Summer Research Experience STLR: RCSA by Kait Harkey


When people hear the word Psychology, most people think of lying on a couch and working through your childhood terrors and while therapy is a respectable aspect of psychology, it is not the only aspect. My area of focus and the other research assistants’ area of focus is experimental psychology. Similarly, when someone hears the word science, you think of people in a white lab coat holding beakers of green liquid, while the beaker on the table is filled with red liquid and smoking. So, this summer we (the lab boffins, a term Dr. V has given us) plan to create a pilot study for experiments that will be ready to go by the fall semester. These experiments will add to the already extensive work of the experimental psychologists who came before us who wanted psychology to be considered as much of a “science” as any other science out there.  I hope that in my lifetime, I will see a change come about that when people hear the word science it is not only white lab coats and smoking beakers, but also a psychologist working in a psychology lab that will appear in their minds’ eye.  
I am as guilty as anyone who perceives science and scientist as being in a chemistry lab with lab coats, goggles on, and smoking beakers. I grew up in a very small town in Oklahoma and didn’t know psychology could even run experiments. I am extremely grateful for the experience I have been able to gain by working in the lab. The first exposure I got from being in the psychology lab was working on my advanced statistics homework in the summer. I got my first research experience from just being in the lab all the time and over hearing people talk about the experiments they were going to do over the semester. I just volunteered to help in the lab as much as I could, and eventually worked my way into a research assistant position. 

To be honest, I would never have thought that this is what I was going to do when I started on the journey of life, but life works that way and we just have to adapt to what life wants to throw at us. I surprised myself when I wrote my Research Creative and Scholarly Activities grant, and I was even more surprised when I was actually approved for it. I am so glad I found myself in the psychology lab two summers ago, because if not I would be lost and stumbling around bumping into people.

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