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02-23-2015

Clarkson University Undergrads to Present Research on Bullying & Memory at International Conference

Three McNair Scholars at Clarkson University will present their psychology research on bullying and memory at an international conference.

Clarkson Undergrads to Present Research on Bullying & Memory at International ConferenceUndergraduate students Alanna Wormwood '15, Aaliyah Gibbons '16 and Kyle Pasquariello '15, along with Assistant Professor of Psychology Jennifer Knack, are traveling in February to the Society for Personality and Social Psychology conference in Long Beach, Calif.

This is the first time undergraduate students from Clarkson have attended this conference, which welcomes more than 3,500 national and international authors, researchers, professors, students and administrators.

"The conference really gives them an opportunity to get their feet wet in the field early on," Knack said. "A lot of people don't go to these conferences until grad school, so they will be going into grad school ready to interact at that high level."

Knack said the students have been studying social pain, which is damage or perceived damage to social relationships. The students' posters examine how negative social relationships, such as bullying, affect mental health, cognitive processes and self-regulation.

By better understanding social pain, the students hope their research can be used to develop clinical applications and preventative methods to help those who have been bullied.

"It really boils down to peer relationships, good or bad," Pasquariello said. "The effects of social pain don't stop once you leave elementary school. The effects are long term."

Social pain is not limited to mental suffering, Wormwood added, and it can influence the way people interpret and respond to their environment later on.

"A lot of people don't realize it changes the way you see the world," she said.

The conference provides an opportunity for the students to interact with experts in the personality and social psychology field, some of whom they have cited in their own research. The students said they see this conference as a stepping stone in their careers, and down the line they may one day be the researchers being cited in other undergraduates' work.

"We're all really excited," Gibbons said. "The fact that these are actual professionals with actual degrees and actual publications is a great opportunity for us to learn from them."

The goal of the McNair Post-baccalaureate Achievement Program is to increase the attainment of Ph.D. degrees by underrepresented student groups in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Ronald E. McNair was among the Challenger Space Shuttle’s seven-member crew, who met with tragedy and death in 1986. As a tribute to his lifelong achievements, Congress and the McNair family formed the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program to assist young people in not only following McNair’s path, but in taking the initiative to create their own path.

Clarkson Office of Community of Underrepresented Professional Opportunities has provided financial support for the travel expenses.

Clarkson University launches leaders into the global economy. One in five alumni already leads as a CEO, VP or equivalent senior executive of a company. Located just outside the Adirondack Park in Potsdam, N.Y., Clarkson is a nationally recognized research university for undergraduates with select graduate programs in signature areas of academic excellence directed toward the world’s pressing issues. Through 50 rigorous programs of study in engineering, business, arts, sciences and the health professions, the entire learning-living community spans boundaries across disciplines, nations and cultures to build powers of observation, challenge the status quo, and connect discovery and engineering innovation with enterprise.

Photo caption: From left to right, Clarkson University undergraduate students and McNair Scholars Kyle Pasquariello '15, Alanna Wormwood '15 and Aaliyah Gibbons '16 will present their research on bullying and memory at the Society for Personality and Social Psychology conference.

[A photograph for media use is available at http://www.clarkson.edu/news/photos/spsp-undergrads.jpg .]

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Annie Harrison, Director of Media Relations, at 315-268-6764 or aharrison@clarkson.edu.]

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