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Newsletter Winter 2019

Psychology Honors Program

2018-2019 Psychology Honors Cohort

The Psychology Department Honors Program has existed for almost 70 years, producing over 1,700 graduates. Consistently, we have more students completing Honors theses than any other department within LSA. Last year, our 51 Honors graduates wrote theses on topics ranging from the impact of neighborhood danger on antisocial behavior in adolescence to the role of mitochondria in Alzheimer's disease, covering all areas within Psychology. Our recent Honors graduates have pursued many exciting postgraduate opportunities including jobs in industry and academia, medical school, law school, and PhD programs in psychology. We have 44 students working on theses this year, and we are excited to see the fruits of their research at our annual Research Forum poster presentation in April 2019. Read more about the impact of the Honors Program on both students and mentors alike.

In this issue, you will find…

  1. A Letter from our Department ChairPatricia A. Reuter-Lorenz
  2. Donor Impact
    • Robert Kail: Honoring the Mentorship and Friendship of the Michigan Psychology Faculty
    • Wilbert and Virginia McKeachie: Capping a Career Enriching the Psychology Department with a Legacy for the Future
    • The Swets Family: Honoring John. A Swets Achievements and the Spirit of Collaboration
  3. Departmental News
    • Black Student Psychological Association (BSPA) Celebrates its 50th Anniversary
  4. Alumni Spotlight
    • Jon M Buyle, Psychology BA 1968
    • David Van Nuys, Clinical Psychology PhD 1970
  5. Alumni In the News
    • Sam Mikulak, Psychology BA 2015
  6. Alumni: Share your Career Experience
  7. Undergraduate/Graduate Student Research Highlights
    • Andrea Belgrade, 4th year Personality & Social Contexts PhD Student
    • Zaina Khoury, Biopsychology, Cognition, and Neuroscience Honors, Class of 2019
  8. Faculty Research Highlight
    • Laura Zahodne, Assistant Professor of Psychology
  9. Psychology Faculty Honors & Awards
  10. Faculty Retirement
    • Phoebe Ellsworth, Retired 1/1/19
  11. Upcoming Events
    • Exploring the Mind Community Talks by U-M Psychology Faculty
  12. In Memoriam
  13. Ways to Support Psychology 
  14. Where in the World Have our Psychology T-shirts Been?

A Letter from our Department Chair: Patricia A. Reuter-Lorenz

Greetings Friends of Psychology,

I hope that 2019 is off to a great start for you and your families.  We’ve had another exciting few months in the Department since our last newsletter!  We hope you enjoy this update on our community’s many activities and accomplishments.  Our opening feature focuses on Psychology’s amazing Honors program that some of you may have been part of during your undergraduate years.  This program is one of the premier opportunities for our majors to get first-hand, in-depth research experience and provides a solid scientific foundation for numerous future career paths.  Please read about a few of the current honors students, their mentors, and paths to research in Psychology.

We also share news about several very generous donations made recently to the department, along with stories about the donors, their connections to Psychology and the inspiration behind their giving. Our department is honored by their generosity, and proud to steward the legacies memorialized by these gifts.

This newsletter also highlights the Black Students Psychology Association (BSPA), which was founded 50 years ago at Michigan by UM graduate students, many of whom have gone on to illustrious careers as leaders in our Department, the University, and across the country.  The Department is proud to celebrate the amazing history and transformational influence of this organization!

As always, we feature current faculty and students, as well as several Psychology alumni who continue to make an impact through their important work.  We love to hear about your activities and accomplishments, so please visit us, in person or virtually! Please plan ahead to join us next fall at our Psychology Homecoming Picnic. This will take place the Friday of Homecoming weekend, October 4th. Mingle with faculty, students and staff, reconnect with fellow alums, collect your Psychology Alumni t-shirt, and be part of next year’s group photo! 

Thank you for being part of our community, and very best wishes in the year ahead.

Donor Impact

Robert Kail: Honoring the Mentorship and Friendship of the Michigan Psychology Faculty

Throughout his academic career, Rob Kail has been inspired by psychology faculty—as mentors and as colleagues. As a doctoral student at Michigan, the psychology faculty quickly made him feel like he was part of the team. They were, in his words, “incredibly supportive from the day I and other first-year students arrived on campus. They treated us as colleagues-to-be, were incredibly generous with their time, and provided amazing mentoring.” 

To honor these faculty members, and to give students the kind of support he enjoyed, Kail has created the Hagen-Stevenson Dissertation Award Fund, an endowed fund supporting the dissertation research of graduate students studying developmental psychology.

Read more about Dr. Kail’s U-M experience, career, and generous support of Psychology students.

Wilbert and Virginia McKeachie: Capping a Career Enriching the Psychology Department with a Legacy for the Future

“When they gave, they gave from their heart,” Linda Dicks observes about her parents, Wilbert and Virginia McKeachie. “They believe in the goodness of people.”

With the funds they have created—the Wilbert (Bill) J. McKeachie Discretionary Fund and the McKeachie College Learning and Teaching Research Fund—recently bolstered by over $100,000 in gifts from Ginny’s estate, the McKeachies will support psychology students and faculty for decades to come. 

Read more about how Bill and Ginny spent their 74 years of married life dedicated to service and generosity.

The Swets Family: Honoring John. A Swets Achievements and the Spirit of Collaboration

John A. Swets

As a psychology graduate student at the University of Michigan, John A. Swets, along with Wilson P. “Spike” Tanner, introduced signal detection theory (SDT) to Psychological Science. Their accomplishment had an enormous impact on the field. 

To honor their husband and father, and the spirit of teamwork that the university nurtured, his wife Maxine (Mickey) and sons Stephen and Joel Swets established the John A. Swets Memorial Award for Excellence in Collaborative Psychological-Science Research with a gift of $25,000.

Read more about Dr. Swets’ impact on the field of Psychology and the biennial prize that is awarded in his honor.

Departmental News

The Black Student Psychological Association (BSPA) Celebrates its 50th Anniversary 

BSPA members, 2017

Since its inception in 1969, BSPA has helped to build a rigorous body of scholarship about the lives of Black children, adults and families and has been actively engaged in transforming the lives of others in the community. Read more about the history, important contributions, and the impact of BSPA over the past 50 years.

Alumni Spotlight

2018 Homecoming Picnic

Psychology Alumni at the 2018 Homecoming Picnic

Thank you to all the alumni who joined us at our annual Homecoming Picnic in October! One of our alumni, Jon M Buyle, BA 1968 (pictured top right), attended the Homecoming Picnic for the first time as he was also on campus for his 50th class reunion. Read more about Dr. Buyle’s time at the University of Michigan and his career as a child psychologist.

Life after Graduation: Putting Psychology to Work with David Van Nuys

David Van Nuys, Professor Emeritus, Sonoma State University & Creator/Host of Shrink Rap Radio
University of Michigan, Clinical Psychology PhD 1970

Congratulations to Psychology alumni, David Van Nuys, on receiving an APA Citizen Psychologist Presidential Citation for his pioneering work as a psychologist podcaster! Read more about Dr. Van Nuys’ career, aspirations, and advice to aspiring Psychology students.

Alumni in the News

Psychology alumni Sam Mikulak, BA 2015, earned news headlines when he won his fifth all-around national title at the U.S. Gymnastics Championships in August. Not only that, but this two-time Olympian went on to gain his first individual world championship medal on the high bar in November 2018.

Alumni: Share your Career Experience

We would love to hear from alumni who have pursued traditional or non-traditional psychology careers! We have created alumni profiles and videos on our website to show our undergraduates the wide range of careers that can be achieved with a degree in psychology. If you would like to share your post-graduate career experience, please contact us. The first ten people to respond via the website will receive a Psychology t-shirt!

Undergraduate/Graduate Student Research Highlights

Andrea Belgrade, Personality & Social Contexts PhD Student

Andrea Belgrade works with Dr. Fiona Lee to examine the convergence of multiple cultures primarily through the lens of positive psychology. Read more about their research which seeks to better understand diverse populations.
Photo: Andrea Belgrade (left) with her Honors research assistant, Priyanka Shanmugasundaram (right)

Zaina Khoury, Biopsychology, Cognition, and Neuroscience Honors, Class of 2019

Zaina Khoury is working on her Honors Thesis, titled "Wealth Essentialism in Children and Adults," under the mentorship of Drs. Susan Gelman and Margaret Echelbarger in the Conceptual Development Lab. Read more about how Khoury’s research might lead to a more inclusive society.

Faculty Research Highlight

Dr. Zahodne’s research examines the effect that increased life expectancy has on age-related neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease. Read more about Dr. Zahodne’s findings.

Psychology Faculty Honors and Awards

We are thrilled to share news about the numerous prestigious honors and awards bestowed on our faculty this past year. Please visit the Awards page on our website to learn more about all the important accomplishments and wonderful recognition the University of Michigan Psychology faculty have received.

Faculty Retirement

Phoebe Ellsworth, Frank Murphy Distinguished Professor of Law and Psychology, and Faculty Associate, ISR Research Center for Group Dynamics

Former students, colleagues, and family gathered to celebrate Professor Phoebe C. Ellsworth’s career on November 30th, 2018 at a Symposium entitled, “Emotion, Policy, and Social Life”. Read more about Professor Ellsworth’s 31 years of dedication to the University of Michigan and her fundamental contributions to psychology and law.

Upcoming Events

Exploring the Mind Community Talks by U-M Psychology Faculty
U-M Psychology’s “Exploring the Mind” monthly series of community talks offers the public an inside look at fascinating topics in the field of psychology. You can view past presentations, see a schedule of future talks planned at the downtown branch of the Ann Arbor Public Library, and subscribe to our community talk email list here.

In Memoriam

Martin GoldEmeritus Professor of Psychology; Emeritus Research Scientist, Research Center for Group Dynamics, Institute for Social Research (ISR)

Robert (Bob) L. KahnProfessor Emeritus of Psychology; Professor Emeritus of Health Services Management and Policy, School of Public Health; Research Scientist Emeritus, Survey Research Center, Institute for Social Research (ISR)

Ways to Support Psychology

Thank you for supporting the University of Michigan, Department of Psychology. Every gift matters.

Where in the World Have our Psychology T-Shirts Been?

Gurnee Bridgman, Psychology BA 1954
River-cruising down the Rhine River, Germany

“My trip to Octoberfest and then subsequent river-cruising down the Rhine River was simply to have a great vacation trip, as well as to see how many ‘Go Blues’ I could elicit from the many other vacationers/cruisers that might have allegiance of some sort… It was my equal pleasure to give a Go Blue to anyone who saw me wearing said shirt and who passed the same to me…. By the time I returned to the USA there had to have been about 10 such salutations, some occurring both in Germany and France... The picture is of me enjoying the trip, the great weather, and the spirit between all of us who are grads of a great department within our world renown University.”

Send us your Psychology t-shirt photos ( for future newsletters!