Monday, December 20, 2010

Congratulations Graduates

The Department of Psychology Congratulates All Recent Psychology Graduates!

At UMKC’s Fall 2010 Commencement, 50 students majoring in psychology received their Bachelor’s of Arts degree. While we are proud of the many accomplishments of all of our graduates, we want to particularly acknowledge several students whose extreme high academic achievement in both the general education requirement and those specific for the psychology major earned them Departmental Honors.

Departmental Honor Recipients Fall 2010
Hannah Fugate, Chanukya Dasari, Britney Hamm, Amy Higgins, Mary Petrechko, and Hillary Warren.

See some of our Departmental Honor recipients profiled below.

Hannah Fugate

Hillary Warren:

Department Honor’s Questionnaire
1. Where are you from originally (before you came to UMKC)?
a. I am from Kansas City, I have been here since I was 13.
2. Favorite psychology course?
a. Abnormal Psychology because I want to work with patients with severe mental illness.
3. Favorite psychology professor(s)?
a. I have so many! Dr. Land because he made quantitative methods easy for me and made cognitive psych so interesting. Dr. Amanda Bruce because she is so approachable and caring. Dr. Lovelace because he opened my eyes to experimental psychology and has let me work in his lab.
4. Plans after graduation?
a. I am applying to the graduate clinical psychology program here at UMKC, so hopefully I will continue on here at UMKC.
5. Favorite thing(s) about UMKC?
a. The faculty all seem to really care and love their job. I also think the campus is beautiful!

Congratulations again to these students for their hard work and the department wishes you luck in your future endeavours!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Recognizing Students in the Psychology Department

Lauren Buscher, a psychology undergraduate student, was recently recognized for an award at the National Academy of Neuropsychology in Vancouver, Canada. Here is what she wrote about the experience of presenting a research poster and receiving an award.

“My research poster was titled The Relationship Between Self-Reported Cognitive Difficulties and Medication Adherence in Multiple Sclerosis. I presented at the National Academy of Neuropsychology in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada and received the Dr. Ted Blau Student Poster Award. The purpose of this study was to examine the association between self-reported cognitive difficulties and medication adherence in Multiple Sclerosis (MS). 74 Secondary Progressive, Primary Progressive, and Relapsing Remitting MS patients were recruited from a local MS specialty clinic. Participants completed questionnaires measuring cognitive difficulties and auxiliary medication adherence. I really would like to thank Dr. Bruce, who helped me through every stage of the research process and writing the poster. I would also like to thank the graduate and undergraduate students that worked in the Clinical Neuropsych Lab who helped answer the many questions I had. I'm happy to be a good representative of the UMKC Psychology Department!”

Another student being recognized from the department is David A. Martinez. He is currently a Clinical Psychology Doctoral student and works closely with his mentor, Dr. Kathy Goggin. Below is a description of David’s achievements thus far.

David A. Martinez was recently awarded a two-year Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award funded by the National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH). David is in his fourth year of the Clinical Health Psychology Doctoral program and his mentor is Dr. Kathy Goggin. This award will provide support for David’s dissertation research which focuses on developing a measure to better understand the beliefs that lead to getting tested for HIV among Latinos who attend church. To complete this research, David will be collaborating with leaders from two local Catholic churches, the Black Catholic Implementation Team (BCIT) of Kansas City, UMKC faculty: Dr. Jannette Berkley-Patton and Dr. Tamera Murdock, and Dr. Cynthia Gomez from San Francisco State University.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Psi-Chi and Psychology Club Induction
Fall 2010

On the evening of Wednesday, November 3rd, the UMKC chapter of Psi Chi and the Psychology Club had their Fall induction ceremony, welcoming 36 new members.

Psi Chi: Jennifer Cosby, Kaelene Curry, Danielle Fera, Danthea Fernandez, Gregory Jacobs, Jhankar Kashyap, Allison Koerperich, Thao Nguyen, Karly Schleicher, Abby Sharp, Kyia Sonnier, Bethany Vroom, Britney Waterworth, and Marsha Wood.
Psychology Club: Malorie Champlin, Taneshia Cook, Chrissy Crocker, Kristen Epping, Zachary Hausner, Salvador Hernandez, Jhankar Kashyap, Brooke McCoy, Josh Munyan, Jedidiah Phipps, Katherine Polder, Rachel Regan, Quristion Reliford, Patrick Schmidt, Mallory Sheeran, Ra Nita Simmons, Anna Stelmach, Becca Sterling, Evelyn Welk, Nekisha Wheeler, Brandon Wilson, and William Yoder.

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

Friday, November 12, 2010

Heartland Health Network (HHN) Event Update

A Community Health Fair which drew over 1000 people to the campus of the Calvary Temple Baptist Church on Saturday, October 30th for fitness, fun, and healthy food was the “kick-off” event for the Heartland Health Network (HHN). In lieu of typical unhealthy carnival fare, healthy food options such as fresh fruits & veggies, yogurt with fresh berries were provided. Chancellor Leo Morton, Dean Karen Vorst, Senator Clair McCaskill and Congressman Emmanuel Cleaver were on hand to offer words of welcome, congratulations and support. Fitness expert Donna Richardson Joyner
spoke to the group about the benefits of fitness and nutrition and enticed the group to participate in a well choreographed exercise routine. Over 15 community health serving organizations distributed vital health information and conducted health screening.

HHN is funded by a 1 million dollar NIH grant awarded to Professor Kathy Goggin in the Department of Psychology (see blog posting dated Tuesday, October 26, 2010). Organizers from HHN specifically hoped to reach African American community with their message of healthy lifestyles and demonstrate the power of collaborations between universities and community partners. Based on comments of attendees, it seems like that goal was achieved.

“The day was a perfect blend of celebration and cooperation among partners working toward a common goal. For too long, the African American community has experienced significant health disparities. Now, at the community level, we are bringing together current health research, health care and health education.” ~ Dr. Leo Morton, Chancellor, University of Missouri – Kansas City

“The sea of people of all ages, eating fresh fruit and having fun with physical activity was confirmation of something that we have known all along. Our vision of a healthier community can be realized as we forge strong partnerships between gatekeepers and stakeholders.”
~ Rev. Eric D. Williams, Pastor- Calvary Temple Baptist Church & Executive Director – Calvary Community Outreach Network

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Launching Heartland Health Network
Heartland Health Network

Congratulations Dr.’s Goggin, Berkley-Patton and Catley!
UMKC Department of Psychology Researchers

Due to more than a decade of research focused on improving community health and addressing health disparities among African Americans we have received a three-year, 1 million dollar grant from NIH to create Heartland Health Network (HHN).

The grant was awarded through the NIH National Center on Minority Health Disparities Community Based Participatory Research Initiative. Of more than 600 grant proposals submitted from across the nation, UMKC was one of only approximately 30 proposals that were awarded.

HHN is slated to become a coalition of community partners working together to address health disparities by promoting wellness, facilitating health research and the dissemination of effective health intervention within the African American community.

Per Dr. Berkley-Patton, “HHN is really an outgrowth of ongoing research in our department and partnerships and programs that are already in place and working,” Berkley-Patton said. “What makes the formalization of HHN unique is that our community partners will be involved in every stage of the research process – from developing research goals to assisting with implementing research projects and interpreting data. HHN will allow researchers, health care providers and community leaders to work together to find the most effective communication and intervention strategies and translate those strategies into improved health outcomes for patients.”

Along with researchers from the UMKC Department of Psychology, the founding HHN partners are the Calvary Community Outreach Network (CCON) a faith based non-profit and the Kansas City Free Health Clinic (KC Free) a community based health service organization. With these partnerships, the opportunity to reach over 50 percent of the African American population who attend weekly church services and receive health services, the potential impact of this project is significant. The community need is evident when your hear Rev. Eric D. Williams, founder and CEO of the Calvary Community Outreach Network say, “I’m tired of doing funerals that could have been prevented, and we have to broaden our understanding of what a ministry is and what it can do. We need to look at all of the needs that our congregants have and use evidenced based approaches to address them. Working together through the HHN, we have a chance to really make a difference in addressing the health of our community.”

To be learn more about Heartland Health Network visit us at

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Department of Psychology Congratulates All Recent Psychology Graduates!

At UMKC’s Spring 2010 Commencement, 64 students majoring in psychology received their Bachelor’s of Arts degree. While we are proud of the many accomplishments of all of our graduates, we want to particularly acknowledge several students whose extreme high academic achievement in both the general education requirement and those specific for the psychology major earned them Departmental Honors.

Departmental Honor Recipients Spring 2010
Justin Aarant, Alexandra Davis, Lacey Durbin, Sybil Hamm, Amy Karim, Katie Kenslow, Alexandra Kuestersteffen, Patti McGrannahan, Josie Tyrer
See some of our Departmental Honor recipients profiled below.

Alexandra Davis

I began my studies at UMKC the fall 2006. Upon graduating from UMKC I plan to attend the University of Nebraska Lincoln, Doctoral program in Developmental Psychology. Outside of school, I like to hang out with friends and family! I knew psychology was the major for me when I took general psychology my senior year of high school. I fell in love with it then and want to study it as long as I can! I attribute my high academic achievement to the opportunities that I had doing undergraduate research in my 490 with Dr. Murdock and Dr. Filion. Also, the support I received from my family. Some tips I would offer students, who are currently pursuing their psychology degree at UMKC, would be to get involved in research as much as possible and find what it is that really inspires you.

Lacey Durbin

I began my studies at UMKC the fall 2008. Upon graduating from UMKC I plan to start at Rockhurst University in their Occupational Therapy program. Outside of school, I like to travel back to Illinois to spend time with my family, read books, and spend time with my fiancé. I knew psychology was the major for me because I find the aspects of the mind very intriguing and wanted to learn more. I attribute my high academic achievement to the hard work that I put into striving to be the best that I can. My parents also instilled in me the idea of a good work ethic and always believed that I could do anything I set my mind to. Some tips I would offer students, who are currently pursuing their psychology degree at UMKC, would be to try to absorb as much information about psychology as possible because it is very intriguing and can be used in everyday life. Also enjoy the wonderful teachers who are there to help you reach your life goals.

Alexandra Kuestersteffen

No Picture Available

I began my studies at UMKC the fall 2008. Upon graduating from UMKC I plan to attend graduate school for Counseling Psychology. Outside of school, I like to read, bake, and volunteer at Rose Brooks and Kansas City Free Health Clinic. I am currently looking for a hobby, all the while driving my family and friends crazy with an overabundance of arts and crafts and/or sporting supplies. I knew psychology was the major for me because I've always wanted to help others with their problems, and counseling psychology felt like the best fit. I attribute my high academic achievement to my mom. She set high standards and helped me every day to achieve them. Some tips I would offer students, who are currently pursuing their psychology degree at UMKC, would be take as many psych electives as you can! It's a great way to help figure out what path is best for yourself.

Josie Tyrer

I began my studies at UMKC August 2006. Upon graduating from UMKC I plan to attend University of Alabama at Birmingham for graduate school. I have been accepted to their clinical Ph.D program and my focus will be in neuropsychology research. Outside of school, I like to be creative. I like to work with my hands e.g., cooking, drawing, sewing, bookbinding, throwing on the wheel. I knew psychology was the major for me when I took an AP psychology class in high school. It was a pretty fun and interesting class. The teacher I had also talked about studying psychology in college and was very enthusiastic about the topics we covered. I attribute my high academic achievement to always having the mindset that it’s my job. Some tips I would offer students, who are currently pursuing their psychology degree at UMKC, would be get involved in Psych 490 Directed Research, especially if you are serious about grad school.

Monday, May 10, 2010

UMKC Spring 2010 SEARCH Symposium News

On Friday, April 16th, UMKC SEARCH (Students Engaged in Artistic and Academic Research) held its annual student research symposium. A number of Psychology undergraduate researchers participated in the event, presenting their findings to classmates, professors, and visitors. Presentations were judged and awards given in each of several divisions.

Both the first and second place presentations in the Behavioral and Social Sciences division went to students in the Department of Psychology!

First place was awarded to Alexandra N. Davis and Sarah A. Potts (top picture; D. Filion, faculty advisor) for their presentation "Differences in Anticipatory and Viewing Phases of Negative Images Using a Psychophysiological Measure".

Second place went to Nicholas Cale (second picture down; M. Rempfer, faculty advisor) for his presentation "Learning Potential and Memory in People with Serious Mental Illness".

Other Department of Psychology undergraduate presenters were Alexandria Bohn (third picture down; J. Berkley-Patton, faculty advisor), “Supportive Parental Communication and Sex Behaviors in African-American Adolescents”, and Clarissa Johnson and Hannah Fugate (fourth picture down; D. Filion, faculty advisor), “Instructed Emotional Regulation by Negative Picture Valence Using Psycho-Physiological Measures.”

Congratulations to all!

For more information about SEARCH, visit

Thursday, April 29, 2010

We Are Pleased To Announce The Department of Psychology
School of Graduate Studies, PhD Student Fellowship Award Winners For 2010!

Back row from left: Erin McInerney-Ernst, Dr. Tamera Murdock, Department of Psychology Chair, David Martinez, Jessica Hamilton. Front Row from left: Amber Hinton-Dampf, Erin Moore, and Laura Hancock. Not pictured: Liz Duval and Starlyn Hawes.
New Awards
Jessica Hamilton - Preparing Future Faculty Fellow for 2010-2011
Jessica’s current research focuses on the effectiveness of coping skills training on emotion regulation using emotion modulation of startle reflex as an objective measure of emotion regulation. She is also interested in adjustment outcomes of children who have incurred trauma, such as maltreatment. Jessica’s faculty mentors are Dr. Diane Filion & Dr. Tamera Murdock.
Laura Hancock - Arthur Mag Doctoral Fellow in Arts & Sciences.
Laura plans to conduct a randomized controlled trial to examine the efficacy of computer-assisted cognitive training in people with multiple sclerosis (MS). MS is an autoimmune disease of the central nervous system that frequently has a negative impact on cognition (skills like memory, attention, and speed of information processing).These deficits are associated with unemployment, social difficulties, problems with medication management, and reduced quality of life. Her faculty mentor is Dr. Jared Bruce.
Amber Hinton-Dampf - School of Graduate Studies McNair Doctoral Fellowship
Amber’s areas of research interests broadly include sexuality, sexual risk behaviors, close relationships, motivation, and cheating. A current project she is working on examines condom use among homosexual adolescent males using the ARRM model. Her faculty mentors are Dr. Tamera Murdock and Dr. Jacob Marszalek.
David Martinez – Chancellor’s Fellowship
David’s area of research interest includes HIV medication adherence and HIV prevention in Latino and African American populations. His faculty mentors in this research are Dr. Kathy Goggin and Dr. Jannette Berkley-Patton.
Erin Moore – Chancellor’s Fellowship
Erin’s research focuses on trying to understanding why specific individuals take more risk with their sexual behavior and the identification of protective factors. She hopes to her apply her knowledge to developing and evaluating sexual health interventions. Her faculty mentor is Dr. Jannette Berkley-Patton.
Continuing Awards
Liz Duval – Chancellor’s Fellowship
For Liz’s dissertation project she will be using neurological (fMRI) and physiological (startle eyeblink) measures to investigate attention and emotional responses to faces in people with and without social anxiety. Her faculty mentor is Dr. Diane Filion.
Starlyn Hawes – School of Graduate Studies McNair Doctoral Fellowship
Her faculty mentor is Dr. Jannette Berkley-Patton.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Congratulations To The Newest UMKC Psi Chi & Psychology Club Members!

On Wednesday April 9th, 2010 at the UMKC Diastole House, the newest members of the UMKC Chapter of the Psi Chi Honor Society and Psychology Club were inducted. The evening kicked-off with a welcome by Psi Chi President Mr. Bryan Fox, who subsequently introduced the current officers of Psi Chi and the Psychology Club, as well as inductees into both organizations.

The Psychology Club Officers for 2010-2011 are:
President: Vyshnavi Reddy, Vice-President : Komal Dasani, Faculty Advisor: Dr. Ricardo Marte

The Psychology Club Inductee’s for Spring 2010 are:
Brodie L. Barnard, Carmen R. Benn, Elizabeth Dains, Donna Dixon, Jessica Drinkard, Amanda Holman Junaid Javed, Monique Johnson, Jennifer Kendall, Danesha Martin, Cody Morrison, Vyshnavi Reddy Derek Renko, Tony Stabler, Jennifer Tung, Janie Vanliew.

The Psi Chi Officers for 2010-2011 are:
President: Ally Bohn, Vice-President: Melanie Somogie, Fundraiser/Service Project Officer: Lauren Buscher, Faculty Advisors: Dr. Jannette Berkley-Patton & Dr. Kym Bennett

The Psi Chi National Honor Society Inductee’s for Spring 2010 are: Brodie L. Barnard, Carmen R. Benn, Lauren K. Buscher, Benjamin B. Clark, Marissa L. Cohen, Rachel E. McConnell, Sarah A. Potts, Vyshnavi S. Reddy, Melanie S. Somogie, Anthony R. Stabler, Richard J. Thompson

Following the induction, Mr. Fox announced Dr. Kymberly Bennett as the 2010 recipient of the F.R.E.U.D. Award. According to Mr. Fox, F.R.E.U.D. stands for “Faculty Recognized for Exceptional Understanding and Dedication; it is Psi Chi's way of saying "Thank You". Dr. Bennett was presented with a certificate and gift of appreciation.

Dr. Leah Gensheimer, the Director of the Undergraduate Psychology Program at UMKC served as the keynote speaker for the evening. She addressed the topic of asking “why questions” vs. “what questions” in order to guide you closer towards your goal. Following her speech, Mr. Fox presented Dr. Gensheimer with a gift of appreciation.

By all accounts, the evening was a great success! Congratulations to the newest members of the Psi Chi Honor Society & Psychology Club!

Photo Credit: Mr. Sam Somogie

Friday, April 2, 2010

On February 15, 2010, the new “Celebrating Excellence” faculty and staff awards ceremony was held at UMKC. Chancellor Morton and Provost Hackett presided over the event lauding the faculty and staff who won specific awards.

The Department of Psychology’s very own Chair and Professor, Dr. Tamera Murdock, won the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Graduate Mentoring! CONGRATULATIONS Dr. Murdock!!

Some of the criteria for this award included:

demonstrated record of graduate teaching excellence

a demonstrated record of chairing graduate supervisory committees with timely completion rates

an established record of mentoring and student professional development as demonstrated by examples such as student publication, external grant funding, and conference presentations

an ability to attract graduate students to UMKC through active recruitment and academic/scholarly reputation; and a demonstrated commitment to diversity in the mentoring process

According to her nomination materials, Dr. Murdock:

has taught nine different graduate courses and successfully mentors graduate students from three different PhD programs: Clinical Psychology, Counseling Psychology, and the IPhD program

has chaired 16 dissertations and 15 thesis committees in her 16 years at UMKC

has served as primary mentor for a PFF Fellow on three separate occasions

exhibits a commitment to diversity in the mentoring process (that) can be seen through a review of the topics her students have selected for their theses, dissertations, and other research endeavors

And, Dr. Murdock’s students:

produce dissertations, theses, and manuscripts that stand out for their conceptual clarity and theoretical integrity

have won dissertation fellowships, chancellor’s fellowships, and Preparing Future Faculty fellowships

have also won national awards including an outstanding Dissertation Award from the National Reading Association and two Outstanding Student Presentation Awards from the American Psychological Association

For more information on the “Celebrating Excellence” awards ceremony and the winner’s of the 2010 awards associated with the ceremony, please see the provost’s website at:

Friday, February 12, 2010

Congratulations to PhD Student Elizabeth Duval and Faculty Member Dr. Melisa Rempfer!

I am pleased to have this opportunity to brag about two of our department members, Elizabeth Duval, MA., a doctoral student in our Clinical Psychology program, and Dr. Melisa Rempfer. We are all very proud of their accomplishments! Dr. Tamera Murdock, Department Chair

Elizabeth Duval, Graduate PhD Student:
Graduate student Liz Duval received an award from the UMKC Women's Council Graduate Assistance Fund (GAF) with Outstanding Merit. She will use this to help fund her dissertation research in which she is using functional brain imaging and other physiological measures to investigate how the brains of people with social anxiety respond differently to emotional faces than everyone else's. Congratulations, Liz!

Melisa Rempfer, PhD, Co-DCT & Honors Faculty Member:

Dr. Melissa Rempfer was named as an Honors Faculty Fellow for a two-year period beginning Jan. 2010. Dr. Rempfer will participate in the weekly Honors colloquium, advise undergraduate psychology Honors students and teach an Honors section of General Psychology each Fall semester. Congratulations, Dr. Rempfer!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Welcome Back!!

The Department of Psychology wants to welcome everyone to a new year and a new semester! We hope that the break has revitalized you, and you are ready to hit the books again! We enjoy seeing familiar faces around the department again, and being introduced to new ones.

We’re very excited because our enrollment for this semester has filled our classes to capacity, with the exception of just a few, and many of those only have 1 or 2 seats available.

During this time of year, we are also getting applications for our graduate programs. As of our graduate application deadline of January 15, we had 68 Clinical Psychology PhD applications, 10 Interdisciplinary PhD applications and 6 Master of Arts in Psychology applications for our just-reopened MA program.

We have also gotten some great news from one of our recently graduated PhD students. Dr. Beau Nelson, his wife Zaley and their daughter Aida are going to be moving to Ann Arbor Michigan since he just accepted a position at the VA Ann Arbor as the Local Recovery Coordinator, with a dual appointment at the University of Michigan. CONGRATULATIONS, Beau!

We hope that everyone has a successful semester!