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Meet Kaylee Miceli, Junior with an Interdisciplinary major in Neuroscience and Philosophy and Religion. She is currently working in Dr. Kristen Lindquist’s Carolina Affective Science Lab (CASL) under Dr. Lindquist and graduate student, Holly Shablack. CASL uses a constructionist approach to study emotions, meaning Kaylee and the Lab supports the idea that emotions are made up of more basic ingredients or processes, such as core affect (physiological responses) and concept knowledge (information pertaining to categories of emotion). Kaylee works with Holly on an ongoing study that specifically manipulates both concept knowledge and core affect (through an affect induction paradigm) and how these manipulations influence an individual’s emotion experience. To assess one’s emotion experiences, Holly and Kaylee uses both self-report questionnaires and physiological measures (including EKG, blood pressure, saliva samples).

What do you like most? In the lab, I thoroughly enjoyed working through an approach that challenged my prior understanding of emotions. Previously, I had understood emotions as a series of categories that were distinct from one another. Through working in CASL, I was able to observe this constructionist approach and further develop my understanding of emotions. Moreover, dealing with participants on a day to day basis has helped me further overcome my social anxiety, which has significantly decreased over the past year and a half. Hence, this lab contributed to my personal development in ways that I did not foresee, but was crucial to my career development as well.

What were some of the challenges? Overall, this research experience has allowed me to see some of the more frustrating parts of doing research, such as the sheer number of people you need to manage a project like this while maintaining effective communication. I feel that these were important sides I needed to see since I plan on pursuing a research-oriented career. This being said, I have found CASL to be an extremely supportive environment that has prepared me well for my next steps towards graduate school, and I encourage anyone that has thought about joining a lab to do so!

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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