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July 30, 2008

Today the Summer Research Program officially comes to a close! The past two months have gone by so quickly – I can’t believe it’s already time to move out and head home for the rest of the summer.  On our last day of work, Angelo and I finished up our individual outlines, made sure all of our files were saved and backed up on the computers, and organized the lab in preparation for our departure.  We thanked Professor Hayaki for all of her guidance this summer – working in her lab has been both enlightening and enjoyable.

With everything wrapped up in Beaven, I finished loading up my car (making friends over the past two months definitely benefited me when I needed guys to help carry my refrigerator down to my car – thanks Adam and Dan!) and said my final goodbyes.  First I said goodbye to Angelo – we definitely had fun working together this summer! It was also sad to say goodbye to my roommates, particularly because I won’t see Amy or Katie for over a year unless we visit one another while we’re abroad!

Thus, the end of summer research is definitely bittersweet.  The program has afforded me the opportunity to immerse myself in a research environment where I’ve learned so much about the various aspects of and processes involved in conducting research.  I’ve also made some amazing friends, had time to truly enjoy the Holy Cross campus and explore the local Worcester community, and to experience two additional months of HC life before studying abroad for a year.  On the other hand, I’m excited to finally return home and be with my family and friends back in CT before I leave for Oxford on October 4th!

Thanks so much to Professor Hayaki and Angelo for their endless patience and help – this has been a wonderful summer.  I look forward to presenting our work at the Summer Research Symposium in September!  Also, thanks to all who have followed my blog – I hope everyone has a fabulous and restful summer!

July 28, 2008

This weekend was definitely one of the best of my life – it was so great to reunite with my friends at HC then head up to Maine for a BBQ at one of my best friend James’ house, a birthday celebration at Erin’s lake house, and brunch at Whitney’s! We all enjoyed the beautiful beaches of Maine and company of friends, though it was hard to say goodbye to Erin, James, and Whitney, who are studying abroad (at Galway in Ireland, Bologna in Italy, and Florence in Italy, respectively) and leaving at the end of August!

With only a few days left at HC, I’m now beginning the arduous process of packing and getting everything together before I leave. But as the Summer Research students prepare to go, there are several new groups of students moving in.  Orientation leaders for the Passport Program (an orientation/summer experience program for a small portion of the incoming freshman class) are starting to arrive, along with additional sports teams. 

In the lab, Angelo and I finished and submitted our abstract this morning!  Now we’re diving into our individual outlines.  Today I’m completing comprehensive literature searches on two constructs associated with body image, and throughout the week I’ll be poring over these articles and constructing outlines for each of the three topics I’ve been assigned.  This includes information concerning the subject’s definition, associated constructs/conditions, typical measures associated with it, its relation to eating disorder research, a comprehensive overview of relevant findings, and directions of future research in the area. It’s a time-consuming process, but I’m definitely learning a lot and getting more from the articles than I ever have before!

After working on the outlines, I’m going to organize the lab and make sure everything’s set before we leave then head to Hartford, CT for my biometrics appointment (fingerprints, etc) as part of the process of getting my UK Visa to study abroad --I hope it isn’t as scary as it sounds!

July 25, 2008

Hey everyone!  As usual, this week has been pretty packed.  Since the Summer Research Program ends next week (Wednesday is our last day of work!) everyone has been trying to tie up loose ends and complete our final projects before work comes to a close. It’s definitely nice to be back in Beaven during this final stretch, and we’ve finally gotten completely re-settled and organized in the lab!

Over the past few days, Angelo and I have been busy drafting and revising our abstract.  Because writing an abstract basically involves condensing the content of our entire poster into about 200 words, our paragraph organization and word choice have to be extremely precise.  Our strategy was to start by writing a longer version incorporating all of the important ideas we want to convey, then using this as a template that we can edit down into our final abstract.  We’ve been revising and editing all week, and today we met with Professor Hayaki, who helped us hone our ideas and maximize fluency.  With these corrections made, we should be able to officially submit our final abstract on Monday!

In other news, I had my final summer babysitting job last night!  It was so nice to meet the family (both of the parents are HC grads!), spend time with the kids, and make a little extra money to save for my year abroad.  After saying goodbye to last night, today was filled with other final events, including our last Friday BBQ outside Hogan.  Every Friday since research began, Dining Services has hosted a BBQ outside our campus center that is well-attended by Summer Research students and faculty alike.  This one was particularly fun because Amy and Thao were able to leave work early, so we all sat together and chatted with friends over burgers, salad, and watermelon!

I can’t believe my last weekend at HC has already arrived, but I’m excited because ten of my friends from HC are traveling from PA, NJ, NH, ME, and parts of MA to reunite here at HC on Friday then head up to Maine for Saturday and Sunday! I’m so excited to see my friends! Wishing everyone a happy weekend!

July 22, 2008

We finally finished our poster! Yesterday, Angelo and I made the last edits and presented them to Professor Hayaki, who approved our final draft. Our poster, which includes introduction, hypothesis, methods, measures, results, analyses, discussion, and acknowledgement sections, is a concise version of our research. In this poster, we examined the relationship between impulsivity, mindfulness, specific attitudes about eating, and bulimic symptoms.  Ultimately, our findings provided modest support for our hypotheses, which is understandable considering the small and nonclinical nature of our sample. We concluded that it would be beneficial to readdress the questions we posed in a larger and perfected version of our study.

I still can’t believe this is our last full week of research, and our last few days with Professor Hayaki. Now that we’re done with our poster, we have two additional projects to complete during the next week.  As I mentioned on Friday, we’re now working on drafting our abstract, which we’re making great progress on!

Additionally, Angelo and I are working on separate side projects that involve doing in-depth research on specific topics (for Angelo, it’s impulsivity and its connections to various pathologies; for me it’s attitudes about eating and two specific constructs related to body image). Basically, we have to find and study the literature on each topic and create a concise but comprehensive outline that summarizes the important facets of the literature. It’s quite a task, but we got to choose our own topics so it should be both enlightening and interesting!

In other news, it’s been quite a rainy week up on the hill so I’ve been enjoying hanging out with friends, watching some of my favorite TV shows (Jon and Kate plus 8, Project Runway, etc.), and doing some reading and writing. Also, tonight Amy, Thao, and I are going to the Boulevard Diner for dinner –it’s this really cute railroad car-turned-diner that HC students frequent during the school year. It’s cheap and delicious, so count us in! Anyways, Amy and I better head to the gym before dinner –I hope everyone is having a wonderful week!

July 18, 2008

Today was a big day – this morning we moved our lab from Stein back to Beaven (the home of the psychology department)! With the painting and re-carpeting on our floor newly completed, the psychology faculty and research assistants were cleared to return to our labs. It’s definitely going to be great working around the other professors and students again, not to mention having easy access to our printers, meeting rooms, and files.

Thus, today our research meeting was held in our Beaven lab conference room. Since Wednesday, Angelo and I have been extensively editing our introduction, discussion, and poster in hopes of solidifying our final draft. Today Professor Hayaki suggested some minor edits and last minute changes, so we’re almost done with the poster!

In the meeting Professor Hayaki also gave us another project to work on, which involves drafting an abstract that will go in the Summer Research Symposium guidebook. As some might know, writing an abstract involves condensing the entire content of our poster (introduction, methods, results, and discussion) into only about 200 words! Condensing our research into so few words while retaining key conceptual links and accurately conveying the substance of our work will definitely be a challenge!

In other news, this week my closest HC friends and I began a new tradition of writing group e-mail updates. Because everyone has such crazy schedules during the summer, with varying work hours and vacations, it’s been hard to keep up with everyone’s summer activities. So, stealing the idea from Amy and her friends, my friends and I have begun an e-mail thread, sending each other updates recounting our various adventures and exciting developments. So far almost everyone has written and now I’m always excited to check my e-mail and see what everyone is up to!

Also, last night at 12:01 am (I guess technically it was this morning), my roommates and I went to see the very first showing of Batman: The Dark Knight.  And though I’m exhausted today, the movie was so amazing that it was absolutely worth it; Heath Ledger’s performance was riveting and definitely exceeded my expectations. I’m definitely going to go see it again!

Anyways, it’s time for me to take a nap but I hope everyone has an enjoyable and restful weekend!

July 16, 2008

This week our lab-based work is mainly focused on preparing our poster for the Summer Research Symposium.  In our Monday lab meeting, Angelo and I presented Professor Hayaki with the second draft of our poster and introduction.  The most difficult part about writing a poster is that it has to be extremely concise.  Since we have to condense several months worth of research into a small number of sentences, we really have to know our stuff!

In our meeting, Professor Hayaki helped us talk through the logic of our introduction and what it means in relation to the rest of our poster, so we’re ready for our second round of edits.  We’re also set to begin the first draft of our discussion section, which summarizes our results and the implications of these findings. As Angelo and I are discovering, this experience is not only beneficial because we’re creating a poster of our own work, but also because we’re learning about the complex process of crafting a poster, which is essential as we embark on our journey as students of psychology.

Also, yesterday was my roommate Stef’s birthday – we had such a blast celebrating her 20th! After work, Stef, Katie, Amy and I went to a Japanese restaurant and had hibachi and sushi. I had never been to this kind of restaurant before but I absolutely loved it! We got to watch the chef prepare our meal right in front of us, which was especially fun when he launched food at us so we could catch it in our mouths –suffice to say Stef was the only successful one! After a great meal, we went to Friendly’s for ice cream (delicious!) and came back to the dorm to play Cranium, a really fun board game. Playing the game, we learned that molding clay into discernible shapes is extremely difficult, Katie has never heard “Sweet Caroline” before (I know!), and “happy as a clown” is actually not a well-known phrase (haha sorry, Amy). It was a great day!

Also, this afternoon the Summer Research Program sponsored a special talk sleep and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) entitled "The Bed as a Sleep Measurement System." Given by one of Professor Wolfson’s former colleagues, Dr. Steve Woodward of the Palo Alto VA Hospital, the talk discussed the technology of mattress actigraphy, a promising measurement technique which allows researchers to measure body functions during sleep in the home (and thus over long periods of time) rather than in the lab. It was a wonderful opportunity to learn more about sleep, an area of psychology that I haven’t been extensively exposed to! Anyways, I better go and get started on the discussion for our poster!

July 13, 2009

This has been an amazing weekend! On Friday afternoon Amy and I were feeling lonely because Katie, Stef, and some of our other friends went home for the weekend.  So we were really excited that one of my best friends from home, Sarah (who I’ve known since first grade), decided to make her first trip up to Holy Cross for the weekend! When she arrived that evening, I showed her around campus and Amy & I took her to the Corner Grille, our favorite restaurant in Worcester.  At night we met up with Julianna, who lives off-campus, and two other HC friends (Kerry and Justin) who were visiting.  We definitely had a blast!

On Saturday the weather was absolutely gorgeous, so Amy, Sarah and I decided to go hiking at Purgatory Chasm.  Initially it was awesome –I was feeling earthy and invigorated as I hiked along the natural rock formation. However, the slopes and trails proved to be a lot more treacherous than I imagined, and since I’m definitely not what you would call a risk-taker, I was naturally horrified when Amy pointed to a nearly vertical slope/rock mountain and said, “Hey, why don't we head up that way?”  I obviously started laughing but then Sarah responded with “yea, definitely, let's do it!” After much protesting, I got up the courage and clung onto the rocks for dear life/had a five minute panic attack as I scaled up the slope.  But I did it –TRIUMPH!

After hiking for a few hours and exploring various trails, we capped off our day by going to the Big Dipper Ice Cream Festival at Elm Park in Worcester.  Several local ice cream places (including Friendly’s, Coldstone, Robbie’s Place/Crystal Caves, the Broadway, Trombetta’s Farm and even companies like Turkey Hill and Hood) sponsored a booth featuring several different flavors of ice cream.  For $5, which went to a children’s charity, you were given a spoon and allowed to wander the ice cream tent sampling different flavors for as long as you wanted! It was so much fun –we sampled flavors like Peanut Butter Paradise, Butter Pecan, Junior Mint, Chocolate, Black Raspberry, etc. It was a great event!

In other news, today I submitted my student visa application required for me to study in England next year. October is definitely going to come fast! Well, that’s it for now but I hope everyone had a great weekend!

July 10, 2008

This has definitely been an exciting week! On Tuesday evening, the psychology student research assistants got a chance to have dinner with the faculty from Sanata Dharma University in Indonesia.  We hadn’t yet had the opportunity to ask them questions or informally interact, so it was a great way for us to participate in the US-Indonesia cultural exchange.

Over salad and pizza, we discovered many of the similarities and differences at our respective schools. Though many of the psychology course offerings are similar at HC and SDU, we learned that class sizes are much larger in Indonesia (60 or more compared with 20-25 here!)  Also, though we moan about our 4-class course load at HC, the Indonesian faculty shared that their students take 10 classes (WHAT?!?) and usually spend over 7 hours in class every day. I will never complain again!

After discussing everything from swimming lessons and Indonesian dance to theatre and travel, one of the professors suggested that we exchange our e-mails with the psychology students doing research at SDU. I hope to hear from a student at some point –it would be awesome to discuss psychology, research, and life with someone living on the other side of the world!

On Wednesday, we had a lab meeting where Professor Hayaki suggested edits for the first draft of our poster and introduction. We really fleshed out and solidified our hypotheses, discussed the precise meaning of our analyses, and outlined our plans for the final two weeks of research! For the rest of the week Angelo and I will be editing our introduction & poster and writing the first draft of our discussion.  We’re definitely making progress!

Socially, this has also been a really fun week. On Tuesday night Katie, Amy, Stef and I went to the movies to see WALL-E, which Katie forced us to see –haha—but ended up being great. Also, I just got back from a shopping trip with Amy and Thao (an OL (Orientation Leader) and intern with Amy at United Way.) At Blackstone, an outdoor mall near HC, we shopped for stationary, books, and clothes then grabbed dinner at Qdoba (our new favorite place!) Over dinner we had a blast discussing studying abroad.  Thao just returned from a year in France, so she had a lot of funny stories and advice for Amy (who is going to St. Andrews in Scotland) and me.

I hope everyone has a great weekend!

July 7, 2008

Hi everyone! Today Angelo and I began our first session of a four day Statistical Analysis Software Workshop hosted by Holy Cross. This conference should help us become more proficient in SPSS, the statistical analysis software we use to analyze data.  Today our instructor introduced the program and we reviewed most of the basics.  This workshop offers a really helpful review, especially since I took Statistics and Research Methods over a year ago!

In other news, we’re trying to write our Summer Research Symposium poster, do literature searches, and catalog measures, but the folder that we keep all of our files in has been down for the past few days, so we’ve been held up with trying to get that fixed.  Hopefully everything will be up and running for tomorrow.

Outside the lab, yesterday was Amy’s 20th birthday, so we’ll be sure to celebrate tonight! Also, today I booked my flight for England – I leave on October 4th! I’m so excited, but now serious preparations begin. I have to get my student visa and start thinking about how I’m going to pack my life into two suitcases. That should be interesting!

Anyways, tomorrow night is the dinner with the Indonesian faculty from Sanata Dharma University.  It should be a really cool experience; I’ll let everyone know how it went in my next entry!

July 3, 2008

Today we attended a presentation given by Psychology faculty from the University of Sanata Dharma in Indonesia.  This year, the Holy Cross Psychology, Education, and Anthropology Departments are engaging in a cultural and intellectual exchange with the School of Psychology at the Indonesian university. 

On Tuesday, the four Indonesian faculty members showed us a film about their school, programs, and facilities, and introduced themselves and some of the work they do.  In a second presentation this morning, they formally presented some of the research they’ve done on the psychological effects of the 2006 earthquake in Indonesia, also highlighting and describing their treatment efforts in the area at the time. The work they’re doing is extraordinarily interesting and sparked much discussion amongst the Indonesians, HC faculty, and student researchers.  On Tuesday night we’re having dinner with the group; I’m definitely excited to be able to hear more about their culture and experiences.

In other news, it’s already July! Summer research is going by so fast! Because there is still so much my roommates and I want to do, we made a list of activities we have to complete before leaving at the end of July. Here’s our list:

  • go hiking at Purgatory Chasm
  • go to the Worcester Art Museum
  • have a scavenger hunt
  • travel to Boston for a day
  • go to Wachusett Reservoir
  • go to the beach
  • eat at Annie’s Clark Brunch
  • go to Newport, RI
  • see the new Batman movie

I hope we get to do everything, and that everyone has a great 4th of July and long weekend!

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