Faculty Focus

Doctor Michele Miller Dr. Michele Miller recently received her Ph.D. in Educational Psychology with a focus on Human Development from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. This is her first year at UIS. Currently Dr. Miller is working on two publications. The first, in collaboration with Dr. Jeff Gagne (University of Texas at Arlington) and Dr. H. Hill Goldsmith (University of Wisconsin-Madison), examines the influence of child gender on the temperament dimensions of shyness, activity level, and inhibitory control in a methodologically comprehensively assessed twin sample of 3-year-olds.  The second, also in collaboration with Dr. H. Hill Goldsmith , examines the degree to which 3-year-olds are socially and emotionally ready for preschool as determined by “experts” (4-year-old kindergarten teachers) using temperament, behavior, and cognitive skill items. The quality of parent-child interactions, status variables, and earlier temperament were examined as potential predictors of this readiness construct. Additionally, for a subset of children, this readiness measure was used to predict cognitive outcomes at age 7, around the time of first grade. Dr. Miller is looking for motivated student RAs to assist with a new project investigating the associations between early temperament, school readiness, and cognitive development in a preschool sample.

Pressley Dr. Karen Reinke is working on a project studying the neural mechanisms of attention to faces as measured with Electroencephalography (EEG). Andrew Hathaway is assisting Dr. Reinke-Pressley on this project in the EEG lab.  In Spring 2012, Dr. Reinke-Pressley and Andrew applied for and received the CLAS Student-Faculty Creative Activities Award to support the research as well as Andrew’s travel to a conference.  They are currently half way through the data collection, and will continue in the Spring 2013 semester.  They have submitted an abstract to Cognitive Neuroscience Society annual meeting, and should hear back in January about its acceptance.

In addition, Andrew Hathaway was awarded the CLAS Student-Faculty Creative Activities award for the research he plans to conduct next year entitled: The Modulation of Spatial Attention with Emotional Stimuli in Males Versus Females.

Finally, Dr. Pressley recently published a journal article entitled
Nonconscious Attention Bias to Threat is Correlated with Anterior Cingulate Cortex Gray Matter Volume: A Vodel-Based Morphometry Result and Replication in the Neuroimage.


On October 25th, Dr. Sheryl Reminger gave a presentation at the bi-annual Pecha Kucha night in Springfield. The Pecha Kucha event gives professionals in Springfield community an opportunity to showcase their work to members of the public (view the Pecha Kucha website). Dr. Reminger’s presentation was titled “Psychology for a New Century” and highlighted the changes that the field of psychology has undergone over the past 100 years. Dr. Reminger also spoke about her own research at the event.

Under the supervision of Dr. Reminger, Robert Torrence has proposed two research studies that he plans to conduct this fall and spring. The first study will explore the impact of diet on cognitive function. Specifically, Robert plans to examine if people who consume vegetarian diets versus omnivorous diets may show differences in executive function skills (i.e., skills that include planning, organizing, and strategizing). The second study will explore if diet can have a differential impact on memory function in mice. Robert plans to compare a group of mice that consumes a high-fat, animal-based diet to a group of mice that consumes a low-fat, plant-based diet. He hypothesizes that the mice that consume the high-fat diet will show poorer memory performance on a maze task, but that after reverting the mice to the low-fat plant-based diet, the animals will show improved memory performance. Robert has applied for funding through the Undergraduate Research Support Program to conduct his research.

Also under Dr. Reminger’s supervision, Cassandra David is currently designing a research study to examine the coping strategies of commuting versus non-commuting student-athletes. Cassandra has hypothesized that student athletes who commute to school experience higher stress than those who do not commute, but that athletic involvement also has a mediating effect on stress and can help students better adjust to academic life. Cassandra plans to conduct her research study in the spring semester.

ShenDr. Frances Shen is currently finalizing two research projects. The first examines the impact of parental pressure and support, educational channeling, and internalized stereotyping on the career development of Asian American college students. This research project was funded by the UIS CLAS Faculty Enhancement Scholarship Grant. Lucy Parker, Stacey Windisch, Andrew Hathaway, and Robert Torrence have assisted with data collection since Fall 2011. Findings were presented at the 2012 UIS StARS Symposium and the 2012 APA Convention.

Doctor Shen and RAs at the 2012 APA Convention

The second is a qualitative study that examines the impact of stereotyping and discrimination experiences among Asian American students, and its impact on their identity development. Drs. Shen, Shuang-Yueh Pui, and Juanita Ortiz (Criminal Justice Department) analyzed the data for this study, and will be presenting its findings at the 2012 Midwestern Psychological Association annual meeting.

Dr. Shen is currently working on two research projects. The first study examines the impact of discrimination, social support, adherence to traditional Asian values, and perceived parental attitudes towards homosexuality on the development of internalized homonegativity and poor psychological well-being among Asian American lesbian, gay, and bisexual persons. This study was funded by the CLAS Student-Faculty Creative Activities Fund.  Rebecca Goldsborough, Brittany Sievers, and Brianna Werner are working on data collection.  The preliminary findings were presented at the 2012 UIS StARS Symposium and 2012 Asian American Psychological Association Convention.

Rebecca Goldsborough, Brittany Sievers, and Brianna Werner
A second project was started in 2012 in collaboration with Dr. Kelly Liao (faculty at UMSL) that examines body image issues experienced by Asian American women and men.  Rebecca, Brittany, and Brianna are also assisting with this study.  The data gathered from the focus groups will be used to develop a measure that examines the culturally-relevant body image issues experienced by these populations.  Focus groups are currently being conducted, and preliminary findings have been submitted to the 2013 APA convention.

Switzer Dr. Carrie Switzer is currently working on the Educational Aspirations study. This study examines the differences between traditional and nontraditional aged college students and students from underrepresented groups in terms of their motivation to go to college, their perceived barriers to attending college, and their academic self-efficacy while in college. She is collaborating with colleagues Frances Shen and Marcel Yoder on this project. Students who have worked on this project are undergraduates in the Psychology Department: Kaitlin Easton, Nathan Harmening, Kevin King, Danielle LaPointe, Molly Meinhardt, and Kayla Weitekamp and graduate students in the Human Development Counseling Program: Lucy Parker, Michael Stephens, Brady Sullivan, Rachel Tohme, and Stacey Windisch. Kaitlin Easton and Rachel Tohme presented preliminary findings about racial/ethnic differences among college students in terms of their academic self-efficacy and motivation to attend college at the UIS StARS Symposium in April 2012 and won the Best Social Science Poster Award. Drs. Switzer and Shen, Rachel Tohme, Lucy Parker, and Stacey Windisch presented, Academic Self-Efficacy Mediates Perceived Educational Barriers on Motivation to Attend College at the annual meeting of the Association of Psychological Science, in Washington, D.C., in May 2013. Drs. Switzer and Shen, Rachel Tohme, Lucy Parker, and Stacey Windisch also presented Racial/Ethnic Differences in Educational Motivation, Self-Efficacy, Barriers, & Vocational Outcomes at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association, Honolulu, Hawaii, in August 2013.


YoderDr. Marcel Yoder is currently analyzing data to investigate the effect of interaction on person perception. The purpose of his study is to determine what similarities and differences there are between our impressions depending on whether we interact with another, see a short video of that person, versus merely a photo. Results demonstrate that when judging others’ facial attractiveness, these judges are related but different. Attractive persons are seen as attractive regardless of how other interact with them, but at the same time, persons are seen as more attractive when viewed face to face than when view on video or photo. Kayla Weitekamp and Kady Havemeyer are currently assisting Dr. Yoder on this project. Their study findings will be presented at the 2013 Midwestern Psychological Association annual meeting.

Dr. Yoder has started a new research project in collaboration with Mary-Sheila Tracy and Dr. Keith Miller in Computer Science.  The study will focus on participants’ perceptions of images of robot faces, and will examine the following research questions: (1) Do the facial characteristics that make human faces attractive (e.g,. large eyes and larger lips for women and heavier brow and stronger jaw for men) influence the way participants perceive robot face? (2) To what extent do robot faces need to be altered from their original gender neutral state in order to appear masculine or feminine? (3) Are robot faces that appear more masculine or feminine judged as having the same characteristics as human males human males (e.g., autocratic or coarse) and females (e.g., affectionate or weak)? (4) Does the gender of a participant judging a robot face influence the likelihood that a robot face is judged as masculine or feminine? and (5) Does familiarity with robots moderate any of the above questions?.  Kayla and Kady are also assisting with this study.

In addition, Dr. Yoder presented on Exploring the Uses and Effects of Online Homework at the annual Sloan Consortium International Conference on Online Learning in Orlando, FL in November 2011. He also presented on Getting to Know You Without Getting to Know You: Medium of Presentation Affects Person-Perception Accuracy at the annual meeting of the Society Personality and Social Psychology in San Diego, CA in January 2012.