Record Research

Photo by Duane Zehr

By Matt Hawkins
February 24, 2015

Thousands of hours of Bradley research will be in the spotlight at the Midwestern Psychological Association’s conference in May, where 40 psychology majors will share their latest research projects with peers and faculty. This will be the largest Bradley contingent to participate in the nation’s oldest regional psychology gathering.

Many of the Bradley presentations will highlight student-faculty collaboration, with faculty sharing research credit with their research teams.

“We view students on equal footing as research collaborators, not just research assistants,” said Caterpillar Professor of Psychology Dr. Claire Etaugh. “We’re developing parameters and working as a team from Day One. As a result, there are more learning experiences.”

Elizabeth Lundholm ’16, from Spring Valley, Illinois, will present two group projects on which she earned the coveted first author distinction. Conference experience a year before graduation will be a welcome validation of extra time invested in research.

“We work a lot of hours, so it’s rewarding to present research to which we’ve dedicated a semester-plus,” she said. “It’s great for those who will go onto grad school because we’ll already have our feet in the water.”

Ryan Potempa ’15, from Frankfort, Illinois, will attend the conference for the second time. He appreciates the fraternal learning environment with like-minded people.

“You’re surrounded by people like you who love research,” he said. “You’re able to find an interesting niche, see how others conduct research and their presentation styles and hear big-name speakers.”

The blossoming undergraduate research agenda is a result of formal and informal mentoring that happens before students take their first lab courses. While faculty actively engage students in class, older students frequently work with freshmen and sophomores in labs and become role models for budding researchers.

Such experiences and mentorship helped Lundholm through early struggles with her choice of major.

“We’re encouraged to do research from the start,” she said. “Even though I initially didn’t want to do the research, faculty helped me find interests and I appreciated that.” 

As Potempa observed, faculty engagement fosters a collegial spirit in the department.

“We’re treated as individuals and professionals,” he said. “I’ve been able to have relationships with several professors, and it’s beneficial with three labs to know they’re willing to talk when I have questions.”