SPARC ignites at UWG

The Student Psychology Annual Research Conference (SPARC) took place Thursday, April 9. The event, hosted by the UWG Psychology Department, gave students a chance to share their psychology research with their peers and faculty.

“This conference enables students to share an existing, previous, or future paper or research with peers and other students and faculty,” said Dr. Christine Simmonds-Moore, Assistant Professor of Psychology at UWG. “It’s a supportive environment where the students can get experience presenting at a conference and get feedback on their papers.”

For the past three years, SPARC has been co-coordinated by Simmonds-Moore and her colleague, Dr. Kathleen Skott-Myhre, who is a fellow assistant professor of psychology and director of the M.A. program at UWG.

“SPARC has been both an academic venture as well as a celebration of the work and thinking of our psychology students,” said Skott-Myhre. “This gives students the chance to celebrate their accomplishments in their research and gives the faculty the opportunity to join in that celebration.”

All 45 of the presenters were in some way affiliated with UWG. Many of them were undergraduate, graduate and doctoral students attending UWG, while some were alumni returning to present their previously unfinished theses and research.

Most of the students were presenting for the first time for the department.

“My presentation was on gender and emotion,” said Breanna Smith, a graduating senior from the UWG psychology department. “I presented the idea that emotion is socially constructed based off of what society believes is appropriate for that gender.”

The event kicked off around 11 a.m. with open mic sessions. During this time, students could perform for the department through dance, song, comedy or other mediums. Around noon, everyone dispersed for lunch, which was donated by different local Carrollton restaurants.

“This is an opportunity for the university to connect with the city of Carrollton,” said Simmonds-Moore.

With everyone gathering back at the university around 1 p.m., the presentations began. The event took place in four different UWG classrooms, which means there were different presentation taking place simultaneously.

Each session lasted roughly 15 minutes, including the 10-minute presentation followed by five minutes of discussion, where the speaker answered questions on his or her topic and received feedback from the audience.

The conference covered almost every area of psychology.

“The types of research presented were quite varied and included topics in the areas of social, transpersonal, humanistic, critical and parapsychology,” said Skott-Myhre. “Just a few of the topics include the ‘ideal’ male body type of the UWG campus culture, conceptions of feminist identity, lucid dreaming and the role of the therapist in global climate change.”

The goal of these sessions was to inspire students to get involved with the conference next year and to open them up to learning about the different areas of psychology. It also gives them an idea as to what their peers are studying and what it is being researched throughout the UWG psych department.

SPARC began 17 years ago with the purpose of giving psychology students an opportunity to share their research in a conference setting. It has proved successful because of its diversity among presenters and topics.

“It is nice to see the department sharing within itself,” said Simmonds-Moore. “It’s really cool because the presentations go across all levels of students and fields and really celebrates the psychology community.”

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