Students and alumni present research at convention

April 4, 2022

Research by 16 current students and recent graduates featured at the 2022 Society for Personality and Social Psychology Annual Convention 

The Hilton San Francisco Union Square was abuzz with activity Feb. 16-19, as some 1600 people converged on it for the 2022 Society for Personality and Social Psychology (SPSP) Annual Convention. Another 2600 people attended virtually. Among those whose research was featured at the international gathering were 16 current University of Richmond students and recent graduates.

Their research covered topics ranging from partisan bias in political decision making, to diversity in higher education, to the role of friendship in a pandemic, to COVID-19 anxiety in college students, and more. Notwithstanding the diversity of their research, the Richmond students and alumni had something in common: dedicated faculty mentors Crystal Hoyt and Kristjen Lundberg. Hoyt, professor of leadership studies and psychology, and Lundberg, associate professor of social psychology, have been mentoring student researchers for 22 and 12 years, respectively.

“Working with students on research is one of the best and most engaging forms of teaching,” Hoyt said. “My approach to education and knowledge production is steeped in the teacher-scholar model. It is important to involve students in advancing knowledge through original research and bring this new knowledge into the classroom.”

Not only does research generate exciting, new knowledge, it also helps students develop valuable skills, Lundberg said.

“Many of these skills are applicable to life beyond the lab,” she said. “These include abilities to think critically and creatively, analyze and use data, communicate information clearly in a variety of formats, and collaborate effectively and respectfully with others.”

Students also derive a sense of meaning by researching topics about which they care deeply. Such is the case for Anna Marston, ’22, a leadership studies and psychology major, who co-presented with Hoyt at the SPSP convention their research on growth mindsets related to weight and mental illness.

“Combining my work in the classroom with hands-on research has been the most profound experience I've had at Richmond,” she said. “Dr. Hoyt has helped me discover my passion for the intersections of human belief systems and social justice issues. My research with Dr. Hoyt has real-life implications and has equipped me for a career in social psychological research.”

Similarly, Kathrina Durante, ’23, also a leadership studies and psychology major, said her research with Lundberg, including two summer fellowships, has had a significant impact on her education and her plans to pursue a doctorate in social psychology. Durante and Lundberg co-presented at the SPSP convention their findings on the internal and external motivations behind online activism.

For juniors Durante and Jared Brassil, McKennah Lauber, Samara Rosen, and Helen Wallace and seniors Marston, Hyewon Hong, and Lauren Stenson, presenting their research at the SPSP convention is the exciting culmination of hours spent collecting and analyzing data. All received funding from either the Jepson School of Leadership Studies or the School of Arts and Sciences to conduct and present their research.

“As convention attendees, students learn more about the latest findings and methods in psychological research and practice their networking skills,” Lundberg said. “And, as presenters, they deepen their understanding of their own research and sharpen their communication skills, particularly their ability to respond to questions and critiques in real time.”

For Durante, engaging in conversations with people from other universities who attended her poster session was particularly rewarding. “It was validating to know that people outside University of Richmond were interested in my research process, the findings, and potential future directions,” she said.

The SPSP convention also featured research by recent Richmond graduates Nora Apt, ’21, Sara Cloonan, ’19, Kendall Crispin, ’21, Rachel Forsyth, ’17, Kexin Li, ’21, Allie Margolis, ’21, Emma Nash, ’20, and Will Walker, ’21.

Photo: University of Richmond SPSP convention goers, left to right: first row, Dr. Crystal Hoyt and Dr. Kristjen Lundberg; second row, Sara Cloonan, ’19, Anna Marston, ’22, Lauren Stenson, ’22, Ayele d’Almeida, ’20, Kathrina Durante, ’23, and Allie Margolis, ’21; third row, Jared Brassil, ’23, Hyewon Hong, ’22, Will Walker, ’21, and Rachel Forsyth, ’17.