News & Events


Olaf W. and Juta R. Millert Memorial Speaker Series in Psychology

Talk Title:  “The Altruistic Brain”
Date/Time: Monday, Oct. 1, 3:30-4:30 pm
Location:  Viking Theater

Abstract:  Every year in the United States, over 100 Americans donate one of their own kidneys to a stranger. Dozens more receive the Carnegie Medal for heroism for rescuing strangers from danger. The question is: why? What drives people to take risks and make sacrifices to help strangers? Our work includes behavioraland brain imaging research aimed at understanding the roots of extraordinary altruism. Results of our behavioral and brain imaging research suggest that extraordinary altruists possess neural and cognitive characteristics that may predispose them to high levels of care and compassion. In terms of their brain structure and function, they look the opposite of highly callous individuals (such as psychopaths). They also show unusually strong connections between brain areas that support parental care. These variations may increase altruists’ capacity for empathic responding and bias them toward protective responses to others’ distress. Together, these results suggest that extraordinary altruism may result from variations in established neural and cognitive phenomena that support social and emotional responsiveness. They also suggest that human altruism may be subserved by ancient neural systems that support parental care.

Bio:  Abigail Marsh is Associate Professor of Psychology, Neuroscience, and Cognitive Science at Georgetown.  She received her Ph.D. from Harvard University and conducted post-doctoral research at the National Institute of Mental Health. Her research is aimed at answering the questions: How do we understand what others think and feel? What drives us to help other people? What prevents us from harming them? She addresses these questions using functional and structural brain imaging in adolescents and adults, as well as behavioral, cognitive, genetic, and pharmacological techniques. She is the author of over 70 publications in journals that include Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Nature Human Behavior, American Journal of Psychiatry, and JAMA Psychiatry, as well as a trade book about her research on the brain basis of empathy and compassion called THE FEAR FACTOR (2017, Hachette). Her work has received awards that include the Cozzarelli Prize for scientific excellence and originality from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, The S&R Kuno Award for Applied Science for the Social Good, and the Richard J. Wyatt Fellowship award for translational research from the NIMH.



Congratulations to Corinne Kieras,  winner of the 2018 Psychology in Art competition.  The Psychology Department hosted an art competition to showcase how Psychology inspires art. The competition was open to many mediums of art, including paintings, drawings, printmaking, photography, sculptures, ceramics, and mixed-media. 


First Place                  

Artist:       CORINNE KIERAS (Seattle, WA)
Major:      Psychology and Computer Science, 2020
Title:         Nature vs. Nurture

Artist Statement: The aim of this piece is to surprise the viewer through the optical illusion that is presented but also allow the viewer to think about the themes that are presented. At the time this piece was created, I was interested in exploring the psychological concepts of nature versus nurture. In the psychology class I was taking at the time, these concepts were defined separately. Yet, the more I thought about what nature and nurture mean, I realized that they are inherently intertwined. In addition, I realized that dividing them into two separate concepts may inhibit our ability to empathize. Often, we view others behavior as their nature, while we view our own behavior as stemming from our nurture. Yet, these two concepts should never be thought of as two separate entities. Without our inherent nature, we would not be able to nurture those around us or learn from experience and vice versa. This message is what I hope to express through my piece. In optical illusions, it is almost impossible to view both parts (i.e. the woman and the tree) simultaneously, but seeing one without seeing the other inhibits the ability of an individual to absorb the entire picture.

Second Place

Artist:       ELISSA KRAUSE (Johnston, IA)
Major:      Studio Art and French, 2020
Title:         Schema

Honorable Mention 

Artist:       LESLY RAMOS (Chicago, IL)
Major:      Studio Art and Latin American Studies, 2020
Title:         Estereotipos del Cerebro (Stereotypes of the Brain)


Psi Chi Speaker
Tuesday, February 20, 2017
5:30 P.M., Buntrock 142
Olaf W. and Juta R. Millert Memorial Speaker Series in Psychology

Please join us for a lecture by renowned clinical/cultural psychologist Dr. Jeanne Tsai, Professor of Psychology at Stanford University, who will be delivering our Psychology Department’s annual Millert Memorial lecture.

Talk Title:  “How Culture Influences Our Emotions”Millert Memorial Lecture Poster: How Culture Influences Our Emotions
Date/Time: Monday, Sept. 18, 3:30-4:30 pm
Location:  Viking Theater

Abstract: Although most people want to feel good, people differ in the specific positive states they value and ideally want to feel (what we call their “ideal affect”). In this talk, I will describe a series of studies showing that: (1) how people want to feel differs from how they actually feel, (2) cultural factors shape how people want to feel even more than how they actually feel, and (3) these cultural differences in ideal affect have important implications for what people do, how they define health and well-being, and even how they perceive and treat other people. Finally, I will discuss how these cultural differences in ideal affect may play themselves out in clinics, corporations, and classrooms in multicultural societies like the United States.

Bio: Jeanne L. Tsai is currently professor of psychology in the Department of Psychology at Stanford University, and Director of the Stanford Culture and Emotion Lab. She is broadly interested in the cultural shaping of emotion and its implications for health, decision-making, and person perception. Her work is currently funded by the National Science Foundation and has been funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, the National Institute on Aging, and the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression. She is fellow of the Association for Psychological Science, the American Psychological Association Division 8, the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, and the Society for Experimental Social Psychology. At Stanford, she has received the Dean’s Award for Distinguished Teaching and the Asian American Activities Center Faculty Award.