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Meet Ian Niggles, a Junior Psychology and Exercise and Sport Science double major with a minor in Statistics, who works in Dr. Andrea Hussong’s Developmental Risk and Resilience Lab with graduate student Maleeha Haroon. One study being conducted in the Developmental Risk and Resilience Lab is looking to find the relationship between consuming alcohol and emotions/affect, namely in college students. It was recently approved by the IRB and the lab started recruitment last semester. After more preliminary screenings, tests, and questionnaires will be administered to find if there is a relationship between daily negative affect and same-evening drinking, as well as general negative affect and ability to accurately convey emotions.

What encouraged you to get involved in research? I’ve always wanted to be involved in research, but after finding out how massive the field of psychology really is, I wanted to jump into a study to see if I could find my passion within psych! I also know that I want my career path to start as a researcher, and the opportunities we have here are so great, I just wanted an introduction to what my life might be like later on down the road.

What made you choose to work with the Developmental Risk and Resilience Lab? I had Maleeha as a TA in one of my summer psych courses (PSYC 210) and she reached out to me with an opportunity to help run her study over the course of this year! Maleeha is great, and on top of that, I realized how renowned Dr. Hussong is in her respective field. Along with two great people to work with, I also have been interested in how alcohol affects anything with the human body, and I found this topic to be particularly interesting and something that should be talked more about by the general population, not just scholars!

What do you like most about your work? I really like the fact that we’re doing something that hits so close to home (or campus for this matter) as drinking is obviously a popular pastime and I’ve never thought about the topic from a scientific research perspective. I think that many people tend to look at the well-known major possible effects of drinking alcohol, but I’ve never talked much about the more mysterious psychological issues that can come along with it!

Our Undergraduate Research Series features spotlights on our Psychology and Neuroscience majors and minors who are conducting 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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