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Elections Now Open for SPSP’s Student Committee

The time has come to select your 2018 Student Committee members. The SPSP Student Committee, one of the association’s most active committees, works to promote the interests of SPSP’s graduate and undergraduate student members. Their work includes producing a student focused monthly newsletter, liaising with committees across SPSP on behalf of the student voice, and organizing and executing events and activities specifically for students at the annual convention. All current undergraduate and graduate student members, as of December 4, 2017, will be emailed a ballot to vote. Voting begins December 4 and ends on December 18 at 11:59 PM, ET. 

Open positions for 2018 are:


This candidate’s first position will be as Vice-Chair, assisting the 2018 Chair with leadership of the committee. In 2019, this position will assume the leadership role of Chair, acting as the liaison between the Student Committee and the SPSP Executive Committee. Finally in their third year, this position will transition to that of Past Chair, acting as an advisor and mentor to their successors. 

Heidi VuletichUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Heidi Vuletich headshotMy name is Heidi Vuletich and I am fourth-year Ph.D. student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I am enrolled in a dual program in social and developmental psychology. I received my bachelor's degree in Neuroscience from Regis University in Denver, CO. I would like to be part of the student committee in order to represent student interests within SPSP. Part of my experience includes being a member of the organizing committee for a social psychology, graduate-lead conference that took place in North Carolina last year. We gathered graduate scholars from across the state to discuss and present their research. I would like to continue to be involved in initiatives that provide opportunities for students to advance their work, develop professionally, and have access to the resources they need to succeed. I am also invested in initiatives that value and advance diversity in all of its forms.

Alan LeighTowson University

Alan Leigh headshotHello, everyone! I’m Alan Leigh and I’m in my second year of the M.A. in Experimental Psychology program at Towson University. I truly value the opportunity to serve in leadership and organizational roles, especially when it comes to advocating for student interests, which is why I’m seeking a position on the SPSP Student Committee. The New York Times recently reported that there are drastically more graduates with degrees in the “life sciences” (where Psychology is included) than there are available jobs. This flooded job market reveals that career development must be a focus for all students pursuing a degree in Psychology. Therefore, creating and maintaining initiatives towards career development for current students will be my primary focus if elected to the SPSP Student Committee. Particular initiatives that I hope to establish or continue for undergraduates include: (1) continuing to provide suggestions and tips for how to apply to graduate school, (2) providing information on how to get the most out of conferences, and (3) providing resources and expert advice on what jobs and opportunities are available for those with an undergraduate degree in psychology. Initiatives for graduate students include: (1) finding newly hired faculty to discuss the transition from being a graduate student to faculty member, (2) providing online resources for the newest available tools and software used by researchers that are valued by potential employers, such as information on data mining, and (3) continuing to update the career development information on the SPSP website to include resources on developing skills in teaching, grant writing, and professional presentations.  My time at Towson University has afforded me numerous opportunities to serve students, and I hope to continue this role if selected for this position. I’m the Co-President of the Psychology Graduate Student Association, which promotes academic and social collaboration amongst all graduate students in the Department of Psychology, and is a liaison between all graduate students and university administration. I am also the graduate student representative for multiple university committees, where I advocate for all graduate students’ interests in regards to all university functions and initiatives, and I also oversee Towson University’ graduate mentor database. Finally, I have presented survey results on the experiences and needs of current graduate assistants to Towson University’s Provost and Dean of Graduate Studies. I hope that these examples of my leadership and advocacy experiences illustrate that I enjoy and value the opportunity to serve students, and I plan to focus my career on developing ways to help students achieve their goals. I wish you all success and wellness, and I hope to be given the opportunity to serve you along your journey.   Referenced NYT article: link


SPSPotlight Co-Editor

This role will join the 2018 SPSPotlight co-editor to produce the monthly student newsletter the SPSPotlight. In 2019 for their second term, they will be joined by another incoming co-editor. Together the co-editors complete their work in crafting editions of the newsletter with help from the SPSP central office.

Tina Donaldson, University at Albany, SUNY

Tina Donaldson headshotI feel that every students need to have a voice.  There are times when we all may feel out of place or misunderstood.  Representing student interests is something we should all aspire to do.  It's an important mission to make sure everyone is represented. For me personally, this venue will allow me to connect with colleagues and broaden my network of possible collaborators.  Additionally, one of my long term career goals is to become an editor.  I feel this position will be an excellent opportunity to learn more about the field.  Currently, I serve as a reviewer for student poster awards and it has been a wonderful and rewarding experience.  Before I decide to implement any initiatives or projects, I would like to hear from our constituents' regarding their interests.  If there is something all of you would like to learn more about or areas of interest you would like us to cover I would be happy to find the answers for you.  I believe this is OUR committee and I am here to serve.

Elisa Rapadas, Saint Mary's College of California

Elisa Rapadas headshotMy name is Elisa Rapadas and I am a third year undergraduate at Saint Mary's College of California. I am planning to apply to PhD programs next fall to enter into on Fall 2019. One reason why I would like to serve on the student committee is to close the gap between undergraduates and graduate students, and one initiative I would like to implement to reach that goal is a professional development webinar to help undergraduates apply to grad school. With the help of other graduate students on the committee and their colleagues, I think having a virtual panel of real grad students would be extremely beneficial for I believe I have ample qualifications to be SPSPotlight Co-Editor focusing on social media initiatives. I am currently working as an editorial assistant for College Communications, writing stories for the weekly school bulletin and creating content. Additionally, I am the Communication Director for the Macken Debate and Speech Team, where I create fliers through Photoshop CS6, and boost team publicity by posting on Facebook, Twitter, and sending press releases to faculty and staff. Finally, I am a STEM Mentor in a first year residence hall, where I plan events for residents such as Science Game Night. I have the experience to publicize social media initiatives, organize events, and write/edit journalistic content, and I hope you consider voting for me as the SPSPotlight Co-Editor.

Stylianos Syropoulos, Franklin & Marshall College

Stylianos Syropoulos headshotI would like to represent students within SPSP in the student committee because like all of the student affiliate members of SPSP, I am passionate about psychology. Specifically I am passionate about diversity in the field of psychology. As an undergraduate and an international student it has become evident to me that having a diverse background, especially in the confines of a committee allows for more diverse opinions to be heard which in the end leads to a better representation. My personal goals focus on conducting research (in perceptions of safety) but I am also very interested in becoming engrossed in the administrative side of psychology. In terms of relevant experience, I have served in various committees ranging from my institution's Committee of Student Conduct, Committee of Student Safety, Parking Appeal Committee, and outside my institution I have served as a member of the ASC (American Society for Criminology) Division of Policing Student Committee, and I am also currently serving as President of my institution's chapter of Psi Chi.

Lucy Zheng, UC Davis

Lucy Zheng headshotAs a previous high school teacher and a current college applications consultant, I have experience in mentoring adolescents through exciting (but often stressful) transitions in their life. I want to use these skills I have acquired to connect graduate students with undergraduate students and each other, to form our own support group, to combat our own stressful "graduate school culture".  An event I think would be great at getting us started would be a conference game mixer, a students-only event where we play "Research Bingo", "Journal Monopoly", or "Abstract Trivia". These games would expose us to everyone else's research (but in an informal, non-threatening manner) and force us to have fun and get to know each other. I aim to go into educational policy, and this position will teach me all the ways in which graduate education policy should be different from or similar to K-12 and college education policy.



The Members-at-Large are primarily responsible for generating and implementing programs relevant to SPSP student member interests. These committee members are divided into subcommittees to accomplish specific projects and goals to support the committee’s activities. These positions last 1 year, with the option to run for re-election for a second term.

Jonathan Gordils, University of Rochester

Jonathan Gordils headshotAs previously mentioned, I am the current president of the Graduate Students of Color. During my tenure, I have been involved in organizing social events and panel discussions for graduate students. In addition, I have partaken in panel discussions for undergraduate and high school students on the graduate school experience (for both a traditional and underrepresented audiences). My motivation for wanting to be involved with the SC is multifold. Career-wise, serving on the SC would provide an avenue for networking and collaborating with individuals who are similarly interested in the betterment of the personality and social psychology community. Additionally, the experience gained by working in this capacity would further both my academic prospects as well as my social and communication skills. Nevertheless, I would like the SPSP conference to be a great experience for all – students, faculty, and researchers alike. As such, if I am capable of providing assistance in this regard, I would gladly oblige. Thus far, I have attended the conference twice, and both times I had a wonderful experience. In like manner, it would be great to be involved in the organization to provide a similar experience for others.

Barbara Heusser, Stark State College

Barbara Heusser headshotI would like to represent student interests within SPSP because I feel I have a multifaceted perspective in regards to student life and their needs. Not only am I an alternative student (working mother in my 30’s), I have had the opportunity to lead students of a broad age spectrum while I held my Vice President office for Psi Beta. My personal goal is to mentor other students that may be in the same situation I was, starting college later in life, or students that aren’t sure of the next steps they need to take in their academic career. I would love to see more volunteer based psychology clubs implemented, not just honors societies, because I believe it is important to grow as a person and as a team. 

Ledina Imami, Wayne State University

Ledina Imami headshotI am a fifth year doctoral candidate studying at Wayne State University in Detroit. Most of my work has been dedicated to studying how the ties that connect us to others, both in the context of intimate relationships and in the context of more formal and structural hierarchies, influence our psychological and physical health. As such my research lies at the intersection of social and health psychology, reflecting an interest on interdisciplinary collaboration. SPSP has been my home conference since starting grad school, and over the years I’ve been happy to see that our community has wholeheartedly embraced the spirit of strengthening ties between various disciplines of psychology. As part of the student committee, I would like to further contribute to initiatives that bring together students and senior scholars who are interested in studying psychological phenomena by integrating diverse perspectives on human behavior. I believe that my background in interdisciplinary research will give me a unique perspective on how to reach out to students who have research interests that exceed the traditional boundaries of social psychology and provide them with examples of how to succeed by following non-traditional paths in science. Serving on the student committee will help me build ties with like-minded peers, which I hope will become the foundation for long-term friendships and collaborations.

Jaboa Lake, Portland State University

Jaboa Lake headshotMy name is Jaboa Lake and I am fourth year in the Applied Social & Community Psychology PhD program at Portland State University. My research interests involve intraminority intergroup relations, and collective action. During my graduate career, I have served as Member-at-Large Diversity Focus for SPSSI’s Graduate Student Committee, graduate student member of PSU’s Psychology Department’s Diversity Committee, and as a graduate student member of PSU’s Student Research Advisory Committee. As SPSP’s Graduate Student Member-at-Large, I plan to focus on implementing three useful additions to the Mentoring Lunch initiative. These initiatives would increase diverse representation in the lunch sessions, improve post-lunch communication between mentors and mentees, and provide further resources for students to supplement the conversations that occurred during the lunch sessions. In these ways, I hope to better serve SPSP’s student members and provide fruitful relationships for both mentors and mentees.

Connor Leshner, Arizona State University

Connor Leshner headshotI worked in Arizona State University's (ASU) advising office for two years and helped a considerable amount of students determine their own goal-orientations while also pushing them to succeed in the best way they could. I want to be a faculty member at a university and help students in the way professors such as Steven Neuberg or Leona Aiken have helped me. Having this opportunity would better prepare me to reach this goal and give me the experience to better advise my future mentees. Another project I would want to implement would be monthly streams where the accomplishments of students would be recognized, as well as updates from the last month. As part of those streams, questions from students could be answered by the streaming party in a sort of Ask-Me-Anything (AMA) or fireside chat setting. Thank you for considering this application!

Thomas McCauley, University of Miami

Thomas McCauley headshotMy goal in representing student members of SPSP is to promote open science practices amongst SPSP graduate students, create opportunities for SPSP graduate students to meet other aspiring psychological scientists, and represent the interests of budding psychological scientists. Previous experience as the treasurer of the Graduate Student Association at the College of William & Mary has prepared me for my duties as an SPSP officer. In particular, my position as treasurer involved organizing and allocating the funds for a weekly journal club, wherein graduate students from different fields presented their research to other graduate students. This event yielded valuable social and networking opportunities, and increased graduate students’ exposure to cross-discipline research efforts. Having seen first hand how successful these efforts were, I wish to implement initiatives that provide similar opportunities for SPSP graduate students to meet and interact with one another. Concrete implementation efforts might involve showcasing exciting new reproducibility efforts undertaken by SPSP graduate students; organizing seminar events geared towards topics in open science; and creating a weekly blog that aims to present research conducted by SPSP graduate students to the general public. My initiatives and goals as an SPSP officer emphasize reproducibility, as I firmly believe graduate students are the population that stands to gain the most from the open science movement. As the culture of psychological science quickly changes towards favoring replication and reproducibility, it will become harder -- and perhaps impossible -- for students without a background in reproducibility to obtain academic jobs. Embracing the culture of open science at the institutional level and connecting enthusiastic researchers with one another will help budding social scientists successfully navigate a new scientific landscape.

Harrison Oakes, University of Waterloo

Harrison Oakes headshotIn an organization as large as SPSP, it’s hard to feel like your voice is heard. Too often, that’s because it isn’t. I want to be part of changing that, which is why I’m applying to be a member at large on the Student Committee. I see this position as an opportunity to represent the voices of SPSP’s diverse student membership, and to be part of developing our organization’s future. I believe we are at a critical juncture in our field. We spend a lot of time talking about how to improve our science (rightly so), but we don’t pay enough attention to how academia as an institution is failing us. As students, we experience these failings in unique ways because we often don’t have the platform to voice our concerns. I believe that needs to change, and I see this position as an opportunity to be part of bringing about that change. As a member at large, I aim to bring your voice to the table in discussions of how to improve our institution and, where those conversations are not already happening, to start them. Thank you for your consideration.

Ashley Weinberg, York University

Ashley Weinberg headshotMy name is Ashley Weinberg. I am a PhD student at York University in my fourth year of graduate school, and I am running for SPSP student committee member-at-large. In this position I intend to help SPSP student members garner a strong sense of belonging within SPSP and the larger psychological community. I aim to foster natural and genuine connections between student members and the SPSP membership body by realistically addressing hurdles that often prevent this from happening. I will pursue these goals by (1) using feedback from students to respond to these impediments, (2) working to acknowledge concerns specific to diverse student members—especially minority and international students, and (3) providing positive and informal opportunities for networking with other students and more established SPSP members.  My experience as graduate student committee Chair, as well as membership member-at-large, for a similar organization, The Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues (SPSSI), has provided me with excellent experience to lead as an SPSP member-at-large. Over the past three years I served in these roles, I created an online network for students to connect with each other virtually and in person, helped to form a member-at-large graduate student diversity position, and have programmed networking events for this organization’s yearly conferences. As SPSP member-at-large I plan to implement and initiate similar programs and work focused on building academic community and attending to the diverse needs of this community.

Member-at-Large for Undergraduate Affairs

The Student Committee recognizes that undergraduate membership in SPSP is growing, and SPSP wishes to support these potential future psychologists and their interests. The Member-at-Large for Undergraduate Affairs focuses on raising undergrad awareness of SPSP, boosting undergrad membership, and assembling resources relevant to undergraduates who are thinking about graduate school. This committee member will serve on subcommittees with other members and continually provide undergraduate insight and consideration in all the committee’s activities and initiatives.

Allam Alexandra, Boston College

Allam Alexandra headshotI have found my home in research. Having been the head news editor for The Heights, an award-winning newspaper at Boston College, I have extensive experience advertising, engaging readers, and managing social media content. I would like to merge my communication and journalism skills with my passion for research and knowledge of the field. I have been an undergraduate research assistant for two years in James Russell's Emotion Development Lab and Ellen Winner's Arts & Mind Lab at Boston College, and serve as a private research assistant for Whole Life Nutrition Counseling. Though the focus of my research ranges widely across studies, I use the principles of social psychology in all of my work. I am interested in the human condition and the way social situations impact it. When managing the SC social media account, I will be able to facilitate the communication between others passionate about and contributing to the field. Likewise, I would like to engage a larger student audience to support those entering into the field and help highlight the importance of research in social and personality psychology.

Gohar Harutyunyan, Rutgers University

Gohar Harutyunyan headshotMy path to academic excellence was challenging. Despite many obstacles, I excelled academically, won national awards, and I am currently a third-year PhD student in Organizational Behavior at Rutgers Business School. While I worked hard to achieve my goals, I also received invaluable support from amazing mentors throughout my intellectual pursuits. Recognizing the importance of professional support, I have been passionate about helping other students in their educational endeavors. During my undergraduate years, I mentored two students from the Department of Psychology at Yerevan State University to provide assistance in their pursuit of educational opportunities abroad. From May of 2016 to June of 2017, I tutored two high school students through Ani program which aims to provide free on-line English tutoring for students from underdeveloped areas of Armenia. Being able to help these students improve their English was extremely fulfilling, and I am exploring other avenues through which I can assist others in their educational pursuits. As a member-at-large for undergraduate affairs, I would work on initiatives targeted towards students from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds interested in pursuing doctorate studies in social psychology and other related disciplines. I believe my unique experiences will help me be successful in this position.

Gabrielle Pfund, Pepperdine University

Gabrielle Pfund headshotAs someone who has struggled throughout my undergraduate experience with my own concerns and doubts for the future, I would love to help my fellow SPSP student members as they approach their given futures. While I was the Vice President Administration of my sorority, I led weekly meetings for the 30 officers in my sorority to help enhance their own leadership skills and effectively develop them for their professional futures. By utilizing my love for organization, my ability to communicate effectively, and my passion for personality and social psychology, I believe I could help empower our fellow members by presenting the necessary tools to allow them to pursue their futures capably and confidently. 

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