Undergrads in the Lab

Undergraduate researchers Janelle Quest and Kathryn Cellerini have been working shoulder-to-shoulder with their professor Jennifer Connor-Smith to identify and isolate the factors that influence adolescent stress management.

As part of a cadre of research assistants in OSU’s Department of Psychology, they are getting the kind of nuts-and-bolts experience in social science that typically comes along only for graduate students. They are helping to design questionnaires and “protocols” for observing and rating kids’ behaviors, interviewing students and their parents, measuring physiological responses to stress in the laboratory, and collecting and analyzing data.

“Working in the lab has given me a chance to really understand what goes into developing the knowledge base in psychology,” says Quest, who started college as an engineering major. “It’s given me a whole new perspective on my education because I’m taking an active part in what I’m learning, compared to cramming for a midterm and then forgetting everything afterward.”

Cellerini, who entered OSU in pre-med before switching to psychology, says her strong science background has been a big plus. “Genetics and chemistry are really helpful in psychology,” she says.

This work has helped both young women solidify their career goals. Quest (who completed her degree requirements last spring) rounds out the 30 hours she spends in the psych lab each week with a graveyard shift at the Children’s Farm Home, where she works as a treatment specialist for troubled youths. A Northwesterner born in Anchorage and raised in Eugene, Quest plans to counsel children and families after earning her Ph.D. in clinical psychology. “I want to make a difference,” she says. “Working with younger kids is best — the earlier, the better.”

Cellerini, an Oregonian from the rural community of Colton, also aspires to a doctorate in clinical psychology, with an emphasis in child development. “I feel that I’m at my best,” she says, “when I’m working with kids.”

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