Emil's Epilogue - November 2010thanksgiving
Gustie Psych News & Events

So You’re Thinking About Applying to Grad School: Tips for maintaining sanity during the application process

by Paul Huff

If you’re reading this, you are among the minority of psych majors who have both the ambition and stamina to pursue a lifelong career in psychology. Unfortunately, nearly all occupations involving applied psychology require higher education of at least a master’s degree. The good news is that there are countless schools and programs that offer advanced psychology training in a wide range of fields. Thus, the primary challenge becomes figuring out where and how to paulapply to the optimal programs. During these past few months, I’m discovering (through trial and error) the ins and outs of the application process. So for you sophomores and juniors, here are some pointers to prepare you for senior year:

  • Do some soul searching - Before choosing a graduate school, it helps tremendously to know what it is you’re interested in. There are near endless avenues to pick from such as clinical, counseling, cognitive, developmental, industrial/organizational, social, and school psychology. If you’re getting a headache from all of those possibilities, I like to break it down into two broad categories: academic and therapeutic practice. Most of the fields I just listed are academic-based programs, meaning you’ll be spending a good deal of time teaching or conducting research. Therapy-based programs - clinical, counseling and school psychology - focus more on diagnosing and treating individual clients. So read up on fields that fascinate or excite you.
  • Build rapport with professors - Nearly all graduate programs require three letters of recommendation. So when the time comes around to apply to schools, it really helps to have strong relationships with several professors. And although the thought of asking three professors to write letters for you may not sound hard, remember: what they write about you doesn’t have to be positive. In effect, make sure to put effort into the classes you take with them, and stop by to visit during office hours. This doesn’t mean you should call faculty up on weekends and tell them your darkest secrets, just give them the chance to get to know you. http://gustavus.edu/psychology/referenceletter.php
  • Research admissions requirements - As you look at schools in your area of interest, the first thing you should identify is what they expect from you.  Check to see if you meet the standards for GPA, courses or research experience. Also, look into which schools require the General GRE or the GRE Psychology topics test (since not all of them do), and what kind of scores they expect.
  • TAKE THE GRE IN THE SUMMER. - If you decide (and are obligated) to take the General GRE, do NOT wait until the fall. The exam is offered year-round at numerous test sites, so there’s no excuse not to get it over with before school starts. Many students serious about grad school study GRE prep books for months. The test consists of three sections that measure verbal knowledge, math skills and writing ability. So unless you’ve memorized the dictionary and constantly review notes from high school algebra, you’ll want to spend good deal of time preparing. Plus, if you don’t get the score you want, you can always retake it in the fall.
  • Write a rough draft of your statement of purpose - After you’ve settled on the type of grad program you want to pursue, start committing to paper your personal statement. Keep in mind that personal statements are actually professional statements, where you list academic experiences and career goals in a concise yet eloquent manner. Obviously, personal statements take awhile to write and revise, but the earlier you start the better. Ask around for friends and faculty to read over and correct your statement, but ultimately make the statement unique.
  • Contact grad school faculty - In your grad school search, if you find a professor doing research that fascinates you, don’t hesitate to contact them. Simply send them a formal email inquiring about the studies they’re conducting. The truth is, grad programs select students they think will best compliment the kind of research they’re working on. By showing a genuine curiosity in their area of study, you can greatly improve your chances of standing out as an applicant.

[Paul Huff is a senior psychology honors major and music minor. An academic assistant, he is also a member of the Vasa Wind Orchestra, Sax Quartet, and Psi Chi. Paul assists the department as a student assistant and is a member of the newsletter staff. He is pictured above in a pose with Carl Emil Seashore, a distinguished Gustie alum and this newsletter's namesake - whose statuary oversees the department's comings and goings.]

Student Review: John Kendall Lecture Series Event: "Mind Bugs: The Science of Ordinary Bias" -- Dr. Mazarin Banaji

by Gwynn Thompson

Nearly every year the Psychology Department hosts a guest speaker, typically a psychologist in the forefront of his or her field, to speak at the John Kendall Lecture Series Event. This October, we were fortunate to have Dr. Mahzarin Banaji speak to us about ordinary bias. As a professor at Harvard University, this social psychologist focuses on the way that the human mind thinks and feels. At the Gustavus lecture, this animated woman enthralled the standing-room-only audience in Wallenberg Auditorium with moral dilemmas and in group/out group prejudice in her lecture Gwynntitled, “Mind Bugs: The Science of Ordinary Bias.”

Banaji expressed that her lecture was not for psychology graduates; instead this was for students who were just starting to look into the field. She wanted to convey her passion for the uniqueness of the human mind to the entire audience. The uniqueness found in the way normal people could all possess similar bias, especially when it comes to our own personal communities. Banaji demonstrated this by asking the audience to participate in a small exercise during the lecture. Four word lists were given to the audience, each shown on the overhead projector, the first two were lists of “good” words and “bad”. The second set of words were either associated with our beloved Gustavus, such as “St. Peter” and “Gusties”; or with St. Olaf with words like “Northfield” and “Olies.” The first part was then to yell out as fast as we could which words belonged to which group; “good” words to Gustavus and “bad” words to St. Olaf. The second part was the same except that the “good” and “bad” words were inversed. Our response time was significantly slower when we tried to put the good words with St. Olaf. This happened, Banaji explained, because of our bias to our own college, we believe already that the good words belong to “us” and not to “them.” It might have been easy to walk out of the lecture feeling belittled because it conveyed that we do have biases, something that we are told not to have. That was not Dr. Banaji’s intention however. The intent of her lecture was to bring to light the importance of understanding our minds and how they work. Our ordinary mind bugs play a role in interpreting the world around us.

[Gwynn Thompson is a psychology major minoring in Peace Studies and Religion. She is a Gustie Greeter, a member of GYO, Proclaim, and Wednesday Friends. Gwynn is also a departmental assistant and a member of the newsletter staff]

Department News

Faculty Research

A recent article was published on the website of the Rural Alliance for Service-Learning, entitled “The Gustavus Adolphus College Partnership Council:  Leveraging the Power of Community Connectors.”  Dr. Marie Walker’s community-based research project, conducted last spring semester in partnership with Nicollet County Social Services and Shiloh’s Hope, Inc., is featured as a case study in the article. The article can be accessed at:  http://comm-org.wisc.edu/rasl/.  Scroll down and look for “Hamerlinck Case 1.” 

Psychology Research Symposium -- December 10, 2010

The fall psychology research symposium will take place in the lower level hallway of SSC on Symposium Spr 10Friday, December 10. Psychology department research symposiums are held near the conclusion of the fall and spring semesters and provide opportunities for Gustavus students to acquaint themselves with research conducted in the psychology department during the semester. Students will display poster presentations and explain their research from 3:30 - 4:30 p.m. in the lower level hallway outside SSC 26, 27, and 28. The campus community is welcome. (Pictured are students at the Spring 2010 Symposium.)

PSY 344 and PSY 345 courses to be offered Spring 2011

PSY 344 Remembering our Past: Seminar on Autobiographical Memory
Dr. Jennifer Ackil
  • What is the age of our earliest childhood memory? How does autobiographical memory develop?  What function do autobiographical memories serve in our lives?  Are memories for traumatic experiences special?  How does one’s memory for past experiences influence one’s sense of self?  Do the characteristics of our autobiographical memories vary with age? Do they vary with gender and mood?  Is there a model that can explain autobiographical remembering?  These are just a few of the many questions we will consider as we study the existing literature on autobiographical memory.
PSY 344 "PSY 344 Advanced Topic: Psychology of Attention "
Dr. Lauren Hecht
  • Can I actually mistake a rubber hand for my own? How do I manage to find my friend at a rock concert? Is it really harmful to text while I drive? Why do I make more mistakes when I think about how my hands are moving to type on a keyboard? How can I not see something that is right in front of me? In this course, we will discuss the theories and experimental techniques used in attention research to answer these and other related questions.
PSY 345 "From Molecules to Mozart"
Dr. Tim Robinson

Updates from our Psych alums

Morgan Barkus '03

My journey has been everything but traditional, typical, or conventional since leaving Gustavus. When I graduatedfrom Gustavus in 2003 I was not sure what I wanted to do. Getting a psychology degree as an undergraduate does not make a person ready for a career in the field... it is only the beginning. I knew I would have to get a master's or doctorate level degree in something, but I was not sure what, so I did what I had to do to survive financially until I decided.

My first job was a waitressing job at Minneapolis cafe on Hennepin Avenue. While working there, I met a man who was a rather influential lawyer who was also very active in the non-profit sector, mostly donating money and coordinating events. He would invite me to lunch meetings with people who were in the non-profit world of the Twin Cities. He also got me interested in law. I thought I could be a social worker with more influence if I were to get my law degree. After taking the LSAT and completing the applications I was accepted into both Hamline and William-Mitchell. I chose to go to Hamline and very quickly realized that a law Morgandegree was NOT for me. I would sit in class absolutely lost. I even got a tutor, but it was a lost cause, so before even finishing the first semester I dropped out of the program. More soul searching, if you will... and soon I was enrolled as a first-year student at the U of MN in the social work program. Besides waitressing jobs at various restaurants over about a three-year period I was working part-time gigs at various non-profit agencies. I worked at a homeless youth drop-in center in downtown Minneapolis, a daycare/preschool as a teacher in south Minneapolis, and then a family worker for a visitation center for families in the midst of child protection cases. (Working in the non-profit sector is not exactly good money, and I like nice things, as well as live a lifestyle out of a social workers budget, so you can bet I always had 1 or 2 part-time jobs outside my field.)

Anyway, I went to the orientation at the U of MN at the school of social work and decided right then and there that I did not want to be a social worker the rest of my life. I did not start the program. More soul searching... continued....

Crystal Smith '07

Well, I have been extremely busy since graduation just 3 years ago (Wow, how time flies by).  Shortly after graduation I found a job working as a PCA with Homeward Bound, Inc.  In this position, I helped individuals with physical and mental disabilities complete their activities of daily living.  After gaining some experience with the population of individuals we served, I was promoted to supervisor of one of the waivered group homes in the company.  In this position I was responsible for training staff, organizing the schedule, and corresponding with family members, day programs, doctors, etc. (just to name a few of my duties).  I had a blast working in this position for two years before I decided it was time to go back to school. 
After graduating from Gustavus, I knew I would go to graduate school, I was just not sure what I wanted to go back for.  Working at the group home helped me realize that working directly Crystalwith individuals was important.  I also realized that I enjoyed bringing my clients to their therapies.  After numerous volunteer hours, I decided to apply to physical therapy school, which is where I am now. 
I attend St. Catherine University's Doctor of Physical Therapy program.  I have completed my first year and have two more to go.  After graduation from this program, I envision myself working in a NeuroRehab facility with individuals that have suffered a stroke, spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury, etc. 
Aside from my professional life, a lot has happened in my personal life since graduation.  I got married to Jay Stien (another gustie alum) and have moved 3 times!  We were married at Christ Chapel in August of '09 shortly before school started.  Being back at Gustavus during that time brought back lots of wonderful memories, many occuring with Psi Chi and working on research projects in the psychology department.

Gustie Psych ALUMNI UPDATE LINK click here!

News from Majors studying abroad...

Jean-Paul Noel checking in from India...

Hey! For those who don’t know me, my name is Jean-Paul Noel and I am a Junior Psychology Honors Major and Neuroscience Minor from Barcelona, Spain. This semester I have been forced to take a break from my Psychology classes, since this fall instead of being in cold Minnesota, I am traveling around India.JP

Here, I am enjoying learning about globalization and the ethics of development as well as taking a different approach at studying identity while looking at spiritualism and science in a completely different way. Although my courses are not directly related to Psychology, I believe I am making great progress towards becoming a critical thinker, which is applicable to any field and especially useful for reading psychology research.

After being gone for the summer and being abroad this semester, I can’t wait to get back on campus. I am sure next semester I will be seeing many of you a lot, as I will be working for the department both in the office and in the lab. So don’t hesitate in engaging me in conversation; I would love to share my experiences and tell you all about India!

Emily Klatt checking in from Chile

Since late July, I have had the privilege of living and studying in Valparaíso, Chile; the cultural hub of the country.  I chose not to take any psychology Emilyclasses this semester, electing instead to focus completely on Spanish.  In addition to literature, history, language, music and ethnic dance (!) courses, I have also been interning with a non-profit organization that reaches out to the local schools.  We work alongside the kids in an effort to improve public spaces in the community; in this way, the kids learn from an early age that through community, positive change is possible!

I have also enjoyed trekking through South America!  Friends and I explored the driest desert in the world in northern Chile, snowshoed to the top of a mountain in the southern Lake's District, white-water rafted through the mountains, played on the beach... and later in the semester I am off to Patagonia and Machu Picchu !  All the while, I've been living with a host-family and meeting Chileans who have been helping to improve my Spanish.  I have really enjoyed observing, listening and learning from the unguarded and uncensored Chilean people.   This experience has been nothing short of fantastic... but I have definitely found myself missing home and Gustavus every so often.

Alyssa Gilgenbach checking in from England

AlyssaFor those of you who don’t know me, my name is Alyssa Gilgenbach and I am a senior psychology major, music minor. You may have also seen me working in the psychology office, but sadly not this semester since I am studying abroad in Lancaster, England. So far it has been an incredible experience being abroad. 

I have also been lucky enough to be able to take two psychology classes while I am here. One of the classes I am taking is Advanced Developmental Psychology.  This class is set up a little differently than we are used to at Gustavus because every two weeks we have a different professor teaching the class. On one hand it’s nice because then we will get to hear about the professor’s specialization in the class, but on the other hand it is hard getting used to a professor’s teaching style from week to week. The first lectures discussed children’s drawings and how children’s drawings progress.  The lectures I had this week emphasized how children learn to read and children’s reading comprehension. The other class I am taking is Psychology of Attention. This class is focusing on the control of behavior (or behaviour as it is spelled here!) and our visual or auditory attention. The other class I am taking is a film, media and culture class, which is really interesting as well.

Studying abroad has been such a whirlwind of experiences and getting to know new people. It has definitely been the experience of a lifetime. I hope everyone at Gustavus is doing well and I will see you all spring semester!      

Events and Conferences

Psychology Research Symposium

    • Friday, December 10
    • 3:00 - 4:00 p.m.
    • Lower Level Hallway, SSC

Department Holiday Cookies and Cider Day

  • Monday, December 13
  • Stop by and enjoy frost-your-own cookies, conversation and cider in the department office area in lower level SSC. Prize drawing winner will be from among the names on the senior photo board.

Professional Opportunities

Cognitive Development Lab - Lab Manager - Ohio State University                   

Miscellaneous Randomness

Dr. Simpson


Did you know that Dr. Simpson has made at least six study trips to India as an advocate for women in science and that since the mid-1980's she has traveled nearly every year to Manchester College, Oxford, studying/researching humanism and comparative religion?