Thursday, May 2, 2019 - 3:45pm

Chair Communications

I’m pleased to report good news in the department this month, which highlights the success and accomplishments of our fine group of staff and students.


It is my great pleasure to announce the two winners of our new Psychology Staff Excellence Award: Michael (Mike) Houlahan, Associate Director of Undergraduate Studies, and Felix Pichardo, NeuroHealth Research Assistant in the Minnesota Center for Twin Family Research (MCTFR). This new award recognizes staff members who have demonstrated excellence and professionalism in their overall performance and who have made meaningful contributions to their unit and/or the Department of Psychology.  Mike has done an outstanding job in his role as Associate Director of Undergraduate studies, serving as the “backbone” of our undergraduate programs. Felix Pichardo, a NeuroHealth Research Assistant in the MCTFR, has done an excellent job making several important innovations in the collection data. Congratulations to both Mike and Felix!


I’m also happy to announce the hiring of Darian Schwietz, who will provide area support to the CSPR, PIB, and BP areas of the department. Her first day will be April 29. Welcome Darian!


Finally, I’d like to congratulate all of our undergraduate majors, masters, and Ph.D. students who have completed their degrees and are graduating.  We will be celebrating the commencement of 18 of our graduate students on May 3, with a reception at 4:00pm on May 2 in N219 Elliott Hall. Commencement for our undergraduates – 375 students in all -- will occur on May 19, with our Psychology Undergraduate Celebration occurring at 4:00pm on May 3 at the Campus Club.


Congratulations to everyone!  We wish you much success and enjoyment in your future endeavors!


Jeff Simpson

Distinguished University Teaching Professor

Chair, Department of Psychology


Awards and Accomplishments

Staff Spotlight

Congratulations to the staff members who received Staff Spotlight submissions this past quarter! The Staff Spotlight is a way for members of the department to recognize a Psychology staff member for excellent performance in real time via Google form. Each quarter one recipient will be chosen at random to receive a small token of appreciation from the Department and a congratulations in DATA. This quarter's chosen recipient is Carla Bates, IT manager. Carla's nominator pointed out that her experience has brought a valuable perspective to our department. They expressed appreciation for some challenging projects she completed, stating the projects would not have been successful without her knowledge, experience, and effort. Congratulations, Carla!


Associate Professor Richard Landers has been awarded a grant from the National Science Foundation Science of Organizations program to host a workshop on the topic of game-based assessment. The workshop will bring roughly 125 academic researchers and practitioners to UMN campus in August 2019.


Jill Fish (Graduate Student, Counseling Psychology) is the 2019 recipient of the Vera S. Paster Award from the Global Alliance for Behavioral Health and Social Justice. This award is presented annually to a graduate student or post-graduate resident or fellow in a behavioral health or social justice program who is engaged in work that contributes significantly to the social, education, physical, or psychological well-being of persons of color, thereby promoting their empowerment and ameliorating disadvantage from oppression and its effects.


Ummul Kathawalla (Graduate Student, Counseling Psychology) has been awarded the 2019 Doctoral-level Research Award from the International Society for Research on Identity. This award is given out biennially to a doctoral student conducting outstanding research on identity.


We are pleased to announce that the following graduate students in our program received a prestigious three-year graduate research fellowship from the National Science Foundation!

  • Kelsey Hobbs (Clinical Science and Psychopathology Research) working with Prof. Bob Krueger
  • Kayla Huber (Counseling Psychology) working with Prof. Pat Frazier
  • Claire Park (Counseling Psychology) working with Prof. Rich Lee
  • Caitlin Sisk (Cognitive and Brain Sciences) working with Prof. Yuhong Jiang   


Erin Standen (Graduate Student, Social Psychology) has received a Graduate Student Research Award from the Society for Health Psychology (Division 38, APA).  This $2,000 award will support the research project described in her proposal, "Optimizing features of calorie-tracking applications: Implications for behavioral and psychological health".


Hunter Throndsen (Psychology Senior) has been awarded the Daniel McFadden and Beverlee Simboli Research Scholarship from CLA. The scholarship recognizes outstanding undergraduate research and student quality.



Congratulations to our recent Department of Psychology PhD Graduates!

Jordan Beim

Area: CAB

Advisor: Andrew Oxenham

Dissertation Title: Effects of selective attention on the peripheral auditory system: Otoacoustic emission assays of cochlear function during behavior



The biennial conference of the International Association for Computerized Adaptive Testing (IACAT) will be held at the Graduate Hotel on campus June 10 - 13, 2019. Professor Dave Weiss will give a plenary address at the conference titled "The CAT Curmudgeon: Some Thoughts from 50 Years of CAT".  Further information is available at



Viann Nguyen-Feng and Professor Mark Stellmack have written a 90-page guide to R Commander, which is a point-and-click interface to R. The guide, which includes instructions the R Commander, can be downloaded from Mark Stellmack's faculty website here.