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February 1, 2013
By Stephany Kirby
Two doctoral psychology students in the College of Liberal Arts have received recognition and financial assistance for their education and research in the field.
Christina Garrison-Diehn, a doctoral candidate in the University's Clinical Psychology Program, received the Beth Meyer-Arnold Dissertation Fellowship Award for her project, "Examining the Relationship Between Reported Caregiver Empathy and Dyadic Outcomes." The national fellowship is granted by the National Adult Day Services Association and includes a financial award of $5,000, research mentorship and an invitation to join the association's national research committee.
"Winning this award has allowed me more time to focus on my dissertation this year due to the financial compensation, and has opened doors for me in my career through the connections I've made on the association's research committee," Garrison-Diehn said.
She has worked with individuals with dementia, family caregivers and professional caregivers for the past five years at the Nevada Caregiver Support Center, a nationally recognized center at the University, under the direction of her advisor, psychology professor Jane Fisher. The center provides behavioral health services to people with dementia and caregivers.
"Over the past five years I have spent much time in the three large Adult Day Centers in our service area, providing group staff trainings, observing clients, collaborating with staff members and consulting with administrative staff on specific challenges between the centers and the client," Garrison-Diehn said. "I am a devoted supporter of centers due to the relief they provide for the caregiver, the increased social and leisure activities for clients, and the positive impact of avoiding or delaying placement in a more restrictive environment."
Garrison-Diehn's dissertation project examines the relationship between caregiver behaviors during interactions with care-recipient family members, caregiver quality of life and well-being, and care-recipient quality of life and well-being.
"The results will have important implications for the design of support services for professional caregivers, as well as for family caregivers," Garrison-Diehn said. "The results will also inform future research."
She plans to become a clinical geropsychologist, specializing in the treatment of older patients, and to split her time between research and clinical work.
Victoria Springer was recently chosen as a Diversity Fund Graduate Travel Award Recipient for the 2013 Society for Personality and Social Psychology Conference Jan. 17-19 in New Orleans. The $500 award can be used to cover any conference-related expenses, including transportation, lodging, food and conference registration.
Springer is a doctoral candidate in Interdisciplinary Social Psychology Program at the University, having earned her master's degree from the program in 2008. Her ongoing research focuses on the integration of social psychology into the study of the underlying methods, processes and outcomes of the forensic sciences and the study of sentencing and judicial decision making.
The award is intended to promote diversity and support students from under-represented groups. Neither of Springer's parents completed a university degree, so she applied for the award as a first-generation college student.
"I have a very nonacademic background, but my parents made education their top priority for their kids," Springer said. "That may have been more influential to the Society for Personality and Social Psychology than the fact that I was raised by parents without college degrees."
This award was presented last year to J. Guillermo Villalobos, who is currently a second-year doctoral student in the same program at the University.
Springer is grateful for the opportunity the award gives her to attend the conference.
"The travel award helps open the door for researchers like me, from all walks of life, to arrive at the same place at the same time, literally and metaphorically," Springer said. "Instilling an appreciation for diversity is one of the things that gets to the very heart of what social psychology has to offer the social sciences. It drives home the value of understanding what makes us different while also revealing what makes us the same."
Stephany Kirby is a student writer for University Media Relations.