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VanderDrift Named Advisor for Women in Science and Engineering Future Professional Program

December 14, 2017

Dr. Laura VanderDrift, an advocate for women in science, technology, and engineering (STEM) – has recently been named the Faculty Advisor for Syracuse University's Women in Science and Engineering Future Professional Program (WiSE FPP). This two-year mentoring program, helps women graduate students in science and engineering majors across campus capitalize on their unique strengths, maximize opportunities, and address challenges. The broad goal of this program is to support the persistence and excellence of women in STEM. To learn more about WiSE at SU, visit:

Dr. VanderDrift has been on the faculty at Syracuse University since 2012. Prior to working in the Department of Psychology, she received her PhD from Purdue University, and her BS from the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Dr. VanderDrift's research is in social psychology, and revolves around why some relationships flourish whereas others fail. One of her recent publications in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology exammined at how pursuing an important personal goal (e.g., to get good grades, get in shape) can cause individuals to be less attentive to their romantic partners. In the Spring 2018 semester, graduate students and research assistants will be busy in her Close Relationships Lab, running studies on myriad topics, ranging from how relationships can help us meet our needs, to how having conflict can have an ironic positive impact on our relationships.

To learn more about her research, visit or send an email to:


Psychology Alumnus Awarded Bronze Medal for Dissertation

December 14, 2017
William Aue G’14, who earned a Ph.D. from the Department of Psychology in the College of Arts and Sciences, has been awarded a bronze medal for the James McKeen Cattell Dissertation Award for his dissertation, “Understanding Proactive Facilitation in Cued Recall.”

"The aim of my research is to better understand when and how we update existing memories with new information,” Aue explains. “It’s well known that old memories can interfere with newer memories. For example, if a friend weds and changes their surname, our memory for their old name may make it hard to recall their new name; a phenomenon called proactive interference. In my dissertation, I examined situations where old memories actually help people recall new information; a phenomenon called proactive facilitation.”

A former mentee of Department Chair Dr. Amy Criss, Dr. Aue is currently working to understand mechanisms that drive learning that occurs when people retrieve information from memory (for example, during a test) and how that knowledge can be applied to educational settings and materials.

“Billy is everything you want in a graduate student,” Criss says, “an incisive and collaborative scholar and a thoughtful mentor,” Dr. Criss said.

Read the full article here!

Zaso Awarded Prestigious NIH Fellowship

November 30, 2017
Michelle Zaso, a Ph.D. candidate in clinical psychology, is the recipient of a Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award Individual Predoctoral Fellowship. Funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (through the National Institutes of Health), the award will support her dissertation research, which focuses on how genetics and environments shape alcohol use in adolescence. Specifically, her dissertation will examine how alcohol metabolism genes interact with alcohol-promoting peer environments to influence drinking trajectories from 13 to 18 years of age.
Zaso’s primary sponsor of the fellowship, Aesoon Park, Associate Professor of Psychology, notes that some people carry variants in alcohol metabolism genes that delay the breakdown of alcohol into a harmless substance; if individuals carrying these genetic variants drink alcohol a lot, they are more likely to develop cancer due to extended exposure to harmful alcohol metabolites. Co-sponsors of her research include Stephen Maisto, Professor of Psychology at Syracuse University, and Stephen Glatt, Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at SUNY Upstate Medical University.
Check out the full article at A&S News.

PSY Faculty Participate in Structure Under Monotonicity Conference

November 27, 2017

The Department of Psychology recently participated in a Conference on Structure under Monotonicity. The aim of the workshop was to enable contributors to the ARC-funded research project, State-trace analysis: Theory and application, to reflect on the outcomes that have been achieved, to share their different perspectives, and to identify future directions and outstanding problems.

Featured here are our very own, Dr. Mike Kalish, Dr. Amy Criss, and Dr. Greg Cox.

Salvati Selected as Crown Scholar

November 9, 2017

Undergraduate research assistant, Joeann Salvati, was selected as a Crown Scholar in the Renée Crown University Honors program. Joeann recently received the award for her Honors Capstone project, “Effects and Effectiveness of Confession-Eliciting Tactics in Simulated Interrogation.”

The purpose of her research is to investigate the relative effects and effectiveness of the Reid and Compliance models in simulated interrogation. To investigate, Joeann conducted an online study using hypothetical vignettes that modeled each type of interrogation through the language and tactics used. The data collected serves as a means to provide knowledge about the negative implications of language and tactics used by law enforcement, and how this can prime the suspect for false confessions.

The Crown-Wise Grant funding will be used to present Joeann’s research at the 2018 Society for Personality and Social Psychology (SPSP) Annual Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. This is one of the largest national conferences for social and personality psychologists! At the conference, Joeann will be able to receive feedback from professionals and academics in the field of Social Psychology. This experience will be integral in developing and finalizing her capstone project. 

Stromer-Galley Secures $11.5 Million for Decision-Making Research

Members of the TRACE team, from left: Lu Xiao, Carsten Oesterlund, Kate Kenski, Jennifer Stromer-Galley, James Folkestad, Rosa Mikeal Martey, Brian McKernan and Debi Plochocki. Not pictured: David Kellen and Lael Schooler.

Members of the TRACE team, from left: Lu Xiao, Carsten Oesterlund, Kate Kenski, Jennifer Stromer-Galley, James Folkestad, Rosa Mikeal Martey, Brian McKernan and Debi Plochocki. Not pictured: David Kellen and Lael Schooler.

January 23, 2017

Can an application help intelligence analysts engage in better reasoning and produce reports that help decision makers make better decisions? A multidisciplinary team of researchers from Syracuse University, the University of Arizona, Colorado State University and SRC Inc. aims to answer this question by developing digital tools for improving reasoning and decision making.

The team, led by School of Information Studies (iSchool) Professor Jennifer Stromer-Galley, will develop TRACE (Trackable Reasoning and Analysis for Collaboration and Evaluation), a web-based application aimed at improving reasoning through the use of techniques—such as debate and analogical reasoning—along with crowdsourcing to enhance analysts’ problem-solving abilities and foster creative thinking in order to provide support and guidance where human reasoning falls short.

The 50-month project is supported by a $11.5 million contract from the CREATE (Crowdsourcing Evidence, Reasoning, Argumentation, Thinking and Evaluation) Program of the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA), an arm of the Office for the Director of National Intelligence, which heads the nation’s intelligence services.

Read the full story at SU News.

Research Suggests Further Strengths in Perception of Individuals with Autism.

Natalie Russo

Natalie Russo

June 17, 2016

Researchers in the Center for Autism Research in Electrophysiology (CARE) Lab in the College of Arts and Sciences have made some important findings in looking at how children with autism process what they see.

The results reveal more evidence of heightened perception among children with autism, which could help explain some symptoms of autism. The findings were published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.

“These results suggest that some of the perceptual strengths that are unique to individuals with autism are present both when looking at information over space, as well as over time,” says Assistant Professor Natalie Russo, director of the CARE Lab. “Many theories of autism suggest that temporal processing is atypical, or worse than among typically developing individuals. Our findings put some of this into question, but more research is needed to confirm or refute this.”

Russo, who is the principal investigator, conducts behavioral and psychophysiological research to understand how typically developing children, children with developmental disabilities and children on the autism spectrum process and integrate sensory information.

Read the full article at SU News.

The Psychology of Robots

Michael Kalish

Michael Kalish

March 10, 2016

Professor Michael Kalish psychology class does not sound like your typical campus lecture. Whirring motors, turning gears and the occasional beep serve as the soundtrack of a new offering in the College of Arts and Sciences.
Supported by the college’s new Science Equipment Excellence Fund (SEEF), both undergraduates and graduate students in PSY 400/600 can explore the methodologies of cognitive science using robots of varying complexities.
Because robots are much more predicable than humans and animals, they are the perfect case study for students learning about information processing, the foundation of cognitive research.
Established in 2014 by an anonymous donor, and cultivated by Dean Karin Ruhlandt, the SEEF helps promote scientific literacy, which is central to a liberal arts education, regardless of one’s major or career path.

Hear more about the robots used in the “Understanding Cognitive Science” class in thsi short YouTube video.