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K-State Today Student Edition

May 13, 2013



Earning honors: Department of psychological sciences recognizes outstanding students

By Communications and Marketing

The department of psychological sciences at Kansas State University is recognizing several of its students for excellence in research and contributions to the department.

The students were presented awards at the department's recent annual spring banquet. The honors include:

* The Doreen Shanteau Undergraduate Research Fellowship, a $500 award to upper-division undergraduate students in psychology for work with a faculty mentor on psychological research. The projects are to be conducted during the 2013-2014 academic year. The students will present their work at the department's annual Undergraduate Research Convocation in the spring and submit their findings for publication in a psychology journal. The fellowship was established by James Shanteau, a university distinguished professor emeritus of psychology, in honor of his wife.

* J.C. Peterson Prize for Outstanding Graduating Senior in Psychology, presented for outstanding contributions to the psychological sciences program and the overall field of psychology.

* The E.J. Phares Prize for Outstanding Undergraduate Research, presented to a psychology student who has excelled at research.

* Leon Rappoport Psychology Scholarship, presented to an outstanding nontraditional student in psychology.

Psychology students and their award include:

* Marian Mersmann, May 2013 bachelor's candidate in psychology, Eudora, E. J. Phares Prize for Outstanding Undergraduate Research. Mersmann has worked with Mary Cain, associate professor of psychological sciences, since 2010. She has contributed to several research projects in Cain's laboratory. One project examined the effects of differential rearing on amphetamine-induced hyperactivity, and another project examined the ability of differential rearing to alter the neuronal expression of a response element-binding protein in order to reduce long-term memories of fear. Mersmann received a Doreen Shanteau Undergraduate Research Fellowship in 2012 and is a McNair Scholar. She is a co-author of a published paper and three posters presented at national meetings. She also is first author on two additional posters. She will pursue a doctorate in behavioral neuroscience at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

* Paul Brungardt, senior, Manhattan, Leon Rappoport Psychology Scholarship. Brungardt also is majoring in life sciences with a premedical focus. He works with Kimberly Kirkpatrick, professor of psychological sciences, on a project examining the effects of environmental-rearing factors such as enrichment or isolation on impulsivity and risk-taking behaviors. "It is rare for an undergraduate student to be able to work without supervision, but Paul works totally independently," Kirkpatrick said. "This may be, in part, because he is a nontraditional student and seems accustomed to carrying responsibility with ease."

* Conor O'Dea, senior, Manhattan, Doreen ShanteauUndergraduate Research Fellowship. O'Dea will study whether individuals who are committed to fostering diversity may be reluctant to offer constructive criticisms about diversity initiatives for fear of appearing prejudiced -- even though their criticism could increase the effectiveness of those initiatives. O'Dea predicts that individuals who have criticisms that may help improve diversity initiatives will choose to keep them private because they fear a negative evaluation. He will conduct his project with Donald Saucier, associate professor of psychological sciences.

Donte Bernard, May 2013 bachelor's candidate in psychology, Olathe, J.C. Peterson Prize for Outstanding Graduating Senior in Psychology. In addition to an excellent academic record, Bernard has been active in a number of research projects with Donald Saucier, associate professor of psychological sciences, studying racism as a predictor of responses in interracial helping situations, particularly examining the responses in situations produced by natural disasters. He received a Doreen Shanteau Undergraduate Research Fellowship for a project on how white and black students differently experience false feedback suggesting they have done well or poorly. He led a recitation section of General Psychology and served as an undergraduate teaching assistant in the Pilots Program for freshman academic success. He is a McNair scholar; served as vice president and president of the university's chapter of Psi Chi, the international honor society in psychology; and was a panelist for several student workshops. Bernard authored or co-authored two poster presentations at national meetings and is first author on a manuscript that is currently under editorial review. He has been accepted to the doctoral program in clinical psychology at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

Brooke Williams, junior, Wichita, Doreen ShanteauUndergraduate Research Fellowship. Williams will study how variables such as race and status, which have previously been found to affect the levels at which individuals provide help, affect help-seeking behavior. Williams predicts that whites will be less likely to seek help when they are in the superior position and their helping partner is black, because of beliefs that they would be surrendering their perceived superior status and higher competency to an out-group member. Her faculty mentor is Donald Saucier, associate professor of psychological sciences.

Zhe Wang, junior, Guangzhou, China,Doreen ShanteauUndergraduate Research Fellowship. Wang will study how decisions about the attractiveness and mate value of others is influenced by what one perceives to be his or her own perceived mate value. Wang predicts that people make trade-offs that are mediated by how they perceive themselves on particular dimensions. Her faculty mentor for the project is Gary Brase, associate professor of psychological sciences.