Blog posts tagged in Psychology News

b2ap3_thumbnail_3-20-CD_LH.jpgThree Waynesburg University faculty members received the 2018 Lucas-Hathaway Teaching Excellence Awards during the University’s Charter Day celebration Tuesday, March 20.

The Lucas-Hathaway Teaching Excellence Awards are presented annually and include three awards. One recognizes a faculty member with a history of teaching excellence, a second recognizes a faculty member with teaching excellence in introductory subjects and the third honors a part-time faculty member at any Waynesburg University site.

“It is always a privilege to recognize our outstanding faculty members for their accomplishments in the classroom,” said Waynesburg University Provost Dr. Dana Cook Baer. “This award is a unique honor, as it allows students and colleagues to recognize the exceptional work of each honoree.”

James Tanda, instructor of criminal justice and director of security operations and emergency management, received the 2018 Lucas-Hathaway Excellence Award for a faculty member with a teaching excellence in introductory subjects.

“This faculty member models the Christian values of Waynesburg University and encourages his students to embrace ethics and morals in everything they do,” said Baer.

One student stated, “he is a true professional and treats everyone with fairness and respect. He inspires and motivates me to do my best academically and professionally. I am a better person because of this teacher.”

Tanda joined Waynesburg University in 2013. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a master’s degree in criminal investigation from Waynesburg University.

Dr. James Hepburn, professor of psychology and director of graduate programs in counseling, received the 2018 Lucas-Hathaway Teaching Excellence Award for a faculty member with a history of teaching excellence.

"Students appreciate this professor’s vast knowledge, experience and humor, and they know him as a kind, genuine, caring and compassionate teacher,” said Baer.

A student nomination noted, “he did an excellent job in helping me understand that language is a friend of a counselor and that counseling is a gift.”

Dr. Hepburn has been with the University since 1993. He holds a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Carroll College and a master’s degree in psychology, along with a doctorate in clinical psychology, from Duquesne University.

Rev. Christy Wise, lecturer of biblical ministry studies and communication, received the 2018 Lucas-Hathaway Teaching Excellence Award for a non-full-time faculty member.

“This teacher is dedicated to her work. I feel like she really cares about my well-being,” a student nomination stated.

A colleague described her as one who “teaches with integrity and enthusiasm, and really cares that students understand the content. It’s a joy to be confident in the way in which she teaches the Bible.”

Rev. Wise joined Waynesburg as a part-time instructor in 2007. She earned her bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Waynesburg University and a master’s degree in early childhood education from California University of Pennsylvania.

She holds a permanent license as a minister from the American Baptist Church Leadership Institute of Western Pennsylvania and was ordained by the American Baptist Church.

The Lucas-Hathaway Charitable Trust has established an endowed fund that provides two annual teaching excellence awards for full-time faculty members and one award for a part-time faculty member. Faculty members were nominated by students, faculty or alumni. Each recipient received a commemorative plaque and a $1,200 award. The Trust is funded by J. Richard Lucas and C. Joan Hathaway Lucas, members of the class of 1950.

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Ashley Wise, Director of University Relations
724.852.7675 or awise@waynesburg.edu

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Jenny Jellisonb2ap3_thumbnail_jellison2.png
Associate Professor of Psychology

For almost 13 years, Jenny has taught classes and advised psychology majors in what she describes as her "dream job." Her office can be found in 225 Buhl Hall, where she surrounds herself with things that make her smile, including graduation photos of some of her closest past students.

What’s your favorite fun fact about WU?

That we were one of the first colleges to have ever offered degrees to women. I’m very proud to work at a university with that kind of history.

What’s your favorite annual event?

I don’t know if this counts, but I love meeting the new freshmen on the Friday before classes start. Each of them is a potentially awesome new person that I could have in my life for at least the next 4yrs. My students make my job the joy that it is – they make me laugh every single day, they share their stories with me, and they challenge me. So, the new students to me are like new books I can’t wait to read. Plus, I assume they are nervous and overwhelmed by this new, big step, so I love making them smile and (hopefully) breathe a little easier.

What’s your most memorable WU moment?

When we became a university! I still have the t-shirt we got, and I remember gathering EVERYONE all around the front of Stover and taking the big, overhead picture. It was exciting to be a part of something so historical.

What makes WU a special place to work?

The love and respect we have for each other. Even when we don’t agree with each other, we are loving and respectful. Other workplaces – even other universities – have politics and backstabbing and people who treat each other badly. I can’t imagine how toxic that would be; WU has spoiled me. Here, we pray for each other and celebrate each other’s accomplishments. I feel supported. I also love that a large part of my job performance assessment is based on how well I serve the students. That was something I wanted in a full-time job from the beginning. At bigger universities, professors are often more concerned with getting published, and undergrads get shoved off to the side. Our students are the most important people on this campus, so I appreciate being at a university that agrees with me on that.

What do you consider the most special or unique part of your job?

I get to tell people all about the stuff I’m interested in, and they have to listen! Also, I literally shape lives. I get to help young people find their way in life, discover their strengths, and realize their passions. I think people sometimes underestimate how unfinished young adults are – they’re still so scared, insecure, and (sometimes) lost. I love being one of the people in their lives who calms them down, lifts them up, and helps them figure it all out.

For more information on the Psychology program at Waynesburg University, click here!

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b2ap3_thumbnail_5-21-Narasimhan-2_20150522-144111_1.jpgThis internship keeps getting cooler. Today, we had a troop of wild howlers hanging around the sanctuary, and our babies actually got into the trees and interacted with them! We call this troop R2D2, and all of their names have something to do with Star Wars. The dominant male’s name is Yoda, and the other male is Vader. 

It’s interesting because no matter where a howler troop is, you will almost always find the dominant male in the center of the group. Stevie, our blind howler, was playing with Mace, a baby in the troop. It was adorable. Rugby is still a little shy with other howlers, but she is getting there. Watching the wild howlers and capuchins is unlike anything I have ever seen. It’s one thing to see them in photographs and to learn about their behavior in a textbook, but nothing compares to seeing it in person. I really enjoy just sitting peacefully and watching. 

Another cool thing we are doing is documenting howler behavior. The species has been neglected in this area, and so the research we are doing is extremely important. Every day we do several behavioral follows, either focusing on one baby or both. For about forty-five minutes, we document their every behavior, which can be anything from a vocalization to foraging. This is called an ethogram, and it takes a while to get the hang of. We are also identifying all of the individuals in each troop to try to get a population count. As of right now, it is not known how many howlers live in Panama, further adding to the importance of our research.

My favorite part of the internship so far has been interacting with the monkeys. The babies are frustrating at times, and it sometimes feels like babysitting spoiled toddlers. We try to keep them in the trees and off the ground as much as possible, to mimic a normal upbringing and get them used to a typical howler lifestyle (wild howlers spend almost no time on the ground). Sometimes, however, the babies do not want to get into a tree and just want to cuddle. Sometimes they will bite and run away, resulting in a wild monkey chase. However, watching them in the trees and playing with them is so rewarding, and they have the ability to make anyone’s heart melt, no matter how hard they bite.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_5-19-Narasimhan-1.jpgI’ve been at the sanctuary for a few days now, and I am already immersed in the several projects going on here. I am learning so much. While the babies are adorable and fun to play with, I am falling in love with the capuchins. 

Their intelligence is so obvious when you spend even a small amount of time with them. Every time I enter their enclosure, they embrace me quickly and then search my pockets for hidden almonds I may have brought for them. After that, we settle down for a grooming session. I usually groom Angie while Ace sits on my shoulder and grooms me. It is easy to forget, however, that these are wild animals and not pets.

I’ve been trained in how to read their body language and facial expressions. For example, when upset, caps will bare their teeth in a way that almost looks like they are smiling. This is similar to their play face, so when working with them, you have to always be aware of how they are feeling and behaving.

Because they have to live in an enclosure while they are being rehabilitated, it is easy for these intelligent creatures to become bored. We try to provide as much enrichment for them as possible, and part of everyday is dedicated to that. We often rearrange their enclosure, so branches are in different positions than they were before and new ones are added. We also hide their food in interesting places and design fun toys for them. Some favorites of theirs are colored paper or egg cartons with yummy peanut butter.

We also have to watch for stereotypic behaviors they might exhibit. These are behaviors that are common in animals in captivity, and are usually a sign of distress or boredom. Lately Ace has been doing a quick head roll, almost like a twitch. This is a common behavior in capuchins in captivity, but it isn’t clear what it means or how to prevent it.

Another cool thing with capuchins is their territorial behavior. When trying to ward off enemies or demonstrating dominance, caps will break and shake branches. It’s actually quite terrifying to be on the receiving end of one of these encounters. We try to keep the wild caps away from the ones in our care, as they take their food and make Angie nervous, so part of the job is breaking and shaking branches at them in return. I’ve had a couple showdowns with some wild caps, and they are extremely intimidating.

I’m learning so much about animal behavior and husbandry, and loving every second of it!

 

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b2ap3_thumbnail_5-8-Narasimhan.jpgMeet Rachel Narasimhan, a senior biology major at Waynesburg University. This summer, she will be interning at the Aloutta Sanctuary in Panama. She plans to share her experiences right here on the Waynesburg blog.

Hi! My name is Rachel Narasimhan, and I am entering my senior year at Waynesburg University. I am a biology major with a psychology minor. I am extremely interested in animal behavior, especially that of primates. I am going to be spending one month here at Aloutta Sanctuary, located on the Chiriqui Penninsula of Panama. It is a rehabilitation center as well as a field research station. Its main focus is mantled howler monkeys. 

It is my second day at the sanctuary, and I am learning and experiencing so much. The sanctuary has been doing amazing work, and has rehabbed and released over a dozen animals back into the wild. 

Right now we are home to two capuchin monkeys, Angie and Ace, two Geoffroy’s Tamarins, Razorblade and Mr. T, and two baby howlers, Rugby and Stevie. I’ve gotten to work hands on with all of them, and they are a handful. The capuchins are so so so smart. Angie, who came to the sanctuary in February, was tied to a pole at a gas station for an estimated ten years. She is very friendly and sweet, but gets anxious quickly when other wild caps come around her enclosure. Ace is young and rambunctious, and is a good playmate for Angie.

The Geoffrey Tamarins do not get along, so they are housed separately. If you feed Mr. T before Razorblade, Razorblade will freak out. Alone, they are wonderful little creatures who will hop all over you when you greet them. The howlers, affectionately known here as the babies, are something else. They require the most attention and they certainly love every second of it. Stevie and her mother were electrocuted by a wire when she was very young, resulting in her mother’s death and the loss of her eyesight. I am amazed at how good of a monkey Stevie still is. She climbs fearlessly in and out of trees and keeps up with Rugby just fine.

The other interns and managers have been really welcoming and helpful with my transition, but it is a lot to handle. The bugs are biting all the time, and the heat is suffocating. My first day here, I had sort of a meltdown. I’m extremely homesick and the difficulty of living in the middle of the jungle got to me. I was on baby duty at the time. Stevie, sensing my fear and sadness, climbed into my lap and cupped my chin in her hands. We locked eyes, and I think she was trying to tell me to stick it out. I’ll never forget the look she gave me and how she made me feel so much better in that moment. I’m still having a hard time adjusting, but the monkeys make it worth it.

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