Category Archives: Students

The psychology major is comprised of more than just courses; faculty, students, alumni, clubs, and events all contribute to the academic experience. So, what experiences did the year 2015 provide our psychology team? Here’s the year 2015 in hindsight.

  1. Dr. Carolyn West Carolyn West

Dr. West, a psychology professor who specializes in intimate partner violence and sexual assault in the SBHS Division in SIAS, performs on-going work pertaining to human and sexual trafficking.

In 2015, she worked with the organization Washington Engage about trafficking issues. Dr. West completed a research project with eight domestic violence and sexual coalitions around the country.  She was busy, in 2015, teaching her courses on Family Violence, Sex Crimes, and Sexual Violence. Dr. West won the Outstanding Woman of the Year Award in 2011 and the Distinguished Teaching Award in 2013

2. Exploring Psychology: Austria, Summer 2015 Vienna

In the summer of 2015, students enrolled in 12 credits; five credits, Psychology of Food and Culture, five credits, Psychology of Superheroes, and an additional two credits in Directed Readings–all to be taken in Austria (with a visit to Prague).

Leighann Chaffee, one of two professors leading the group of students, said, “Austria is where Freud worked and studied as he was developing his perspective on the humankind. Also, immersion is especially useful in considering these concepts from a perspective other than your own, which is a lot easier in another country.”

The group went to the Natural History Museum, the open food market, participated in a food tour of Prague, toured Freud’s apartment, toured Munich, including a trip to the Dachau concentration camp. Did I mention they did a food tour of Prague?

IMG_00013. The Psychology Club

The main purpose of the Psychology Club is to help students understand the field of psychology, and assist those who are hoping to be employed in a related field after graduation. Meetings are the first Wednesday and last Monday of each month during the lunch hour.

“We do con­fer­ences so that atten­dees of the meet­ings can get first hand expo­sure into see­ing what pro­fes­sion­als in the field do and see if that is the right path for them,” adds Sum­mer Doll, Club Vice Pres­i­dent (Spring, 2015), on the pur­pose of Psy­chol­ogy Club.

4. Featured Alumni: Christina Shott Christina Shott

Christina Shott ’13 graduated with a BA in psychology and a minor in education. She is currently employed as a behavior therapist in Applied Behavior Analysis, helping clients with Autism Spectrum Disorder learn the skills necessary to become independent at school and in life.

Her advice to students interested in psychology and education is to take all of the classes you can within the program, as well as outside.

Shott says, “This will give you the opportunity to apply the knowledge you are learned in some classes to other classes, and will widen your understanding overall.”

5. Psychology Research Seminar Series

Mark Reinitz 2.0

Autumn quarter of 2015, the psychology faculty sponsored the “Psychology Research Seminar Series” to inform students of their own research areas. Student attendance, though mostly for extra credit purposes, filled the house to standing-room only.

Topics included “Values and Death: Probing the Depths of Prejudice toward Atheists” by Corey Cook (SIAS, UWT); “Memory Illusions in the Laboratory and in the Real World” by Mark Reinitz (University of Puget Sound, pictured); and “Color Vision during Twilight: The Influence of Rod-mediated Vision on Hue” by Roger Knight (SIAS, UWT).

Monique Larsen ’17, a psychology major, commented on Facebook in regards to Corey Cook’s presentation on October 14, 2015, “It was a good presentation, I’m glad I went.”


Posted by Christie Keifer, Administrative Coordinator for the SBHS Division

Amber Monson; alumna reflections

“My time at UW Tacoma taught me humility, strength, resilience, compassion, and determination. It was quite the experience.”

Amber Monson PhotoAmber Monson recently graduated from UW Tacoma as a double major in Psychology and Criminal Justice. She was accepted to UW Bothell to earn her Masters in Policy Studies. Before becoming a research assistant for Dr. Stephen Ross, Monson decided to get off disability and take her life back by returning to school.

“I was a single mother with three kids, enrolled in school full-time, worked full-time, cared for my ailing grandfather who was on 24-hour bed care, and was Ross’s research assistant. It’s been a long, hard struggle.” Continue reading

“Being a research assistant is an enriching opportunity.”


As college students, you want the courses and extracurricular activities you’re involved in to be both enjoyable and worthwhile. You want what you do to look good on an application, whether for a job or graduate school. How about something that can look good on both? Consider becoming a research assistant for a psychology professor.

As a research assistant in Dr. Jennifer Harris’s research lab, Johari Du Pont says she is learning the process of what she wants to be doing for the rest of her life—research. “We start with researching what information is available and studies that have already been conducted. Then, we research and conduct a study of our own. When that’s finished, we write up the results and get that published before we present the information.” Du Pont adds, “Even though I am committing the amount of time equivalent to a part-time job, it’s worth it.”

Du Pont also discussed what a research assistant does on a day-to-day basis, explaining, “we have lab meetings every Tuesday; we meet with clients in the Tacoma Public School district and after each session, we make note of all the environmental, social, and bio factors that contribute to that person; and we write reports based on our studies and findings.” Du Pont noted that she has a color-coded journal to keep herself on top of her schedule.

Her advice for those wanting to be a research assistant is to be on top of your schedule. Du Pont says, “making lab a priority is very important and it is a commitment. The skills and knowledge I am gaining are invaluable.”

The little things that are also involved include grant writing, proposal writing, getting funding, especially going to conferences to present. And having a genuine interest in the studies and wanting to gain skills is important rather than just wanting to gain points off of a checklist.

In closing, Du Pont described the environment in the lab as, “a sense of community and family. We’re all holding each other accountable as well as lifting each other up and sharing our knowledge. It’s a very healthy place to be.”

If you are interested in being a research assistant, pick a professor whose interests match your own. Find out if your professor is doing research and if there are any openings in her or his research lab.


Photo and post by Christie Keifer, Administrative Coordinator for SBHS at UW Tacoma.