Faculty Spotlight: Todd Williams, Psychology
What are your undergraduate research mentor experiences?
Faculty Advising: 2 Honors students; 2 S3 Scholars; 45 independent study (PSY 499) students. Research advisor to 23 student research presentations at domestic and international conferences.
Would you briefly explain the focus of some of the most recent research you have mentored students in?
As a social psychologist my program of research involves designing and conducting experimental and survey type research. My laboratory, which typically consists of 5-10 undergraduate researchers, investigates a variety of topics ranging from the effects of lying on memory to how idealized body images in advertising affects eating, shopping and exercise behaviors.
Why is mentoring undergraduate research an important component of your work?
Broadly speaking, it is essential for the advancement of my discipline. Training young researchers serves not only to advance the field of psychology, but also helps me to develop connections with people who will eventually become my colleagues in academia. On a personal level, I find that having a laboratory that is full of smart people who are excited about psychology…is most excellent. My students challenge me, bring fresh perspective to my research and keep me excited about what I do. It gives me great personal satisfaction to know that I’ve helped someone learn more about the discipline I love.
If a student is interested in your field of research, what are some suggestions or tips you might share with them to help them get more involved and/or better prepared to engage in this type of research?
Once you’ve found an area of psychology that you are passionate about (e.g. social, cognitive, developmental) take the higher level courses in that area that are offered as well as research methods (PSY300, PSY400). SPEAK WITH YOUR PROFESSORS about your interests and ask if any of them will to allow you to join their lab as either a volunteer or an independent study student (PSY499). Laboratory spaces are limited, so BE PERSISTANT and apply to more than one lab. It may take a few tries but it will be well worth the effort as this experience is invaluable.
Who are some of your previous mentees, and what are they doing now?
Kristy Walters, Ph.D. (University of British Columbia - Counseling Psychology); Michael Sharp – Ph.D. in progress (Univeristy of Alberta; Social Psychology); Amanda Willis – M.A. (Western Michigan; Counseling Psychology); Jacob Schaner, M.A. (University of Denver, School Psychology); Hailey Wilmot, M.A. in progress (Indiana University, School Psychology); Michael Mead, Ph.D. in progress (North Dakota State, Health Psychology); Kaylee Kruzan, M.A. in progress (University of Illinois, Communication).
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