Krystal Duarte's Summer 2019 SPUR Reflection

Krystal Duarte headshotFirst hearing of the internship, I thought it would be interesting to look into what universities have faculty studying social and personality psychology. While scrolling through the different universities, I came across UC Santa Barbra on the list; I immediately decided to apply. When considering applying to the SPUR internship, I had little expectation of getting in because of how competitive it is. Yet, this was the university I wanted to study at for my graduate career. UCSB is profound for its evolutionary focus whilst still having the field interlock with personality and social from other labs; I could not miss the chance of an opportunity to study at a school I am applying to in the fall and the chance to gain more experience in research. I went forth with the application, and I added two other schools as possibilities.

The moment I found out I got accepted, I was ecstatic! I called my mom and emailed my mentor right away. I did not just get accepted by SPUR, but I was going to be able to study at UCSB under two mentors! Doctor Gable studies social psychology and motivation, but also has her degree in personality. Doctor Conroy-Beam is an evolutionary psychologist who studies mate choice. Both mentors fit my interests precisely in evolution and personality!

During my time at UCSB, I gained a lot more knowledge and practice in research design and methodology. Doctor Gable’s lab allowed me to learn how to run participants, and she assisted me with creating a poster for the upcoming SPSP conference. I was able to research the literature, come up with my own hypothesis, and analyze data within the two months I was here. Doctor Gable introduced me to her graduate student, Vinnie, who gave me a crash course in research design; this made me feel a lot more confident in my ability on creating my own research designs.

In Doctor Conroy-Beam’s Lab, he had me do a couple of projects. I assisted in helping create a mate preference questionnaire with his graduate student, Katy, which was an amazing experience! Mate choice is my interest in psychology. It was a great experience to see the process of how it was made, and I hope to use the methods learned in my graduate career in creating a questionnaire within the domain of mate choice as well. Secondly, I was able to assist with factor analysis. He even held a four week workshop twice a week, so I and other students could gain more practice using R and agent based modeling. Doctor Conroy-Beam’s lab assured me that evolutionary psychology is what I want to continue to pursue.

Furthermore, I think the most notable and helpful experience I gained here was from connecting with the graduate students in both labs. Prior to this internship, I thought I had known what a graduate student was. Yet, Vinnie and Katy showed me what it means to be a graduate student which is more than just research. They explained to me what was needed for strong applications, the interview process, applying for grants, and the process of becoming a doctoral candidate. I am also studying for the GRE at this time, and they both gave me insight as to what to expect. Both were generous enough to let me be a part of graduate life over summer, and I couldn’t be more excited for when I am a graduate student myself.

Overall, SPUR allowed me to study at the university I was hoping to attend for graduate school, and it gave me insight on what my life would be like. SPUR reassured and made me more driven to get into graduate school. 

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