autumn leafEmil's Epilogue
October 2009
Gustie Psych News & Events

Department Happenings

October 22 - "Psychology in Context: Professional Panel" - 7:00 PM, Heritage Room - a campus-wide event sponsored by Psi Chi (see article below)
October 26, 27 - Reading Day(s)
November 25, 26, 27 - Thanksgiving Recess
December 11 - Psychology Research Symposium - SSC lower level hallway
December 15 - Final Day of Classes (Department Cookie and Cider Day)
December 16 - Reading Day
December 17 - 21 Finals
April 13 - 18, 2010 - NCUR - University of Montana
May 1, 2010 - Midbrains Conference - more information to follow
May 1, 2010 - Honors Day - Gustavus Adolphus College


Neuroscience and Psychology Depts Sponsor Guest LectureEl-Hai with students

Jack El-Hai, author of "The Lobotomist", spoke to the Gustavus community about the life and practice of Walter Freeman, the controversial neurologist and psychiatrist who made the lobotomy procedure famous.

by Cathryn Nelson Cathryn Nelson was a guest at the event and has contributed the following article. Cathryn is a senior honors psychology major, a neuroscience minor, psychology academic assistant and is involved in Pre-Health Club, Psi Chi Honor Society, Gustie Buddies. and is a coordinator for Gustavus Youth Outreach.

  • Jack El-Hai, author of The Lobotomist, gave a lecture at Gustavus on Thursday, September 24th at 7:00pm in Wallenberg Auditorium. The topic of his lecture was psychosurgery, and he focused on the life of Dr. Walter Freeman, a man who was on the forefront of psychosurgery back in the 1940s.
  •  Dr. Freeman began performing lobotomies on mentally ill patients in 1936. Jack El-Hai shared video footage of this surgery, which consisted of cutting a hole in the skull and using a metal object called a leukotome to extract brain matter.  These surgeries produced mixed results; some patients found symptoms lessened while other patients’ conditions deteriorated to the point where they no longer could care for themselves.
  • Looking back on the life of Dr. Walter Freeman today we wonder how he ever could think such a surgery could improve lives of patients suffering mental illnesses. We look at all the failed surgeries and casualties of this psychosurgery and label Freeman crazy. Jack El-Hai saw Freeman in a different light.  El-Hai saw Freeman as a man who, despite his unhealthy obsession over these surgeries, was fighting for a good cause. Lobotomy was one of the only options the mental ill could try to escape from the horrible conditions of the mental hospital. Freeman, though he may have gotten a bit carried away with the procedure, was looking for innovative ways to help the world.
  •   Jack El-Hai has been a free lance author for more than 20 years and writes books, essays, and articles often focused on medicine, science, and crime. El-Hai’s work has appeared in many publications including The Washington Post Magazine, The History Channel Magazine, and American Heritage. He has received multiple honors and awards for his work, including grants from the Center for Arts Criticism and the June Roth Memorial Award for Medical Journalism. He has appeared on many radio stations including Minnesota Public Radio discussing his most recent work, The Lobotomist . It was a pleasure having Jack El-Hai share his and Walter Freeman’s stories at Gustavus.

New Building, New Opportunities

by Emma Iverson

Emma is a senior honors psychology and sociology double major. She is an academic assistant in the psychology department and a member of Psi Chi Honor Society, Big Partner-Little Partner and a coordinator for Gustavus Youth Outreach. She interviewed department faculty for the following article:

  • The main buzz around the psych department these days is the continued progress on plans for the new state-of-the-art academic building which will likely be begun sometime in the next year.  Although those of us who are currently juniors and seniors will not be around to experience the psychology department outside of the SSC basement maze, the professors are very excited about the changes and new opportunities which the new building will bring for psychology students in the coming years.
  • Many of the professors seem to be most anxiously anticipating the new chances for research which will be possible in the new space.  Dr. Ackil mentioned that the primary benefit she sees for students will be new research suites which will give students a place to work on their own research and to collaborate with faculty and with other students.  For example, child development, adult development, and social group labs will all be located together in one space, providing exciting opportunities for cooperation and innovation.  Dr. Chambers also expects the new building to facilitate the development of an exciting research community which will encourage interdisciplinary exploration and collaboration within psychology research.  In addition, as the new building will have some real lab space, as opposed to the small rooms tucked away in corners of the current building, professors will be able to incorporate more labs and activities into their classes and provide more adequate facilities for methods and independent research project, which Dr. Wotton thinks will make psychology classes much more exciting for the students.  Dr. Robinson is hoping that the new space will allow the department to return to the exciting rat 1research hub that it was in the 1970s.  At this time, there were large research labs, rat 2several lab assistants, 50 or more rats being trained by 100 or more students at any given time, a permanent rat maze, and activity going on in the department until 9:00 or 10:00 almost every night.  The state-of-the-art labs filled with exciting “toys” to play with will hopefully make this a reality once again. 
  • In addition to the multitude of improved opportunities for research, the new building will be a much better space for students to learn, work, and socialize.  Dr. Ackil stressed that the classrooms will be much better, and none will have the large pole in the middle that some classrooms now have!  The classrooms have been designed with students in mind to provide a comfortable environment most conducive to learning.  Dr. Martin said that the new building will have much more open space for students to work and to get together with other psychology students, which he hopes will provide a real morale boost for the entire department, foster more pleasant interactions, and create a space in which students can really enjoy spending time.  Dr. Wotton is hopeful that the open space and having first year students and general psychology classes held near the rest of the department will create a better profile for the department and allow students to better identify with the department and to know what is going in psychology much earlier.  Dr. Chambers also emphasized that the physical layout of the new building will be much improved, especially the higher ceilings in his lab!
  • Overall, it seems as though the new building will provide many exciting opportunities for growth and development of both the psychology students and faculty and for the department as a whole.  Those of us who will be graduating will have to be sure to come back for a visit to see all the new changes and to keep an eye out for exciting advancements which will be made possible by the new space. 

Department Resources

  • Psychology Majors are encouraged to check out a variety of reference books regarding preparing for the GRE and the grad school application process - check with Lee in SSC 04

Alumni Updates

by Taylor Olson '08

I started off my second year of grad school running.  I am currently attending the School of Professional Psychology at Forest Institute in Springfield, MO to obtain my doctorate in Clinical Psychology with a specialization in Forensic Psychology.  I am taking six courses this semester including: Cognitive Assessment, Objective Assessment, Relationship and Interview, Cognitive Behavior Theory and Intervention, Risk Management, and Sex Offender Evaluation and T OlsonTreatment.  In Cognitive Assessment I'm learning and practicing how to give the WAIS IV and WISC IV, a form of an adult and child intelligence test.  In Objective Assessment we are entirely focusing on administering and interpreting the MMPI 2, currently the most used assessment tool in the psychology field.  I also am preparing to see my own clients by learning and practicing intake interviews, mental status exams, and suicide assessments.  I begin seeing clients under supervision in January at our school’s community clinic...weird I know.  In October I will be presenting a poster on Juvenile Sex Offender treatment and effectiveness at the Society of Police and Criminal Psychology Conference in Hartford, CT.  I'm also starting to work on my thesis, which will be a literature review of two risk assessments, the COVR and the HCR-20. The COVR is a newer risk assessment instrument used on prisoners and/or forensic inpatients.  In my paper I will compare it with another commonly used risk assessment used with this population, the HCR-20.  Once I write my thesis reviewing these two assessment instruments I will use archival data, data already previously collected, to validate the newer COVR with the commonly used HCR-20 at the Federal Medical Center, a federal prison, in Springfield, MO.  The prison administrators there have been looking for someone to conduct this research so, hopefully, I will receive some funding for it as well as get it published when it is completed. After completing one full year of grad school, including summer classes, I have come to appreciate some of the aspects of the psychology department at Gustavus and encourage all students interested in attending grad school to take advantage of them: (Taylor Olson, continued)

by Christine Grotjohn '09

I've been in South Korea just over a month now! This is already my fourth week teaching. I can't believe it! This was such a great choice for Christine in South Koreame after graduation. I love everything about it here: my community, school, the teachers and Korean staff, and my students. It's all so wonderful! I teach kindergarten from 10am-2:30pm (with an hour lunch) and elementary students in the afternoon, every day. My classes include: Phonics, Reading Comprehension, Story Time, English Writing/ Essay, and American Social Studies. My days go by SO FAST because I'm constantly teaching something new. I can already see myself staying another year, but we'll see how I feel about that after 11 more months of teaching! As of now, I am enjoying every minute of my time here! I hope the school year is off to a WONDERFUL start!

Laura Moran '89 Laura Moran '89 was featured in an article in the September 22 issue of the Hutchinson Leader. According to the Leader, Moran lived in Spain and the Canary Islands for several years after graduating from Gustavus with degrees in English and Psychology. She returned to Minnesota to attend the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota and earned a master's degree in human resources and industrial relations. Three years ago she started her own tea company - Liif Tea. For more information, visit her website at The Hutchinson Leader article can be referenced at

Senior Psych Majors Remember to stop by SSC 04 to have your picture taken for the senior board (outside of SSC 28) - and in doing so - submit your name for a senior gift drawing on December 15 at the Department's annual Hot Cider and Frost your Own Cookies Day!

Faculty Updates

Barbara Simpson

I had a visiting research fellowship at Oxford University, UK, this summer to study the incidence and treatment of adolescent male sex offenders.  My research there was based on my experience of fifteen years work with adolescent male sex offenders at the Hoffmann Center treatment facility here in St Peter as well as my work identifying the literature of sex offenders prior to going to Oxford. Dr. SimpsonI hypothesized for the project, and rather generally found confirmed, was that while people in general, including those passing legislation at local, state, and federal levels, believe that sex offenders are adult males who have a sexual problem that predisposes them to prey on children, that as many as two-thirds of the individuals accused of having sex with a child are not dirty old men or middle-aged pedophiles, but slightly older children. That is, most of the offenses against three year-old to twelve year-old children are perpetrated by slightly older children.  They are usually male and are somewhere between the ages of twelve and seventeen, usually younger than fifteen. Their offenses are against males more often than females.  They are noticeably different from the teen-age males who sexually offend females and from those who have offended no one.  The young men who offend have most likely never had any kind of romantic friendship or relationship with a female their own age. They are both less confident and less skilled socially than young people who do not offend.  They are frequently less able intellectually.  Many, between forty and sixty percent, will reoffend within a year or two of release from treatment or reform school, but the offense will not be a sexual one.  Sexual recidivism, measured by whether or not they are caught again, is less than five percent, and less than two percent will continue to offend children when they reach adulthood.  This was not well-understood by those who have drafted sex-offender legislation in the US over the last ten years. Specifically, until counties and states can figure out what to do, anybody who sexually offends a child under the age of 12-years will be required, as of this summer, to register as a sex offender for the rest of his/her life. That registration will be conducted via the internet and will be available for anyone to check. What the legislators intended in drafting the legislation was for the repeat child offender, perhaps child killer, to self-identify.  What they have done is to set up a program in which children as young as twelve years of age must register publically for the rest of their lives not only for the benefit of mother and fathers and caring, responsible neighbors, but also where the bona fide pedophile can identify and locate them. If you are interested either in treating or promoting corrective legislation, come see me.  Dr. Kruger

Mark Kruger

  • Dr. Mark Kruger presented "Individual differences in muscle tension and air support during trumpet performance" at The Society for Music Perception and Cognition 2009 Bienneal Conference at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis on August 3-6, 2009. Co-authors were Dr. Jonathan Kruger, Rochester Institute of Technology and Dr. James McLean, SUNY-Geneseo (abstract)

Marie Walker Dr. Marie Walker presented" Teaching about Diversity at a Small Church-Dr. WalkerAffiliated Liberal Arts College" at the International Conference on the Teaching of Psychology co-hosted by Kwantlen Polytechnic University & Douglas College in Vancouver, Canada on July 24-26, 2009 (abstract)


The first student who replies to with detailed information regarding this newsletter's namesake - can pick up a complimentary candy bar from SSC 04.


Psi Chi Sponsored Updates

Jenny Grundman -- A message from a Psi Chi co-president:

  • Psi Chi is the National Honor Society for Psychology students. Here at Gustavus, the chapter is run by Kari Jacobsen, Jenny Grundman, and Alison Hoffman. As a Psychology organization, members get together to discuss research, get to know faculty members, and plan events. The group meets monthly, and gathers for monthly events.

    During the fall semester the organization has planned a "Psychology in Context: Professional Panel" as a campus-wide event to learn more about what Psychology looks like in the real world. The panel is scheduled for Thursday, October 22nd at 7:00 p.m. in the Heritage Room. This event is intended to provide all interested students with a better understanding of what Psychology looks like in the "real-world" by having professionals in the field speak about their careers. We have four panelists scheduled to participate in the panel: Michael Hepperlen is a 1995 Gustie grad and is currently employed as a Senior Consultant at MDA Leadership Consulting; Eryn Nelson is a recent Gustie grad and is currently employed as a Market Research Analyst at 3M; Amy Anderson is currently employed as a Speech Language Pathologist at Speech, Hearing, and Rehabilitation Services; and, Elizabeth Power Hawkinson is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker at the Saint Peter Clinic.
  • The November event is undecided, we are thinking about scheduling a trip to the MN Regional Treatment Center for a tour of the museum. The December event is our traditional Gingerbread House making during Finals for any and all students who need to relieve some stress. (Don't miss it!)
  • psi chiFall invitations have been mailed to students who have met the eligibility requirements to join Psi Chi. Current members are Ashley Martin, Amy Veerkamp, Joshua Busacker, Jennifer Grundman (co-president), Maggie Hansvick, Emma Iverson, Kari Jacobsen (co-president), Susan Kramer, Erin Watt, Lauren Clausen, Rebecca Hormann, Lisa Julin, Kathryn Layman, Meredythe Marcotte, Cathryn Nelson, Abbe Paulhe, Caitlin Petersen, Carrie Gundersen, Alison Hoffman (secretary) Paul Huff, Derek Notch, Ciara Rodwell, Katherine Schnell, and Tiffany VandenBussche.

Professional Opportunities

  • The Ohio State University Cognitive Development Lab (Department of Psychology and Center for Cognitive Science)
  • The University of Maryland's Child Development Lab
  • Faculty Research Assistant Opening (position description)