Welcome from the Chair

What a year this has been! As you will see from the content of this newsletter, the department has had a banner year in the accomplishments of its faculty and students.  There will be challenges ahead, but we have shown great resilience in navigating through changes in funding priorities, strategic plans, and other uncertainties.

In mid-May, we celebrated the graduation of 150 B.A. majors in psychology. In addition, four doctoral students participated in the doctoral hooding ceremony and several other doctoral candidates completed degree requirements during the year. Three faculty members received tenure and were promoted to associate professor, three others were promoted to full professor, and four new faculty members have been hired. Faculty and graduate students received funding from NIH, NSF, and private foundations. Read below for details on these accomplishments.

We would also enjoy hearing about what you are doing so that we can share your accomplishments with fellow alumni. Also, we welcome your comments about our work and invite your participation in our outreach activities. Our continued success depends on your support!

Paul Poppen

Alumni: Get Involved!

Do you remember what it was like to be an undergraduate trying to decide what the career path of a psychology major might look like? We are trying to build an alumni network to connect with our undergraduate psychology majors. If you are interested in speaking at Psychology Department career events or serving as a mentor to GW psychology majors, please contact Dennis Schell.

In addition, Columbian College Alumni Programs, in conjunction with GW’s Office of Alumni Relations, offers several opportunities for alumni to connect with current students. If you are interested in volunteer opportunities such as the Career Advisor Network, Dinner with Alumni Program, Student-Alumni Networking Nights and more, please click here or contact Anita Ponchione.

Faculty News

New Emeriti Faculty 

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Rolf Peterson
After a long and distinguished career in psychology, Rolf Peterson has retired and, upon recommendation by the department, has become Emeritus Professor of Psychology. Peterson has been at GW for 27 years, 20 of which he served as the director of clinical training and the doctoral program in clinical psychology. During his tenure here, he has directed 54 doctoral dissertations. A celebration event honoring Dr. Peterson’s career was held on June 2 in the Marvin Center Continental Ballroom. Announced at the event was the creation of the Rolf A. Peterson Scholarship, which will fund scholarships for doctoral students at the department’s Meltzer Psychological Services Center. Faculty have already pledged more than $4,000 to the fund. Read more.

Eugene Abravanel
Eugene Abravanel retired in winter 2012 and has become Emeritus Professor of Psychology. Abravanel, who received his Ph.D. from University of California, Berkeley, in 1965, has been at GW for 46 years. He has a distinguished research record in imitation and cognitive and perceptual development in infants and young children.


Recent Tenure Track Faculty Hires

Assistant Professor Guangying Wu received his Ph.D. in Neuroscience (University of Southern California, 2009) and joined GW in August 2012. His previous position was a Broad Senior Research Fellow in Brain Circuitry, California Institute of Technology. Wu is affiliated with the Cognitive Neuroscience Doctoral Program and the GW Institute for Neuroscience.

Assistant Professor L. Alison Phillips received her Ph.D. in Social and Health Psychology (Rutgers University, 2011) and joined GW in August 2012. She is affiliated with the Applied Social Psychology Doctoral Program.

Associate Professor Lisa Bowleg received her Ph.D. in Applied Social Psychology (GW, ’97) and joined GW in January 2013. She was previously an associate professor in the Department of Community Health and Prevention, School of Public Health, Drexel University. She is affiliated with the Applied Social Psychology Doctoral Program.

Assistant Professor Dwight Kravitz received his Ph.D. in Psychology with Special Training in Cognitive Neuroscience (Carnegie Mellon University, 2006) and will join GW in August 2013. He will be affiliated with the Cognitive Neuroscience Doctoral Program.

Recently Promoted/Tenured Faculty

Tonya Dodge, Sarah Shomstein, and Michelle Stock received tenure and were promoted to associate professors; Lisa Bowleg, Jody Ganiban, and John Philbeckwere promoted to full professors.

Graduate Student News

Nash Coffman Fellows
The Psychology Department’s Nash Coffman Fellowship program is in its third year. Interested doctoral students are asked to write mini-grant proposals as part of an internal competition to select students who will be supported by a fellowship in the following year, at which time they will submit grant applications for national research fellowships from NSF or NIH.

• The 2012-13 Nash Coffman Fellows were Natalie Alizaga (Applied Social), Janine Beha Beekman (Applied Social), Devin English (Clinical), and Courtney Wallin (Cognitive Neuroscience).

• 2013-14 Nash Coffman Fellows will be Jennifer Marceron (Clinical), Laura Mlynarski (Clinical), Samia Ortiz-Hernandez (Clinical), Farzana Saleem (Clinical), and Rachel Wynn (Cognitive Neuroscience).

We are very excited and proud to note that the following fellows are receiving national fellowships:

• NSF:  Courtney Wallin (2012)
• NIH F31:  Devon English (2013)
• Ford Foundation: Samia Ortiz-Hernandez (2013)

Undergraduate Student News

Psi Chi Recognized
Psi Chi, the National Honors Society in Psychology, recognized the GW chapter as a “Model Chapter” for the 2011-12 academic year. Only 50 chapters worldwide are given this honor, and we are proud that our chapter was part of this select group.

This academic year, 24 students were inducted in our chapter, bringing the total number of members to 59. Congratulations to our Psi Chi members and to Dennis Schell, the Psi Chi faculty sponsor! This year’s president was Lara Drazin.

Psi Chi hosted several academic and professional development events for Psychology undergraduates this year, including an an informative career event and a graduate school panel. Psi Chi also participates in the Columbian College majors fair each semester, answering undeclared students’ questions about psychology.

Program News

Applied Social Psychology
The Applied Social Psychology program welcomed two new faculty members this academic year: Lisa Bowleg and Alison Phillips. Bowleg came to GW from Drexel University; her research examines individual and structural predictors of risk and resilience on Black men’s HIV sexual risk and protective behaviors.

Phillips received her Ph.D. in 2011 from Rutgers University; her research identifies effective approaches to the prevention and management of chronic illnesses. She also works to address medically unexplained symptoms of veterans.

2012-13 Doctoral Degrees Awarded:
Laurel Peterson, who is now Post Doctoral Scholar in Cardiovascular Behavioral Medicine at the School of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh (Mentor: Michelle Stock)

Caitlin Kennedy, who is now a Senior Fellow at the National Research Center for Women and Families in Washington, DC (Mentor: Phillip Moore)

Clinical Psychology    PICTURE:CGEE
Associate Professor Christina Gee became director of the Clinical Psychology Doctoral Program last year, succeeding George Howe. The Clinical Psychology program will undertake an accreditation review in 2014; Gee will be devoting consider time and effort to collecting information and writing that report.

2012-13 Doctoral Student Internships:
Ania Hornberger: Wisconsin Department of Corrections, Oshkosh Area Rotation
Henry Prempeh: University of Medicine & Dentistry of New Jersey, Child & Adolescent School Based Unit
Claudia Ximena Reyes: Thomas Cook Counseling Center, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA
Gauri Saxena: Counseling Center, Santa Clara University, Santa Clara California

2013-2014 Internships:
Katie Burns: James A. Haley Veterans Hospital, Neuropsychology, Tampa, FL
• Michelle Garvin: Psychology Internship, University of California, Davis
Laura Gray: Psychology Internship, Harvard Medical School/Children’s Hospital, Boston, MA
Jessica Henry: Child Track, University of Medicine and Dentistry New Jersey, Newark, NJ
• Tova Jacobs: Adult & Child, Human Adjustment, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. MI

2012-13 Doctoral Degrees Awarded:
• Nicole Cammack, who is now Post Doctoral Fellow at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, Center for School Mental Health (Mentor: Sharon Lambert)
Sarah Calabrese, who is now Post Doctoral Fellow at the Yale University Center for Interdisciplinary Research on AIDS (CIRA); (Mentor: Maria Cecilia Zea)
Gauri Saxena completed an internship in California (Mentor: Rolf Peterson)
Henry Prempeh, who is now Post Doctoral Fellowship at Child and Family Therapy Clinic, Kennedy Krieger Institute, Johns Hopkins, Baltimore (Mentor: Sherry Molock)
Hilah Evrony, who is now completing a Post Doctoral Fellowship at Child and Family Therapy Clinic, Kennedy Krieger Institute, Johns Hopkins (Mentor: Jody Ganiban)
Yadira Sanchez, who is now Post Doctoral Fellowship in Child Psychology at the New York Presbyterian Hospital-Weill Cornell Medical Center, NYC (Mentor: Sharon Lambert)

Cognitive Neuroscience
The Cognitive Neuroscience faculty welcomed Postdoc Junjun Zhang in September 2012. Zhang is a part of the GW Mind-Brain Institute.

Zhang received his undergraduate degree from Xiamen University in China and went on to receive his doctoral degree from the same institution while working at the Kunming Institute of Zoology within the Chinese Academy of Sciences. His research addresses the attention effect on 3D egocentric distance perception. When asked to describe his favorite aspect of the Psychology Department, Dr. Zhang said “The close atmosphere within the department. It’s not big, but it’s energetic.”

2012-13 Doctoral Degrees Awarded:
Kristin Padukiewicz,who is now Research Scientist at Noldus Corporation, Leesburg (Mentor: Lawrence Rothblat)
Leslie Drummond, who is now Post Doctoral Research Scientist at Naval Medical Research Unit, Dayton, Ohio. (Mentor: Sarah Shomstein)
Christopher Hydock, who is now Research Associate at Georgetown Institute of Consumer Research, Georgetown University. (Mentor: Myeong-Ho Sohn)
Becky Weldon, who is now Post Doctoral Research Fellow, Cornell University.  (Mentor: Myeong-Ho Sohn)
Jeongmi Lee, who is now on job interviews. (Mentor: Sarah Shomstein)