Northwestern Graduate Wins Student Research Award at Psychology Conference

Emily Starr, a 2019 graduate of Northwestern College from Firth, Neb., received the only undergraduate student research award from the Association for Psychological Science (APS) at its annual conference in Washington, D.C., May 23–26. Awarded a $300 stipend and honored at the conference’s opening ceremonies, Starr had the opportunity to offer an oral presentation on her research and give a poster presentation.

The other student research award recipients—all students pursuing doctoral degrees—are from Arizona State University, Temple University and the University of Massachusetts Boston.

Starr, who graduated Summa Cum Laude and received Northwestern’s Outstanding Graduating Senior Award in psychology, won the APS award for her senior thesis and honors scholarship project, “Smartphone-Based Mindfulness Intervention Increases Interoceptive Awareness and Improves Emotion Regulation: A Randomized Controlled Trial.” Starr’s project engaged participants in 10 days of meditation guided by the Headspace® app in an effort to learn more about the benefits of app-based meditation.

“Since this is the conference of the main organization for psychological science in the world, it’s a big deal,” says Dr. Laird Edman, professor of psychology at Northwestern College. “We’re very proud of Emily.”

“My professors are excited for me because they are close to me,” says Starr. “They have poured into me and been great mentors. They expected a lot out of me but also believed in me, teaching me to not be afraid to dive head-first into research or to ask big questions.”

Last fall Starr received a $1,500 Undergraduate Research Grant from Psi Chi, the international honor society in psychology, to aid her research project.

Starr will participate in a National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates program at Ohio University, Treatment-Related Research for Youth With Social, Emotional and Behavioral Problems, later this summer. In the fall she will work at the University of Nebraska as a lab manager for the Learning and Development Lab and as a research assistant in the Family Development Lab while studying for the GRE exam and applying for graduate school. She’s considering a career that would combine research and counseling.

An Honors Scholar at Northwestern, Starr conducted Junior Scholar research with Dr. Melanie Nyhof, served as a teaching assistant for Dr. John Vonder Bruegge, and was a writing fellow for the First-Year Seminar. She was also a peer tutor and the student representative on Northwestern’s Academic Affairs Committee. Starr participated in three Spring Service Partnership trips, including in Ireland and Nicaragua, and was a choreographer for RUSH, Northwestern’s student dance concert.