And what better a topic to write about this summer than my current experience as a Summer Science Fellow with the American Psychological Association! Maybe a bit of background will get you up to speed. Earlier this year, I applied to a whole list of research and communication internships. By the end of March, I received an e-mail from the American Psychological Association, congratulating me on my new position as a summer science fellow, one of 12 selected across the country this year.
What is the SSF? Over the course of 6 weeks, me and 11 other rising undergraduate seniors majoring in psychology will be at George Mason University in Virginia working closely on research with faculty members and their graduate students. Some of us are working in pairs with the same faculty member, and some are working individually. What is interesting is that we're involved with different areas of psychology. Me and my research partner were assigned to the human factors lab of Dr. Robert Youmans, while the other students here are working in areas such as cognitive neuroscience, clinical psychology, I/O psychology and even criminology. As you can imagine, this diversity leads to some pretty interesting discussions in our dorm living rooms.
Besides working in labs, running experiments and learning about graduate school, we also have the opportunity to visit nearby Washington, D.C. on self-planned weekend excursions and on a one-time trip sponsored by the APA.
We just finished our first week here, and it has been an incredible experience so far. As the 1) youngest, 2) shortest, and 3) least experienced person here, I have to admit, I was intimidated by my fellow fellows at first, but they've turned out to be not only invested in and excited about psychology, but also just nice to people to be around. I've never been in an environment where a lot of people can talk about the Big Five personality factors in conversation; I'm still getting used to it. But... wow!
I won't go into too much detail about what our lab is doing right now - I'll save that for my next blog post. But I will say that we are working on two main projects - one about creating a valid measure of cognitive flexibility, or the ability to switch strategies when solving problems, and the other about the relationship between working memory capacity and design fixation.
More will be coming up soon, including tips about grad school that I've learned from mini-seminars we've had here, from talking to grad students and from overhearing conversations about grad school (haha). Stay tuned!