2015 Cohort

Elia Bueno

Elia Bueno

Supervisor: Dr. Roque Mendez

I am interested in research that involves health disparities among the Latino population in the border regions of Texas, specifically teen pregnancy, as well as behaviors and feelings toward immigrants.  I am extremely passionate about social psychology and the effect of sociocultural factors on individuals. In my thesis, I will be researching how openness to experience and agreeableness (2 of the Big 5 personality traits) predict behaviors and feelings toward immigrants. I am also interested in how these behaviors and feelings are affected by how warm and competent one perceives an immigrant to be.


Seth Doty

Supervisor: Dr. Randall Osborne

My current research interests are focused on Sports Psychology and more specifically, athlete coping. My research will be directed at measuring how particular personality traits (e.g., locus of control, hardiness, competitive trait anxiety, the Big Five Personality Traits) and social support contribute to injury and recovery, as well as the effect that injury has on personality variables and social support over time.


Camille Gray      

Supervisor: Dr. Natalie Ceballos

Equine Animal Therapy (EAT) has become an established therapy to manage negative symptoms related to various disorders.  EAT ameliorates deleterious stressors, which is hypothesized to be related to changes in levels of oxytocin and vasopressin—which may be identifiable in laboratory testing,  before and after equine interaction.  My thesis proposes to measure oxytocin and vasopressin deviations in real time, before and after equine interaction. Significant changes in cortisol (an inhibitor of oxytocin), alpha amylase, or even plasma blood levels may identify subtle variations of these neuropeptides, which are thought to responsible for social impairments, as they change as a function of EAT. 


McKensey Johnson

Supervisor: Dr. Carmen Westerberg

Broadly, I am interested in the neurological bases of cognition.  More specifically, I am interested in the use of clinical populations to examine both memory storage and retrieval.  My current research investigates the relationship between sleep apnea and memory consolidation, as well as the effect of Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) on memory.

Amanda Jones

Supervisor: Dr. Shirley Ogletree

My research interests are in Social Psychology. I am interested in how gender, ethnicity and sexuality are represented in the video game industry. In particular, how certain variations of gender, ethnicity and sexuality are portrayed in video games and if those depictions are harmful stereotypes remains unknown. While research has shown that video game characters are not representative of the real-world population, very little has discussed the potential effects of stereotypes with modern populations.

Chas Jones

Supervisor: Dr. Joe Etherton

I am interested in understanding the effects of pain on cognition and different mental processes. I am currently conducting my thesis on pain and its relationship to executive function. In the future, I hope to map out how pain affects other cognitive processes.  A secondary research interest involves video gaming and the effects of video game involvement on cognitive, social, and emotional processing.

Katherine Mooney

Supervisor: Dr. Rebecca Deason

My research interests are focused on cognition and memory. Specifically, I am interested in the use of musical mnemonics to enhance the recognition memory in healthy, young adults. I am currently working on the effect of sung or spoken lyrics on a participant’s memory, utilizing ERP (Event-Related Potential) as a way to observe the area of the brain that is responsible for the memory processes. In the future, I plan on pursuing a PhD in Clinical Psychology or Counseling Psychology with the ultimate goal of counseling children with Special Needs and/or the families of children affected by a disability.


Casey Morris

Supervisor:  Dr. Reiko Graham

My research interests are focused on art-making and stress. I am currently looking at which forms of coloring show the greatest reductions in stress levels in order to understand the therapeutic effects of art-making.  I chose this topic in response to my own personal interest in art-making, which I find to have meditative properties.  I hope to help people, especially young adults, with anxiety/depression to cope with everyday struggles. With anxiety and depression as growing problems in today’s world, therapeutic alternatives to medication could save time and money, as well as providing a healthy and noninvasive way to reduce stress.

Matthew Pacailler

Supervisor: Dr. John Davis

My research interests consist of interpersonal attraction, aggression, emotion and autism with a current focus on interpersonal attraction. More specifically, I would like to apply the theory of actual and perceived similarity to either a speed dating or internet dating paradigm. I am also interested on whether aggression and attitude similarity affect attraction by using the interpersonal attraction model.  I am committed to strengthening my programming and data analysis skills in order to prepare myself for a career in research.


Sera Schaffer

Supervisor: Dr. Reiko Graham

I am interested in how gender and sexual orientation influence preference of partner and their relationship to the neural correlates of humor production and appraisal. Evolutionary approaches to understanding the development of humor production and evaluation suggest that the brains of men have evolved to increase their ability to produce humor in order to attract a mate, while women’s brains have developed to better evaluate and appreciate humor that then leads to attraction towards a mate (Bressler & Balshine, 2006).  To test this, I will use Event-Related Potentials (ERPs), to record and compare neural responses to jokes in men and women.


Katelyn Stephenson

Supervisor: Dr. Rebecca Deason

My research interests involve geropsychology and cognitive neuroscience. I am currently involved in research exploring the mere exposure effect and comparing it to implicit memory and explicit memory. For my thesis, I want to develop a study involving memory in healthy older adults and older adults with cognitive disorders (e.g. Alzheimer’s disease, Mild Cognitive Impairment).


Garrett Tanner

Supervisor: Dr. William Kelemen

My research interests tend to lie within the clinical realm. Particularly, I am interested in emotional intelligence, metacognition and the effectiveness of psychodynamic/cognitive behavioral therapies beyond the cessation of these treatments. I am currently studying perceptions of safety on campus before and after the implementation of the State of Texas HB 11, which will allow for concealed handguns in campus buildings. I graduated from TCU with degrees in history and psychology. After earning my master’s, I hope to continue to either a PsyD or a PhD in clinical psychology.

Ruben Vela

Supervisor: Dr. Logan Trujillo

I’m generally interested in cognitive psychology of attention and information processing. My thesis will examine the differences in comprehension, memory, and fatigue effects from reading from modern visual display units (computer screens) versus reading from paper. As we are now spending enormous portions of our lives using computer screens, fatigue effects will be a focus and will be measured via EEG power changes and subjective survey measures. I will also examine possible ergonomic differences between modern tablet displays versus traditional desktop monitors.   

Samantha White

Supervisor: Dr. Reiko Graham

My research interests lie in the field of social cognitive neuroscience. Specifically, I am interested in examining the social, cognitive, and neurological approaches to implicit bias toward African Americans. My current research project focuses on weapon bias through a priming paradigm. My thesis will include neurological approaches to weapon bias by conducting an ERP (Event-Related Potential) study.