DATA News: December 2018


Chair Communications

"With a new chair comes new traditions.” Starting with this edition of DATA, I will be including a chair’s update so that I can keep you informed on some of the happenings and initiatives in the department. Currently, we are well underway with interviews for two open assistant professor positions in Counseling and Quantitative and Psychometric Methods. The applicant pool was remarkably strong and we invited seven candidates for on-campus interviews. I look forward to updating you on the results of these searches in the near future.

Additionally, faculty and staff are engaged in two department-wide initiatives: developing our Three-year Budget Plan and addressing strategic planning. Budget planning occurs every three years in conjunction with the College of Liberal Arts (CLA). It is the official consultative process through which departments align priorities and resources with those of the College and University over the next three fiscal years. Dr. Monica Luciana first led the department through this process in 2016, successfully gaining several significant allocations from CLA. We hope to repeat that success in this second round.

Strategic planning, on the other hand, is much broader than budget planning, even though the two aligned, somewhat interlocking processes. Through strategic planning, we are seeking to identify decisions and actions that can both shape and guide what our department is, what we do, and why we do it in the coming years. We are still in the early stages of strategic planning, which will also inform a formal department review organized by CLA, which will occur in 2020-21. I will continue to share updates about our progress both department-wide initiatives ad they unfold.

Jeff Simpson (Department Chair)


Administrative Updates and Announcements

Nominations for the 2019 U of M Outstanding Community Service Awards are due December 21st

The Office for Public Engagement is accepting nominations for the 2019 University of Minnesota Outstanding Community Service Awards. Nominations are due Dec. 21. Established in 1999, the awards recognize faculty, staff, students, and University-affiliated community members who have made significant, demonstrable contributions to the public good through research, teaching, and/or public service. See nomination details and more.


Welcome to Faiza Mohamed the newest student worker in Psychology's Main Office. Faiza joined us mid-November and works predominately on Tuesdays and Thursdays. When you have a chance, stop by and say hello to her!


Awards and Accomplishments

Professor Mark Snyder Speaks on the Psychology of Helping

As part of the celebration of the 50th anniversary of Normandale Community College (Bloomington, MN), Professor Mark Snyder presented a lecture on "The Kindness of Strangers (and of Friends): Reflections on the Psychology of Helping and Being Helped". In his lecture, Professor Snyder reflected on the puzzles and paradoxes of when and why people help/don't help others in need.


Research Assistant Professor Sylia Wilson was awarded an R21 grant from NIH to examine the effects of alcohol on brain morphometry in a large sample of adult twins from the Minnesota Center for Twin and Family Research and adult twins/nontwin siblings from the Human Connectome Project (co-investigators Bill Iacono, Matt McGue, Steve Malone, and Angus MacDonald).


Research Assistant Professor Sylia Wilson was awarded a NARSAD Young Investigator Award from Brain & Behavior Research Foundation to examine the effects of alcohol and cannabis on brain functional connectivity in a large sample of adult twins from the Minnesota Center for Twin and Family Research and a subsample of their young, substance-naive children (co-investigators Bill Iacono and Kelvin Lim).



Congratulations to our recent Department of Psychology PhD Graduates!

Brent Carpenter

Area: CAB

Advisor: Dan Kersten

Dissertation Title: Measuring the Detection of Objects under Simulated Visual Impairment in 3D Rendered Scenes


Craig Marquardt

Area: CSPR

Advisors: Shmuel Lissek, Scott Sponheim

Dissertation Title: N-back Performance with Trauma-Relevant Visual Distractors: Associations with Posttraumatic Stress Symptomatology


Psy Academic Technology

Grading season is approaching fast!

Canvas Tip 1: As the semester ends, a good way to motivate students as they reach the “finish line”, is to share how they can predict their final grade and their standing in class, using the Canvas gradebook [video clip 3:43 min].

Canvas Tip 2: On October 29, 2018 the Course “Analytics Beta” tool was released. This Canvas tool provides instructors feedback and insights about how students are doing overall in their class [video clip 1:00 min].

For questions, please contact Silke Moeller (, N211 Elliott.