Monday, December 21, 2009

New Undergraduate Psychology Course Inspires Students

Ethnic & Minority Perspectives in Psychology is a new undergraduate course that was offered this fall. Students gained a broad understanding of methods, theoretical concepts, and applications of psychology relevant to ethnic minorities. For one of the course activities, students worked in groups on a class presentation and paper based on a topic and a related theory discussed in the course.

Slideshow of Class Presentations

Some of the topics for the students’ group projects included: neighborhood disorganization and Latino communities, mental health and Asian Americans, and spirituality and health among African Americans. Here are just a few of the students’ comments about the class:

“I think all of us have learned something new about other cultures, heard from peers about their thoughts on multicultural issues, and its one step in a direction in bringing ethnic groups together. It has been an honor to be apart of the first class here at UMKC and I hope to use many concepts of multiculturalism that I have learned as I continue my educational professional career.” Carmen Benn

“Not only did Dr. Berkley-Patton present multicultural information that is much needed throughout our society, but she offered an environment promoting open communication and critical thinking. This class should be mandatory for all psychology majors in order to better understand and serve others.” Emilie Mendala

“This class has been very inspiring. Dr. Berkley-Patton as well as other students in the class helped open my eyes to certain multicultural topics. The structure of the class made us all comfortable to speak freely about our opinions and concerns. I feel this course should be mandatory for any undergraduate degree because the topics covered will help in any profession.” Jenni Branham

Friday, December 11, 2009

PsiChi/Psychology Club Bake Sale Success!

The Fall Semester PsiChi/Psychology Club Bake Sale was a great success! The two groups raised almost $300 on December 3rd and 4th from their table in Royal Hall! Psi Chi President Bryan Fox feared the sale might be a bust when he was staring down mountains of baked goods after the first two hours of the sale. Things picked up very quickly after that. As Fox announced in his e-mail to the groups' members “WE SOLD EVERYTHING!” Fox gave credit to all the officers, members and faculty in the department who contributed time, effort and baked goods for the sale. He also gave credit to the Department of Psychology Chair’s “highly-addictive Cinnamon coffeecake” and t-shirt sales, for pushing the total of money received to such a high amount. Money received through these fundraising efforts will be used in to fund the Spring 2010 induction ceremony and other events the organizations put on throughout the year.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Grad Psych Students Develop 411 on H1N1

Graduate students in the doctoral Health Psychology Interventions course have been working to apply what they are learning this semester by creating an intervention to increase H1N1 vaccination by students on the UMKC campus. Using health psychology principles they have developed a brief educational presentation H1N1 Slideshow and accompanying quiz available on Blackboard website. Students have also created a series of posters to encourage vaccination that will be placed around campus. Look out for the “KILL THE PIG” (referring to H1N1 or “swine flu”) posters. Instructors are being asked to consider offering extra credit for students who read the educational material and complete the quiz. Students are learning not only how to design community based interventions using sound psychological principles, but also gaining experience in navigating the challenges associated with putting a real intervention into place (the limited availability of the swine flu vaccine this fall being just one example!)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Psi-Chi and Psychology Club Induction Ceremony

On the evening of Wednesday, November 4th, the UMKC chapter of Psi Chi and the Psychology Club had their Fall induction ceremony, welcoming 24 new members.

Psi Chi: Nicholas Cale, Suqiang Chang, Komal Dasani, Andrea Garcia, Jennifer Lewis, Jennifer Moreno, Roxana Ruiz, Sara Shirk, Stephanie Thomas, and Cynthia Wilson.

Psychology Club: Brodie Barnard, Nicholas Cale, Ashaunta Dorch, Hannah Fugate, Andrea Garcia, Dillon Hall, Shelly Katoch, Allison Koerperich, Courtney Monzyk, Zach Ross, Kianda Simmons, Melanie Somogie, Breanna Wexler, and Cynthia Wilson.

New members in attendance recited the Psi Chi ‘Oath of Membership’ and participated in a candle lighting ceremony. We will be holding another induction ceremony, and accepting applications for both organizations, in the Spring semester.

Psi Chi is the national honor society in Psychology. Membership in Psi Chi is for life and you’ll enjoy benefits such as scholarship programs, research competitions, reduced dues for professional organizations like the American Psychological Association (APA) and the Association for Psychological Science (APS), and getting to know fellow psychology majors here on campus at UMKC. Please visit our web site for information about the eligibility requirements.

If you’d like to be involved in a student organization but aren’t yet eligible for Psi Chi, please consider joining he Psychology Club! Psychology Club is the sister organization to Psi Chi and is open to any students who are interested in psychology—there are no membership fees and no GPA requirements.

If you have any questions, please contact the Psi Chi and Psychology Club officers by email at, or the faculty advisor, Dr. Bennett, by email at You can also visit our website Psi Chi & Psychology Club.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

UMKC Psychology in Germany!

During the week of October 19th, three members of the UMKC Department of Psychology attended the 49th annual meeting of the Society for Psychophysiological Research in Berlin Germany. Faculty member Chris Lovelace and graduate students Liz Duval and Stacia Gessner all had an amazing time looking around Berlin and attending the symposia and poster sessions at the SPR meeting. Dr. Lovelace made his annual appearance on drums with the SPR Blues Band during the closing Saturday Night Social.

During the meeting, Ms. Duval presented a poster entitled “Flashing a smile: Is startle sensitive to unconscious face processing?” in which she described her recent work with Drs. Lovelace and Filion on using the startle response to look at how we perceive and react to emotional faces. Dr. Lovelace’s poster, “Neural network evaluation of multi-modal startle eyeblink measurements”, was done in collaboration with Dr. Reza Derakhshani from the UMKC School of Computing and Engineering, Department of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering. They presented their recently-developed approach to using artificial neural networks to quantify startle eyeblinks measured using the electromyogram and high-speed video.

We are delighted to announce that, during the meeting’s business luncheon, Liz Duval was announced as one of three winners of the Society’s Research Training Award. Her mentors for this project will be Dr Diane Filion and Dr. Lovelace from our department as well as Dr. Cary Savage from the University of Kansas Medical Center’s Hoglund Brain Imaging Center. Ms. Duval will learn to integrate functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging with startle eyeblink to investigate how people with social anxiety perceive and pay attention to emotional faces.

Following the SPR meeting, Dr. Lovelace and Ms. Duval traveled to Trier, Germany at the invitation of Dr. Hartmut Schächinger to attend a symposium for the University of Trier Psychoneuroendocrinology of Stress Research Group. Dr. Lovelace gave a talk describing his recent work, with the help of Ms. Duval, Dr. Filion, and Dr. Derakhshani, using high-speed video to record and measure eyeblinks. We had a wonderful time interacting with this lively research group, and had an amazing visit to the city of Trier.

In the accompanying picture, the three gentlemen in the front left are Dr. Terry Blumenthal (Wake Forest University), Dr. Lovelace, and Dr. Schächinger. Ms. Duval is on the far right. The rest are graduate students of Dr. Schächinger (left to right: Christian, Hanni, Linn, Debbie, and Sophie).

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Welcome to our Blog and Congratulations Dr. Catley!

Welcome to UMKC Department of Psychology’s new blog spot. We plan to use this location to improve communication within the department and to update the other units on campus and the larger Kansas City community about some of the exciting accomplishments of our students and faculty. To get us started, here is some of our latest news!

Congratulations Dr. Catley

We are extremely proud of Associate Professor Dr. Delwyn Catley, who is the primary investigator on a $1.5 million dollar grant from the National Institutes of Health to study methods of enhancing smokers’ motivation and readiness to quit tobacco smoking. Tobacco smoking remains one of the most significant preventable causes of death in the U.S. and although most smokers are interested in quitting, only one in five are ready to make a quit attempt at any point in time. The study will test the effectiveness of a method of motivational counseling for motivating quit attempts among smokers not yet ready to quit. It will also determine the effect of the motivational counseling on smoking cessation rates. The study will take place over 3 years and involves collaborators from the Dept of Psychology (Dr. Kathy Goggin), the School of Dentistry (Dr. Karen Williams), KU Medical Center (Dr. Kimber Richter), and The University of Montana (Dr. Kari Harris). Congratulations to all.

Staying in Touch

If you have any "goings on" or accomplishments that you would like to be considered for posting on this site, please send an entry of up to 250 words (plus 2 photos) to the department’s award-winning administrative assistant, Catherine Rawlings ( Our blogspot address is . Make sure to add us as a RSS feed.

Tamera Murdock. Ph.D.
Professor and Department Chair