Fall 2013 GSC Conference Travel Grant Winners

On March 24, 2014 by Grad Forum

The Graduate Student Council (GSC) offers graduate student conference travel grants in the fall and spring of each academic year. The grants are awarded to qualifying students to help finance their travel and/or registration at conferences or other academic gatherings at which they will be presenting their research. Below are descriptions of the fall 2013 winners’ experiences at recent conferences:

Olivia Kang

Olivia Kang investigates information that can be mined from the eyes.

Olivia Kang, a PhD candidate in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences (PBS), attended the Society for Personality and Social Psychology (SPSP) conference in Austin, Texas. Kang works in Professor Thalia Wheatley’s Social Intelligence Lab where she investigates information that can be mined from the eyes. The notion of eyes as “windows to the soul” is deep-rooted and ancient. Kang uses high temporal-resolution pupillometry to study if this intuition is grounded in fact—do overt cues in the eyes tell us about covert mental states? At SPSP, Kang presented a poster detailing some of her findings—namely, that the pattern of an individual’s pupil dilations can be used to determine which of two simultaneously-presented stories they are paying attention to in real time.

Meg Menon

Meg Menon at the 24th annual Thinking Gender conference.

Meg Menon, a Master of Arts in Liberal Studies (MALS) student, attended the 24th annual Thinking Gender conference organized by the Center for the Study of Women (CSW) at UCLA. The CSW is an internationally recognized center for interdisciplinary research on women’s issues, gender, and sexuality. This year, the conference highlighted graduate student research across 35 disciplines. Menon participated in the “(Not) Rising to the Occasion: Impotence, Illness, and Femininity in Literature Past and Present” panel, moderated by Professor Helen Deutsch (Department of English, UCLA). In Menon’s paper entitled “Edith Wharton’s Novel as Historiographic Metafiction: Revealing the Postmodern Construction of Ellen Olenska in The Age of Innocence,” she provided an analysis of Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence (1920) as a postmodernist and feminist novel. In doing so, she established it as a work of historiographic metafiction—a postmodern genre of reflexive fiction concerned with the writing of history. Menon explained that “the conference provided me with valuable opportunities to discuss my research and receive feedback from senior faculty, and engage with peers interested in the intersection between femininity and the material-discursive processes of fashion in literature and media studies.”


Anna Prescott and Professor Jay Hull at the annual meeting for the Society for Personality and Social Psychology.

Anna Prescott is a PhD student in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences (PBS) working with Professor Jay Hull. Along with Kang, the GSC travel grant also helped Prescott cover the costs of attending the annual meeting for the Society for Personality and Social Psychology (SPSP) in Austin, Texas. There, Prescott presented a poster to share the results of her recent research on the effects of personality variables on behavioral priming. Although behavioral priming is a well-studied phenomenon in the field, its effects have often been difficult to replicate, leading some researchers to doubt whether it exists at all. Prescott hopes to inform this debate by focusing on how personality differences can make priming effects stronger or weaker. In addition to providing a venue to share her research with others, presenting a poster was a great way to meet other psychologists studying similar questions; it also allowed her to garner their feedback on her project. She met many professors and graduate students from other schools—connections that, she notes, “could lead to future collaborations, or even a job one day.”

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