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K-State Today

October 2, 2015



Psychology is Emily Jorgensen's 'spark' for undergraduate research

By Tess Hobson

Emily Jorgensen

Kansas State University will observe SPARK Week, Oct. 5-9, to showcases undergraduate research at the university. The week is sponsored by the Office of Undergraduate Research & Creative Inquiry. The following is a look at research by Emily Jorgensen, a senior in psychology and biology from Blue Springs, Missouri.

A recipient of a summer 2015 Office of Research & Creative Inquiry Research Grant Award, Jorgensen spent her summer working with rats on the fifth floor of Bluemont Hall in the Psychobiology Lab.

Her research focused on the individual differences that predict escalated drinking behavior in humans and determined if high novelty and sensation seeking, or NSS, and affective processes measured in rats can be used to predict acquisition of ethanol consumption, binge drinking and escalation of intake.

Furthermore, she hoped to determine if anxiety-like behavior would be changed after prolonged ethanol exposure. This research could advance our understanding of the individual differences that predict escalated drinking behavior, which would enable targeting treatments and education programs towards these individuals.

Jorgensen's mentors include Mary Cain, professor of psychology, whose lab she has worked in since fall 2014; and Erik Garcia, doctoral student in psychology, who Jorgensen said helped her immensely through the development process as well as served as a role model for how she wants her research career to shape out.

"As much as I learned, I know the learning never stops in research," Jorgensen said. "Research would not be research if there were a finite end in scientific discoveries. Being a part of a research team made it apparent that no single best method exists for any given experiment, and confirmed my enthusiasm for being a double major. In fact, the best results come from an interdisciplinary perspective and integration of methods to yield new discoveries and conclusions."

Jorgensen will graduate in December and is confident that her undergraduate research experience will drastically strengthen her applications for graduate school and ultimately help her reach her goal of obtaining a doctorate in neuroscience.

Find out more about SPARK Week activities.