APAGS Charts its Next Five Years

It is with great excitement that I share the new 2019-2023 Strategic Plan for the American Psychological Association of Graduate Students. Over the past year, APAGS leaders have been working together to brainstorm, gather information, and articulate a five-year Strategic Plan to inform how APAGS can better serve graduate students around the nation and the world. Take a moment to read through the main pillars and objectives of the Strategic Plan that was unanimously approved by the APAGS Committee in December.

You may be aware that APA has also completed the development of its strategic plan. APAGS leaders anticipate that the APAGS strategic plan will align well with the larger APA plan.

Feel free to share your thoughts on the plan, as well as ideas you have about how APAGS can continue to use this living document to inform how we focus our time, utilize our resources, and support the next generation of psychology professionals.

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APA Responds to the Argosy Crisis

APA responds to the Argosy University Crisis

As a surreal situation unfolds at Argosy University and its campuses around the country, APA desires to help as much as possible within our powers. We have been busy devoting considerable resources to impacted individuals and working with various stakeholders.

Late last night, our APA President and the Chair of our Council Leadership Team issued a joint statement that read in part: “Our principal charge is to protect students and the public by promoting consistent quality in the teaching of psychology…We are developing a nimble advocacy strategy…Moreover, we are in constant contact with relevant agencies and other affected accreditors, so that we stay apprised of the rapidly changing terrain…If Argosy closes, the next step will be to work with Argosy and any programs or institutions, arranging teach-out or transfer plans….APA is committed to continuing to do all within its scope as an accreditor to facilitate these transitions.”

We are keeping a new page updated regularly: www.apa.org/apags/argosy. It contains answers to a number of commons questions; instructs affected students on how to advocate; and provides some resources and links.  One of these resources is the Psychology Student Action Center, which our APAGS staff set up to respond to people in real time to the extent we can keep pace. Please share the page with anyone who may need it.

It is important that members of the psychology community do all we can to recognize the significant ways that Argosy students and faculty have been affected by the actions and circumstances surrounding their education at Argosy University. Students and faculty are the innocent bystanders to what has been happening.

My hope is that the intensity of this situation will diminish quickly and that new paths may emerge soon.

–Eddy Ameen, PhD, Associate Executive Director of Early Career and Graduate Student Affairs at the American Psychological Association in Washington, DC.

Where Science Meets Policy Part 2: How to Write Academic Papers for a Broad Range of Stakeholders

Mary Fernandes, Renee Cloutier, Travis Loughran, Melanie Arenson

If you’re here after our last post on “Involving Stakeholders in Every Step of Your Research”, welcome back! In our last post, we discussed what a stakeholder is, why we should involve
them in our research work, and how we can efficiently do so. However, we shouldn’t stop there! One next step to increasing the impact that your research has on policy is to effectively convey your completed work to these invested stakeholders. This can be hard to do, so below are a few tips that might make this easier.

First, write with stakeholders in mind.
In order to write a paper that will affect public policy, first ask yourself the questions, “who will read this?”, and, “who will be affected by this?” (Purdue University, OWL). Frame your scientific paper with this audience in mind, whether it be policy makers, insurance companies, businesses, local citizens, patients, or providers. Remembering your unique audience will allow you to communicate your work at the level of your reader. With the policy implications of your work in mind, you might also carefully consider the right journal to submit to. For example, you could choose to submit your work to a journal that is less niche than you might normally submit to and more general or policy focused.

Always lead with the “why”, not the “what”.
Then, ask yourself why your work should matter to your stakeholders. Discuss these reasons succinctly and clearly to grab your stakeholders’ attention before describing what it is you did. By failing to address the “why”, you might lose your stakeholders from the very beginning. But how do you ensure that your reasons for your study line up with those of your stakeholders? How do you identify what your “why” is?

Figuring that out will require you to really understand your stakeholders’ concerns. Hopefully, you were able to use the above strategies to include stakeholders while planning your research, but if you did not, it’s not too late to do so. Speak to them with a goal of truly understanding their principal concerns. Ask them questions about what they would like to see solutions to. Discuss your project with them and inquire about their feedback and unique insights into the usefulness of your work. Once you have a clear idea of what policy problems your project can tackle, lead with it. Keep in mind that a policy problem is not always the same as a scientific problem.

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Graduate Student Researchers Win Big!

The results are in: 15 exceptional graduate student projects have been selected from the pool of highly-competitive applications for the Psychological Science Research Grant (PSRG). This $1,000 grant, sponsored yearly by APAGS, is used to fund innovative research projects in psychological science. All APA graduate student affiliates are eligible, resulting in a diverse pool of applications from schools across the country who are studying a variety of topics in psychology and neuroscience. Given the importance of diversity-focused research, additional funding was specifically reserved for those studies that substantially address issues of diversity as defined by the APA’s 2017 Multicultural Guidelines.

Below is a brief review of the 2018 winners and their projects:

  • Mónica Acevedo-Molina (University of Arizona) will be studying the influence of bilingualism on memory in Hispanic individuals. Mónica aims to understand how bilingualism impacts the specificity of autobiographic memory in Hispanics, as well as the influence of inhibition on that specificity.
  • Brooke Bartlett (University of Houston) will be studying the role of distress tolerance in the relationship between trauma cue reactivity and posttraumatic stress disorder symptom severity. Specifically, Brooke aims to understand whether distress tolerance moderates that relationship, above and beyond the impact of important factors such as the amount of trauma a person has experienced, as well as any other mental health conditions they may be battling.
  • Alexis Blessing (The University of Texas at San Antonio) will be studying ways to reduce the public stigma associated with media depictions of service members and veterans. Specifically, Alexis believes that self-compassion may buffer negative responses to stigmatizing media accounts of violent acts by veterans with PTSD.
  • Brittney Evans (Drexel University) will be studying the feasibility and acceptability of a remote parent coaching intervention for parents of children who are overweight or obese. The goal of this intervention is to increase the use of adaptive parenting techniques and decrease the use of ineffective parenting practices in order to improve child behaviors during mealtimes.
  • Maya Godbole (City University of New York, CUNY) will be studying the effect of sex discrimination policies on women’s expectation of bias and performance in organizations. Specifically, Maya aims to understand whether the inclusion of language that explicitly acknowledges subtle forms of sexism in policy documents influences women’s participation in organizations as well as their performance expectations.
  • Taylor Hendershott (Washington University in St. Louis) will be developing a brief tool for assessing people’s spatial navigation strategy use and ability. This type of task will allow for the targeted assessment of cognitive functions and will be useful for academics and clinicians working to understand and measure the cognitive impairment associated with neurodegenerative diseases.
  • Tiffany Jenzer (University at Buffalo, SUNY) will be studying the relationship between emotion regulation strategies and alcohol use. Specifically, Tiffany aims to understand how the ability to choose between a variety of emotion regulation strategies, as well as the ability to pick a strategy that appropriately fits the situation impact alcohol use.
  • Parisa Kaliush (University of Utah) will be studying the intergenerational effects of mothers with a history of childhood maltreatment. Specifically, Parisa aims to understand whether maternal parasympathetic activity during pregnancy explains the relationship between their history of childhood maltreatment and their newborn’s emotional reactivity and attention.
  • Nathan Kearns (University of North Texas) will be studying the role of traumatic stress and alcohol on driving behaviors. Specifically, Nathan will be investigating both the independent and additive effects of trauma-related stress and acute alcohol intoxication on driving-related risk-taking.
  • Lilian Yanqing Li (University of California, Irvine) will be studying novel strategies for addressing emotion regulation deficits in people with schizophrenia and schizotypy. Lilian aims to understand if third-person self-talk is an effective strategy for regulating negative emotions, without requiring additional cognitive control.
  • Albert Ly (Loma Linda University) will be studying diabetes treatment adherence among a diverse sample of adults. Albert aims to understand the role culture and U.S. generational status play in disease-related distress and treatment adherence.
  • Melissa McWilliams (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) will be evaluating the impact of integrated text message coaching as an added supplement to behavioral parent training. In particular, Melissa will be studying whether text message coaching improves parenting practices, as well as parental engagement in and attitude about the parent training curriculum.
  • Tommy Ho-Yee Ng (Temple University) will be studying the nature of reward processing for children of parents with unipolar depression and bipolar disorder. Tommy aims to understand how reward processing may be deficient in these children compared to healthy controls, as well as if children of parents with bipolar disorder can be differentiated from children of parents with unipolar depression based on their reward processing.
  • Fallon Ringer (Florida State University) will be studying the role of suicide-related internet use in suicide risk. Fallon aims to understand if suicide-related internet use is associated with greater suicidal ideation, intent, and prior suicidal behaviors, as well as fearlessness about death.
  • Selime Salim (Miami University) will be studying the relationship between sexual victimization and suicidality among bisexual women. In particular, Selime aims to understand the role stigma, internalized sexism, and social reactions to sexual assault disclosure play in that relationship.

Congratulations to all of the winners!

Want your name to be featured next year? Be sure to apply! Applications are due in early December for the 2019 PSRG. Remember: grant writing has many benefits, including being a wonderful way to think critically about your research ideas, have valuable discussions with your mentor(s), and boost your resume. Worried you don’t know how to write a grant? Check out this great post by the Association for Psychological Science with tips and tricks.

The APAGS Science Committee would like to acknowledge and thank the following reviewers for their help and support  in reviewing applications this year: Alyssa DeVito, Rachel Sweenie, Laura Werner, Megan Williams, Amy Wing-Lam Chong, Steven Hobaica, Amanda Sanchez, Kyle Simon, Elyssa Berney, Juan Pantoja-Patino, Taymy Caso, and Elizabeth Louis.


Written by:
Melanie Arenson, B.S., Member, APAGS Science Committee
Renee Cloutier, M.S., Chair, APAGS Science Committee

CARED Perspectives: The Political Climate, Government Shutdown, and Unavoidable Dialogue in the Therapy Room

This blog post is a part of the series, “CARED Perspectives,” developed by the APAGS Committee for the Advancement of Racial and Ethnic Diversity (CARED). This series will discuss current events and how these events relate to graduate students in psychology. If you are interested in contributing to the CARED Perspectives series, please contact Aleesha Young, Chair of APAGS-CARED.

By: Aleesha Young

shutdownDecember 21, 2018 marked the longest federal government shutdown in United States (U.S.) history and was prompted by a political divide around the President’s demand to fund and build a wall along the U.S – Mexico Border. Notably, the border wall has been at the center of the President’s immigration policies and was imposed to prevent illegal entry into the U.S.  Thus, immigrants who were once protected from deportation, even DACA recipients, are faced with pervasive fear and uncertainty about their future and livelihoods. Consequently, these xenophobic government policies have a remarkable impact on individuals from marginalized groups.

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