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Meet Sydney Howie, a Senior Psychology B.S. major with a Statistics and Analysis Minor, who works in the Penn Lab with Dr. David Penn and Mood, Emotions, and Clinical Child Assessment (MECCA) Lab with Dr. Eric Youngstrom. Sydney works in both laboratories to explore differences in mental illnesses among different cultures, ethnicities, and races. In MECCA, Sydney researches translation techniques to find the most efficient way in which to translate measures into different languages, so other countries and cultures can utilize these measures. Within the Penn Lab, Sydney works on multiple studies to conduct literature searches on different measures and facets of schizophrenia and enter data for statistical analysis.

What do you like most about your work? I love that I get to work with such amazing and talented individuals. I have learned so much in this process and that is definitely one of my favorite things working in my labs. The Penn Lab has helped me learn new and innovative treatments for those with schizophrenia, like mindfulness and using exercise as a treatment. Working with Dr. Youngstrom, I learned the beauty of statistics and the best ways to utilize my statistics knowledge. I love learning, especially about mental illness and improving measures and treatments for those who suffer.

What do you want to do as a career? My dream is to be a clinical psychologist with an emphasis on practice more than research. I love working with people and I hope to incorporate what I’ve learned from my labs. I’d like to utilize evidence-based treatments in my future work with patients.

What made you choose to work with the Penn and MECCA Labs? I took a class with a graduate student in the Penn Lab, Arun Nagendati, whose love for clinical psychology and helping those with mental illness was so prevalent that it inevitably rubbed off on me. She was one of my biggest motivators in getting involved with clinical psychology and research. Now I get to work with her, which is an amazing experience. In Arun’s class, we had a class speaker, Stephanie Salcedo, who is the graduate student that I work under in the MECCA Lab. She discussed how different mental illnesses manifest differently depending on the culture. Her lecture pointed out the importance of culture in considering treatments for different people and I really wanted to learn more about this difference.

Our Undergraduate Research Series features spotlights on our Psychology and Neuroscience majors and minors who are doing undergraduate research with our faculty! We believe strongly that undergraduate experiences are greatly enriched by inquiry and discovery through undergraduate research. Research experiences allow students to better understand literature, determine areas of interest, discover their passion for research, continue on to graduate studies, and to jump start their careers as researchers. If you are an undergraduate who is interested in pursuing research experiences, we offer PSYC and NSCI 395 as an opportunity to work side-by-side with graduate students and faculty members on cutting-edge psychological and neuroscience research. We also recommend you visit the Office for Undergraduate Research to find research opportunities, apply for research funding, and for helpful tools and advice. Research opportunities abound at UNC – find one that works for you!

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