School of Psychology Honors Exceptional Student, Best Paper, Instructor Awards for Graduate Students and Early Career Scientists

In her biography for the Computational Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory website, Mehda Shekhar says her primary research area involves “understanding how we make perceptual decisions and generate confidence estimates.”

Confidence in her own research efforts are on full display this month — Shekhar is the recipient of the Exceptional Student Award, presented annually by the School of Psychology.

Shekhar is one of eight Psychology graduate students to win end-of-school-year honors and nominations as announced by professor and school chair Mark Wheeler, and Rick Thomas, who serves as associate chair of Operations and Graduate Studies, associate professor of Cognition & Brain Science, and director of the Decision Processes Laboratory (DPL).

Shekhar has six publications, three of which are first-authored research papers. “[T]hese papers are in the very top psychology and neuroscience journals: Psychological Review, Journal of Neuroscience, and Trends in Cognitive Sciences,” according to Wheeler and Thomas. “Beyond that, she has been an outstanding teaching assistant, and has been very active in the graduate student community as a member of the Graduate Student Government Association.”

Other School of Psychology graduate student awards include:

Graduate Instructor Award

Elyse Carlson 

Carlson, an experienced student instructor, worked with Wheeler in the Cognitive Neuroscience Lab and with academic professional Meghan Babcock in the Methods lab. Carlson has been the instructor for five General Psychology courses, teaching hundreds of students over the past two years.   

“Elyse is an enthusiastic and passionate instructor who cares deeply about her students and improving student learning outcomes,” say Wheeler and Thomas. “Elyse had several support statements from previous students that detailed how important Elyse’s instruction was to their learning experiences."

Best Graduate Student Paper Award

Jiwon Yeon 

Yeon wins this year's best paper award for her paper titled “The suboptimality of perceptual decision making with multiple alternatives," published in Nature Communications. 

School of Psychology Nominee, Center for Teaching and Learning’s Graduate Teaching Assistant of the Year

Taylor Curley

Curley is this award’s nominee “because of his excellent teaching record as a laboratory instructor for PSYC 6020, Statistical Analysis of Psychological Data II,” according to Wheeler and Thomas.

Psychology Interlab Grant Winners

In addition to the Graduate Student Awards, the School of Psychology presents annual Psychology Interlab Grants as part of its effort to foster collaborative studies and support new graduate student initiated interlab research. 

This year’s winning teams are Zach Tidler and Corey Tatel for their proposal, “Tedium vs. Efficiency: A Study of Individual Differences in ‘Hacky’ Behavior” — and Kate Kidwell and Claire Burnett for their proposal, “Age Discrimination and Leader Effectiveness: A Follower-Centric Investigation into the Relationship Between Perceived Age and Leader Effectiveness.” 

The recipients of the Instructor, Best Paper, and Exceptional Student awards will each receive $500. Each Interlab grant will be awarded $1500 to support the proposed research.