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Hello psychology alumni!
We hope you enjoy reading about some of the news and events 

from around the department.


Welcome back to campus!

psychology students at convocation 

Professor Wendy Heller and other members of the Psychology Department welcomed new students from across the campus at a convocation program held at the State Farm Center.

This fall the department welcomed 13 master’s degree and 20 PhD students. In total, there are 154 graduate students and over 1600 undergraduate psychology majors registered this semester.


Quad Day fun

quad day pictures

Hot weather did not deter students from enjoying Quad Day. The Psychology Leaders represented the department at the event and distributed information about the major, the Psych 290 research fair, MS in Psychological Science, etc. Students were lined up to spin Psychology’s wheel for a t-shirt, lanyard, pen, and cell phone wallet.


Fundamentals of Career Development Program

Fundamentals of Career Development Program 

The Psychology Alumni Advisory Board offered a one-day Career Development Program for psychology majors on September 22, 2018. This highly interactive and experiential program is designed to help psychology undergraduate students acquire the knowledge and skills needed to plan and execute a successful job search.

Topics included personal branding, resumes/cover letters, job references, networking, job search strategies, interview preparation, evaluating job offers, and negotiating starting salaries.


Illinois Neuro/Behavioral Assessment Laboratory (IN/BAL)

data methods graphic 

Professors Brent Roberts (who leads the Social and Behavioral Science Research Initiative), Wendy Heller (Psychology Department Head), and Neal Cohen (Director of the Interdisciplinary Health Sciences Institute) proposed the creation of the Illinois Neuro/Behavioral Assessment Laboratory (In/BAL) to support cutting edge science of the assessment of behavior. IN/BAL is one of 14 projects selected by the campus as part of the Investment for Growth Program.

The goal for IN/BAL is to establish the nation’s leading resource for the measurement, analysis, and classification of human behavior, and to enhance the existing foundation for world-class research at Illinois in social and behavioral science, medicine, neuroscience, and genomics. Stay tuned for more exciting details!


Faculty news

Aron Barbey 
(Photo by L. Brian Stauffer) 

Aron Barbey and his colleagues tested the reproducibility of task-based fMRI studies of various sizes.

Read more >



Renee Baillargeon 
(Photo by L. Brian Stauffer) 

In a new study Renee Baillargeon found that 21-month-old infants expect people to respond differently to leaders and bullies.

Read more >

Joey Cheng 
Joey Cheng (Photo by L. Brian Stauffer) 

Joey Cheng and her two colleagues, Olga Kornienko (George Mason University) and Douglas Granger (University of California, Irvine), published a large-scale experiment indicating that there is a relationship between testosterone and one’s status within the group.

Read more >



Sanda Dolcos and Florin Dolcos 
Sanda Dolcos and Florin Dolcos (Photo by L. Brian Stauffer) 

Sanda Dolcos and Florin Dolcos found that focusing on the contextual details of a triggered negative memory could help redirect focus to the task at hand.

Read more >

Tom Kwapil 

Tom Kwapil has created a new psychological scale that could change the way researchers study schizophrenia by learning more about those who are showing milder symptoms of the mental illness.

Read more >


Jari Willing, left, former graduate student Daniel Kougias, seated, and Professor JaniceJuraska, 
(Photo by L. Brian Stauffer) 

Postdoctoral researcher Jari Willing, left, former graduate student Daniel Kougias, seated, and Professor Janice Juraska, found that perinatal exposure to phthalates caused cognitive and neurological deficits in rats.

Read more >

Wendy Heller 

Wendy Heller is president-elect for the Society for Research and Psychopathology. She will assume the presidency in September 2019.


New faculty

Amy Perkins 

Amy Perkins is a teaching assistant professor in the Behavioral Neuroscience Program. Her research examines how the brain responds to insults during periods of unique sensitivity, such as prenatal development, adolescence, and aging. She is particularly interested in the developmental effects of alcohol and endocrine-disrupting chemicals. Perkins will teach Behavioral Neuroscience and Brain, Learning, and Memory.


Jessica Montag 

Jessica Montag is an assistant professor in the Cognitive Program. She studies how language abilities emerge with experience across the lifespan, including language comprehension, production, and reading. She uses varied methods and measures, including language comprehension and production experiments in adults and children, compilation and analyses of text and speech corpora, and advanced quantitative methods.

Jon Willitsis 

Jon Willits is an assistant professor in the Cognitive Program. He studies language and learning in infants, children, adults, and machines. His research uses computational, neurobiological, experimental, and naturalistic methods to better understand how people and machines learn, represent, and use languages and other forms of complex knowledge, especially words meanings and semantic knowledge.


Faculty awards

Dan Hyde 

Dan Hyde is the recipient of the 2018 Distinguished Early Career Award from the International Congress for Infant Studies (ICIS). ICIS stated, "Dr. Hyde's groundbreaking theoretical and empirical work on number development and theory of mind, were particularly impressive and meritorious."


Fulbright Grant recipient

Brian Robinson 
(Photo by Sean Robinson) 

Congratulations to Brian Robinson (BS, ’17, psychology and creative writing), who received a Fulbright English teaching assistantship to teach elementary and middle school students in Taiwan. After the Fulbright, Robinson plans to pursue further study in psychology and utilize his experience to better understand psychology’s cultural dimensions.

Read more >


Alumni opportunities

alumni involved with the Psychology Alumni Advisory Board and students in the Department of Psychology 

There are many ways for alumni to become involved with the Psychology Alumni Advisory Board and students in the Department of Psychology. Fellow graduates like you have volunteered to provide the best education and career preparation for current students, including: internship and training opportunities; participating in mentoring/networking events and leadership workshops to help develop interviewing/career skills; contributing to scholarships for educational opportunities, and travel/research grants for graduate students.We would like to hear your ideas on how to serve students in new ways. If you have an interest in making a difference in the lives of current students, email Loren Kuzuhara, president, or Carrie Grady, vice president.

Read more about the Psychology Alumni Advisory Board’s initiatives.


Psychology Alumni Advisory Board travel awards

The Psychology Alumni Advisory Board has designated funds from the Shape the Future Today Fund to support graduate student research and conference travel.

Elizabeth Lozano 

Elizabeth Lozano

“I am infinitely grateful for the funding that was provided through the Alumni Advisory Board because without their generous contribution, I would not have been able to collect enough data to write my first paper for publication. Thank you so much for your continuous support!”

Kirk Ballew 

Kirk Ballew
(attention and perception)

“Thank you so much for helping me to attend my first research conference! These travel funds allow me to communicate the results of my research to a broad international community of vision scientists and allows me to receive valuable feedback that will improve my future course of research.”

Read about past recipients > 

Learn about Shape the Future Today Initiatives here


Alumni panels

(L-R: Eddie Bland IV, Alicia Canario, Kari Carpenter, Karen McLaughlin, Lauren Hays) 
(L-R: Eddie Bland IV, Alicia Canario, Kari Carpenter, Karen McLaughlin, Lauren Hays) 

The Psychology Alumni Advisory Board has created a mentoring opportunity for undergraduates and alumni. The alumni panel discussions help current students explore career options. Contact Cheryl Berger, assistant head for alumni relations, if you would like to be part of a future panel discussion.

Fall schedule
September: Career fair preparation
October: Graduate school preparation
November: Human resources


What's Your Story?

Many alumni cannot travel back to campus to serve on a panel. Here is an opportunity to share advice and your story with current undergraduate students.


Dr. Daniel J. Burbach 

Dr. Daniel J. Burbach (BS, ’82)

“Approach your goals in an aggressive and realistic manner under the stewardship of knowledgeable faculty members who are willing to mentor you. My biggest opportunities from educational and professional standpoints were made possible by faculty members who took a personal interest in me and my career development.”

Read more >


Alumni news

Elizabeth Corr (BS, ’04) was nominated for the Pritzker Emerging Environmental Genius Award. Corr is director of Art Partnerships at the National Resource Defense Council (NRDC). She has created a visionary curatorial position at NRDC, pioneering an innovative platform for thoughtful and sustained collaboration between artists and environmental leaders. Corr also received a bachelor’s degree in gender/women’s studies at Illinois and a master’s degree in African Studies.

Rebecca Darr 

Rebecca Darr (BS, ’90) has been selected to receive the 2018 LAS Alumni Humanitarian Award. Darr is the chief executive officer of the Women in Need Growing Stronger (WINGS) Program that provides emergency and long-term housing, integrated services, education, and advocacy to end domestic violence. 

Read more >

Adam Farag (BS, ’11) joined the office of Leavens, Strand & Glover as an associate. He focuses his practice on transactional litigation in the areas of copyright, trademark, and entertainment.

Kathleen Freeman (BS, ’11) has joined the office of Donohue Brown Mathewson & Smyth as an associate. She focuses her practice on professional negligence and product liability.

Kelsey (Peterson) Keefe (BS, ’12) graduated spring 2017 with a master’s in adult learning from UConn. She started a new role at UConn as a career consultant in the Center for Career Development. She previously served as an academic advisor in the Department of Psychological Sciences.

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Psychology Leader Insia Hakim spent the 2018 spring semester in Pavia, Italy, as part of the Illinois Abroad and Exchange Program 
Insia Hakim 

Stay in touch with Psychology

Where have you worn your Psychology T-shirt? Share your pictures with us and you can be featured in Psychology Times, on our Facebook page, and in Psychology’s “Wearabouts” photo album. Send pictures to Cheryl Berger.


Psychology Leader Insia Hakim spent the 2018 spring semester in Pavia, Italy, as part of the Illinois Abroad and Exchange Program

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Join Psychology’s alumni networking group University of Illinois Department of Psychology Networking and expand your professional network.

Alma Mater sculpture 

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 psychology student event

Partnership for Psychology

Invest in the future of the department. The Department of Psychology has a reputation for excellence. The ability to maintain a challenging and dynamic environment is the key to continued excellence.

Psychology Times, winter issue cover 


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LAS eNewsletter image - September 2018 


LAS News

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four students on the quad to show diversity 

Diversity in Psychology

The members of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Department of Psychology are committed to fostering and supporting a climate of inclusion, celebrating human diversity in all its forms, and engaging in cutting edge diversity science. For more information about diversity research in psychology, diversity awards, and campus resources visit this page on our website.


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