Perspective Online

UWG Psychology Department Hosts 16th Annual Research Conference

by Rachel Williams

The University of West Georgia welcomed students, faculty and visitors to its 16th Student Psychology Annual Research Conference, Thursday, April 3, in Melson Hall. SPARC is one of the largest student psychology conferences in the Southeast. Approximately one-third of the presenters were undergraduate students; the rest were master’s and doctoral students. The presentations ran from 1-5 p.m. and covered a number of interesting topics such as extrasensory perception, women in gaming and archetypes in adolescent fiction.

UWG Psychology Department Hosts 16th Annual Research Conference “We teach students the foundations of psychology in the classroom and then push them to expand on what they've learned, to think critically,” explains Dr. Kathleen Skott-Myhre, one of the faculty members who helped organize the event. “We need people to push the edges in psychology, not just do what's always been done. The UWG Psychology Department is pretty unique; we have a number of faculty members who live on the edge of psychology. We have experts on critical psychology, transpersonal psychology, feminist psychology, community psychology, humanistic psychology, even parapsychology. We’re one of the few institutions in the U.S. to offer these varied perspectives. We have international students who come to UWG solely because of our Psychology Department. It's definitely on the cutting edge.”

“SPARC is a really important opportunity for students to get feedback, both from faculty and their peers,” adds co-organizer Dr. Christine Simmonds-Moore. “It’s set up like a sample conference, with each student getting 10 minutes to present their research and then five minutes to answer questions. It’s an excellent way to participate in the scientific community, celebrate achievements and connect with the community.”

One of the ways SPARC connects with the Carrollton community is through food. Every year, local businesses donate food and beverages for lunch at SPARC. The students are generally the ones who seek out business owners and coordinate the food details.

Although Dr. Skott-Myhre and Dr. Simmonds-Moore are the go-to faculty members for the annual event, they were both quick to note that the conference is made by and for the students. “Nicole Hale was really the core of SPARC this year,” says Dr. Skott-Myhre. “She’s a graduate student in our master’s program. Nicole really grounded a lot of the work in organizing and implementing this year’s event.”

SPARC is just one of the exciting programs offered by the UWG Psychology Department. Although they have mostly wrapped up their activities for the spring semester, they will return in the fall with other events such as the Bill Roll Forum. Students who hope to get involved with organizing or presenting at next year’s SPARC should contact Dr. Skott-Myhre or Dr. Simmonds-Moore. Communications about SPARC will be sent to students closer to the spring semester.

“SPARC is a fantastic way to see what everyone else is doing,” concludes Dr. Simmonds-Moore. “People are studying all these interesting areas of inquiry about the mind, about the human condition. It’s really nice to see a record of student achievement, especially because it’s hard to see what’s happening across the whole department. I often think, ‘I want to be taking these other professors’ classes!’ It’s wonderful to see what other people have done in this department.”

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