Andrea Kaniuka ('14, Psychology and Statistics)
What do you do for your undergraduate research?
I have worked in Dr. Bryan Myers's forensic psychology lab for the past three years as a DIS student, and just completed my honors thesis in this lab on misinformation and post-identification and their effects on eyewitness testimony.
What made you want to pursue an undergraduate research project?
I decided to pursue research due to my interest in statistics and methodology. While I enjoy the clinical side of psychology, I am particularly interested in the design of experiments and analysis of data. Aside from my interests, I knew that research experience would make me a competitive candidate for graduate school and give me the background I need to be a successful student in the future.
How did you start your research project?
I took a class with Dr. Kate Bruce that was an introduction to research in the social sciences. She encouraged all of her students to explore the laboratories of professors who were conducting research well aligned with their personal interests. I took a class with Dr. Myers previously and felt extremely comfortable contacting him about becoming a research assistant. Dr. Myers allowed me to attend a lab meeting and get a feel for the role of an undergraduate research assistant before I joined his lab. When I first started, I did a great deal of data entry and then began to run experiments. After working in his lab for a few semesters, he agreed to mentor me on my honors thesis.
Was doing your own research fun? Be honest.
I enjoyed doing research immensely. Conducting an honors thesis is time consuming, but extremely rewarding. Rather than simply taking a course, I was contributing to the field of psychology and felt as if I was working towards something meaningful and tangible. There is a sense of community among the lab members that is refreshing and laid-back, and running experiments can be extremely fun. There is a variety of work to be done, be it scanning, data entry, phone calls, or running experiments, so it is hard to be bored!
It isn't required to do research as an undergrad, so what advantages do you think this experience has provided you?
Participating in research has given me the background and experience that I need for graduate school. It has also exposed me to current scholarly literature and research within the field of psychology. Conducting my honors thesis was extremely helpful as I had experience designing the experiment, collecting data, running data analysis, and writing my thesis. I was able to see this project from its beginning stages to completion and get experience on all aspects of research
What recognition and/or grants did you receive for your research?
I received a CSURF travel grant to attend the Association for Psychological Science (APS) conference in Washington D.C. in May, 2013 where I was co-author on two posters, both of which look at the influence of victim impact statements and mitigating factors on sentencing judgments in capital trials. I also received the Michael Bradley Award in Applied Research which is awarded by the department of Psychology. The collaborative work on my honors thesis and the master's thesis of a graduate student in my lab was accepted for the American Psychological Association (APA) conference in August 2014.
What are your plans after you receive your degree from UNCW?
I will be attending East Tennessee State University starting Fall 2014 in their PhD Clinical Psychology program, studying suicide and reasons for living.