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Zeitgeist Department of Psychology Fall 2014

VCU Psychology Goes Global

Wendy Kliewer Chair

Michael Southam-Gerow Director, Graduate Studies

Linda Zyzniewski Director, Undergraduate Studies

Dorothy Fillmore Associate Director for Academic Operations

PROGRAM DIRECTORS Eric Benotsch Health

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Rosalie Corona Clinical

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Jeff Green Social

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Barbara Myers Developmental Jennifer Elswick Newsmagazine Production

Important Alumni Links

Everett Worthington Counseling

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Jody Davis Website and Facebook

Undergraduate students Becca Easter, left rear, Eric Cudiamat, Josh Brown and Jessica Bowers participated in the 15th annual James River Regional Cleanup as part of our PSYC 493 service learning course led by Victoria Shivy, Ph.D. The students assisted with managing volunteers and removing invasive species (English Ivy). They also collected data regarding volunteers' attitudes towards recycling.

Cover Murmur Oil on paper Richard Bargdill, Ph.D.

4-5 Class Notes

27 Feature story 18-23 VCU Psychology Goes Global by Sarah Braun


Undergraduate student spotlight Sam Keeble

28-31 Alumni leadership in psychology Kristin Perrone McGovern, Ph.D. (M.S. ‘95, Ph.D. ‘98)

Department news and updates



Visiting speakers

Center for the Study of Tobacco Products earns special designation

10-11 New faculty member Caroline Cobb, Ph.D.

13 Faculty in the media

14-16 Research spotlight Suzanne Mazzeo, Ph.D.


33 August graduates


Graduate student spotlight Morgan Maxwell

Faculty awards 2013-14


Department contact information

New grant funding



Class Notes UPDATES 1980s


Tracey Gendron (Ph.D. ‘13) is a service learning faculty fellow Glen A. Martin (Ph.D. ’83) is a and assistant professor in the licensed psychologist in indeDepartment of Gerontology in pendent practice in Chapel Hill, the School of Allied Health ProNorth Carolina. He was a thera- fessions at VCU. She teaches pist, instructor, supervisor and several graduate and undergradadministrator at the counseling uate service-based courses incenter at the University of North cluding Grant Writing, Research Carolina at Chapel Hill for more Methods and Old is the New than 30 years. An active Ameri- Young. Her community-engaged can Psychological Association research interests include the member and past co-chair of professional identity developtheir advisory committee on col- ment and career commitment of league assistance, Martin curgerontologists, education rently serves as president-elect through community engagement and co-chair of the colleague and service-learning, aging anxieassistance committee for the ty, ageism and gerontophobia, North Carolina Psychological As- LGBT aging and staff knowledge sociation. He and his wife Lynn and quality of care. have three children and two Gendron was named as a finalist grandchildren. for the 2014 Ernest A. Lynton Award for the Scholarship of Engagement for Early Career Faculty given by the Congratulations to Roger Reeb (Ph.D. ‘93), professor and direc- New England Resource tor of graduate programs in psy- Center for Higher Education and the Center chology and clinical psychology at the University of Dayton, who for Engaged Democracy was named the Roesch Endowed at Merrimack College. Read the VCU News Chair in the Social Sciences. article.

Joshua Hook (M.S. ’07, Ph. D ‘10) has worked as an assistant professor of counseling psychology at the University of North Texas since 2010. His research interests are in humility, forgiveness and religion/spirituality. He recently received a grant from the John Templeton Foundation to study peoples’ humility about their religious beliefs, values and convictions. Kimberly Waits (B.S. ’10) was accepted to the Peace Corps and left for South Africa on July 1 to begin training as an English teacher. She will work in cooperation with the local people and partner organizations on sustainable, community-based development projects that improve the lives of people in South Africa.


Kimberley Waits (B.S. ‘10) 4

Congratulations, Jillian DeBold (B.S. ‘10) and Alec Rountree (B.S. ‘11/SOB)! Jillian is a former member of our department’s alumni committee. (Look who dropped by the wedding!)


News and updates Health disparities research conducted by clinical doctoral student Amma Agyemang was recently feaAgyemang tured by the Center for Advancing Health’s Health Behavior News Service. “We found depression treatment below par for minorities, even those with co-morbid diabetes or hypertension. Having a mental illness and a medical illness makes both more complex to treat, and the rate of obtaining depression treatment remains low for this population.” Read the full article.

its inaugural year. The REF Academy is designed to increase external funding opportunities for underrepresented ethnic minority faculty. It will provide yearlong training and support to a select cohort of investigators through grant-writing workshops and mentors and coaches. Heather Jones, Ph.D., assistant professor of clinical psychology, has been selected to participate in REF for her project, “Motivational Jones Interviewing Intervention and ADHD HelpRichard Bargdill, Ph.D., released Seeking Behaviors for African American Families With Children the second ediWith ADHD.” Read more about tion of his book, the REF Academy. “The Artist’s Thought Book: Intriguing Thoughts About the Artistic Process.”

Clinical psychology doctoral student Adrienne Borschuk was named a semifinalist for the Bargdill Junior InvestigaFaye Belgrave, tors Best Abstract Ph.D., professor in Clinical Research Award of health psyBorschuk chology, is facul- from the Cystic ty fellow for re- Fibrosis Foundation. She will search mentor- present her abstract, “Characteristics Associated with Belgrave ing in the Division for Inclusive Excellence. In Disease Disclosure in Older Adolescents and Adults with Cystic this role, she facilitates the ReFibrosis," at the Annual North search and External Funding American Cystic Fibrosis ConferAcademy, which just kicked off ence this month.

Susan Bodnar-Deren, Ph.D., left, assistant professor of sociology, and Rosalie Corona, Ph.D., associate professor of clinical psychology, in South Africa. (If you look closely, you can see elephants in the background.)

Rosalie Corona, Ph.D., professor of clinical psychology and director of clinical training, attended the second annual faculty development seminar at University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban, South Africa. Sponsored by the Global Education Office and the Division of Community Engagement, the faculty development seminar connects a cohort of VCU faculty to counterparts at strategic partner universities for the purpose of exploring collaborative research and teaching linkages.


News and updates Robin Everhart, Ph.D., has been named a VCU service-learning faculty fellow. The VCU ServiceEverhart Learning Faculty Fellow Program supports faculty members who have experience in teaching service-learning classes to improve, document and disseminate their mastery of service-learning to others. Fellows are appointed for one year with the potential of extending their appointment for one additional year and receive a stipend for each year in the program. A publication authored by Nao Hagiwara, Ph.D., and colleagues received the Kales Award from the Karmanos Cancer Institute in July and was acknowledged as Hagiwara the best publication in cancer research. Read more about the research and get the citation. Hagiwara has also been selected to participate in the second year of VCU’s New Investigators’ Grant Writing Institute, which provides yearlong, intensive proposal development and interdisciplinary communication training for VCU faculty from across the university who will apply for extramural funding

within 12 months. The program offers monthly intensive grantwriting workshops, peer review, mock review, funding agency visits and mentoring. Read more about the program.

Paul Perrin, Ph.D., assistant professor of health psychology, will lead a group of ten docPerrin toral and undergraduate students to the University of Deusto in Bilbao, Spain, to participate in a comprehensive research training opportunity on racial and ethnic disparities in health. The trip will be funded Worthington Langberg through a VCU Quest Global ImJoshua Langberg, Ph.D., associ- pact Award, a grant that supate professor of clinical psycholo- ports the university’s global priorities to improve the recruitgy, and Everett Worthington, ment and retention of internaPh.D., professor of counseling psychology and director of clini- tional students and scholars, incal training, have newly released crease the global engagement of VCU students and faculty and books. Langberg’s “Improving Children’s Homework, Organiza- expand VCU’s global footprint tion, and Planning Skills (HOPS)” through research, teaching and is a how-to manual with an easy- global engagement. to-follow format that gives par- Visiting scholar Muzafar Mohd Razali, Ph.D., served as an expert ents and caregivers practical techniques to improve their chil- consultant in the planning dren’s homework, organization and developand planning skills. In “Couple ment of the Therapy: A New Hope-Focused Approach,” Worthington and co- Universal Prevention Curricauthor Jennifer Ripley, Ph.D., Razali offer more than 100 exercises to ulum (UPC), Series 2, for Applied Prevention repair rocky relationships. The Science, Inc. The Universal Prebook is geared toward couples vention Curriculum, Series 1 and counselors but is also accessible 2, are designed to introduce and to anyone who wants to work on disseminate evidence-based subtheir relationship. Read more stance use prevention intervenabout the book on VCU News. tions to prevention specialists worldwide. 7

World Health O Center for the Study of Courtesy of VCU News

The Center for the Study of Tobacco Products (CSTP) in the Department of Psychology has been named a World Health Organization Collaborating Centre that will assist the global health organization with questions related to tobacco product testing and research.

"Virginia Commonwealth University’s Center for the Study of Tobacco Products is the latest addition to WHO’s global network of Collaborating Centres," said Carissa Etienne, M.B.B.S., regional director of the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization. "The network brings WHO Collaborating Centres are desig- together more than 700 highly regardnated by Margaret Chan, M.D., direc- ed academic and scientific institutions in over 80 countries, supporting WHO tor-general of the WHO, to carry out activities in support of the WHO's mis- programs and priorities with time, expertise and funding." sion to provide leadership on global health matters, shape the health reThere are 84 Collaborating Centres in search agenda, set norms and stand- the United States and VCU's Center for ards, articulate evidence-based policy the Study of Tobacco Products is the options, provide technical support to only Collaborating Centre on tobacco countries and monitor and assess product testing and research in the health trends. Americas, Etienne said. Officials from the WHO conducted a site visit to the new WHO Collaborating Centre for Tobacco Product Testing and Research on Oct. 6.

"With this designation, we become a resource that the WHO can reach out to when they have issues related to tobacco product testing and re-

search," said Thomas Eissenberg, Ph.D., co-director of the CSTP, professor in the Department of Psychology and member of the Cancer Prevention and Control research program at the VCU Massey Cancer Center. "It's an honor." As a WHO Collaborating Centre, the CSTP will disseminate novel methods to evaluate tobacco products, provide research results and support evaluation of e-cigarettes, train scientists in methods to evaluate non-cigarette tobacco products and prepare briefing and education materials related to the evaluation of non-cigarette tobacco products, such as e-cigarettes. By earning the designation as a WHO Collaborating Centre, the CSTP could play an important role in the WHO's work under the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, a legally binding treaty that aims to reduce


Organization taps VCU Psychology’s f Tobacco Products as a collaborator death and disease associated with tobacco use.

recognition by national authorities and new opportunities to exchange "I've been working for so long to un- information and develop technical derstand the health and other effects cooperation with other institutions." of tobacco products — especially non The Virginia Centre is WHO’s fifth Col-cigarette products, like water pipes, laborating Centre on Tobacco Product e-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco — Testing and Research and the first in that [this designation] was something the Americas. The other four are lothat I was, of course, very much inter- cated in Burkina Faso, Japan, the ested in," Eissenberg said. "It's about Netherlands and Singapore. how to make people not die from dis- "We believe that the collaboration of eases associated from these various these tobacco testing and research products." centers will strengthen implementaDouglas Bettcher, Ph.D., M.D., director of WHO's Department for Prevention of Noncommunicable Diseases, called the designation a "win-win relationship for WHO, the Collaborating Centres and for public health."

to study modified-risk tobacco products and other novel tobacco products, such as e-cigarettes, and to demonstrate methods that can be used to help inform national tobacco regulatory policies. The Centre will not use any of its federal grant funding for its work for the WHO. Instead, VCU Massey Cancer Center has put forward funds to be used should the WHO call on the Centre for assistance, Eissenberg said.

tion of the product regulation provisions of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control," Bettcher said.

The Center for the Study of Tobacco Products launched in September 2013 "The partnership gives WHO access to with an $18.1 million grant from the top research centers," he said. "The U.S. Food and Drug Administration Collaborating Centre gains enhanced and the National Institutes of Health

9 Thomas Eissenberg, Ph.D., is co-director of the Center for the Study of Tobacco Products in the Department of Psychology.

New faculty member Caroline Cobb, Ph.D.

VCU Psychology is pleased to welcome its newest faculty member, Caroline Cobb, Ph.D. Cobb, an alumna of the biopsychology program, joins us as an assistant professor in our health psychology program.

Cobb’s expertise complements and expands the research efforts in our Center for the Study of Tobacco Products. The heart of her research program involves understanding how tobacco use relates to biological and behavioral measures such as nicotine/ toxicant exposure, subjective effects and consumption patterns, as well as examining broader population-level patterns and predictors of tobacco use. More specifically, she is interested in assessing these outcomes in relation to novel and alternative tobacco product use, an area with a limited literature base and of high interest to the regulatory and public health community. One primary research focus involves the evaluation of electronic cigarettes or ecigarettes. These novel products may hold promise as a means to reduce cigarette smoking and associated harm, though little research exists on their effectiveness for this purpose.

Having received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from American University in 2005, Cobb came to VCU and earned her master’s and doctorate degrees in experimental psychology (biopsychology concentration) in 2009 and 2012, respectively. Her dissertation was titled “Evaluating caffeinated waterpipe tobacco in waterpipe smokers.” Upon graduation, she headed to the Schroeder Institute for Tobacco Research and Policy Studies at the American Legacy Foundation in Washington, D.C., where she served until Recently, the National Cancer 2014 as the Ellen R. Gritz fellow Institute gave Cobb an award to in tobacco control. examine whether dual use of

cigarettes and e-cigarettes decreases, has little effect on or increases measures of harm potential relative to single product use and no tobacco/nicotine use. Results from this work will help inform tobacco regulatory decisions concerning e-cigarettes. Cobb’s teaching interests align with her research interests and include teaching the courses Experimental Methods (PSYC 317) and Physiological Psychology (PSYC 401). On pedagogy, Cobb says, “I strive to encourage excitement and interest in all course material by using examples from my own life and research experiences and assist students in finding examples in their own. In turn, I find that students inspire and encourage me to examine new hypotheses and research ideas.”


Q&A Why did you choose VCU? There are several reasons I was drawn to VCU’s Department of Psychology to begin my faculty career. As a previous graduate student, I was well aware of the high caliber of faculty and graduate students drawn to the department and university, as well as the unique and gifted undergraduate population. The collaborative opportunities at VCU were another important motivation. Few institutions can boast such an array of scholars, centers, institutes and accolades in areas relevant to my research.

In particular, the recent Tobacco Centers of Regulatory Science award to VCU emphasized that this university would be a place where exciting and influential research in tobacco control would be performed and would be valued.

family have ended up with a painted card or two. Crossfit is a new hobby that my fiancé and I just started. We are one month in and loving it. What are some interesting facts about yourself that people may be unaware of?

I grew up in a rural area of Virginia and was completely enamored with horseback riding throughout my teenage years. Someday I would like to live in an area where I could keep horses and ride again. Another high school fun fact—I belonged to an all-female singing group called “The Divas.” We performed at school events including gradWhat do you do in your spare time? uation. Just don’t ask me to sing in I’ve always enjoyed painting, particularpublic now! ly watercolors. Most of my friends and On a more personal note, despite living in Richmond throughout graduate school, this city’s offerings of restaurants, concerts and community events continue to surprise and impress me. With my family and fiancé nearby, I feel very thankful for the opportunity to enjoy them fully.


Donate $51 or more to our undergraduate scholarship fund and receive a VCU Psychology tumbler! 12

Faculty in the media

Kirk W. Brown, Ph.D.

Tom Eissenberg, Ph.D.

“Just a Few Moments of Meditation a Day Found “Benefits of E-Cigarettes May Outweigh Harms, to Have Profound, Near-Instant Benefits on Stress Study Finds” read Reduction” read “Deadly E-Cigarette Explosions Add to the Health Faye Belgrave, Ph.D. Hazards of Vaping” read “Building Resilience Among Black Boys” read “Psychology Professor Not Surprised After Police Shoot And Kill Teen” watch (above) Alison Breland, Ph.D. “Electronic Cigarettes: Many Questions, Limited Research” read Ev Worthington, Ph.D. “Letting Go: a $1 Million Look at Forgiveness” read

“Deadly Explosions Added to List of E-Cigarette Dangers” read “Peeling Back E-Cig Science” read “Think Hookah is Safer Than Cigarettes? Think Again” read “Tougher E-cigarette Regulation Will Damage Public Health on a Big Scale, Say Experts” read Nao Hagiwara, Ph.D. “Should Women 'Man Up' for Male-Dominated Fields?” read

“Why You Should Forgive and How You Should Do Beth Heller, Ph.D. It” watch “Children and School Anxiety” listen “Suicide Grieving Process is Tricky” read Shawn Utsey, Ph.D., and Ev Worthington, Ph.D.

Victoria Shivy, Ph.D.

“VCU Psychologist Advocates Forgiveness, for Health’s Sake” read

“2014’s Best and Worst States for Women’s Equality” read


research spotlight Suzanne Mazzeo, Ph.D. Courtesy of VCU News

Natalia, an 11-year-old from Chesterfield County, had always been a picky eater... So her mother, Sabel Dujka, was immediately interested when she heard that Virginia Commonwealth University researchers were offering easy strategies to help Richmond-area parents concerned about their children's eating and weight.

ly, easy ways to prepare healthy family meals and how to let her daughter help when cooking. Now, she said, Natalia is far more willing to try — and enjoy — healthier foods.

"She happens to like broccoli and snap peas," she said. "She under"I wanted my daughter to be ex- stands that those items are imposed to different ideas and portant to being healthy and for different foods," Dujka said. "I her diet." heard about this program through a friend who has a child NOURISH+ is a VCU research in a different school, so I signed study that seeks to promote healthy eating and exercise in up." children ages five to 11. As part of the NOURISH+ pro"NOURISH focuses on how pargram (Nourishing Our Underents can be role models of standing of Role Modeling to healthy choices," said Suzanne Improve Support and Health), Dujka learned strategies address- Mazzeo, Ph.D., the project's prining a range of healthy eating and cipal investigator and a professor exercise topics, including how to of counseling psychology. "The whole idea is to give parents simread food labels, tips to teach her daughter about nutrition and ple, practical tools they can use to make their families healthier. exercise, developing mindful eating habits for the whole fami- We want to make it easier for parents."

So far, roughly 200 families from the greater Richmond area have taken part in the study. The researchers are hoping to enroll 250 more parents concerned about their child's eating and exercise habits. The five-year study, titled "NOURISHing Families to Promote Healthy Eating and Exercise in Overweight Children," is funded by a $2.6 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to test the efficacy of NOURISH+. Under the study, participating parents are randomly assigned to either a more intensive or less intensive group. Both groups, however, offer an array of practical tips and strategies, the researcher said. "In both interventions, we tried to have equal numbers of hands-on, practical things so they learn about nutrition, physical activity and more," Mazzeo said.


One of the program's guiding philosophies is that it takes more than just education to improve eating habits.

stantly fighting what advertising is telling your kids and what their friends are eating and all those other pressures."

"Parents usually know what they should do. The hard part is doing it — especially doing it over and over and over, multiple times a day," Mazzeo said. "Eating is the hardest thing to change because it's something you do multiple times a day. When you're a parent, you can feel like you just made a meal, you finish cleaning up and now you're making another one. It's a never-ending cycle.”

Mazzeo added that NOURISH+ aims to provide help without making parents feel guilty.

"A lot of what's out there about pediatric obesity can lead parents to feel blamed — 'This is your fault.' A lot of our parents have expressed that when they take their kid to the pediatrician, and the pediatrician says their kid is overweight, they feel blamed," Mazzeo said. "But, in reality, it's really difficult in this Many parents have a tough time culture to raise healthy eaters.” trying to encourage healthy eating habits among their children, Mazzeo said, as they often work long hours; their kids are also very busy and families struggle to find the time, money and energy needed to prepare healthy meals. Moreover, she said, we live in a "toxic environment" in which advertising often encourages unhealthy eating. "There's not just the pressure of getting it on the table — and there are financial and practical and time barriers that make that challenging — there's also the influence that all these marketers and their peers have on them," Mazzeo said. "You're con-

Rachel Gow, Ph.D.

Rachel Gow, Ph.D., an assistant professor of psychology and pediatrics at VCU and a collaborator on the study, said many of the best ideas and tips for parents have come from other parents during group discussions.

group that I co-led [and] most of the moms in the group were single mothers, who all had at least one job if not two jobs," she said. "A lot of them were getting takeout a lot, or eating frozen, unhealthy foods. But this one mom talked about her lists — she did a really good job of meal planning and budgeting and sticking to her plan. Her talking about her strategies and making her budget stretch made such a difference." By hearing from their fellow parents, Gow said, the program shows that encouraging healthy eating may not be easy, but it is possible. "You can do it," Mazzeo said. "You just have to be creative and empowered." For Dujka, NOURISH+ was a great success, and one that she would recommend to other parents. "I would recommend it because of the exposure [to helpful ideas], how to talk to children as parents in a positive way and getting them involved," she said. For more information: To find out more or to learn if you are eligible, visit, or contact the NOURISH+ team by calling 827-9211 or emailing

"For example, there was a recent


Tips for Promoting Healthy Eating Behaviors NOURISH+ researchers Suzanne Mazzeo, Ph.D., and Rachel Gow, Ph.D., both of whom are VCU experts in healthy eating behaviors for children and families, offer a few tips that parents can employ to improve their families' eating habits.

Never go to the grocery store without a plan, and stick to the plan while shopping. While grocery shopping, buy food located on the periphery of the store, such as the fresh produce section, rather than in the middle of the store, where processed, unhealthy foods are found. Buy a crock pot, which makes preparing meals easier, particularly ahead of time. Buy a blender. "Smoothies are such a great way to introduce and sneak in fruits," Gow says. Do something active with your kids, such as taking a walk along trails at a Richmond park , or taking them roller skating. Give your kids nonfood rewards, rather than sweets. "You have to brainstorm what would be best for your kids, but it can be something like an opportunity to do a special activity with Mom or Dad," Mazzeo says.


Graduate student spotlight

Morgan Maxwell, M.S. Courtesy of VCU News

Morgan Maxwell, M.S., a social psychology doctoral student in her third year of study, received a David L. Boren Fellowship to study in Brazil this academic year. Maxwell is using the award to become proficient in Portuguese while evaluating the impact of culture on the quality of HIV prevention service delivery in Brazil.

requirements. Maxwell hopes to work for the HIV sector of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and use her experiences in Brazil to better inform the delivery of HIV services in the U.S.

to $30,000 to U.S. graduate students to add an important international and language component to their graduate education through specialization in area study, language study or increased language proficiency. The fellowships promote long“Morgan has consistently term linguistic and cultural imdemonstrated commitment to international research and activi- mersion and are part of National ty and the Boren fellowship will Security Education Program, a federal government initiative to “Brazil has the second-highest support her efforts,” said Faye number of HIV cases in the West- Belgrave, Ph.D., professor of psy- enhance national security by increasing understanding and inern hemisphere,” Maxwell said. chology, who supported Maxteraction with foreign cultures “I’m examining cultural factors, well’s application. “Morgan stigma, cultural mistrust and per- brings outstanding interpersonal, and languages. sonal perceptions – which can all conceptual and be barriers in the delivery of HIV methodological prevention services.” skills which will support her in Maxwell is living in Salvador in the Brazilian state of Bahia dur- conducting her ing her fellowship, which began research on HIV prevention in in late August and will run Brazil.” through March 2015. “Winning a Boren Fellowship is a Maxwell, who is tremendous recognition of Mor- from Charlotte, gan’s work and passion for inter- North Carolina, earned a bachenational issues and recognizes lor’s degree in her strong academic performance,” said James S. Coleman, psychology from Ph.D., dean of the College of Hu- Howard Univermanities and Sciences. “Her pro- sity and a masject examining cultural influences ter’s degree in on the quality of HIV prevention Latin American services seems to me to be very, studies from Vanderbilt Univery important to human versity. health.” Fellowship recipients are expected to fulfill federal service

Boren Fellowships provide up 17

VCU Psychology Goes Global 18

Most researchers and practitioners of psychology have come to understand the importance of the consideration of culture in the reporting of research findings and in practice. More and more, psychologists are seeking out opportunities abroad to examine the similarities and differences among different cultures to refine both the generalizability of research findings and the efficacy of mental health interventions that reflect an approach rooted in what Tervalon and MurrayGarcia (1998) have called cultural humility. Bullock (2011) described this mindset as one that adopts a “learning attitude, including reflection, humility, appreciation of privilege and appreciation of cultural contexts and explanatory frameworks that stretch boundaries” (p. 9). On an institutional level, two of VCU’s overriding global goals are to increase the global engagement of VCU students and faculty and expand VCU’s global footprint through our research, teaching and service, particularly as they impact global health. Our faculty and students in the Department of Psychology have served at the forefront of the globalization of psychology and have greatly contributed to our field’s efforts to approach our

work with the cultural humility necessary for the expansion of our knowledge base. As such, our department maintains an active global presence with a large number of faculty and students collaborating with individuals, institutions and communities abroad.

in collaboration with UKZN. In 2011, she lived for six months in one of Durban’s central neighborhoods and in partnership with UKZN researcher Basil Pillay, M.D., launched Project CARE: Community Assessment of Risk and Resilience, which continues today. The project follows 400 children and their We have an especially robust presence in Africa, and, in par- maternal caregivers to assess the children’s response to enviticular, South Africa. This is in large part due to our strong ties ronmental risk factors on with the University of KwaZulu- measures of social and academic competence, emotional diffiNatal (UKZN), a VCU international partner institution locat- culties, aggressive behavior and substance abuse. Kliewer ed in Durban, South Africa. In fact, Shawn Utsey, Ph.D., pro- meets with the South African fessor of counseling psychology, research team regularly via Skype and pays a visit to UKZN is a Fulbright scholar who is yearly to meet in person. there now working on an oral history project. Utsey’s work is This summer, Rosalie Corona, motivated by an interest in how Ph.D., visited UKZN to particiapartheid continues to affect pate in their second annual facthe people of South Africa. He is ulty development seminar. The working at the Sinomlando Cen- seminar, whose theme was ter for Oral History and Memory community-engaged research, collecting oral histories from was a collaborative effort to survivors of apartheid ethnovio- further strengthen and build on lence. the research and teaching conWendy Kliewer, Ph.D., is chair nections between the two uniof the department and a profes- versities. Corona is an associate sor of developmental psycholo- professor of clinical psychology gy who studies youth resilience and serves our department as director of clinical training. Her – that is, children who do well despite the odds. Kliewer also research focuses on health proreceived a Fulbright scholarship motion in minority populations. to conduct research in Durban 19 by Sarah Braun

Also working in South Africa is Daniel Snipes, a doctoral student in the health psychology program, who was awarded the prestigious Graduate Research Opportunities Worldwide grant from the National Science Foundation. The grant, which supports graduate students working on international research projects, has allowed him to take part in a project aiming to strengthen South Africa’s female condom program and curtail its rates of HIV infection. South Africa has the world’s highest rate of HIV and this project will draw data from several sources to identify more effective ways to encourage female condom use. Our department is bringing its scholarship and collaborative spirit to other parts of the African continent, as well. For example, Everett Worthington, Ph.D., recently received an almost $1 million grant for a project whose goal is to facilitate and promote evidence-based forgiveness research by native researchers in West and South Africa. Worthington, a professor of counseling psychology and director of clinical training, has a long track record of international research and collaboration surrounding his study of forgiveness. In fact, his forgiveness

model has been integrated into at least ten Latin and South American countries and he continues to collaborate regularly with researchers from other countries to expand the scope of forgiveness research to new and relevant cultural contexts. He also serves as a mentor to faculty members abroad and recently helped a professor in Barcelona, as well as a professor in India, win grants for forgiveness research.

provide a structured context for graduate students to participate in internationally collaborative research and service learning.”

In fact, one of Serpell’s graduate students, Tennisha Riley, recently accompanied her to Zambia and explored her own independent research project. Riley is interested in the social and emotional development of children and adolescents and the effects of aggressive behavior. While in Zambia, through observation of In a similar manner, Zewelanji adolescents and youths at Serpell, Ph.D., associate profes- school, Riley saw the impact of sor of developmental psycholo- context and culture on developgy, and Vivian Dzokoto, Ph.D., ment. She also forged imassociate professor in the Deportant relationships with Zampartment of African American bian graduate students she Studies, are working together to hopes will lead to continued collead the Mental Health Assess- laboration, and with community ment Research Initiative for Afri- organizations for intervention ca. Their goal is to bring faculty resources and knowledge. The from VCU together with faculty work in Serpell’s lab is focused from institutions in Zambia and on developing a path for continGhana under shared research ued service learning and reand training agendas surround- search, and opening more doors ing child and adolescent mental for international collaboration. health. The program focuses on These doors are opening up in developing mental health asother parts of the world, too. sessment tools and intervention Thomas Eissenberg, Ph.D., proprograms for children and ado- fessor of health psychology and lescents that are culturally apco-director of the Center for the propriate and thus usable Study of Tobacco Products in our around the globe. Serpell dedepartment, studies novel toscribed this initiative by placing bacco products, like electronic importance on the training com- cigarettes, to determine whethponent of the work, which is “to er or not they pose a risk to us20

ers and to demonstrate methods that can be used to help inform national tobacco regulatory policies. (See pages 8-9 to read about the Center’s important new designation from the World Health Organization.) One of the main projects within this framework is being conducted at the American University of Beirut with project director Alan Shihadeh, Ph.D., a professor of mechanical engineering at AUB. Eissenberg, who also has collaborative research relationships in Syria, says he and his team work with Shihadeh and AUB because their Aerosol Research Laboratory has unique expertise in inventing and validating equipment vital to the measurement and recording of waterpipe (or hookah) tobacco smoker behavior in fine detail. For example, Shihadeh and his team recently developed equipment that allows researchers to sample smoke unobtrusively from a waterpipe while a user is smoking it, so they can measure smoke toxicants generated in real world environments (i.e., outside of the clinical laboratory). Eissenberg’s team will soon be working with colleagues at the Jordan University of Science and Technology in Irbid, Jordan, to test this equipment in the field.

Paul Perrin, Ph.D., assistant professor of health psychology, is a globetrotter in his own right. His research interests include multicultural health behaviors and interventions. He is especially interested in caregiver mental health in Latin America, and recently received a grant to study the caregivers of traumatic brain injury patients there. Illustrating a previous point regarding insufficient global generalizability of research findings from the U.S., Stephen Trapp, a doctoral student in the counseling program who has worked abroad with Perrin says, “Compounding the more general difficulties developing nations face is that the current psychiatric tests used there were developed based on American and European cultures.” Perrin added, “These tests prove to be ineffective when applied toward Latinos and their families, who see it as a cultural imperative to provide high-quality care even to the exclusion of their own needs.” Last year he took a group of graduate students to Spain to collaborate on research in cultural health disparities; this successful experience led to another trip to Spain this past summer. Perrin’s work continues to open new avenues for international collaboration and facilitates opportunities for graduate

level researchers to make global impacts. Morgan Maxwell, a doctoral student in the social psychology program, also has research interests in Latin America and is studying in Brazil this semester after having been awarded the prestigious Boren fellowship. (See Maxwell’s full story on page 17.) In addition to transcending borders in scholarly endeavors, our department values and seeks to contribute to international collaborative pedagogy in our field, as well. For instance, Mary Loos, Ph.D., associate professor of clinical psychology, is the program director for the VCU International Programme in Addiction Studies (IPAS), an online Master of Science in Addiction Studies program available to students from all countries that is offered collaboratively with King’s College London and the University of Adelaide in Australia. The program provides students with an advanced educational experience covering scientific methodology, treatment, public health issues and addiction policy. Upon completion of the degree, students receive a diploma conferred by all three partner universities. The goal of the program is to train international professionals capable of translating research into effec-


tive treatment and prevention practices for addiction around the world.

It was in this same spirit of intercultural exchange that the department welcomed the VCU Hubert H. Humphrey fellowship program to its new home this fall. Previously housed in the VCU Institute for Drug and Alcohol Studies, this program, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, is an international exchange program supported by the people of the United States. It is designed to facilitate exchange activity among international researchers and scholars. The program brings accomplished professionals from developing countries to the United States for a year of study and collaboration in their relevant areas of research. VCU’s Humphrey program focuses on a broad range of health problems with an emphasis on understanding the behavioral, psychological, social and cultural factors that affect people’s health, and the use of behavior change interventions to promote positive health outcomes. The program emphasizes the use of culturally appropriate, science -based prevention, treatment and policy interventions.

Expanding the teaching and research of psychology to new frontiers is an especially exciting prospect for Richard Bargdill, Ph.D., who was invited to give the opening keynote address this summer for the Third International Conference on Existential Psychology in Guangdong. Psychology is a relatively new discipline in China with many universities having only added psychology departments within the last 25 years. Bargdill's opening address was about the basic principles of existential psychology with the goal of orienting the audience of counselors and psychologists to this sub -discipline within the the larger field of psychology. Bargdill said, “What made this conference unique was that Western scholars were united with Eastern scholars. One Western existential psychologist would speak followed by an Eastern speaker on indigenous forms of Chinese existentialism. In general, existential psychology is primarily interested in how people make their lives meaningful, so there is not one true form of it; rather, Randy Koch, Ph.D., whose remost cultures have a line of search focuses on tobacco use thinking that is complimentary.” prevention in at-risk youth, is the associate coordinator of the

Humphrey program. For the last several years, Koch has been working with the South African Medical Research Council to implement a set of assessment tools for the country’s treatment services. He also coordinated the International Health Research Workshop on campus this year, one of several efforts to increase VCU’s global presence and impact. The aim of the workshop was to help faculty successfully pursue international health research opportunities by addressing such key issues as securing funding, finding international collaborators, identifying potential challenges and developing effective partnerships. “Conducting international research is not only personally rewarding,” says Koch, “but it also creates other funding opportunities for your research.” A fuller portrait of our department’s international research and teaching efforts would include several other examples of important work being conducted abroad by our faculty. Bryce McLeod, Ph.D., for example, has active research collaborations with colleagues in the Netherlands and Norway where he has also given lectures and led workshops. Faye Belgrave, Ph.D., has been an engaged participant in the Semester at Sea program,


a multiple country study abroad program open to students of all majors emphasizing comparative academic examination, hands-on field experiences and meaningful engagement in the global community. There are many, many more such examples in our department; interested readers are urged to explore our faculty members’ web pages for more information about their international work abroad and at home.

South Africa, Brazil, Ghana, Lebanon, China and beyond. This work is critical as world communities become more interconnected with each passing day. VCU President Michael Rao said of working and studying abroad, “We need to be more connected with the world, especially based on who we are as Americans. This is supposed to be the place where you can be the most successful and that won’t happen if we create isolation and don’t connect ourselves with the rest Our faculty and students are of the world.” The Department globally minded and create reof Psychology has answered this search goals and teaching miscall and hopes to continue to sions that impact international communities. We actively con- serve as a university leader in bringing its scholarly and pedatribute to the international effort to translate psychological gogical endeavors to bear on findings and insight into practical academic and practical pursuits applications for all through scholarly activities in

in psychology throughout the world. Tervalon, M. & Murray-Garcia, J. (1998). Cultural humility versus cultural competence: a critical distinction in defining physician training outcomes in multicultural education. Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved, 9, 117-125. doi:10.1353/ hpu.2010.0233 Bullock, M. (2011, November). APA’s international responsibility. Monitor on Psychology, 42 (10), 9.

Author Sarah Braun is a doctoral student in the clinical psychology program.


Class of 2014-15: Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship program


New Research funding Topics Behavior problems in preschool

duct research in Richmond-area preschool and Head Start classrooms.

funded by VCU's Presidential Research Incentive Program (PRIP) — in which they refined the ob"We will observe teachers inter- servational treatment integrity measures used in "BEST in acting with their students over CLASS," an early childhood interthe course of the academic vention program being evaluated year," McLeod said. "We are mainly interested in the types of at VCU and the University of Florinterventions and strategies they ida. use when they teach. The obser- "The PRIP funding allowed us to vations will involve trained cod- develop these measures, and the ers visiting a classroom and ob- developed measures will serve as serving the teacher for up to one a starting point for the assesshour." ment tools we propose to develop in the current project," SuthThe grant's objective is to improve the early intervention and erland said.

Suzanne Mazzeo, Ph.D.

prevention services for young children who have chronic problem behavior by improving the Courtesy of VCU News A $1.6 million grant awarded to implementation and efficiency of two VCU professors will help im- delivery of evidence-based programs. prove services aimed at preschool children with problem "Essentially, we hope to be able behaviors in early childhood edu- to use this measure to help recation and Head Start classsearchers and program adminisrooms. trators to identify the practices Bryce McLeod, Ph.D., an associ- teachers are using with these ate professor of clinical psycholo- young children. We also hope gy, and Kevin Sutherland, Ph.D., that the measure can assist rea professor of special education searchers and program adminisand disability policy in the School trators in improving the impleof Education, received the grant mentation of evidence-based from the U.S. Department of Ed- programs, as this will be a tool that can be used to assess how ucation's Institute of Education much, and how well, evidenceSciences. based programs and the practicAs part of the four-year grant, es that comprise them are imple"Development and Validation of mented," Sutherland said. Treatment Integrity Measures for Classroom-Based Interventions," Sutherland and McLeod previMcLeod and Sutherland will con- ously conducted a pilot study — Bryce McLeod, Ph.D.

School bullying

Terri Sullivan, Ph.D.

Terri Sullivan, Ph.D., has been awarded a $2.66 million grant from the National Institute of Justice titled "Evaluation of the Effectiveness and Sustainability of the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program in Increasing School 24

Safety in Urban Middle Schools." This four-year project builds on an evaluation of the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program (OBPP) being completed as part of a CDC -funded Youth Violence Prevention Center within the VCU ClarkHill Institute for Positive Youth Development and in partnership with Richmond City public middle schools. OBPP is a comprehensive school-based program designed to prevent youth violence and bullying by improving school climate. Although this program is being implemented in hundreds of schools across the U.S., few studies have evaluated its impact on schools. The goal of this project is to increase the knowledge gained from our current Youth Violence Prevention Center project by supporting the continuation of OBPP in two middle schools, implementing this program in a third school and collecting three additional years of data on proximal and distal outcomes for OBPP. The extension of the multiple baseline research design will provide a clearer picture of the relation between implementation of OBPP and changes in outcomes over time in the two schools where OBPP is currently being implemented, and will allow us to examine changes in outcomes that occur after implementing this program in the third school.

School nutrition

Lunch Program, which provides low-cost or free meals to 31 million children every day across the country. "As a scientist, I wondered: How much plate waste is really happening? Are kids really throwing away the lunches?" said Mazzeo. "So I looked into the literature and saw that there really wasn't a lot of data on whether kids were actually eating less or if they were just complaining about it."

Suzanne Mazzeo, Ph.D.

Courtesy of VCU News

After new federal school meal regulations were rolled out in 2010, widespread news reports circulated that school children were “grossed out” by the healthier lunches and were simply tossing the newly required fruits and vegetables and whole grains.

This fall, Mazzeo is leading a team of researchers in two Chesterfield County elementary schools to observe how much fruits and vegetables are being thrown away by first, second and third graders at breakfast and lunch.

“This is probably the most unglamorous grant ever. We're going to be standing at the garbage cans. It's going to be messy,” said Mazzeo, a leading But are the children actually expert in healthy eating and exthrowing away the healthier food rather than eating it? And, ercise promotion for children moreover, are there ways school and families. "We're focusing on the fruit and vegetable consumpsystems could encourage children to eat their fruits and veg- tion, looking to see whether they ate [the fruits and vegetables], gies? and what percentage they ate. Suzanne Mazzeo, Ph.D., profesWe anticipate that it's going to sor of counseling psychology, has be somewhat chaotic." received a two-year, $100,000 The study will be conducted in grant from the National Instipartnership with the nonprofit tutes of Health to find answers to those questions and potential- organization Greater Richmond ly improve the National School

(Continued on page 26)


Fit 4 Kids, along with other VCU faculty, graduate students and undergraduate research assistants.

eating for children and their fam- school," she said. "And you see ilies. that you really do start to lose control [of the children's healthy "What do parents or primary caregivers wish schools would do eating]."

For the second phase of the project, Mazzeo and the research team will hold a "tasting intervention" in one of the schools, offering the students a sample of a fruit or vegetable that will be on the cafeteria's menu the following week.

more of?" Mazzeo said. "What do schools wish parents would do? The idea is that qualitative interviews will extend the research a little further for the next step."

"The research shows that if you have kids taste a food, then they're more willing to actually eat it," Mazzeo said. "So we're actually going to be in the cafeteria with a little cart and little sample cups. And we'll see if they're willing to try foods that will be on the menu." The tasting interventions will be held twice a week over eight weeks during this school year. "The baseline is: What are they throwing away?" Mazzeo said. "Then we'll do the tasting intervention. And then we'll measure what they're throwing away after [we've done the tasting intervention]." The third phase of the project will involve qualitative interviews with parents, teachers, administrators and cafeteria workers to better understand their perspectives on what is realistic when it comes to promoting healthy

One of the ideas behind Mazzeo's new study is that school systems would be able to easily replicate the "tasting intervention" strategy to get the students to try unfamiliar fruits and vegetables. "What we're doing is pretty low-impact. We're using food that's already there, and that the cafeteria workers know how to make already," she said. "We're not doing anything fancy. It's very translatable and sus-

Mazzeo was inspired to study the overhaul of the National School Lunch Program because in recent years she has been working with families of overweight children as part of a larger research project aiming to curtail childhood obesity. (See pages 14-15.)


"We saw how these families were doing all these really positive things but there's just a lot of structural challenges that make it difficult in everyday life," Mazzeo said. "It shouldn't be this hard for families."

"We want to know whether requiring fruits and vegetables was a good change," she said. "We are truly not sure. Because some of the research says you should give children a choice of whether they want to take the fruits and vegetables or not. And that you should do tastings, but ultimately give them the choice."

She was also inspired, she said, by her own family's experience.

Ultimately, Mazzeo said, the study should help answer the debate over whether the National School Lunch Program policy changes – championed by Michelle Obama – have proven effective.

"Having my own kids and, especially in the last five years, Listen to Mazzeo’s interview on they've both gone to elementary public radio.


undergraduate student spotlight Sam Keeble, Class of ‘14

What has been your favorite psychology course at VCU so far? Abnormal Psychology with Mary Loos, Ph.D., was my favorite course. I had the privilege of serving as a preceptor for the class the following semester. The experience ignited my passion for clinical work and gave me a deep appreciation for the art of teaching. Physiological Psychology with Joseph Porter, Ph.D., and History of Psychology with Richard Bargdill, Ph.D., We caught up with Sam Keeble recently to interview him about come in as close seconds. his experiences as an undergrad- Lifespan Human Development is a course that would greatly benuate psychology major at VCU. efit students of any major. Why did you choose psychology as your major? What are your plans for the fuI am a returning adult student. I ture?

other cultures. I find comfort perusing the shelves of old bookstores but love the excitement of snow skiing and other outdoor activities. Long, meditative walks renew my faith and bring me great joy. Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know? While pursuing my B.A. in philosophy, a part-time job in a laboratory led to a full time position following graduation. I strongly encourage students to pursue the incredible internship opportunities offered by the VCU Department of Psychology.

Returning to school as an adult student is a tumultuous undertaking. VCU is a diverse, fantastic place for the adult learner. received a B.A. in philosophy at a I am very excited by the develop- The patient encouragement of liberal arts university motivated ing field of medical psychology. fellow students here is so appreby an interest in the work of Carl Following graduate training, I see ciated. Especially invaluable in myself working in a clinical enviJung. After graduation, I spent my journey have been the guidseveral years in clinical research ronment utilizing a variety of ance and empathetic support of therapeutic modalities. I also and then entered the business my advisors and faculty whose have an interest in writing. world. A major life-altering numbers are too great to menevent provided the insight that What do you do in your spare tion. the “good life” for me was time? grounded in helping others. I travel whenever possible. I enChoosing psychology as a major joy gourmet cooking—a hobby was my next step. that grows out of my interest in 27

Alumni Leadership in psychology As an alumna of the doctoral program in counseling psychology at VCU, I am honored to have been asked to write this article regarding my career development and leadership roles. Although my roots are firmly planted in counseling psychology, my current passion is affec-

tive neuroscience and brainbehavior relationships. I will briefly describe my career journey and highlight a few leaders in the field who have influenced and guided me. All of my life I have been a planful and goal-oriented person. I

see myself in my daughter whose first full sentence at the age of three was, “I am a princess and a butterfly… and when I grow up I will be a doctor and listen to your heart with my stethoscope!” My point is that, like my daughter, I always knew what I wanted to do when I grew up.

As an undergraduate psychology major at the University of Minnesota, I was fortunate to work with Pat Frazier as a member of her research team. This was an excellent introduction to research, and she helped me to obtain my first research grant and to make my first conference presentation. Working with her helped solidify my goal to someThis is partly because I had a very important career role mod- day be a professor of counseling psychology myself. el in my life, even as a young child. My father, Phil Perrone, After college graduation, I was a professor of counseling served as a Volunteer In Service psychology at the University of To America or VISTA (a.k.a. the Wisconsin-Madison and was a domestic peace corps) for a year crucial role model to me during in Los Angeles. While there, I my childhood, as he continues to worked at a homeless assistance be a model for me now that I am agency developing job programs. an adult. I saw what an inspira- We made connections with local tional teacher he was, what a businesses to persuade them to caring mentor he was to his stu- hire workers on a temporary dents and how interesting and basis with the option to keep meaningful his work was. Altthem permanently if they did a hough not a psychologist, my good job. We offered training mother has been (and is) an on interviewing and job skills, equally influential and important provided work attire and transrole model to me, with her sen- portation costs and found our sitivity and compassionate naclients housing in single room ture and her insightful perspec- occupancy hotels if they did not tives on people and interperson- have a place to live. It was here al behavior. I will discuss other where I saw the transformative important role models and men- power of employment and the tors throughout this essay, for it meaning of work in peoples’ is impossible to talk about lead- lives. As I began applying to ership without also talking about graduate schools in counseling the leaders I myself have folpsychology, I knew that I wanted lowed in my career. to focus on vocational development in my research. 28

Kristin Pe

errone McGovern (M.S. ‘95, Ph.D. ‘98) At VCU, I was able to assist Judy Chartrand in her work with Project PROVE (Preventing Recidivism through Opportunities in Vocational Education) helping offenders make the transition from incarceration to living on their own and finding work. My original doctoral chair, Lauren Weitzman, introduced me to her work on women’s strategies for integrating family into their career plans, which planted a seed that later grew into an interest for me in work-family interface and gender roles for men and women. She left VCU less than a year after my arrival, but I am grateful for the introduction she provided into this area. Briefly orphaned, I was thrilled when Ev Worthington, Jr. agreed to serve as my chair. There are so many wonderful things that I could say about Ev that it is hard to narrow down. I think what appealed to me at the time was his combination of genius and humility, his work ethic and the obvious care he put into mentoring his students. I follow his model today in my own mentoring of graduate students at Ball State University with regular meetings, structure and organization, promotion of the unique goals of each student and breaking large tasks into small goals (he used to have a sign in his office that read “by the inch it’s a cinch, by the mile it’s a trial”).

I am eternally grateful for the example he set and the support and guidance he provided. My internship year at the University of Maryland Counseling Center was also a formative experience in my career. I joined Karen O’Brien’s research team while I was there and loved the way she created a supportive community among her students with a genuine team feeling. I carry this forward today with my research team and it’s wonderful to see my students support each other and celebrate one another’s successes. I also owe a debt of gratitude to Bill Sedlacek (affectionately known simply as “Sed”) who led my research rotation during internship year. Research always felt easy and fun when working with him, and his unwavering belief in my abilities strengthened my confidence as a researcher. Currently I am a professor of counseling psychology at Ball State University where I teach graduate students in our master’s of counseling program and doctoral students in our APAaccredited Ph.D. program. Truly the best part of my job is being able to play a role in shaping the future of our field through training the students who will be our next leaders. I have been honored to serve an incredible faculty at Ball State. Words cannot

express my gratitude to my Ball State faculty mentor Phyllis Gordon, who is like a wise and caring big sister, and whose example I try to follow every day in my work as a professor. I would be remiss in writing an essay pertaining to leadership without expressing my sincere respect and admiration for my friend and colleague Sharon Bowman, who has set an amazing example first as chair of my department and currently as the president of the Society for Counseling Psychology (SCP). It has been an honor to serve with her on the executive board for our society. Another faculty colleague, Larry Gerstein, has also been a role model for me as someone who is always doing innovative research and has never slowed down, even many years after achieving tenure and promotion. Sharon and Larry encouraged me towards leadership in SCP. My friend Tania Israel (herself an inspirational and transformative leader) was SCP president at the time so I asked for her advice. She suggested I run for secretary, which I did, and now I am currently coming to the end of my three-year term as SCP secretary. It has been a good experience: I have learned a lot about governance for our profession. I have gotten to know the leaders (Continued on page 30)


Perrone McGovern (middle) poses with fellow counseling program doctoral students in 1998: Ron Seel (left, M.S. ‘96, Ph.D. ‘99), Eloise Berry (M.S. ‘96, Ph.D. ‘99), Perrone McGovern (M.S. ‘95, Ph.D. ‘98) Susanna Owens (B.S. ‘92, M.S. ‘95, Ph.D. ‘99) and Taro Kurusu (M.S. ’96, Ph.D. ’99).

of our society and have been inspired by their passion and commitment to the field. On a personal note, I want to recognize my husband T.J. McGovern, without whose support and encouragement, I could never have achieved all of the goals I set for myself. He is himself a true leader, full of wisdom and possessing a strength, vision and decisiveness I have always admired. Returning to my point about being planful and goal-oriented, I progressed through my time at Ball State moving methodically

through my life to-do list. Promotion from assistant to associate professor—check. Tenure— check. Have children (boy/girl twins of course!) —check, check. Promotion to professor—check.

research, but I had no training other than a course or two on physiological psychology in graduate school. I began taking classes on neuropsychology and physiological psychology from Suddenly I found I had achieved colleagues at my university and all the goals I had set for myself. applied for a full-year sabbatical I was ready for a new challenge. to do a postdoctoral fellowship For years at psychology confer- in neuropsychology. I completences, I had been drawn to the ed two years of supervised neuropsychological practice with neuroscience presentations. I marveled at the advances in sci- Andrew Davis, whose depth and breadth of knowledge in the ence and the groundbreaking field is astounding and from discoveries about the brain. I whom I have learned so much nursed a secret desire to beabout the practice of neuropsycome a neuropsychologist in practice and a neuroscientist in chology. 30

On the neuroscience research side, I have been profoundly influenced by Oscar Goncalves. He is a true pioneer of our field who is both a counseling psychologist and a neuroscientist, and he is doing some of the most cutting edge research of our time. Oscar Goncalves and I met through colleagues and bonded via email over our shared experience as counseling psychologists with interests in neuroscience. In May 2011, he invited me to visit the University of Minho in Braga, Portugal, where he was the head of the psychology department and where he had built an aweinspiring neuropsychophysiological research laboratory. While in Portugal, I met with his impressive research teams at their lab to learn about the work they were doing and discuss ideas for collaboration. By the time I returned home, I had a clear plan for my next research study. In the spring of 2012, a doctoral student from Dr. Goncalves’ laboratory, Patricia Oliveira Silva, came to work with me at Ball State University and complete a research project on empathy, conflict resolution and psychophysiological factors for couples. Also, in 2012 we were honored to have Oscar come to Ball State to speak to our faculty and students about his research,

and to sign a memorandum of understanding between our two universities. In the summer of 2013, my colleague Stephanie Simon-Dack and I led a group of undergraduate and graduate students on a study abroad trip to visit the lab at the University of Minho in Portugal, where our students were able to gain hands-on experience and training on fMRI, ERP, neurobiochemistry and peripheral measures research methodology. Recently Oscar and I co-edited a special section for the Journal of Counseling Psychology on the interface of neuroscience and counseling psychology that will be in the October 2014 issue.

year. My future research directions will include using this equipment to examine constructs related to attachment, empathy and interpersonal relationships. I will also be training students in counseling psychology and neuroscience interface and neuropsychological assessment and practice (and hopefully inspiring them towards future work in this area). It’s been an exciting and wonderful journey and I feel blessed by the mentoring, support and encouragement I have received from my incredible colleagues. I will end with three pieces of advice to aspiring future leaders.

“By the inch it’s a cinch; by the mile it’s a trial.” With the leadership of Stephanie Simon-Dack, my talented physiological psychologist friend and colleague, and two other colleagues from the Psychological Sciences Department at Ball State University (Thomas Holtgraves and Michael Tagler), we obtained a Major Research Instrumentation Grant from the National Science Foundation to purchase equipment that allowed us to set up an Event Related Potential research laboratory over the 2013-14 academic

First, be curious. In the words of Albert Einstein, “The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.”

Second, take risks. Don’t try to follow current trends or do what everyone else is doing. Set the trend yourself and others will follow. Third, choose work you are passionate about. Joseph Campbell said it best when he said, “Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors where here were only walls.”


Visitingspeakers Scott Allison, Ph.D., professor of psychology at the University of Richmond, presented a talk titled, "Heroic Leadership: The Elevation of the Human Spirit." Allison’s research focus is on heroes, villains, legends, leaders, underdogs and martyrs. He has published nearly 100 articles and four books on heroes. His work has been featured in media outlets such as National Public Radio, USA Today, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Slate Magazine, MSNBC, CBS, the Christian Science Monitor and Psychology Today.

Gerald Clore, Ph.D., commonwealth professor of psycholAllison ogy at the University of Virginia, presented a research talk titled, "Emotional Impact." Clore is co-author of “The Cognitive Structure of Emotions,” a book detailing a general theory of how psychological situations elicit emotions and make them intense. With funding from the National Institutes of Mental Health and the National Science Foundation, he explores the affect-asinformation hypothesis, which clarifies how affective information about value and urgency regulates cognition, motivation and memory. In 2010 he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and in 2013 he received the William James Award for lifetime scientific achievement from the Association for Psychological Science.


Bethany Teachman, Ph.D., professor of psychology at the University of Virginia, delivered a research talk titled, "It’s Not a Heart Attack, You’re Just Out of Breath: Changing Threat Interpretations to Reduce Anxiety." Teachman’s research lab investigates cognitive processes that contribute to the development and maintenance of anxiety disorders. They are especially interested in how thoughts that occur outside of our control or conscious awareness contribute to fear and anxiety. Abstract: If we want to understand why an intelligent, normally rational person with a phobia has refused to go down to her basement for ten years, why a person Green HulseyspiderVan Tongeren with social phobia sees only the one scowling face in a room full of smiles, why a person with panic disorder is convinced that the 200th panic attack is the one that will Teachman bring on a heart attack, we need to consider the role of automatic processing of emotional information in these disorders. Each of these seemingly irrational decisions, beliefs and behaviors is likely fueled by some aspect of automatic cognitive processing, whereby anxious individuals interpret their environment in such a way that these maladaptive reactions make sense to them in the moment. Teachman’s research investigates how these processes contribute to the onset and persistence of anxiety problems and whether it is important to change these processes in order to ameliorate anxiety. 32

augustGraduates Doctor of Philosophy

Alexis Ashby Stephanie Azango Shelley Avny Priya Barot Robert Goodman Catherine Brannock Chelsea Greer Emily Bregman David Guion Jeremy Brown Hannah Lund Brandon Burgess Janet Lydecker Brandon Burneson Kathryn Maher Annabella Opare-Henaku Jun Chang Courtney Coleman Kimberly Parker Kamile Conley Vivian Rodriguez Kyle Cox Claire Russell Stephanie Cunningham Lianna Davies Master of Science Sarah Debaerien Melissa Dvorsky Kaylah Degree Shaina Gulin Amir Elsayed Autumn Lanoye Amel Eltayeb Zachary Radcliff Samantha Estep Bobbi Finkelstein Bachelor of Science Anneliese Grant Amielia Altice Channing Gravely Christian Ammons Harold Hallock

Nicole Harrig Ashley Harris Abdisamad Hassan Matthew Hatheway Laura Hazlett Ashley Hedge Ashley Hefner Edward Huffman Nicole Jolly Christina Jones Samuel Keeble Tara Kelley Michael Ko Katherine Lazenby Melanie-Grace Licen Walid Mansoor Crystal Mcnair Nighat Mehrzad Caroline Mills Abir Muhammad Leah Neary Modesta Nzekwesi-Albert Leah O'Connor

Marissa Oden Junko Omoto Christian Ostrowski Taylor Owens DaJuan Pitts Michael Pivik Sarah Ripp Lindsay Runner Annaliese Santos Samantha Shaw Sarah Sitler Lauren Smallwood Tracy St. Hill Kyle Sutherland Nathaniel Thomas Sherrie Timberlake Lauren Troublefield Elexis White Deborah Wilde Camerina Younce


Department faculty awards for 2013-14 Teaching


Jody Davis, Ph.D.

Paul Perrin, Ph.D.

Jody Davis, Ph.D., was this year’s recipient of the Outstanding Faculty Teaching Award for her exemplary year of teaching and mentorship. An excellent classroom instructor, Davis has been a department leader in advancing online teaching initiatives. For example, her social psychology course has been presented as an online course showcase through VCU’s Academic Learning Transformation lab (formerly the Center for Teaching Excellence). She was also a member of VCU’s Summer Online Learning Initiative, where she presented information about her online course assignments (among other things) as a resource for other faculty. Davis is also an exceptional mentor to not only graduate and undergraduate students, but also to junior faculty members through the ALT lab’s junior faculty mentorship program.

The Outstanding Faculty Scholarship Award was given to Paul Perrin, Ph.D., assistant professor of health psychology. Perrin had an extraordinary year of research productivity with 29 peerreviewed publications, on six of which he was listed as first author. Notably, his students were first author on 16 of these publications, demonstrating his devotion to mentoring and teaching students about research and writing.


Terri Sullivan, Ph.D.

For her for her exceptional service to the department, College, university, community and profession, the department awarded Terri Sullivan, Ph.D., the Outstanding Faculty Service Award. Sullivan continues to serve on the Institutional Review Board’s biomedical panel reviewing expedited and full board research proposals on a monthly basis, a task that is particularly workintensive. At the department level, she is a member of the perPerrin also continued to establish sonnel committee—also a seran excellent research trajectory vice that requires a great deal of time and effort and involves reby securing his first grant from the National Institutes of Health viewing faculty reports and writing evaluations. In service to in 2013-14. With this grant, he will evaluate a culturally sensitive the profession, Sullivan sits on intervention for traumatic brain the editorial board of two jourinjury caregivers in Latin Ameri- nals and served on the Institute of Educational Sciences’ social ca. Perrin’s research interests and behavioral grant review panare in minority mental health, el in 2013-14. health disparities and multicultural awareness and competence in health care providers. 34


On the Examination for the Professional Practice in Psychology, the national exam taken by those seeking licenses in clinical psychology, our counseling doctoral program was ranked 12th of 60 doctoral counseling psychology programs with a 92.31% pass rate.

Virginia Commonwealth University College of Humanities and Sciences

806 W. Franklin St. P.O. Box 842018 Richmond, VA 23284 Phone: 804.828.1193 Fax: 804.828.2237 Email: Website: Virginia Commonwealth University is an equal opportunity, affirmative action university providing access to education and employment without regard to age, race, color, national origin, gender, religion, sexual orientation, veteran’s status, political affiliation or disability.


VCU's fall 2014 issue of ZEITGEIST  

All the latest news and updates from Virginia Commonwealth University's Department of Psychology.

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