University News

Lafferty Selected to Prestigious Summer Institute

April 29, 2004

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MACOMB, IL – Western Illinois junior Erin Lafferty, a psychology major and sociology minor, has been accepted to participate in a prestigious summer research-study program at Buffalo State University.

Lafferty, a 2001 Princeton (IL) High School valedictorian, is among an elite group of 10 collegians selected as a student fellow in the Buffalo State University Psychology Department Summer Institute. The fifth annual institute, scheduled from June 7 to July 23, is part of the Health Issues in Applied Experimental Life-Span Development Psychology (R25) Education Project funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).

She is Western’s third consecutive student to be named a fellow in the annual paid, high-caliber, integrated learning experience designed to develop research skills in behavioral science and to stimulate interest in careers in mental health.

“I am interested in the effects of family and home environment on the development of children and adolescents,” Lafferty said. “I especially am interested in the effects of divorce on children, and I would like to investigate the possible role divorce and conflict may play in the choices college students make regarding the use of alcohol.

“I would like to explore whether students from divorced or high conflict environments engage in alcohol consumption more frequently than students from intact, low conflict environments,” she added. “In addition, I would like to explore the effect gender may have regarding these choices.”

“I learned from Dr. Jurgis Karuza, a lead faculty member of the institute, that the competition for the awards at Buffalo State was particularly keen this year,” said Robert Intrieri, associate professor in psychology and mentor of Lafferty. “Dr. Karuza maintained that Erin was among the best applicants that they had for the program.

“Erin is an extremely talented student academically, is genuine and caring in her approach toward others, and possesses an energetic personal character that makes her a pleasure to interact with,” added Intrieri, who in 2003 was elected a Fellow in the Behavioral and Social Sciences (BSS) section of the Gerontological Society of America (GSA) and was accepted in to Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society. “I have to keep on my toes to stay one step ahead of her.”

Lafferty said the fellowship will offer her an opportunity “to become more of a well-rounded student.”

“Not only with this fellowship help to further develop my research skills, but I will be exposed to new perspectives and ideas,” she added. “And, as a native Illinoisan who has never really been far away from home, the summer at Buffalo will help me escape my comfort zone and experience new people and places.”

The seven-week institute consists of a core methodology course in life-span developmental research, ethics seminars and applied research rotations in area agencies and organizations. In the final four weeks, Lafferty will develop her research proposal. She will implement her study next fall at Western, under the guidance of Intrieri, as part of the follow-up collaborative research mentorship.

Lafferty will receive a $2,000 stipend, room and board and a tuition waiver as well as a travel stipend to professional conferences.

This past year Lafferty has served as a research assistant to Western psychology professors Intrieri, Paige Goodwin and Dennis Papini. As a sophomore she was a resident assistant to 40 first-year Western students. She has served as a Student Orientation Staff leader, is a member of Western’s All-Volunteer Effort (WAVE) student organization and has earned numerous academic honors including induction into Phi Kappa Phi, Blue Key, Mortar Board and Psi Chi National Honor Society in psychology.

As for this summer, “The part of the summer institute I’m really looking forward to the most is the research rotation at the Center for Children and Families, an Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) clinic,” Lafferty said. “I love working with children. My career goal is to work with children and adolescents, in either an academic or medical environment.”

Erin is the daughter of Randy Lafferty of Princeton and July Fogarty of LaSalle.

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