Sewanee-at-Yale Directed Research Program launched

This joint venture between the Yale Child Study Center / Yale School of Medicine and the University of the South has accepted its first two students for the spring 2011 semester and the following summer.

Two psychology majors in the class of 2011, Christopher Hague and Emily Simpson, will pursue a sustained research project with one or more faculty mentors at Yale. They will participate in weekly research meetings, a Research Methods Seminar, and a Child Study Center upper-level seminar of their choice. They will receive a semester’s academic credit (4 full courses) for their work.

The concept, involving collaboration between a liberal arts college and a major biomedical research institution, originated with Linda Mayes, M.D., Arnold Gesell Professor of Child Psychiatry, Pediatrics, and Psychology at the Yale Medical School. Developed with Karen Yu, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Psychology at Sewanee, the Sewanee-at-Yale Directed Research Program was approved in principle by the College Faculty in late April 2009.

While the program is open to all Sewanee students with appropriate background (specific Sewanee courses in psychology and/or biology), it is expected that most participants will major in one of these departments. The program is also available during the fall semester plus the preceding summer. In contrast, a wide variety of majors have been represented in the summer-only internships offered by Dr. Mayes at the Yale Child Study Center for more than a decade; this internship program will continue.

The Yale Directed Research Program is the next step for Chris Hague and Emily Simpson, both of whom are members of Psi Chi – the National Honor Society for Psychology. In addition to regular course offerings, both have completed two Independent Studies (Psyc 444). At Scholarship Sewanee 2010, Chris presented “Differences between male and female Division III athletes in eating attitudes, body perception, and reason for exercise” both as a poster and a 20-minute talk. A month earlier, at the Southeastern Psychological Association Convention, Emily presented “The effect of nominal political affiliation on comparative rankings of romantic attractiveness.”

This program is an important step in the College faculty’s plan to offer opportunities for its more advanced students to pursue original research projects in collaboration with professors or with faculty guidance. “We are most grateful to Linda Mayes for providing both the summer internship and the semester-plus-summer programs,” says Charles Peyser, Professor of Psychology. “I remember Dr. Mayes as an undergraduate (Valedictorian of the class of 1973); the superb quality of her early academic endeavors has been extended to inspiring our current students. The only downside to this program is that we must bid Chris and Emily a fond farewell five months earlier than expected.”

Sewanee students interested in the Yale Directed Research Program should consult its Director, Dr. Karen Yu.