I conducted research with Dr. Mattingly over the 2014 summer through the summer fellows and FUTURE mentors program. My research was in the field of self-expansion, the study of how new experiences affect individuals in various beneficial ways. I interviewed participants outside of the Liberty Bell in downtown Philadelphia, as well as through an online survey. We were trying to find out how various traveling experiences changed peoples’ mood, as well as other areas of their life. I helped to analyze the data, wrote a paper on our findings, and gave a presentation at the end of the summer. On top of all this, I was a mentor, and for half of the summer I helped to train an incoming freshman in our lab.
What was Valuable About the Experience
The amount of independence in the lab was extremely important. On any given day there might be certain things I had to make sure got done and other days I would have to decide for myself what the top priority was. This was challenging on some days, because it was not always clear what needed to be done first, and timing was a key issue. However it was an extremely valuable skill to develop. Looking ahead to the fall, I will be the most experienced student in our lab, and will invariably have to take on a leadership position. After this summer I feel confident I will be able to fill that role.
The Coolest Part of the Experience
During the summer I was able to work with a computer program called Inquisit. It’s a software designed specifically for psychology surveys, and has actually been used in several very important studies. It’s a lot of writing computer code, which was very foreign to me and difficult to start learning. However once I got the hang of it I was able to design projects and come up with ideas that we had never thought of before. Now I have a skill I would have otherwise never had the time to learn and will be able to take with me in my psychology career.
Who I Met that Made a Difference
Although I had already met Dr. Mattingly, he absolutely made the biggest difference to me throughout this summer. It was a long summer, and there were certainly days in which I was less than enthusiastic about my work, especially when it came to writing my paper. Dr. Mattingly was always there to talk to and support me. His passion and love for the research we were conducting was always an inspiration to me, and always kept me excited for the next day in the lab. He has been the driving force behind my interest in research and I don’t think I would have had a successful summer without him as my faculty mentor.
How I Stay Involved
Men’s Cross-Country, Men’s Track and Field