Award Winners 2016 | Department of Psychology

Award Winners 2016


Louis C. Weber Scholarship for Outstanding Undergraduate Student

Kelly J. Martin

Kelly J. Martin is a psychology major at the University of North Texas. At UNT, she has served as a research assistant in the Pain Lab under Dr. Zina Trost and in the Neuropsychosocial Lab directed by Dr. Michael D. Barnett. Kelly presented two posters at the annual meeting of the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality in Albuquerque, NM, a third at the Society for Personality and Social Psychology convention in San Diego, CA, and will be presenting a fourth poster at the upcoming annual meeting of the Southwestern Psychological Association, in Dallas, TX. Kelly co-authored a manuscript titled "Making and Breaking Abstinence Pledges: Moral Foundations and the Purity Movement," which is under review for publication. Kelly is a member of Psi Chi, the International Honor Society in Psychology, the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi, the International Dean's List Society, Golden Key International Honour Society, and the Society of Collegiate Leadership and Achievement. In addition, Kelly serves as a hospice volunteer and an image consultant helping disadvantaged women get back into the workforce. Her research and practice interests involve psychosocial factors related to health across the life span, with an emphasis on the needs of older adults.

Louis C. Weber Scholarship for Psi Chi Award

Dylan Johnson

Dylan Johnson is a senior at UNT. Dylan has held a number of leadership roles in the past. He was a Resident Assistant, Swim Coach for both a city-league team and the University of North Texas swim club and Assistant Athletic Trainer. In addition to these experiences, he served as the Human Resources Manager of the Neuropsychosocial Laboratory, where he assisted in research design and project management, as well as interviewed applicants for positions in the laboratory and maintained regulatory compliance for a vast number of students. Through Dylan's research experience with the guidance of Dr. Michael Barnett, he was able to produce and co-submit a graduate level manuscript and is currently working on a second manuscript. "When I had first discovered Industrial Organizational (I/O) Psychology after delving into my collegiate psychological studies at Southwestern University (SU), and as soon as I learned that such a profession existed, I knew it was my calling," says Dylan. Dylan plans to continue his education in graduate school and attain a doctoral degree in the field of I/O Psychology. His primary professional goal to become an independent practitioner as an I/O Psychologist as well as continue with research and publications.


Charlotte Friedersdorff-Boyd Memorial Scholarship for Outstanding Graduate Student

Renee Cloutier

Renee Cloutier is in the third year of her doctoral program in Experimental Psychology where she studies individual and situational features that contribute to adolescent substance use under Dr. Heidemarie Blumenthal. Her overall career goal is to become an academic researcher where she can advance novel methodologies to enhance the study of early risk factors for long-term problems and ultimately, help inform intervention programs. Her research activities to date include 6 publications, 36 poster presentations at national conferences, on and off-site project collaborations, an APA funded thesis project, and a NIH grant submission. Among her poster presentations, 14 include undergraduate first-authors whom she mentored through the research design, analysis, and presentation process.

In addition to her research, Renee has also sought to give back to the Psychology Department and profession through a number of service activities. Within the program/department she is the Behavioral Science Student Representative where she was elected by her peers to act as a liaison between students and faculty in program decision-making. Last semester she also served as the Student Representative for the Behavioral Science faculty search where she strongly advocated for student concerns. At a national level, Renee was selected to serve on the Science Committee for the American Psychological Association for Graduate Students where she advocates for science-focused students and encourages the scientific training of APA graduate student members by developing programs and resources.

Bonney Honor Student in Psychology Award

Daniel Steinberg

Daniel Steinberg received his bachelor's degree in psychology from the University of North Texas, followed by a masters in clinical psychology from the University of Houston-Clear Lake. He is currently pursuing a doctorate in Clinical Psychology from the University of North Texas, where his dissertation is currently in progress examining experiential avoidance and interpersonal functioning.

Daniel received the Bonney Honor Student in Psychology Award in recognition of his commitment to community service, exemplified most particularly by his service with the Texas Medical Brigade of the Texas State Guard (an all-volunteer force), the mission of which is to provide mission-ready military forces to assist state and local authorities in times of state emergencies, to conduct homeland security and community service activities under the umbrella of Defense Support to Civil Authorities, and to augment the Texas Army National Guard and Texas Air National Guard as required. Daniel currently serves as executive officer for Alpha Company, 3rd Medical Battalion, which is the unit that serves the Dallas-Fort Worth Area.

Ladenberger Honor Student in Psychology Award

Anne Carlew

Anne Carlew is a third year doctoral student in Clinical Psychology at the University of North Texas. She specializes in neuropsychology, with a current research focus on the unique contribution of medical and psychiatric variables to cognitive functioning in patients with multiple sclerosis. At UNT, she co-founded the Association for Neuropsychology Students in Training. As one of the first students to undertake the neuropsychology emphasis, she is committed to disseminating information about the field of clinical neuropsychology, and laying the path for other students who are interested. As an example, she, along with another representative, arranged for the director of Neuropsychological Training from the Dallas VA to give a talk on the path to a career in clinical neuropsychology. Furthermore, she is the current president of the Graduate Association for Students in Psychology and emphasizes the organization's supportive role to students. She will pursue a career as a clinical neuropsychologist upon completion of her doctoral degree, with the goal of becoming certified as a clinical neuropsychologist by the American Board of Professional Psychology.

Outstanding Teaching Fellow Award

Justin Litvin

Justin's professional teaching experience began when he was 18 years-old and employed as a tutor at a Kumon Math and Reading center. In college, Justin was approached by Dr. Chwee-Lye Chng and accepted the offer to be his teaching assistant for the Family Life and Human Sexuality class. Once Justin entered UNT's Counseling Psychology doctoral program, he promptly pursued teaching experiences through the teaching assistant's train-to-teach program in the General Psychology I, Abnormal Psychology and Quantitative Methods undergraduate classes.

Justin earned his first teaching fellow position in 2014 when he taught the Quantitative Methods lecture and subsequently instructed over 300 undergraduates across three semesters. Justin also took advantage of teaching opportunities in other departments and taught Introduction to Psychology, Abnormal Psychology and Statistics to high school students enrolled in UNT's Upward Bound program. Across Justin's teaching experiences, he received exceptional teaching evaluations and feedback from his students.

Although Justin already gained a plethora of teaching experience over the past seven years, he was not content with his teaching effectiveness. Justin enrolled in the Graduate Student Teaching Excellence Program (GSTEP) in 2014 and received over 70 hours of pedagogical training via modules, discussions, workshops and demonstrations. Justin was among a dozen students who graduated from this program in December and, based on his exemplary performance, was selected to co-lead the Engaged Learning workshop at the UNT Teaching Excellence Seminar Spring, 2016. Through Justin's copious GSTEP and teaching experiences, he developed an engaged learning teaching style that increases the likelihood of student motivation and active learning.

Justin Litvin is a third-year Counseling Psychology doctoral student at UNT. For his thesis and dissertation, Justin is working with Dr. Patricia L. Kaminski and other faculty to develop and validate a self-report measure of Complex Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (CPTSD).

Anna Wright Memorial Scholarship

Allyson Sharf

Allyson Sharf obtained her Bachelors' degrees in Psychology and Criminology from the University of Florida. She applied to and was accepted into the Clinical Psychology Program at the University of North Texas in 2013. Allyson says, "In the three shorts years that I have been at this university, I have been afforded tremendous opportunities regarding clinical work, research experience, and academic training."

Since beginning her work as s student clinician in the UNT Psychology Clinic, Allyson has amassed over 300 assessment and therapeutic intervention hours. Additionally, she received excellent academic training in the theories of various psychological treatments and the application of assessment procedures. Beyond her academic training, she has also been very productive regarding clinical research. Having been involved in research since beginning her graduate career, she has accumulated over 100 hours conducting research-based assessments across several settings and has coauthored several peer-reviewed articles. Allyson continues to strive to match her commitment and enthusiasm for helping others through clinical practice and research that she so clearly demonstrated.

Dr. G. Frank Lawlis Scholarship

Stacy Bonds

Stacy Bonds is a fourth year doctoral student in the University of North Texas Counseling Psychology program. She is a graduate of St. Olaf College where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. She received her Masters of Science in Psychology from UNT. Stacy's research interests include health in LGBT communities, primary and secondary interventions, LGBT issues, and HIVIAIDS.

Stacy has developed and managed a mixed methods research project examining LGBT experience in health care in Dallas County (LGBT Needs Assessment). Within this project, 35 key informant interviews and 6 focus groups have been conducted, which will inform the development of a broadly disseminated survey. Stacy has taught five courses, from undergraduate general psychology to graduate level counseling skills. She has enjoyed engaging students, exploring topics in psychology and teaching the basics of the field. Further, she worked as undergraduate psychology advisor for two years, counseling psychology majors on course selection and career development. Stacy also serves on the UNT Faculty Senate Committee on the Status of LGBT Faculty as a Graduate Student Representative.

Lastly, she has worked as practicum student at the UNT Psychology Clinic, Counseling and Testing Services, and the Dallas VA. She deeply values her work with undergraduate students, community clients, and Veterans providing short-term and long-term individual psychotherapy, group psychotherapy, and psychological assessment. Stacy identifies as an Acceptance and Commitment therapy clinician.

Frank Collins Memorial Scholarship

Melissa Edwards

Melissa Edwards is a 4th year doctoral candidate within the Clinical Health Psychology program at the University of North Texas. She received her Bachelor's and Master's degree in Psychology from Texas Tech University. Her research interests include examining early diagnostics for Alzheimer's disease through implementing a Molecular Neuropsychology approach. Melissa has presented her research at national and international conferences, where

she received several poster awards. Her focus throughout graduate school has been more broadly on ethnic minority populations and factors related to healthy and unhealthy aging. The topic of her dissertation is related to establishing a biomarker-cognitive profile among Mexican Americans with Mild Cognitive Impairment in an effort to create a point-of-care device for personalized medicine. Melissa is an aspiring neuropsychologist with the goal of working in an academic institution.

Ernest H. Harrell Memorial Scholarship

Keke Liu

Keke Liu is a third year doctoral student in the Experimental Psychology program at the University of North Texas (UNT). She is pursuing a career to be an independently funded researcher. Her research primarily focuses on elucidating the physiological basis of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to advance prevention for individuals at risk, including children, adolescents, and first responders. After completing the Ph.D. training, she I plans to seek a post-doctoral position to strengthen her research credentials and gain further mentorship. Ultimately, she will pursue a position in a large, research-oriented university.

"To better understand the role of altered physiological activity on the future development of PTSD symptoms in youth, I started my thesis aiming to further our knowledge in this area. The thesis findings were presented in the annual meeting of the Society of Psychophysiological Research in October 2015. In addition to looking at youths themselves, I also examined whether maternal PTSD will influence offspring's physiological activity, particularly during adolescence. In this line, my most recent findings under review suggest alterations in basal stress response systems within the body in adolescent offspring with maternal PTSD. This work will also be presented in upcoming biennial meeting of Society for Research on Adolescence in a symposium I initiated," says Keke.

Additionally, to further understand the daily association between PTSD symptoms and stress physiology in natural environment, Keke was introduced to an ongoing federally funded project of 9/11 responders with PTSD who are seeking treatment. Using the EMA for both stress physiology and PTSD symptoms, researchers are able to elucidate the daily rhythm of stress physiology and the occurrence of PTSD symptoms in a natural environment.

2016 Outstanding Dissertation Award

Pamela Holtz

Co-occurrence of Rape Myth Acceptance and Intolerant Attitudes in a Military Sample

Pamela Holtz is currently a doctoral student in Clinical Psychology at the University of North Texas. She commissioned as an officer in the US Army through Army ROTC at Loyola University Chicago, and she recently matched for internship at Madigan Army Medical Center in Tacoma, Washington. She will serve as a US Army psychologist upon completion of her doctoral degree. She specializes in military mental health, including traumatic stress, military sexual trauma, and mental health stigma.

Ms. Holtz's doctoral dissertation examined the co-occurrence of rape myth acceptance and intolerant attitudes (i.e., sexism, racism, sexual prejudice, classism, ageism, and religious intolerance) in a military sample. This effect has been examined in a civilian sample (Aosved & Long, 2006). Given that sexual trauma within the military is a widespread issues and that rape myth acceptance has been shown to contribute to its prevalence, this effect warranted investigation within a military sample. Ms. Holtz's study replicated and expanded upon Aosved and Long's (2006) study by examining 85 veteran and active duty military members' responses on measures of rape myth acceptance and intolerant attitudes. Results supported Aosved and Long's (2006) findings. High rape myth acceptance was associated with significant variance to each intolerant attitude. Intolerant attitudes, together, predicted significant variance in rape myth acceptance. Ms. Holtz's results provide insight into the functioning of intolerant attitudes within a military sample, as well as insight for future research addressing the association between rape myth acceptance, rape proclivity, and the perpetration of military sexual assault.

The study involved new data collection and targeted veterans, a federally identified vulnerable population that is medically underserved for their mental health needs. Furthermore, Ms. Holtz donated $425 to the Gary Sinese Foundation through recruitment efforts. Currently, Ms. Holtz is working on a follow-up project examining the relation between rape myth acceptance, intolerant attitudes, and rape proclivity (i.e., the inclination of an individual to rape).

2016 Outstanding Thesis Award

Monica Gerber

Community Gardening: A Novel Intervention for Bhutanese Refugees Living in the USA

Monica Gerber is in her third year of graduate training in the University of North Texas clinical psychology doctorate program. She specializes in research and clinical work with trauma resilience and recovery, particularly for individuals and communities who have experienced forced migration and human rights violations. Monica hopes her doctoral training will launch her into a career providing psychotherapy to individuals and families from these special populations and working within communities recovering from natural and political disasters to employ culturally appropriate mental health care programming. In addition to her doctoral studies, spending time outdoors and investing in close relationships, Monica is honored to provide the healing benefits of yoga to patients recovering from brain injuries at a local rehabilitation center.

Monica's thesis explored the effects of community gardening within a local community of Bhutanese refugees. Specifically, findings linked increased social support to involvement in community gardening, and highlighted the importance of consultation and adaptive research planning when working with vulnerable populations. Since completing her master's thesis, Monica has shared meaningful general results with study participants and the non-profit facilitating a local refugee community garden. Findings have been accepted for presentation in poster form at the 2016 APA Annual Convention. As well, results have been submitted for publication in an APA accredited journal and for presentation on a panel discussion of community interventions at an additional conference.

2016 Outstanding Scholarly Publication Award

Eric Schuler

Shattering World Assumptions: A Prospective View of the Impact of Adverse Events on World Assumptions

Eric Schuler, co-author Dr. Adriel Boals,

--Journal of Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy (July 27, 2015)

Eric R. Schuler has a master's degree in psychology and is currently a fifth year Experimental Psychology Ph.D. candidate. Eric works as a research consultant with the College of Information's Information Research and Analysis (IRA Lab). Eric is interested in how a potentially traumatic event can affect individual's beliefs of the self, world, and others and how individuals make meaning after a trauma. Eric is also interested in death anxiety research and best practice techniques related to quantitative methods and data visualization.

Eric says, "As an undergraduate, the research lab I was part of discussed whether it was possible to empirically measure how a traumatic event can negative affect individual's beliefs after experiencing a traumatic event without asking individuals to try to report what they thought their beliefs looked like prior to the trauma. This question was something that I continued to think about in graduate school. Dr. Boals and I were able to implement a prospective design with a new measure of how optimistic the belief systems are as part of my master's thesis. This design made it possible to measure optimism in these belief systems before and after a potentially traumatic event. This way we can avoid retrospective reporting of pre-trauma beliefs. By understanding how these beliefs shift after a trauma, we can better understand how individuals can rebuild these belief systems to incorporate the traumatic event and make meaning from it."

Congratulations to the winners of the 2015 Research Day Student Poster Awards!

March 1, 2015

Keke Liu
Poster title: When Hindsight is Not 20/20: Assessment of PTSD Symptoms Predominantly Captures Peak Symptoms, not Average Ones

Authors: Keke Liu, MS; Camilo Ruggero, PhD; Roman Kotov, PhD; Jennifer Callahan, PhD;

Adriel Boals, PhD; Brittain Mahaffrey, PhD; Adam Gonzalez, PhD


Poster title: Predicting Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Symptoms during Adolescence: A Longitudinal Study of the Role of Hypothalamic-Pituitary Adrenal (HPA) Axis Dysfunction

Authors: Keke Liu, MS; Camilo Ruggero, PhD; Brandon Goldstein. BS; Daniel N. Klein, PhD; Greg Perlman, PhD; Roman Kotov, PhD

Shana Southard-Dobbs
Poster title: Experimentally Reducing Event Centrality Using a Modified Expressive Writing Intervention

Authors: Shana Southard-Dobbs, MS; Stephanie Agtarap, MS; Adriel Boals, PhD; Amy Murrell, PhD; Daniel Steinberg, M.A.; Kristi Mannon, PhD; Walter Williams, BA; Taylor Brown, BA; Forrest Lane, BA; Heather Self, BA; Rachael Cruze; Obidi Ekwulugo, BA; Nikita Suri; Mark Lopez, BA; Melissa Connally, MS; Lee Bedford, B.S.

Jessica Dietch
Poster title: Insufficient Sleep, Total Sleep Time, and Sleep Quality as Predictors of Biopsychosocial Outcomes

Authors: Jessica R. Dietch, MS; Daniel J. Taylor, PhD, CBSM; Adam D. Bramoweth, PhD;

Kevin Sethi, MS; Brandy M. Roane, PhD


Poster Title: Validation of a Brief Measure of Self-reported Insomnia, Sleep Apnea, and Sleep Duration: The Brief Sleep Questionnaire (BSQ)

Authors: Jessica R. Dietch, BA; Daniel J. Taylor, PhD, CBSM; Chul Ahn, PhD; Matthew Allison, MD, MPH, FAHA; Timothy W. Smith, PhD; Joshua M. Smyth, PhD; Bert N. Uchino, PhD; John M. Ruiz, PhD

We received many great applicants and we are pleased to recognize these fine winners. Congratulations once again to you all!