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K-State Today

May 8, 2020

Psychological sciences announces student award winners

Submitted by Michael Young

The Department of Psychological Sciences announces this year's departmental award winners. These undergraduate and graduate students will be honored at a virtual event on May 15.

Carrie Aponte, Garden City, received the John C. Peterson Undergraduate Scholarship Prize for outstanding graduating senior. Her research with Don Saucier examined the influence of masculine honor beliefs, gender and publicity on perceptions of aggression. She received a Shanteau Undergraduate Research Award in 2019, and was an officer of Psi Chi. Aponte works at Big Lakes Developmental Center, supporting adults with disabilities. Following graduation, she plans to work full time in a human services field before pursuing a graduate degree in clinical psychology.

Emma Brase, senior, Manhattan, is this year's recipient of the E. Jerry Phares Undergraduate Research Award. She is an Office of Undergraduate Research & Creative Inquiry student ambassador and member of Psi Chi, received a Kirmser Undergraduate Research Award in 2017, a Shanteau Undergraduate Research Award in 2018, and a K-INBRE Semester Scholar Award in 2019. Her research with Mary Cain examined the effects of differential rearing and adolescent ethanol exposure on BDNF and CREB protein expression in model systems. Following graduation, Brase will pursue a doctorate in neuroscience at the Medical University of South Carolina.

Louis Vopata, Paxico, is the winner of the Curtis Lee and JB Gee Psychological Sciences Scholarship. This award is based on a combination of academic achievement and financial need. He previously received the Neil Atkinson Junior Leadership Scholarship and is serving as president of the Disc Golf Club at K-State. Vopata said he hopes to become a therapist someday after obtaining a master's in social work.

Justine Fiscus, Olathe; Haley Richards, Tecumseh; Moises Alvarez, Liberal; Whitney Applegate, Cozad, Nebraska; and Lauren Anglemyer, Wichita, are this year's recipients of the Doreen Shanteau Undergraduate Research Awards. The award provides funds to enable these students to conduct research with their faculty mentors during the following academic year. Fiscus will examine the impact of gamification on reducing careless responding to surveys; she will work with Chris Lake. Richards will work with Gary Brase to investigate how individuals use precautions or mitigation strategies when making decisions about risky sexual behavior. Alvarez will conduct his research with Don Saucier on the effect of the receiver's reaction in response to racial humor on perceptions of that humor. Applegate will work with Heather Bailey and graduate student Destiny Bell to investigate why people may switch from one problem-solving strategy to another based upon the difficulty level of a task. Anglemyer will investigate the skepticism of potential romantic partner's commitment levels with Gary Brase and graduate student Jordann Brandner.

Chris Vitols, Bradenton, Florida, received the Dr. Leon Rappoport Psychology Undergraduate Scholarship. This scholarship honors the memory of a faculty member in the department and is targeted at a nontraditional, high-achieving student. Vitols has been the president of the K-State Student Veterans Association and is on active duty in the U.S. Army.

The Sewell Undergraduate Research Scholarship was awarded to Sydnee Pachek, Great Falls, Montana, and Moises Alvarez, Liberal. This scholarship was established to recognize undergraduates conducting research in psychology with a preference for supporting first-generation and transfer students. Pachek served as president and vice president of Circle K and conducted research in Heather Bailey's memory and aging lab. She is currently seeking employment as a social worker or paralegal and considering whether she wants to pursue a graduate degree in a few years. Alvarez is a member of the Phi Theta Kappa honor society, a Circle K member, and is an active researcher in Don Saucier's laboratory.

The Outstanding Graduate Instructor Award was presented to Jordann Brandner, Bismarck, North Dakota, and Evelyn Stratmoen, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Brandner has taught General Psychology and Psychology of Sexual Behavior. Stratmoen has taught General Psychology, Gender Issues in the Workplace, and Experimental Methods Lab. They received a monetary award thanks to the Nobuko S. Nicholson Opportunity Fund for Psychological Sciences.

The Outstanding Graduate Research Award/Harry Helson Memorial Scholarship had two recipients this year: Hayley Fisher, Brentwood, Tennessee, and Nathan Voss, Wausau, Wisconsin. Fisher is completing her doctorate this year under the guidance of Charles Pickens and will start a postdoctoral position this fall. Voss is working on his dissertation with his advisor Chris Lake and will be interning at the Rand Corporation this summer. Both students have published multiple research papers in leading psychology journals.

The department also gave the Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant Award to Nora Balboa, Racine, Wisconsin; Kelsey Couture, Great Bend; and Tiffany Lawless, Pickerington, Ohio. These awards were funded by the department's Graduate Teaching Assistant Support Fund that has been generously supported by a number of its alumni.

The faculty in the Department of Psychological Sciences are proud of the many achievements of our outstanding students.