Chelsea Joyner ’20 has been recognized for her psychophysiology research with a Mamie Phipps Clark grant from Psi Chi, the International Honor Society in Psychology. Her project, “Are Brain Responses in Anticipation of Angry and Happy Black and White Faces Different in Black and White Participants?”, seeks to determine prejudice and contingent negative variance utilizing both white and black faces expressing happiness or anger.

The research began as class project with Dr. Jeff Sable, Associate Professor of Behavioral Sciences. In addition to the Electroencephalogram (EEG) machine), the class used three behavioral measures – the Implicit Association Test (IAT), Modern Racism Scale (MRS), and Symbolic Racism Scale (SRS). “While we have not analyzed all of the behavioral data yet, we have identified a significant difference in white and black participants’ reactions to happy or angry black faces,” Chelsea explained.

At present there are 40 white and eight black participants. The grant will allow Chelsea to continue this research and expand the number of test subjects so the results will be more balanced.  She will work in CBU’s Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory

under Dr. Sable’s supervision. The lab is unique in the region, providing students with opportunities to design studies; analyze data; present research at regional, national, and international conferences; and co-author articles. In September, Chelsea presented a paper on her research at the Society of Psychophysiological Research Conference in Washington, DC, where she was the only undergraduate to receive special recognition.

The Mamie Phipps Clark Awards highlight research projects by Psi Chi students and faculty advisors focusing on diverse populations and issues.

Chelsea credits her CBU experience for her success as a student and a researcher. “The close connections and mentorships I have built throughout my time at CBU have greatly helped me achieve my success as a student and have helped me grow as a person,” she said. “Because we have small classes, we really get to know our professors,” she added. “All of mine have been so helpful and supportive, particularly Dr. Sable and my advisor, Dr. Rodney Vogl, Professor of Behavioral Sciences.” She also credits her involvement with Students Tackling Autism Related Syndromes (STARS), Psi Chi, and the CBU Honors Program.

After graduation, Chelsea plans to attend graduate school to study cognitive psychology. Her goal is to complete her PhD and teach on the college level while continuing her research.

She has mastered the basic statistics and research skills she needs for graduate school, and these skills plus her connection with Career Services at CBU landed her an internship at Delta Health Alliance for the summer. “Delta offered me a paid internship position to continue my work throughout the Fall,” she said, “and I am so grateful for all the great experiences CBU continues to provide.”

While psychology is now Chelsea’s passion, it wasn’t her first choice for a major. She started out as a biology major but wasn’t entirely happy with her choice. After taking an interest survey at CBU’s Career Services, she said. “All indicators pointed me toward psychology,” she said, “so during Groundhog Day, I shadowed Dr. Sable.”

The rest is history.