Social Psychology Doctoral Student Spotlights

Raldiris receives dissertation research grant


Tarah Raldiris, a doctoral student in the social psychology doctoral program, has received a $15,000 Mind & Life Institute Francisco J. Varela research grant to assist with her dissertation research. Her project involves comparing mindfulness-based training to a relaxation control for caregivers of loved ones with dementia. The primary outcomes of interest in the project are sleep quality and eudaimonic well-being. 

From the Mind & Life Institute's website: "[Varela grants] are based on neuroscientist and philosopher Francisco J. Varela’s belief that contemplative training offers modern science novel methods for investigating human experience. In his vision, contemplative training not only provides a new domain for scientific study, but more importantly offers resources for advancing scientific theories and models of consciousness, emotion and cognitive processing." Read more.

Lambert, Martelli receive SPSP travel awards


Ebony Lambert, a doctoral student in the health psychology doctoral program, and Alexandra Martelli, a student in the social psychology doctoral program, will travel to the 2018 Society for Personality and Social Psychology convention in Atlanta courtesy of SPSP travel awards. Lambert and Martelli are two of 150 recipients out of 504 applications for funding.

The title of Lambert's winning poster is "Going Beyond Perceived Discrimination: The Role of Stigma Consciousness in Black Americans' Trust in Physicians and Healthcare Utilization." Abstract: This study examined whether stigma consciousness predicts Black Americans' trust in physicians and healthcare utilization, above and beyond perceived discrimination. Results indicated that health researchers should draw on social psychology research of intergroup bias and consider a variety of race-related attitudes to better understand of the role of discrimination in health disparities.

The title of Martelli's winning poster is "When Less is More: Mindfulness Predicts Adaptive Affective Responding to Rejection via Reduced Prefrontal Recruitment." Abstract: This study examined the neural mechanisms through which mindfulness regulates the pain of social rejection. Participants (N=39) completed a social rejection paradigm (Cyberball) while undergoing functional MRI then reported trait mindfulness and state distress during rejection. Results suggest that mindfulness promotes effective coping with rejection without taxing top-down regulatory mechanisms.

Raldiris Places First, Rice Featured in Graduate Student Research Symposium

raldiris-thumbrice-thumb‌Please join us in congratulating Tarah Raldiris, a doctoral student in the social psychology concentration of the general psychology program, for winning first place in the 2017 VCU Graduate Student Research Symposium. The title of the winning poster was "Mindfulness ‌Attenuates Self-Serving Performance Attributions." Raldiris' faculty mentor is Kirk Warren Brown, ‌Ph.D. Her research interests are focused on understanding the effect of mindfulness on cognition, health and well-being in older adults. She is particularly interested in how mindfulness-based interventions can promote healthy aging, and how we can study correlated changes in brain activity through the use of fMRI and EEG.

‌‌Remington Rice, a doctoral student in the health program, was featured in VCU News' article about the symposium. Rice studies optogenetics under the mentorship of Joseph Porter, Ph.D., and spoke to VCU News about his research poster "Effects of Optogenetic Activation of Ventral Tegmental Area Neurons on Locomotor Activity and Temperature in TH-cre Rats Treated with Amphetamine or Raclopride." Read the article.