The University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg dedicated its two-year-old Psychology Laboratory in honor of Diane T. Marsh, PhD, professor emerita of psychology, during a ceremony held Tuesday, April 17, in Millstein Library. Sharon P. Smith, PhD, president of Pitt-Greensburg, presided at the ceremony, which included comments from Kristen Asplin, PhD, assistant professor of psychology, and Melissa Marks, PhD, professor of psychology.
Marsh served as professor of psychology at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg from 1977 through 2011. Throughout her 33-year long career, she made significant contributions to the curriculum and served as an inspiration for students, faculty, and staff. Her influence reached past the campus, though.
This year, she has been named a 2012 MHA Innovations Award Winner by Mental Health America of Westmoreland County.
She also has served as chair of the American Psychological Association (APA) Task Force on Serious Mental Illness and Serious Emotional Disturbance and as APA representative on the American Bar Association Task Force on Mental Disability and the Death Penalty. The recipient of the 2003 Catherine Acuff Congressional Fellowship provided her the opportunity to influence public policy through her work in the office of Senator Jeff Bingaman.
The Psychology Suite is named in honor of Dr. Marsh because of the contributions and accomplishments listed above and the many others not included here because of space limitations.
In 2010, renovations to Millstein Library provided new areas for study, research, and much-needed offices. By converting an existing staff lounge to a Psychology Laboratory Suite, Pitt-Greensburg is able to offer Psychology faculty and students a state-of-the-art facility for testing and research. Included in the suite are a large testing area, small testing area, observation area, and waiting area.
Out of Pitt-Greensburg’s 1,750 students, approximately 200 are psychology majors. In fall 2010, the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg developed coursework in Behavior Analysis to meet the increasing demand for evidence-based practice within Psychology. The Behavior Analyst Certification Board has approved this course sequence for meeting the coursework requirements for eligibility to take the Board Certified Behavior Analyst Examination. Applicants will have to meet additional requirements to qualify. Nineteen Pitt-Greensburg students completed the first cohort, and another nineteen are currently enrolled in the sequence. Pitt-Greensburg will begin to offer supervised field placements in behavior analysis in fall 2012.
During the academic year, students have used the psychology laboratory to run senior thesis experiments. Students will also use the lab when they are assisting faculty with research projects. For instance, Jessica Everly, PhD, assistant professor of psychology, has had her students working on literature searches, manuscript preparation, and setting up a laboratory. The next step the students will take is actual data collection. Jonathan Vallano, PhD, assistant professor of psychology, is using the psych lab for student research assistant meetings.
This newly named psychology laboratory is an asset to Pitt-Greensburg’s campus and educational experience.
• It assists Pitt-Greensburg in recruiting the best faculty to the psychology program, because faculty can perform research in a state-of-the art facility.
• Students who become research assistants gain hands-on knowledge of professional research in various sub-fields of psychology. When applying to graduate school, students with research experience have an advantage, especially since most doctoral programs require it. The psychology lab helps faculty to prepare their students for this requirement and builds the skills necessary to succeed in graduate school.
• Future plans for the lab’s use may include students using the lab for senior projects. Dr. Vallano may start running small projects or demonstrations in the lab for his research methods courses. However, priority will go to the faculty who will use the space to do their research.
Most recently, the Pitt-Greensburg psychology faculty used the lab space to host a large meeting about human subject safety protocols that featured a member of the Pittsburgh Institutional Review Board as the speaker.
Dr. Jessica Everly has used the lab the most of the faculty. She has been pivotal in creating the lab and preparing it for use. After setting up the daily operations of the lab and preparing it for data collection, she has used it for programming experiments, preparing manuscripts, and consultations. For example, Everly consulted with local families (at no cost to the families) to develop behavioral interventions for their children. Details about this project are limited because of the confidential nature of the activities.
The plans for the future are numerous. They include:
• Kristen Asplin, PhD, assistant professor of psychology, is considering a study of mothers reading to their children and the types of words they use, including onomatopoeia. She will compare the data to that previously collected by a collaborator in Korea. A research assistant (i.e. Pitt-Greensburg student) will help gather and analyze the data.
• The newest member of the psychology faculty, Russell Phillips, PhD, assistant professor of psychology, plans to research how spirituality can help cope with stress.
• Jeffrey Everly, PhD, assistant professor of psychology, plans to evaluate various quantitative and theoretical models of recall and recognition memory.
• Dr. Jessica Everly, assistant professor of psychology, will be using the small testing room for human studies on operant conditioning. The bulk of the work (experiment planning, data analysis, etc.) happens in the control room.
• Dr. Jonathan Vallano, assistant professor of psychology, will be using the large room for lab meetings with students interested in research.
The University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg dedicated its two-year-old Psychology Laboratory in honor of Diane T. Marsh, PhD, professor emerita of psychology, during a ceremony held Tuesday, April 17, in Millstein Library.