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K-State Today Student Edition

May 16, 2013

Undergraduate research opportunity helps Wichita student shape career plans

By Communications and Marketing

A Kansas State University undergraduate is getting a big boost in her goal of one day earning a doctorate in psychology by conducting undergraduate research through the university's Developing Scholars Program.

Brooke Williams, a junior in psychology, Wichita, has been working in the research program of Don Saucier, associate professor of psychological sciences, since she was a freshman. She was matched with Saucier through the Developing Scholars Program, which offers underrepresented students the chance to conduct research projects with faculty mentors.

"The Developing Scholars Program has given me the opportunity to work and network with some amazing people," said Williams. "Without it, I would not have been afforded as many of the opportunities that I have been awarded today."

During her first year at Kansas State University, Williams worked with a graduate student in Saucier's lab on the study "How to Alleviate Sexism on Females Through Social Support." Williams collected data, created methods and ran studies for the project. Through this experience, she began strengthening her research abilities, which has benefited her own research projects and her studies in psychology.

In the first semester of her sophomore year, Williams continued working with graduate students and aiding in their research. One experiment she was involved in included the affect of perception on pregnant women, including those of women who were pregnant and married, teenage pregnancy and pregnant smokers.

The second semester of her sophomore year, Williams began working on her own project. It deals with racial discrepancies in help-seeking behavior. The two-year project consists of three studies. Williams has completed her first two studies and the third will be in progress this fall.

"When we first started working together a few years ago, Brooke was a very intelligent student with lots of good ideas," said Saucier. "Now, she is a full-fledged colleague, contributing at the level of an advanced graduate student, formulating research questions and hypotheses that extend social psychological theory in innovative ways. Her contributions have been so great that she has improved the productivity of my other students and me in our overall research program." 

After completing her undergraduate degree, Williams plans to attend graduate school for a doctorate in psychology. She would then like to go into practice, counseling adults.