Psychology Department Faculty, Students, and Staff are Recognized for their Work

The psychology department faculty, students, and staff have had some impressive accomplishments over the last year. Below is a brief snapshot of some recent happenings.

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Matt Johnson and Mike Dodd

Assistant and associate professors of psychology, received an award from the National Science Foundation to explore integrations between knowledge and perception, and to increase the research infrastructure in cognitive neuroscience. This award was highlighted by Nebraska Today.

Jeff Stevens

Assistant professor of psychology, received an award from the National Science Foundation’s Decision, Risk, and Management Science Program to study whether similar decision processes that humans use are also used by avian species such as blue jays, scrub jays, and pinyon jays when making intertemporal choices. Jeff also received the College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Teaching Award for 2016.

John Kiat

Graduate student, Social and Cognitive Program, Neuroscience and Behavior Program, was one of three Fling Fellowship awardees from the University’s Graduate Studies for advanced masters or doctoral students. John also published on his EEG work in Social Neuroscience [Kiat, J.E, Straley, E., & Cheadle, J. E. (2017). Why Won’t They Sit with Me? An Exploratory Investigation of Stereotyped Cues, Social Exclusion, and the P3b. Social Neuroscience]. This publication shows how social cues interact with prior discrimination histories to shape expectations of social exclusion. Also won a small award at the UNL Spring Research Fair [Kiat. J.E., Straley, E., & Cheadle, J. E. (March, 2016)]. John also was presented with the Outstanding Research Poster Presentation at the UNL Spring Research Fair 2016 for his EEG work on “Escalating Risk and the Moderating Effect of Resistance to Peer Influence on the P200 and Feedback Related Negativity.”

Maital Neta

Assistant professor of psychology, received an award from the National Institute of Mental Health to use state-of-the-art brain imaging and analysis techniques to examine individual differences in brain connectivity and reactivity that can be used to explain an individual’s valence bias (i.e., the tendency for an individual to interpret ambiguity as emotionally positive or negative). She will compare locations of brain activity in children, who tend to have a more negative valence bias, and compare these to activities found in adolescents and adults, who show a wide range of individual differences in bias. Neta has also published in the journals Emotion (“Don't like what you see? Give it time: Longer reaction times associated with increased positive affect,” with T. T. Tong), Cerebral Cortex (“Dorsal anterior cingulate, medial superior frontal cortex, and anterior insula show performance reporting-related late task control signals,” with S. M. Nelson and S. E. Petersen), and Cognition and Emotion (“All in the first glance: First fixation predicts individual differences in valence bias,” with T. T. Tong, M. L. Rosen, A. Enersen, M. J. Kim, and M. D. Dodd) during 2016.

Dennis Molfese

Professor of psychology, received an Outstanding Alumni Award from the Department of Psychology at Penn State University, the second alumnus in the history of the Ph.D. program to receive such an honor.

Jessie Pogue

Graduate student, Clinical Program, received a travel award to present at the Society of Pediatric Psychology.

David DiLillo

Professor of psychology, received the Spotlight on a Mentor award from the Association of Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies (ABCT), which honors excellence in mentorship by highlighting exceptional ABCT mentors nominated by their students and trainees.

Molly Franz

Graduate student, Clinical Program, received a Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, as well as a dissertation grant from the American Psychological Association to support her project examining the influence of stressful life experiences on mothers' interactions with their children.

Vincenzo Roma

Graduate student, Clinical Program, published in the journal Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (“Are we certain about which measure of intolerance of uncertainty to use yet?,” with Deb Hope). This work finds that the short 12-item version of the Intolerance of Uncertainty Scale has a better fit to data in comparison to the 27-item version. Results also indicate that the short-form is gender invariant, suggesting acceptable use among men and women.

Juan Duque

Graduate student, Neuroscience and Behavior Program, published in the journal Animal Behaviour (“Voluntary food sharing in pinyon jays: the role of reciprocity and dominance.” with Jeff Stevens). This paper documented the voluntary sharing of food between adult, unrelated male pinyon jays. Since the giving away of valuable resources is likely very costly in nature, researchers expect that acts of generosity, like food sharing, are typically maintained by some type of return benefits to the donating individual. Here, he explored whether reciprocity (e.g. tit-for-tat) and an individual's dominance status helped explain why an individual may choose to share with another. There appears to be no role of reciprocity (i.e. being shared food with did not make you more likely to share back), however, dominant individuals shared more food with subordinate individuals. It may be that dominant individuals share food in order to reinforce their superior status; the more resourceful and dominant you are the more you are able to willingly give away resources.
Duque, J. F., & Stevens, J. R. (2016). Voluntary food sharing in pinyon jays: the role of reciprocity and dominance. Animal Behaviour, 122, 135–144.

Joanna Seley

Psychology Major Advisor, received the Best of Region 7 award for her presentation with two colleagues, Savannah Nulton and Christy Craft, at the Region 7 National Academic Advising Association Conference. Their presentation was entitled “Responding and Revealing: Addressing Challenges Related to Expressions of Religion and Spirituality in Academic Advising.”

Melanie Fessinger

Graduate student, Social and Cognitive Program and the Law-Psychology Program, has been awarded a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship to conduct research examining individual differences in jurors that predict their understanding of scientific information presented at trial.

David Hansen

Professor of psychology, became a Fellow at the Society for Child and Family Policy and Practice (Div. 37), American Psychological Association.

Cynthia Willis-Esqueda

Associate professor of psychology gave a talk on behalf of those favoring a State of Nebraska initiative to ban on the death penalty. She also gave a talk at St. Paul’s Methodist Church on race bias in the legal system concerning her research that addresses the causes of the bias. [Willis Esqueda, C. (2016, November 3). “Race and the legal system: Issues of concern.” St. Paul Methodist Church. Lincoln, Nebraska.] and [Willis Esqueda, C. (2016, August 17)]. “Disparities in Latino Justice. Retain a Just Nebraska.” Her recent publication [with Hazel Delgado] in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence received recognition in Nebraska Today.

Betty James

Office Associate, was presented with both a monthly and annual College of Arts and Sciences Applause Award in 2016.

Eve Brank

Associate professor of psychology, became the Director for the Center on Children, Families, and the Law in August 2016. During the 2015-2016 academic year, Eve was a member of the American Psychological Association’s Leadership Institute for Women Psychologists. Eve is also the president-elect of the American Psychology-Law Society (Division 41 of APA).

Andrea Avila

Graduate student, Clinical Program, received a dissertation fellowship from the Mathematica Center for Studying Disability Policy.

Mike Dodd

Associate professor of psychology, Social and Cognitive Program, was awarded the Outstanding Research and Creative Activity Award (ORCA) from the College of Arts and Sciences at UNL.

Manda Williamson

Assistant professor of psychology, received one of four inaugural College of Arts and Sciences Teaching Academy Fellow awards for exceptional teachers. Manda will engage in local, national and international conversations about essential issues in higher education to develop teaching expertise across the disciplines and at all levels of learning.

Rebecca Brock

Assistant professor of psychology, was named an Association of Psychological Science Rising Star. The Rising Star designation recognizes outstanding psychological scientists in the earliest stages of their research career post-PhD whose innovative work has already advanced the field and signals great potential for their continued contributions.

David DiLillo and Sarah Gervais

Received named professorships. David DiLillo was named Willa Cather Professor of Psychology, and Sarah Gervais was named Susan J. Rosowski Associate Professor of Psychology. Please visit Nebraska Today to learn more.

Greg DeGirolamo

Graduate student, Developmental Program, received the Graduate Student Teaching Award in Psychology for Classroom Instruction.

Katie Kidwell

Graduate student, Clinical Program, received the Graduate Student Teaching Award in Psychology for Research Mentor.

Carolyn Brown-Kramer

Assistant professor of psychology, received the Psychology Teacher of the Year Award from the Psi Chi/Undergraduate Psychology Organization.

Robert Belli

Professor of psychology, received a College of Arts and Sciences International Research Collaborations Award to work with colleagues at the University of Portsmouth for his proposal, entitled, “Individual Differences in False Memory Susceptibility: An International Collaboration.”