Nicole Plantier is a senior Psychology major. She was interviewed by sophomore Elle DiLorenzo.
UofSHealthPsych: Where are you from, and why did you choose the University of Scranton?
NP: I’m from Moosup, CT, a small town in northeastern Connecticut about two hours away from Boston. I chose the University of Scranton because I fell in love with the school on my tour. The friendly atmosphere of the students and faculty drew me in. As a prospective student, the open and welcoming vibe I got from the community here at The University was unmatched by other schools.
UofSHealthPsych: Why did you decide to study psychology?
NP: I originally planned on pursing a graduate degree in Forensic Psychology. My favorite television shows are Law & Order and Criminal Minds. Asking and answering questions about human behavior interests me. While my interests have shifted, and I’m no longer interested in Forensic Psychology, I have found the research process of psychology is my true passion.
UofSHealthPsych: How did you decide to join the Clinical Health Psychology Research Team?
NP: Towards the end of spring semester last year, fellow team member Sabrina DiBisceglie told me about her individual research project on students’ responses to the Fitspiration trend on Instagram. I thought the work she was doing was incredibly interesting and I asked her how to get involved. I contacted Dr. Arigo, and started attending lab meetings in the Summer.
UofSHealthPsych: What are your roles as a research assistant with the research team?
NP: When I first started we had a large observational study running – Project CHASE, which collected daily surveys and physical activity data from college women. While that was running I interacted with participants and collected their Fitbit data. I also have done some data coding for a project that Kristen Pasko, another team member, was leading. Additionally, I’ve been working on searching for articles for a project investigating the effect of social comparisons on physical activity.
UofSHealthPsych: What would you say has been the greatest advantage of being a part of the Clinical Health Psychology Research Team?
NP: I think the greatest advantage is the exposure to research that I’ve received. As a team, we’ve read many research articles and have had informative discussions on them. We’ve also had discussions on statistics, graduate school, and other relevant topics. As a psychology major here at the University, you are required to take a research methods course, but being able to apply what I’ve learned has helped me develop even more as a skilled researcher.
UofSHealthPsych: What skills have you gained from working as a research assistant will be most useful in the future?
NP: I think being able to perform literature searches, critically read research articles, and effectively interact with participants are a few of the skills that I’ve gained from working as a research assistant. These skills are transferable and I will be able to apply them in my future as a student, as well as a researcher.
UofSHealthPsych: What are your plans after graduation?
NP: I have applied to doctoral programs in psychology with a concentration in cognitive psychology. Hopefully, if everything works out, I will be starting a program in the Fall. If not, I plan to apply for research assistant or coordinator positions to gain more research experience.
UofSHealthPsych: What kind of research are you most interested in?
NP: I’m interested in cognitive psychology, more specifically human attention and memory. But, I’m also highly interested in the effect of social comparison on different aspects of health behavior.
UofSHealthPsych: I’m still learning the ropes as the newest member of the team. Do you have any advice for someone who is just beginning to work on a research team?
NP: Don’t be afraid to ask questions! If you have a question, there’s a good chance another person has the same one. As undergraduates we aren’t expected to know everything. Participating on a research team is a learning experience, and part of learning is asking questions. Also, don’t take on more than you can handle! Mental health should be a priority, stretching yourself too thin can be more harmful than it is productive.