January 2020 Newsletter

Preview of January 2020 Newsletter

Summer 2019

NMU’s Excellence in Education Program is a $1500 award established to support graduate student research in the summer. The awards are intended to assist graduate students in the conduct of scholarly research and creative works that will enhance their academic experience and professional growth.

All five of our applicants (listed below with their Mentor and Title of the research proposal) for the Summer 2019 Excellence in Education Research Program were funded!

Jeremy Andrzejewski (Dr. Joshua Carlson):  Evaluating the Error-Related Negativity as a Functional Biomarker of Brain Structure to Predict Attention Bias Modification Outcome.

Hayley Gilbertson (Dr. Joshua Carlson):  Effects of Attention Bias Modification on Neural Indices of Error Monitoring and Conflict Processing in High-Trait Anxiety Individuals.

Alex Lekander (Dr. Adam Prus):  Examining the Effects of Putative Antipsychotic Drugs.

Min Park (Dr. Adam Prus):  Assessment of Sex Differences and Behavioral Effects of Psychostimulants on Schedule-Induced Polydipsia.

Taylor Susa (Dr. Joshua Carlson):  Blood Biomarkers and Magnetic Resonance Imaging Following Concussion in Post Return-to-Play Collegiate Athletes.


Winter 2018

Dr. Adam Prus (Professor and Head of Psychological Sciences) has been selected to receive the 2018 Distinguished Faculty Award.

The screening committee is comprised of the Academic Deans and the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs. The Committee bases its decisions on the nominee's record of significant contributions to NMU and to his/her professional discipline in all three of the following:

  1. teaching or other assigned responsibilities
  2. research, scholarship, creative activities
  3. university or professionally-related community service


Dr. Jacob Daar's work at the BEAR clinic premiered on Local 3 News, showcasing the work that is being done to help children with autism.


A manuscript by Dr. Joshua Carlson and students Scott Conger and Jamie Sterr, "Auditory Distress Signals Potentiate Attentional Bias to Fearful Faces: Evidence for Multimodal Facilitation of Spatial Attention by Emotion" has been accepted for publication in Journal of Nonverbal Behavior. 

    Taylor Susa (Senior Psychology Major) has been awarded one of five NMU Honors Program's 2018 "Anna and Rich Lundin Honors Summer Research Fellowships."  Taylor  will employ $5,000 toward the expenses involved in pursuing academic research during the upcoming summer on her project:   “Neuroimaging of Mild Traumatic Brain Injury in Collegiate Athletes.”  Dr. Joshua Carlson will mentor Taylor on this research.


    O'ConnorO'Connor Honored by Michigan Irish-American Chamber

    Monday, March 19

    NMU alumnus David O'Connor (BS 1996) received the President's Leadership Award from the Michigan Irish-American Chamber of Commerce (MIACC) at its annual gala on March 13 in Detroit. Dignitaries who attended included the mayor of County Cork, Ireland. O'Connor is founder, past president and board member of the MIACC. The chamber works to advance the business, culture, education and civic welfare of Michigan citizens of Irish descent. It is part of Irish Network USA.

    O'Connor is an IT security analyst at Ford Motor Company. He established the MIACC in 2012, after moving to metro Detroit for a new career opportunity.

    “I was a VIP at the Oakland County International Airport when the governor commemorated the first 100 percent green terminal in the U.S. and noticed Asian-Pacific and Chaldean-American chambers represented there,” he said. “It made me wonder if there was an Irish ethnic chamber locally that I could join. I did a bunch of searches and found them in large metro areas like New York City and Boston, but not at all in Michigan. So I decided to start one. It has evolved from a local networking group to an influential organization well-respected by the Irish Embassy. I consider this award from the MIACC a great honor.”

    O'Connor also received a surprise proclamation from the Consulate General of Ireland. It commended his distinguished service to the public and support for the Irish-American business community. “Your contribution to growing Irish-American heritage, culture and economic development through the founding of the Michigan Irish American Chamber of Commerce and your tenure as president has been exceptional,” it read.

    The honors are impressive, considering that O'Connor at one time did not consider himself “college material.” He lacked direction as a teenager and did not perform well academically until his final two years of high school. But he became the first in his family to go to college when he enrolled as a right-to-try student at NMU.

    “I didn't know what career path I wanted, but it worked out well for me,” he said. “I graduated in four years with a B average and a major in psychology and minor in biology focusing on neuroscience. I still keep in touch with Professor John Renfrew. I worked in his psychology lab on research on the effects of Prozac on aggression in rats. He presented our data in France after I graduated.

    “I didn't do the project for grades, but because I was interested in the topic and John was open to my help. NMU is a student-focused university allowing for unique research opportunities. It's small enough where you can go above and beyond to add experiences to your resume that stand out. My time there allowed me to grow and develop into a successful business professional and leader.”

    It also introduced him to his future wife, Amy Edson (BS 95). They have been married 21 years and have three children. O'Connor later went on to earn an MBA and a master's in cyber security from University of Detroit Mercy. He applies the latter at Ford, where he was recruited to assist with the last defense against cyber attacks.

    “Ford is attacked over a million times a month. Our data is worth a lot of money, so we need to protect it. There are three different levels of defense. If there's an effort to infiltrate and it elevates to our level, we set up a digital crime scene and investigate what happened so we can prevent it from happening again.”

    The phrase “threat hunter” is also part of O'Connor's title. In that capacity, he searches for vulnerabilities within the company network.

    Fall 2017

    This fall, the Department of Psychological Science welcomes three incoming faculty. Dr. John de Grosbois will be joining us as a Postdoctoral Fellow, coming from the University of Toronto, where he received his Ph.D.. John will be conducting studies, funded by a grant from Oculus VR to Mounia Ziat, to evaluate potential clinical applications of virtual reality devices. Ashley Shayter joins the Department of Psychological Science as a term position. Ashley joins us from Southern Illinois University, where her training led her to receive certification as a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. For her appointment, Ashley will teach courses and supervise practica in the Applied Behavior Analysis M.S. program. Laura Vanden Avond joins the Department of Psychological Science as a term position, as well. Laura has received her Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology from Illinois State University and has an extensive professional background. Laura's appointment will be teaching Child Psychology, Developmental Psychology, and courses in the General Psychology curriculum. 


    NMU Grad Directs Drake's Applied Behavior Analysis Program

    NMU's Psychology alumna Sacha Pence (‘04) is the new director of the applied behavior analysis graduate program at the Drake University School of Education. Pence received her bachelor's degree in psychology and biology from NMU. She also holds a doctorate in psychology. Pence is a certified behavior analyst with experience teaching and working directly with children who demonstrate challenging behaviors. She also has diverse clinical training. Read Drake University's story here.


    Call for undergraduate research papers.

    The Midwest Journal of Undergraduate Research invites students to submit manuscripts from any discipline to be considered for publication in our 2017 issue.

    Submission deadline for guaranteed review for the 2017 issue: January 15th, 2017.

    Email manuscripts to: 

    For more information, including instructions for submission please click here


    Dr. Carlson's article "Lost emotion: Disrupted brain-based tracking of dynamic affective episodes in anxiety and depression." will be published in Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging.

    Dr. Whitaker and Gonia Jarema's paper, "The split between Gall and Spurzheim (1813–1818)" was accepted for publication in the Journal of the History of Neurosciences. Click here to view.

    Dr. Ziat is doing research at the University of Tampere, in Finland. 

    Dr. Carlson's manuscript, "The time-course for the capture and hold of visuospatial attention by fearful and happy faces" has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Nonverbal Behavior. 


    Will Rizer and Sonja Prychitko, from Dr. Ziat's lab are presenting a poster at Cognitive Neuroscience Society meeting.

    Dr. Ziat was invited at University of Giessen, Germany to present her research on Tactile Suppression.


    Dr. Ziat was in Long beach, CA last November to give two talks at Psychonomic Society meeting and Tactile Research Group

    Dr. Ziat and two of her students presented a demo paper at ACM UIST 2014 last October in Honululu, Hawaii.

    Andrea Savord, from Dr. Ziat's Perception in Action Lab is presenting a BKN25 poster, "Kinesthetic memory adaptation in flute players," at a symposium in Montreal from July 7-8, 2014.

    Dr. Whitaker will attend the International Society for the History of the Neurosciences 19th Annual meeting in Brussels, Belgium from June 30th to July 5th. He will present the paper, "Gall and Music: the Faculty and the Bump" on Wednesday July 2nd. .

    Dr. Ziat will be presenting her paper at the Eurohaptics conference in Versailles, France, from June 24th - June 26th.

    On June 9th, Dr. Ziat will be presenting a poster the UEA Perception and Action workshop in East Anglia, Norwich, Norfolk, which is hosted by the School of Psychology.

    Dr. Andronis was invited to speak on the panel discussion, "Philosophy, Neuroscience, and Behavior Analysis: Is There a Converging Consesus?" at the 40th Annual Association for Behavior Analysis International convention in Chicago, IL from May 23rd-27th. 

    Dr. Burns, Dr. Leith, and students attended the Association for Psychological Sciences 26th Annual Convention in San Francisco, CA from May 22nd-25th.

    Dr. Whitaker and five students presented their open source History of Psychology e-textbook project at the National Institute for the Teaching of Psychology Conference in January. The open source textbook can be obtained from Pr. Whitaker also published the article " Mind and Brain: Toward an Understanding of Dualism" in the journal Brain, Mind and Consciousness in the History of Neuroscience this winter, and the article can be accessed here. 

    Dr. Prus's Neuropsychopharmacology lab has come out with two different publications so far this year. In March, the article "The Discriminative Stimulus Effects of the Neurotensin NTS1 Receptor Agonist PD149163 in Rats: Stimulus Generalization Testing with Dopamine D1 and D2 Receptor Ligands" was published in Drug Development Research and can be accessed here. Also published in March, the article "Acute, but not repeated, administration of the neurotensin NTS1 receptor agonist PD149163 decreases conditioned footshock-induced ultrasonic vocalizations in rats" was published in Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry can be found here. 

    Dr. Ziat's Perception in Action Lab has also been quite active over the winter, presenting three abstracts and two papers at the IEEE Haptics Symposium in Houston, Texas this February and one article at ACM CHI 2014, in Toronto, Canada this May.

    Abstracts presented include: 

    Ingrid: interactive grid table

    Throwing of a ceramic cylindrical vessel: How height is affected by sensory deprivation 

    Do you feel the music?

    Is seeing warm, feeling warm?

    Ebbinghaus illusion in the tactile modality

    BCI - Tactile cursor task

    Dr. Carlson and the CABIN lab have also been busy publishing and presenting research this year. At the Celebration of Student Research, which took place on April 10th, 2014, Dr. Carlson, Emily DePetro and Joshua Maxwell's poster, entitled "Reduced medial prefontal cortical volumes associated with depressive traits in healthy individuals" received the second place award for group poster projects. 

    Dr. Carlson has also published five papers in various journals so far this year, including:

    Hyper-Reactive Human Ventral Tegmental Area and Aberrant Mesocorticolimbic Connectivity in Overgeneralization of Fear in Generalized Anxiety Disorder

    Midbrain volume predicts fMRI and ERP measures of reward reactivity

    Circuit-Wide Structural and Functional Measures Predict Ventromedial Prefrontal Cortex Fear Generalization: Implications for Generalized Anxiety Disorder

    Attending to the fear in your eyes: Facilitated orienting and delayed disengagement

    Facilitated Attentional Orienting and Delayed Disengagement to Conscious and Nonconscious Fearful Faces


    Dr. Andronis was invited to speak at the symposium, “Fangs, fans, and brains: Using science fiction and horror to explore behavior analysis" at the 39th Annual Convention of the Association for Behavior Analysis International, in Minneapolis, MN.

    Dr. Prus published a study in Brain research titled, "Assessment of attention in male and female Brattleboro rats using a self-paced five-choice serial reaction time task," which can be found here.

    Pr. Whitaker published a number of research pieces this year. He worked with NMU students as well as other researchers. He also published one piece in the Journal of the history of the neurosciences, titled "Neurologic Heuristics and Artistic Whimsy: The Cerebral Cartography of Wilder Penfield" found here.

    Other research done by Professor Whitaker, but not available online, is as titled: "Approaches to a History of Western Psychology," "Mind and Brain: toward an understanding of duelism," "A note on mentor-disciple relationships: Gall's reaction (1818) to Spurzheim's departure (1813)," "Neuropsychological Testing, Phrenology and Physiognomy in Victorian literature", and "Approaches to a History of Western Psychology."

    Dr. Ziat worked with other researchers to publish lecture notes in Haptic and Audio Interaction Design titled "Plucked String Stiffness Affects Loudness Perception," found here.

    Dr. Burns worked with other researchers on an article that was published in the Journal of Medical Virologytitled "High risk of cytomegalovirus infection following solid organ transplantation despite prophylactic therapy." The aim of this study was to evaluate the incidence of CMV infection and its association with mortality during the first year after transplantation in a large solid organ transplant cohort at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh between January 2006 and April 2009. The text can be found here.


    Dr. Whitaker was invited to teach eight lectures on the clinical neuropsychology of language at the University of Athens Medical School, Department of Neurology, Athens, Greece.

    Professor Whitaker also gave a talk on "the structure of hallucinations in Charles Bonnet syndrome: notes from Bonnet’s “Visions” (1759)" at the King’s College London Institute of Psychiatry, Dept of Psychological Medicine, London, UK.

    Dr. Pelton-Cooper published a study in the Feminism & Psychology journal titled "HIV risk in a group of educated urban Black African women in South Africa: Private accounts of gendered power dynamics." The full text can be found here.