Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Current PhD Student Receiving an Award

David Martinez, senior graduate student in the Department of Psychology, was awarded a two-year F31 Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) to conduct his dissertation study that explores the barriers and facilitators to implanting HIV testing and prevention programs in the Latino church setting. This study will also develop a questionnaire that will assess HIV testing intentions and HIV stigma among Latino church-goers. Since he received the award 1 year ago, David has been working closely with two local Catholic churches that serve about 1,000 Latinos each week to conduct this research project. With the help of undergraduate research assistants, he has conducted several focus groups and interviews that will inform the development of a questionnaire. David is about to begin the second year of the project, which will include administering the questionnaire to Latino church-goers in order to assess the psychometric properties of the developed questionnaire. Congratulations David, and best wishes for a successful second phase of your project!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Psi Chi BBQ

Psychology Department cub reporter, N. Cognito, filed this report from the field…

PSI CHI and Psych Club Sponsor BBQ for Students and Faculty
Gray skies and chilly temps did not discourage students and faculty from joining Psi Chi and Psych Club members for lunch in the lobby of Cherry Hall on Friday September 16th. Senior Psych major Jairrah Mansfield and Juniors Kristina Trost and Viola Kleiser came by for some of the Jack Stack spread, and chatted with yours truly. They report their semester to be “busy but really good”! Senior Rodney Fritz was in the mix as well, and he admitted a serious interest in the bbq

Alyx Howard, sophomore Psych major was there with her friend Nikki Langland. Nikki is undecided yet about her major, but is interested in psych and criminal justice. They are both transfers from William Jewel College, and came to UMKC in search of great Psychology Department. This reporter believes they found it !

Senior Psych major Amanda Duplissie stopped by to take advantage of the opportunity to socialize. Judging from the din in the lobby, there was plenty of socializing going on! Amanda is interested in pursuing graduate work in counseling psychology after she receives her undergraduate degree.

Rob Hanson and Devon Gorajewski braved the cooler temperatures and sat outside on the front porch. Rob is a transfer from Rockhurst; his interests have morphed from business and marketing to industrial/organizational psychology. Devon is interested in pursuing a career in clinical psychology. They reported extrinsic motivations for attending the bbq, including the food of course, and some extra credit points for a Psych class. Whatever it takes, glad to have them around!

Freshman Crystal Williams stopped by to see what the Psych Department is all about, and to find ways to get involved in student activities. She’s interested in Psychology and Communication Studies and would like to pursue positive psychology. Welcome Crystal!

An extended conversation between this reporter and Angela Gutierrez, a psychology upperclassman, revealed the varied backgrounds and interests of our students. Angela has an architecture degree from Cornell University, and worked in that field for several years after obtaining her degree. However, architecture didn’t turn out to be as personally rewarding as she had hoped, so she’s pursuing a degree in psychology and plans to go into clinical psychology. We discussed the creative process that psychology and architecture might have in common, and the importance of finding a career that you can love. Heady stuff !

All in all, the event was a great success. Close to 100 undergraduate and graduate students attended, along with several faculty members. The event was planned by Psi Chi President Melanie Somogie and Treasurer Komal Dasani, along with faculty advisor Dr. Kym Bennett. Also instrumental on the day of the event were Daniel Folk (Psych Club President) and Kristen Epping-Flanery (Psychology Student Ambassadors). Funding for the event was provided by the Psychology Department and by Psi Chi. Psi Chi’s funding came from the Student Activity Fee Council, awarded based on a successful application to that Council.

Congratulations to all !

Drs. Jenny Lundgren and Amanda Bruce's New Research Projects

Congratulations to Jenny Lundgren and Amanda Bruce ! Their recent proposals to the Pilot and Collaborative Studies Funding Program (FY 2012) have been funded through Frontiers: The Heartland Institute for Clinical and Translational Research. See below for descriptions of their projects.

Principal Investigator: Amanda Bruce, PhD
"Food for thought: Can stomach surgery change the brain?"

While bariatric surgery is an effective long-term treatment for obesity, the physiological mechanisms associated with successful surgery are not well understood. Researchers have hypothesized that, following food consumption, surgical modifications elicit hormonal and neural signals that trigger feelings of satiety in the brain. Our group recently examined the association between weight loss and brain function using two separate patient-groups. In the first fMRI study, we scanned participants before and 12 weeks after receiving laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding (LAGB) surgery. In a second study, using the same neuroimaging protocol, we scanned participants prior to and 12-weeks following a behavioral weight loss intervention.

We now intend to directly compare participants from these two studies. In this project, we will
1. Characterize cortical differences at baseline, examining brain responses to visual food cues in limbic, paralimbic, and prefrontal brain regions.
2. Identify behavioral changes associated with bariatric surgery including self-reported hunger and cognitive control.
3. Examine longitudinal cortical changes associated with bariatric surgery in paralimbic, limbic, and prefrontal brain regions.

This would be the first project to examine the effects of bariatric surgery on brain physiology in comparison to a behavioral weight loss intervention. The findings from this research can improve our understanding of successful long-term weight loss and open additional avenues for new behavioral and pharmacological weight loss interventions.

Principal Investigator: Jennifer Lundgren, PhD
“Functional Neuroanatomy of Impulsivity in Obese Shorter and Longer Sleepers”

The long-term objective of this project is to understand better the relationship between sleep and obesity and, consequently, improve obesity treatment and prevention efforts. Although a relationship between sleep duration and obesity has been established, potential mechanisms by which sleep loss can lead to the development of obesity have not been adequately explored. One potential mechanism by which shorter sleep could contribute to obesity is through its detrimental effect on executive functioning, and impulsivity in particular. The aim of this project, therefore, is to examine the neural systems involved in impulse control using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and a delay discounting paradigm in obese participants with shorter (<5 hours) and longer (7-8 hours) sleep duration. Obese shorter sleepers and obese longer sleepers, with actigraphy confirmed sleep duration, will complete behavioral assessments of eating, sleep, and impulsivity as well as complete a computerized delay discounting of reward paradigm while undergoing fMRI. Shorter and longer sleep groups will be compared on delay discounting of reward choices and neural activation in the limbic, paralimbic, and lateral prefrontal regions of the brain while engaging in the delay discounting task. Behavioral measures will be correlated with activity in these brain regions during the delay discounting task.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Susan Krigel and Breast Cancer Awareness

Former Clinical Ph.D. student Susan Krigel was featured on for her story on battling breast cancer and attending the Mother's Day Breast Cancer Awareness Day at Kauffman Stadium.

KANSAS CITY -- Susan Krigel, who served as the Royals' honorary bat girl at the Mother's Day breast cancer awareness celebration, had come full circle.

In 1973, when Kauffman Stadium, then called Royals Stadium, was opened she was marching in the Shawnee Mission East High School band in the ceremonies. On Sunday, she was back on the field for the first time since that day.

And this time the Royals were swinging pink bats, wearing pink sweat bands and, in some cases, running in pink shoes. It was all part of the Going to Bat Against Breast Cancer Program by Major League Baseball and Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

Jeff Francoeur takes the field on Sunday with one of the honorary lineup of breast cancer survivors. (Chris Vleisides/Royals)Krigel's own battle with breast cancer includes a touch of irony. She was working for the Cancer Information Service when stricken.

"I was working there and decided I wanted to go to graduate school and become a PhD in clinical psychology and learn how to help cancer survivors adjust to the emotional aspects of having cancer," Krigel said. "And then I was diagnosed with cancer just after I was accepted into the PhD program. I went ahead and took the PhD program through my therapy and my surgery through the first year. I had a lot of good support from my husband, my kids and my friends, and my mentors at UMKC.

"It is ironic, but one in eight women are diagnosed with breast cancer. It was an office of 15, so statistically two of us at one point would be diagnosed with breast cancer."

She received a lot of help from her mentor, Professor Delwyn Catley of the University of Missouri-Kanas City, and the health care team at the University of Kansas Medical Center, including Dr. Carol Fabian.

She underwent treatment and surgery for about 1 1/2 years.

"I don't really look at it as beating it," she said, "because with breast cancer it can always recur. After five years you're not totally in the clear; statistically your chances of recurrence go way down, but with breast cancer it really can recur, so you just kind of look at every day and be thankful for that."

With her at the stadium on Sunday were her husband, former Kansas City jeweler Scott Krigel, sons Ari and Steven, and daughter-in-law Beth.

Today, she works for the KU Med Cancer Center.

"I care for cancer survivors on a daily basis," she said, "mainly breast cancer survivors but also other people living with cancer."

The Royals, joined by the Oakland A's in the pink-trimmed awareness effort, were well aware of the enormity of the disease.

"It's a great cause," right fielder Jeff Francoeur said. "Luckily my mom didn't have breast cancer or anything like that, but I know so many people that do and I even get text messages after the game to say how important it is to see us supporting the cause."

He was among the players wearing pink shoes.

"It's going to look weird but they're auctioning them off and all the money goes to that cause, so it's not even a question for me," Francoeur said.

Stephanie Komen, daughter of the late Susan G. Komen, sat in the Buck O'Neil Legacy Seat. Pitcher Kyle Davies, whose mother is a breast cancer survivor, was the honorary spokesman. The Royals took the field with each player accompanied by a breast cancer survivor.

In the end, 12 of the game's 18 hits were belted with pink bats used for the occasion. That included rookie phenom Eric Hosmer's first extra-base hit, a double high off the right-center wall, that produced his first RBI.

Many families have been affected by the disease.

"My wife Deborah's mom passed away from breast cancer, so it's near and dear to her heart," Royals manager Ned Yost said.

"They do it on Father's Day for prostate cancer, too. It's two good causes and brings awareness to them."

Dick Kaegel is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs

Friday, June 3, 2011

HHN News

What’s New at Heartland Health Network

It was an extraordinary Saturday! April 9, 2011 marked the first Heartland Health Network’s Pre-proposal Mini-grant Workshop where 35 people attended representing 26 church and faith based organizations. At present, we have received 25 letters of intent to submit proposals.

HHN launched the mini grant opportunity in early March promoting the event primarily through our core partner Calvary Community Outreach Network. A special thank you is extended to Rev. Williams for facilitating such a great turnout from the African American faith-based community. It was exhilarating to witness a packed room of people not only interested in decreasing the gap in health disparities affecting the African American community but also excited about building the capacity of their organizations to do so.

The HHN Mini grant is a competitive process offered to increase the capacity of our faith based network partners to increase their ability to collaborate with health science researchers. HHN will offer technical assistance for all applicants throughout the grant process by providing hands on support in developing the proposal narratives, budgets and supporting documentation. We are hoping to build new relationships for future research collaborations while offering support for outreach efforts led by our faith community partners.

SAVE THE DATE invitations for our upcoming conference on Thursday, September 1, 2011 between the hours of 11:00 am and 4:30 pm at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation will go out in the June.. The conference entitled, “We’re in This Together: Partnering for Our Health” will provide opportunities for researchers, faith based community leaders and community health service organization representatives to identify shared interests and goals to impact health disparities. Contact Robin Liston at 816-235- 6715 / or Carole Bowe Thompson at 816-235-6062 / to learn more.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


The Department of Psychology will be closed Tuesday May 10th –Friday, May 13th in order to move to our new ON CAMPUS location: Cherry Street Hall, which is next to the new Student Union. Beginning Monday,May 16th you can find the departmental office, faculty offices, undergraduate advising and Psi Chi/Psychology Club all on the third floor of our new building. We are very excited about this move because it will allow us to be more accessible to students and closer to campus activities. Please come see us at our new location!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Student and Faculty Awards

The Psychology Department has had a great start to the 2011 year with many students and faculty members being recognized for their achievements and receiving awards for these achievements.

Student Awards
Alisha Adams (Doctoral Student)-Preparing Future Faculty Fellowship and Women’s Council Graduate Assistant Fund
Sofie Champassak (Doctoral Student)-NIH funded R25 fellowship
Elizabeth Duval (Doctoral Student)-Women’s Council Graduate Assistant Fund
Chris Fowler (Doctoral Student)-Graduate Studies Minority Doctoral Fellowship
Laura Hancock (Doctoral Student)-Chancellor’s Doctoral Fellowship
Starlyn Hawes (Doctoral Student)-McNair Doctoral Fellowship
Amber Hinton-Dampf (Doctoral Student)-McNair Doctoral Fellowship (renewal)
Jessica Hamilton (Doctoral Student)- Preparing Future Faculty Fellowship (renewal)

Faculty Awards
Dr. Jenny Lundgren-2011 Chancellor’s Early Career Award for Excellence in Teaching. She received this award for her excellent teaching and her commitment to improving teaching within the department. She has taken over teaching the capstone course “History and Systems of Psychology” and has developed and chaired the Department of Psychology Teaching Excellence Committee. She consistently receives stellar teaching evaluations from her students who laud her for being highly-prepared, knowledgeable, enthusiastic, and committed to student learning.

Dr. Kathy Goggin-2010 N.T. Veatch Award from Distinguished Research and Creativity and the 2010 Trustees Faculty Fellowship Award. Kathy received this award in recognition of her “sustained nationally and internationally recognized record of research and her exceptional scholarly achievements at UMKC.” Dr. Goggin is a nationally known scholar who is well respected in her field and whose work is seen as having a national and international impact. Dr. Goggin’s expertise in the area of HIV/AIDS has been recognized nationally and has made her a valued contributor to UMKC.

Dr. Jared Bruce-2010 Trustees Faculty Scholar Award. Jared received this award in recognition of “his exceptional scholarly achievements at UMKC for their stage of professional development and has shown exceptional promise for outstanding future research and/or creative accomplishments.” Dr. Bruce is a neuropsychologist whose research focuses on the cognitive and emotional consequences of various types of brain illness including multiple-sclerosis, concussion, and degenerative disorders. Dr. Bruce has already published a total of 22 papers and has five either published or in press for 2010. He also serves as an ad-hoc reviewer for 13 different journals.

Dr. Jared Bruce also received the psychology students’ yearly choice for honors award at the Spring 2011 Psi Chi induction ceremony.

Congratulations to the students and faculty members for their hard work and dedication. The department is fortunate to have a great group of student and faculty members working to better the future of students and the field of psychology.