SRU to host State System psychology conference


spacey psychology brain with neon fluxing neurons

Oct. 3, 2016

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Student-faculty research on the psychological aspects of body image, bullying, anxiety, transgender identity and other subjects will be showcased when Slippery Rock University hosts the second annual Pennsylvania State System Psychology Conference Oct. 8 in the Smith Student Center.

"A Forum for Psychological Research Across the Pennsylvania State System" will include presentations by students and faculty from the 14 state-owned institutions and a keynote on forensic psychology. The conference is designed to promote scholarly conversations and collaborations between schools.

anne romanczyk


"One thing that does make our conference unique is undergraduates, graduate students and faculty will all be present and able to take advantage of the opportunity to share," said Ann Romanczyk, SRU assistant professor of psychology.

Ann Romanczyk, Elizabeth Boerger and Emily Keener, SRU assistant professors of psychology, organized the conference in conjunction with SRU psychology students.

elizabeth boerger


Seventeen posters and 12 papers covering a range of topics will be presented, including: the teaching of psychology; gender traits; the effects of mindfulness practice on student concentration in the classroom; understanding grief; and culture's impact on sexism.

The conference will being at 9 a.m. with a welcome from Jennifer Sanftner McGraw, SRU professor of psychology, before Ron Craig, professor of psychology at Edinboro University, will deliver the keynote address, "Integrating Forensic Psychology in the Undergraduate Research Experience," at 9:30 a.m. Craig's research focuses on the detection of deception in juveniles and the role of technology in the courtroom.

Part of the conference's goal, Romanczyk said, is to motivate students to embrace research and conference participation.

"It's a reality our students have to learn and accept," she said. "For those who want to go on and further their training, they need to understand that these components are important."

Romanczyk said research gives students credentials and advantages over other students competing for graduate admission and financial aid. She also hopes the conference raises awareness of psychological research and its impact on the field.

Boerger said participation exposes students to the diverse range of current psychology studies and therapies, which includes at least 50 specialty areas.

"A large part of the mission of any conference is to create connections with other people who are doing research, so that you're learning and expanding your horizons," she said. "Becoming part of the professional discipline is a large part of what we do and what we want our students to experience."

Student presenters said they're looking forward to learning about the interests of their peers.

Robert Wellman, a psychology major from Butler is collaborating with Darien Yarger, a psychology major from New Columbia, and Keener, to present "Body Image Disturbance: Is Having Relationship Mutuality with a Friend a Protective Factor."

"Essentially, it is looking at the negative correlation between body dissatisfaction and perceived mutuality in relationships," Wellman said.

Wellman, who hopes to go on to a doctoral program in clinical psychology, said the research experience and upcoming conference are valuable to his goals.

"It's a good learning experience," he said. "The cognitive and neuroscience aspects of psychology interest me the most. Basically, the way the brain can process information and how biology and environment can change a role in changing those processes."

Other SRU psychology majors taking part in the conference include:

  • Emily Horner of Pittsburgh, and Chris Lee of Washington, who are teaming with Keener to present, "Emotion Regulation Goals for Solving Interpersonal Everyday Problems with Romantic Partners;"
  • MicKala LaBate-Watterson of Beaver Falls, who is pairing with Boerger, to present, "Relations Between Retrospective Reports of Bullying Experiences and Social Adjustment in College Among Former Victims, Bullies, and Bully-Victims;" and
  • Erin O'Connor of New Castle, and Cain Kaltberbaugh of Slippery Rock, who are teaming up with Catherine Massey, SRU assistant professor of psychology, on "Heterosexual/Cisgender Perspectives on Transgender Civil Rights: A Mediation Model of Gender, Gender Traits and Genderism."

Poster sessions will begin run from 10:30-11:30 a.m.; concurrent paper session I, 11:45 a.m.; faculty and student resource sessions, 2-2:50 p.m. and paper sessions II, 3-4:15 p.m.

MEDIA CONTACT: Gordon Ovenshine | 724.738.4854 |