UC Santa Cruz undergraduates to present at premier conference; plus advice on promoting original research

May 12, 2015


A group photo with two of the three groups presenting at the Stanford Undergraduate Psychology Conference. Front Row (left to right): Angela Nguyen (Teaching Assistant), Anabel Vizcarra, Winnie Kwang, Brandon Batzloff, Amanda Cross, Kim Cardilla (Lecturer). Back Row (left to right): Mariah Silveira, Kathryn Kemper,  August Masonheimer, Roberto Guzman, Lauren Lieu. Not pictured: Ashley Basualdo.

From right to left they are: Sereen Hanhan, August Masonheimer, Michael Liber, Samantha Salazar, and Leslie Winn
Michael Liber along with Sereen Hanhan, August Masonheimer, Samantha Salazar, and Leslie Winn practice their presentation with Professor Christy Byrd in class.
Brandon Batzloff, Lauren Lieu, Kathryn Kemper, Winnie Kwang, and Mariah Silveira will discuss their findings about media representation and police perception.

Three groups of UC Santa Cruz undergraduate students from the Psychology Department will be presenting at the annual Stanford Undergraduate Psychology Conference (SUPC), the premier international conference for undergraduate psychology majors, on Saturday, May 16.

Brandon Batzloff, Lauren Lieu, Kathryn Kemper, Winnie Kwang, and Mariah Silveira will present findings from their study Self-Identification, Experiences with Police, and Media Consumption: The Combined Impact on Perceptions of Police. Their study explored the ways identity impacts perception of the police, a topical and hotly debated issue. The students found that race is a salient factor in its discussion, with privilege and power a prevailing theme.

Also speaking will be Ashley Basualdo, Amanda Cross, Roberto Guzman, August Masonheimer and Anabel Vizcarra who will discuss their research about college students and stress. College Students’ Development of Coping Strategies in Response to Academic Stress explores how college students develop coping strategies to their academic anxieties. They point out that very little research exists and their study is an attempt to uncover ways undergraduates evolve as they navigate stressors across their college careers.

In addition, Michael J. Liber, Leslie H. Winn, August T. Masonheimer, Sereen M. Hanhan, Samantha Salazar and their faculty mentor, Christy M. Byrd will present What is Race? Exploring the Inconsistencies in Defining a Critical Construct. In their exploration of how race is collectively discussed, they found that race is a nebulous concept. They argue that because of its vague definition, which ultimately hinders conservation and research to productively move forward.

Undergraduate students from across the country participate in the all-day conference. It was  was founded by then Stanford undergraduate George Slavich in 2001 and continues to be lead by undergraduate Stanford students. The conference aims to promote the professional development of psychology students by offering a networking and sharing opportunity of high-quality psychological research.

Are you a student interested in presenting at conferences?

Presenting your original research at academic conferences is an important step in your professional development. It provides you an opportunity to sharpen your presentation skills, develop your research, and connect with your peers.

"This upcoming conference gives us the opportunity to refine our skills as researchers by sharing our knowledge with our fellow scholars and expanding upon it through their wisdom," said August Masonheimer (College 10, 2015).

Research Opportunities

“I think one of the essential aspects (in addition to doing your homework beforehand and taking the initiative to looking up the pertinent info on your own) is reaching out to a professor or TA who could potentially serve as your adviser,” shares Angela Nguyen, a graduate student in the psychology department and also a teaching assistant and mentor to two of the groups presenting. 

“The UCSC Psychology Department provides many wonderful opportunities for our undergraduate students to become involved in research,” says Kim Cardilla, a lecturer in the Psychology department and mentor to two of the groups presenting

There are several upper division courses that provide you with research opportunities that make for great potential conference material. For example, Senior Thesis, Advanced Research and Advanced Qualitative Research Methods are just some of the classes where you can learn about how to do original ideas and meet potential collaborators - a valuable part of the research process.

As Assistant professor Christy Byrd recommends, it is important to have a team to work with. She says, “Even just one other person can help you think about your question from different perspectives and help reduce the workload. Faculty collaborate with others all the time, so it's also good practice for a future in academia.”

Getting involved with conferences

Couple initiative with tenacity. Professor Byrd adds, “My main piece of advice is just to apply! The only danger is rejection. You can present a research paper from class or a project you come up with in your lab. It's also helpful to start with smaller on-campus conferences like Psi Chi if you're nervous about the bigger ones.”

In addition, The American Psychological Association will sometimes provide lists of undergraduate psychology research conferences over their network for students. You usually apply by sending the conference organizers an abstract of the original research you conducted.