Morales Sparks Psychology Club, Wants Others to Experience Undergrad Research

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By Juliana Scheiderer ’16

The first meeting of OHIO’s Psi Chi/Psychology Club of the 2015-16 school year was a resounding success. With more than 100 students in attendance that evening, faculty think they may have a set a new membership record.

Part of the group’s enthusiasm may have stemmed from the first meeting’s theme: “Welcome to the Psychology Department.” Attendees were given tips by the club’s executive board on navigating the department and took tours around Porter Hall.

The driving force behind the club’s success so far is Nicole Morales, a senior Psychology and Sociology-Criminology double major with minors in Spanish and Business. When she’s not filling her DARS, Morales is applying her passion and skill set in industrial organizational psychology to her role as Psi Chi/Psychology Club president.

Industrial organizational (IO) psychology, a sub-field of psychology, focuses on studying people in their working environment and observing workplace dynamics. In practice, an industrial-organizational psychologist may be called in to consult on the efficacy of training programs, as well as improve the attitudes and behaviors of a workplace.

“The drive to lead the club as I do stems from the same place as my interest in IO psychology,” Morales said. “My underlying passion in the field is helping people reach their full potential.”

Leading with Purpose

Morales applied this mission to the club by transforming this year’s programming agenda. This year, the club shifted from lecture-based meetings to activities that are a bit more engaging.

“We’re trying out more interactive and dynamic ways to help people fuel their interest in psychology and get them where they want to be,” Morales explained.

Morales said the goals of the two clubs are to connect students with resources and to give them confidence to ask for help if they need it. They also alert members to research and fieldwork opportunities.

“We really want to help our members get everything they can out of the department,” said Morales.

In reality, Morales is managing two clubs that meet together. Psychology Club is a general interest club that any student with an interest in psychology is welcome to attend. Psi Chi, on the other hand, is an international honor society with certain standards required for admittance. Both groups meet together, and there’s no distinction between the two when it comes to programming. Morales recommends that students apply for Psi Chi for the membership benefits it provides, including scholarships, conferences, and a resume boost.

Seizing Opportunities

Outside of her role as president, Morales is also a research assistant in two different labs. She’s been working with Dr. Jeffrey Vancouver in the IO Lab since her sophomore year. Morales says the position has allowed her to become a “jack of all trades” by giving her experience with data entry and acting as both an instructor and a confederate in a research setting.

Morales also holds a PACE position in the Clinical Psychology Section working in Dr. Sarah Racine’s BEEP Lab. The BEEP Lab (which stands for Biopsychosocial Examination of Eating Disorders) studies self-control and impulsivity. While it doesn’t relate directly with her interest in industrial organizational psychology, Morales feels the lab is applicable to her interests because it allows her to study the basic psychological processes that go on behind symptoms. She believes these processes are the building blocks of psychology and can be applied to virtually any setting within the field.

Morales is also appreciative of the opportunities the BEEP Lab is providing her. With regard to her current study, Morales is the lead research assistant and has the opportunity to take the lead on data processing and analysis. She also will have the chance to present at Ohio University’s Student Research Expo and will co-author the manuscript with Racine.

Morales feels grateful for faculty members who have assisted her outside of a research setting, as well. She credits the support of her academic adviser Dr. Rodger Griffeth and the counsel of Psi Chi adviser Dr. Sandra Hoyt with her success as both a student, and an organization leader.

Morales’ gratitude toward the psychology department affects her leadership of her organization.

“These are phenomenal opportunities to have as an undergraduate,” Morales said of her research experiences. “These are the kind of experiences we want our members to know about. These opportunities are out there. We want to give them the tools to find them and get them if they can.”

Originally published on Ohio Forum.

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