gabrielle Dupont were recognized for passing their honours thesis with distinction. Students self-nominated their thesis for pass with distinction, and the four student theses were awarded this designation, representing the top ten per cent of the honours theses submitted this year.

Ashlee Coles and Amy Williams each received the Bill McKim Best Honours Thesis Award for their submissions, Overcoming the forbidden: Student identification and stigma towards obsessive-compulsive disorder unacceptable thoughts, and Depressive-like behaviour and serotonergic activity in the triple transgenic model of Alzheimer’s Disease, respectively.

Alesha King received the day’s Best Poster Award for Understanding the health-care provider experiences with Introduction to Stepped Care 2.0, and One-at-a-Time Therapy online training courses.

The Robert Adamec Neuroscience Award, which is given to the honours student presenting the best poster in the area of neuroscience, was presented to Kerri Sparkes for Prenatal androgen exposure on social behaviour in a rodent model of maternal immune activation.

The Psychology Society Award was given to Hannah Murphy. It is presented based on academic merit, as well as involvement with the Psychology Department and the community.

“Hannah was the third-year representative on the society last year and this year is vice-president,” said Dr. Thorpe. “She was also the student representative on the department’s undergraduate studies committee and volunteered to attend all our departmental meetings so she could learn about everything that was going on in the department.

“She works with Dr. Michelle Ploughman’s performance and recovery lab and had a MUCEP position to help communities to implement exercise programs for stroke patients. She also volunteered as a movement instructor with the City of St. John’s and they have presented her with a Youth Building Healthy Communities Award.”

Graduate awards 

Rebecca Bennett received the Graduate Psychology Society Award in Academic Excellence while Nicole Eddy received the society’s Award in Community Excellence.

The Best Talk Award was presented to Meagan Hinks for The role of sex and the gut microbiome in mouse models of depression, while Anastasia Mekhael was chosen runner-up for Evaluating the efficacy of oxytocin for pain management: Results from an updated narrative review and meta-analysis.

The inaugural Dr. Doris M. Babstock Memorial Scholarship for Academic Merit was presented to Mark Corrigan.

The award is to be given to a full-time student entering the master of science in experimental psychology program at Memorial University who, like Dr. Babstock, has taken a non-standard path during their academic career. It is renewable for up to two years.

“Mark’s first degree was at Ryerson where he received a graphic communications management degree,” said Dr. Sue Walling, who presented the award. “He went on to become a director of a tech company. With this tremendous educational background, he found an interest in psychology and did some wellness work in positive psychology.

“Between his interest in tech and neuroscience, he has come to do his master’s degree at Memorial to meld these ideas.”

The last award of the day was the Rennie Gaulton Award for Excellence in Teaching, which was given to Dr. Cheryl Fitzpatrick.

“She is one of the best professors I’ve ever encountered in my far-too-many-years of doing an undergraduate degree here at Memorial,” said Dr. Thorpe, while summarizing some of the comments made by the undergraduate students who contributed to Dr. Fitzpatrick’s nomination. “I think Dr. Fitzpatrick truly cares about her students and how they perform. She is the most deserving of this award because she is the most passionate and interesting professor I have ever taken a course from.

“Dr. Fitzpatrick is thankfully just starting her teaching career, which means many other students will be able to benefit from her teaching in the same way I have been able.”