After an entire semester of meticulously sorting through the data of more than 100 different participants and conducting countless experiments, Joanna Hafner, for the first time, finally tested her analyses and displayed her work in public last week.
Hafner, a senior psychology major, is one of the few students who represented the university at the Philadelphia Area Psi-Chi Psychology Research Day on March 16 at Drexel University.
Teaming with psychology professor Lauren Alloy and graduate student Louisa Grandin, Hafner conducted research on the effects of certain life events on bipolar disorders. To test their research, they interviewed 191 subjects. The research took over a semester to complete.
Hafner, who is also a member of the National Psychology Honors Society and the vice president of Temple’s Psychology Majors Association, said she looked forward to presenting her thesis.
“I am very excited about my thesis because it revolves around extremely detrimental mood disorders that affect many, many people,” Hafner said.
Her work for this experiment is an archival study, meaning that she took information that has already been gathered in another study. In this case, the information was from a large grant study run by Dr. Alloy.
Hafner’s thesis is an “off shoot” of graduate student Louisa Grandin’s work, which revolves around the Social Zeitberger theory of mood disorders and the role of the sleep-wake cycle.
“I focus on BAS-Activating, BAS-Deactivating, and Global Attainment because it is a good way to break down the different types of life events,” Hafner said.
That was Hafner’s first time participating in an event like that, and although she was excited about presenting her hard work for all to see, she admitted she was a little apprehensive going into the event.
She said she was “slightly nervous” about presenting her work at Drexel because it was a new experience for her. Hafner feared “someone might ask me something that I don’t know the answer to,” she said.
Despite the typical nervousness, Hafner entered the event with a positive and optimistic mindset. She said she did not feel intimidated by the event because “I do not feel as intimidated by this event because “I know that almost everyone” who participated was “new, like me, and we are still learning,” Hafner said.
Regarding this research, Hafner said, “I feel that my research, like most research out there, will help further our understanding of mood disorders, and how certain types of life events can lead to the onset of bipolar symptoms and/or episodes.”
Although all of her tests and data entry are finally complete, she just recently began testing her analyses, and completed results or conclusions were still pending when it came time to present at the March 16 event. Luckily, the results weren’t necessary for participation in Psi-Chi Research day.
Despite all the arduous research and constant testing, Hafner said this has been a rewarding experience.
“Research doesn’t have to be difficult or intimidating if you don’t want it to be. It just takes patience and effort,” Hafner said.
Hafner will present her work in Temple’s Undergraduate Research Forum on April 5. There, she will present completed conclusions in addition to her research.
Justin A. Landis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.