Department of Psychology
Department of Psychology

Recent Events

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Each spring, the clinical area holds PsychFest, a daylong event and banquet in honor of third-year students. This event features individual presentations by third-year students of their current research (typically, the second-year project) and course of future studies. The department invites a distinguished speaker to attend the event, meet with students, and give a lecture; organizers solicit student input when choosing each year’s speaker.

Speakers have included:
  • Michael Bailey, Northwestern University (2000)
  • John Weisz, UCLA (2001)
  • Jack Rachman, the University of British Columbia (fall, 2002)
  • Edna Foa, the University of Pennsylvania (spring, 2004)
  • Margaret Kemeny, UCSF (2005)
  • Bill Miller, the University of New Mexico (2006)
  • Andrew Shatte' , Managing Director at Adaptiv Learning Systems (2007)
  • James Coyne, the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine (2008)
  • Julia Heiman, director of The Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction (2009)
  • Elizabeth Loftus, University of California, Irvine (2010)
  • Charles Carver, Distinguished Professor at the University of Miami (2011)
  • Richard McNally, Harvard University (2012)
  • Matt McGue, University of Minnesota (2013) 
  • Ian Gotlib, Stanford University (2014)
  • Matthew Nock, Harvard University (2015)

To the right of this page is a list of student presentations from this year's event.

The Polka Docs, a band comprised of several clinical faculty members (and quite possibly the only band featuring an accordion AND a didgeridoo), has provided entertainment at a number of the evening banquets.

Lee Willerman Award for Excellence in Research

A highlight of PsychFest is the presentation of the Lee Willerman Award for Excellence in Research, which is given for the outstanding student paper publication. Dr. Willerman, a distinguished researcher in the clinical area from 1971 until his untimely death in 1997, was well-loved by his students and colleagues. The area established the award in 2000 as a tribute to Dr. Willerman and his contributions to the department and the field. The winner receives a plaque and a cash award, and his or her name is added to the permanent plaque displayed in the Seay library.

This year's Lee Willerman Award was given to RAHEL PEARSON for her paper, “Association between serotonin cumulative genetic score and the behavioral approach system (BAS): Moderation by early life environment." It was published in 2014 in the journal, Personality and Individual Differences, 70,  pp. 140–144.  

Please click here to see the names of past winners.


Clinical Party

The area hosts a fall dinner and party for clinical faculty, students, and their partners or spouses. A party highlight is the videotape made by second-year students to welcome the first-year students. In past years, this "welcome video" has included Dr. Telch’s moving efforts to excite a depressed clown, and a current doctoral student "dumpster diving" to find a golden ticket admitting him to the clinical program.

First-Year Clinical Students 2015
First year students (from left): Chelsea Kilimnik, Santiago Papini, Travis Mallard, Andrew Grotzinger, Ariel Handy, and Mikael Rubin


Keynote Speaker:

Dr. Matthew Nock, Harvard University

KEYNOTE TALK: “Why do people hurt themselves? Recent advances in the understanding and prediction of suicidal behavior in adults and adolescents”

Student Speakers:

Alex Birdsill
Obesity related differences in regional white matter microstructure in midlife

Darius Dawson
The relation of acculturative stress to substance use behaviors across ethnic groups

Alexandra Dowd
Emerging empathy: Differences between infants at varying levels of social impairment from 12 to 15 months

Ellie Shuo Jin
Sex differences in acute stress response: Implications for psychopathology

Elise Marino
Outcome expectancies and responses to alcohol: Examination of heart rate reactivity and body sway

Amelia Stanton
Heart rate variability as an index of female sexual dysfunction

Download PsychFest 2015 Poster (PDF)

Past Winners of the Lee Willerman Award

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  • Department of Psychology

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