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Feb. 22, 2012
More than 300 students with interests in behavioral sciences will gather Friday, March 9, and Saturday, March 10, at Northwest Missouri State University as the campus plays host to the 32nd Annual Great Plains Students’ Psychology Convention.
The annual regional conference draws students from 30 universities throughout Missouri, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska and Oklahoma. Founded in 1981, the annual conference is an opportunity for students to hear guest speakers and present psychology projects to their peers. Northwest has hosted the gathering only one other time in the convention’s history, in 1993.
“This is a very prestigious, nationally recognized student psychology conference where top students from universities present empirical and nonemperical research,” said Dr. Carla Edwards, chair of Northwest’s Department of Psychology, Sociology and Counseling, which is sponsoring the convention.
The two-day schedule includes a dinner and banquet Friday featuring Dr. Jeremy Wolfe as the keynote speaker. Wolfe is a professor of ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School, a senior lecturer in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, an adjunct associate professor in cognitive and neural systems at Boston University, and director of the Visual Attention Lab at Brigham and Women's Hospital.
“We are excited to have Jeremy Wolfe as the keynote speaker,” said Assistant Professor Dr. Alisha Francis, who is organizing the conference with Associate Professor Dr. Rebecca Hendrix. “His research on visual search has been featured on NPR and in other international venues. He will discuss the process of conducting research related to pattern recognition and oddities, explaining the implications in settings such as airport screenings and mammography.”
Other conference highlights include two high-engagement learning rooms. Friday, students of Associate Professor Dr. April Haberyan will present their work in comprehensive crisis response. Then Saturday, students under the guidance of Assistant Professor Dr. Linda Sterling will showcase the field of sport psychology. As the featured speaker at 11:30 a.m. Saturday, Dr. Tim Crowley, director of Personal Development and Counseling Services, will discuss research related to the search for happiness and provide tips for finding one's own happiness.
In all, this year's conference will feature more than 130 student presentations. The convention concludes with a banquet Saturday where awards will be given to the top presenters. All sessions and Wolfe's keynote are open to the public, however, meals require registration.
Working with faculty sponsors, students spend months researching and preparing their presentations. At last year’s conference, four projects presented by Northwest students earned second-place awards.
“It’s very competitive and in the past Northwest has done quite well, bringing home several awards,” Edwards said.
Students in Northwest’s Social Sciences Research Group (SSRG), Psych/Soc Society and the Psi Chi honors society also playing prominent roles in the planning.
“Hosting the conference provides a number of opportunities for Northwest students,” Francis said. “During the conference they will have the opportunity to network with representatives from a number of schools as they greet participants at registration and moderate sessions, among other things.”
Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
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Northwest Missouri State University
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