APAGS Tribute to Raymond D. Fowler

Posted in APA, Graduate School

On March 17, 2015, Raymond D. Fowler, PhD, former CEO and past president of the American Psychological Association, passed away at his home in San Diego, CA. APAGS is indebted to Ray, who was instrumental in the founding of APAGS.

Ray Fowler awarding Karen O'Brien with the Fowler Award at the 1997 APA Convention, Chicago, IL.

Ray Fowler awarding Karen O’Brien with the Fowler Award at the 1997 APA Convention, Chicago, IL. Then Chair Mitch Prinstein is in the background.

In 1988, two students, Scott Mesh and David Pilon, were working with two psychologists, Ellin Bloch (Chair of Division 29’s Student Development Committee) and Pierre Ritchie (President of the Ontario Psychological Association) to encourage APA to develop a home for students within the organization. That year, Ray spoke at the Ontario Psychological Association’s annual meeting, and a snowstorm delayed his return home. During that extra evening, Pierre and David were successful in getting Ray’s support to create a student organization within APA. With the support of the 4 leaders, Ray secured additional interest among APA leadership for the new student group, and at the 1988 APA Convention, APAGS was founded by a unanimous Council vote (Mook, 1996).

Ray Fowler awarding Mitch Prinstein with the Fowler Award at the 2009 APA Convention, Toronto, ON.

Ray Fowler awarding Mitch Prinstein with the Fowler Award at the 2009 APA Convention, Toronto, ON.

When Ray became CEO of APA, he continued to support APAGS. He regularly visited APAGS during its business meetings, served as a mentor to numerous student leaders, and spoke at the Psychology Graduate Student Rally on Capitol Hill in August 2000. APAGS established an award for mentoring named in Ray’s honor in 1989 and presented Ray with the first APAGS Fowler Award. Since then, 26 faculty members have been honored with the highest award APAGS can bestow. Ray would come to APAGS events to personally recognize the winning mentor.

Ray Fowler with Nabil El-Ghoroury, 2010 APA Convention, San Diego, CA

Ray Fowler with Nabil El-Ghoroury (Director of APAGS) at the 2010 APA Convention, San Diego, CA. This is the last APA Convention where Ray awarded the Fowler Award to the winning mentor.


I feel lucky that I knew you, Ray, when I was a graduate student leader in the early APAGS days. On behalf of over 26,000 current graduate student members, I would like to thank you for your constant support of APAGS and graduate students in APA! So many APAGS members benefited from your wisdom and generosity, and our condolences to your family.


Affording Convention in Canada

Posted in Graduate School

prospectus-cover-small_tcm7-180473Attending APA Convention in Toronto, Canada can be affordable for even the strictest of  graduate school budgets.  Here are some resources and suggestions for financing your trip to Convention this year!

For general funding (i.e., you can use the money for whatever you need!), several options exist for most graduate students.

  • Many APA divisions provide student funding or honorariums in exchange for volunteering.  Check out division-specific information at each division’s website.
  • Always check with your university and department about graduate student funding for conference travel.  Universities often have budgets for supporting travel to conferences.

Opportunities also exist to get your (pesky) registration fee waived or reduced.

  • For APAGS members who present as first authors, their registration fee is waived!
  • Volunteering through the APA Continuing Education (CE) Office and the APA Convention Office may provide additional opportunities to waive the registration fee.
  • If you are not presenting as a first author or volunteering, take advantage of early/advanced registration rates.

Getting to Toronto does not have to be a financial crisis.

  • If you plan to fly, BOOK YOUR FLIGHTS EARLY! Also, use sites like Expedia and Travelocity to compare across airlines and get the best deal.
  • Check out the Greyhound schedule for another frugal option.
  • See if you live in a city that has a Megabus line to Toronto and rejoice in the frugal cost of a ticket!

Now that you have arrived in Toronto, where do you stay?

  • Check with other students in your program or send out inquiries on social media sites, as well as Division or APAGS listserves, to coordinate travel and accommodation plans with other graduate attendees.
  • There is a “hotel” that is actually a residence hall for the University of Toronto, Chestnut Residence.  Reservations can be made through the regular registration process.  Rate is $132 CDN single or double occupancy and includes a full buffet breakfast.  Rooms are minimally furnished.
  • Hostels are another great housing resource for budget-minded graduate students. Check out  for a variety of hostels in Toronto.

Finally, food.  Where can you find free food at Convention?

  • APAGS hosts Food for Thought Breakfasts each morningMPj03169710000[1] of Convention.  You can enjoy a free breakfast while listening to some of psychology’s most distinguished scholars speak in an informal setting.
  • Formal Social Hours also have great spreads!  APAGS and various other divisions host social hours during the evenings, which are laid-back environments to talk to peers and colleagues while chowing down!

Selecting your graduate advisor and lab: Details matter

Posted in Advice, Graduate School, Training Issues
Which advisor is right for you? (Source: "Professor Fink" by Profound Whatever on Flickr. Some rights reserved.)

Which advisor is right for you? (Source: “Professor Fink” by Profound Whatever on Flickr. Some rights reserved.)

A previous blog post by Drs. Ameen and El-Ghoroury made some excellent points about the graduate school decision. In this post I will share a few in-depth strategies about selecting an advisor for a research-oriented doctoral program.

I was extremely lucky to find an advisor like Dr. Jennifer Vonk, but you probably want to minimize the influence of luck on your experience. After listening to many cases of relinquished doctoral students, I realized that in many ways, applying to work with your advisor is a gamble. Here is a person who is primarily responsible for your career, yet you know very little about them.

The points I mention here are based on my experiences and conversations with undergraduate students over the years.

First, the structure of admissions to a research-intensive graduate program is quite different from a typical undergraduate admissions process. Your standardized test scores and academic accomplishments are important, but what ultimately matters is what you are able to bring to the lab and to the program. Therefore, during your program research, it can be useful to consider where you would fit in the best based on your best qualities.

Second, shortlisting potential programs from a broad database like Graduate Study in Psychology is just the beginning. Be prepared to start focusing on the seemingly minute details – current and past research produced by your advisor’s lab, for example – which will make a huge impact on your experience. These details can be found by combing through the CVs and recent publications of prospective advisors.  As you to do your homework, check on these particular variables:

  1. How frequently they publish: If you are not fully aware of this factor, you may end up being surprised or disappointed after you join the lab. The publication frequency (along with the quality) usually indicates their general research activity level, and might provide hints in terms of what they expect from their students.
  2. The quality of journals they usually publish in: Generally speaking, journals with higher impact-factors publish better research (details are a bit too complex for this post). APA has its own journal database where you can read more on each of their journals (and their impact factors). You can also gauge the impact of non-APA journals through some basic online research.
  3. How often they include graduate students as co-authors: This is an important factor because to be a successful researcher you need to have something to show for your work. Advisors usually have their own criteria for authorship such as who came up with the most important idea, or who worked the most of the project, and so forth. In case you are not sure how authorship is decided, or how frequently their graduate students are publishing, these may be important questions to bring up during your interview.
  4. The research interests of other students in the lab: Your lab-mates might be the ones you spend most of your time around. They can be quite influential in your work in terms of your class discussions, research collaborations and your lab’s focus. Reading about previous students in the lab, you can gauge what types of topics the lab usually handles and how flexible the research focus might be.
  5. The thematic aspect of multiple research papers: If you really want to know what your advisor likes, dislikes, finds interesting, or is strongly opinionated about, you need to go through their research publications in detail. If you go through several of their papers, you can find out which theories they like or dislike, what arguments they find compelling or weak, and what are their general views on their subject of interest. While research papers won’t tell you everything you need to know about an advisor’s interpersonal qualities, doing this review might stave off a complete falling-out between student and advisor.

These are some (of the many) points that prospective applicants to research-oriented doctoral programs in psychology are often unaware of, but can have a huge impact on their academic careers. Taking these into consideration may significantly lower your likelihood of facing unwanted surprises or disappointments in your new program and lab.


Chinmay Aradhye

Editor’s note: Chinmay Aradhye is a third-year student in the Experimental Psychology PhD. program, Department of Psychology, Oakland University. He is also the APAGS Michigan State Advocacy Coordinator.  Contact him at caradhye@oakland.edu.


Celebrating Excellent Training

Posted in Graduate School, Training Issues

Is your training program doing an excellent job of preparing you as a future psychologist? If so, APAGS wants to know.

As Member at Large – Education Focus, one of my goals was to highlight programs that do what works well for student success. We often focus on our disappointments and areas where we need advocacy in training, but there are a number of students who feel pretty good about their training. The voices of these students are also important, because one way to improve training is to know who is doing it well.

To do this, email me at ccrowell2005@yahoo.com with the subject: Celebrating Excellent Training. Write a brief one-paragraph message about how your program is doing an excellent job. We’d like to highlight this on our blog over the next few months.

Candice Crowell

Early Convention Tips and Tricks

Posted in Graduate School

Are you planning to go to the APA Convention in Toronto on 2015? It may be tough to think about something that seems so far away, but it might be helpful to start planning since this year it will be in another country!

When preparing to trToronto skyline in the dayavel to Canada, the first thing you need is a passport. If you do not already have one, or need a replacement or renewal, you should definitely consider applying soon. Processing times take anywhere between 8 business days to 6 weeks depending on how urgent you need it. Get started today by visiting the Bureau of Consular Affairs. Passport

After getting your passport, there are other steps that you might want to consider planning in advance. If you submitted a proposal that was accepted for presentation and you are a first author, your registration fee will be waived if you are also an APAGS member!

Other ways to get some funding for travel would be to look at travel grants.  Different sections and divisions of APA offer various types of funding. APAGS offers the Convention Travel award for first time convention attendees.  The deadline to apply for this award is TODAY, April 1, 2015. The APA Science Directorate also offers assistance for psychology graduate students to travel to the Convention.

Some APA Divisions of APA also offer funding for Convention travel. Be sure to check with any Division to which you are a member to see what type of funding is provided for students to attend Convention. You may also consider joining your Division’s listserv to get information on services and funding provided by your Division.

After getting your passport, and applying for funding, low cost travel would be the next thing for you to consider. Sites like Expedia  and Kayak  are popular for cheap travel, while accommodation sites include Hostels.com and AirBnB  among others.

Do stay tuned for more tips and tricks to help you plan your Convention travel!