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Lehman Shines at Psychology Conference

December 17, 2010


(From left) Lehman senior Dana Miller, Professor Vincent Prohaska, and alumna Christina Barbieri at the 22nd Annual Greater New York Conference on Behavioral Research.

A Lehman senior and a recent graduate both delivered presentations based on their honors projects in psychology at last month's 22nd Annual Greater New York Conference on Behavioral Research—an achievement in its own right. On top of that, 2010 graduate Christina Barbieri won the conference's inaugural Parker Award, named in honor of Dr. Rolland S. Parker, a New York City-based neuropsychologist, author, and philanthropist.

Barbieri and senior Dana Miller made a big impression at the conference, which was held at the Lander College for Women of Touro College. "For an undergraduate student to present research anywhere is an accomplishment," said Professor Vincent Prohaska of Lehman's Psychology Department.

Miller presented her paper on memory illusions, a topic she became interested in after working with Professor Prohaska. Within the standard DRM paradigm, she used lists of related words presented in varying fonts along with a recognition task to measure an individual's retrieval of information from memory. She found that the type font did alter serial positions of participants' word assignments.

Barbieri researches working memory, the storage of information plus the manipulation of present information, as well as inhibition, the ability to resist irrelevant information while attempting to focus on a given task. Her study of fifty-four undergraduates found their working memory span contributed to their reading comprehension but not their listening comprehension.

Barbieri has given her presentation on a number of occasions—an impressive feat for such a young scholar. "I'm not surprised that Christina won," said Professor Keith Happaney, also a faculty member of Lehman's Psychology Department as well as a Lehman alum. "She was the first non-faculty member to give a research talk at our monthly Lehman Chapter of Sigma Xi colloquium. Her presentation was excellent, and she very much impressed the group with her poise, professionalism, and understanding of the material."

Now Barbieri works as the lab coordinator/manager of Professor Happaney's research lab at Lehman and is a member of both Sigma Xi, the national scientific research society, and Psi Chi, the international honor society in psychology. She previously served as the Lehman Psi Chi chapter's vice president.

Miller currently serves as the Psi Chi president at Lehman and is also a member of Golden Key International Honour Society. "Dana has a real passion for improving classroom pedagogies and instruction in general," says Professor Prohaska. "The experiences and skills that she's already acquired through her research, tutoring, and leadership will serve her well in a Ph.D. program in educational psychology. I think she is going to be a terrific faculty member somewhere."

Barbieri also is aiming for a doctorate in educational psychology. Both are currently applying to graduate programs around the country.