University News

Nine Psychology Students and One Alumna Recognized for Academic Excellence

June 7, 2021


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MACOMB/MOLINE, IL -- The 2020-2021 academic year has been atypical at Western Illinois University due to COVID-19. Despite the additional challenges over the past year, the WIU Department of Psychology is retaining its annual traditions.

In that vein, the department has historically celebrated the academic accomplishments of students, past and present, at its annual spring awards ceremony. Though the traditional in-person ceremony was put on pause for 2021, the department is pleased to recognize the following nine students and one alumna for their many academic and professional accomplishments:

Psychology Department Scholar – Spring 2021 graduate Monika Mazela, of Winnebago, IL: The Psychology Department Scholar Award recognizes graduating seniors who have excelled and earned academic distinction throughout their undergraduate career. Mazela previously received the Distinguished Junior Award, and the Eric Ward Tutoring Award, from the Psychology department. During her time at WIU, Mazela was a member of the Laboratory for the Investigation of Psychology and Law, and completed an Honors thesis. She plans to pursue her doctoral degree in brain and behavior at the University of Southern Mississippi.

College of Arts and Sciences Honorary Recognition Nomination/Award – Spring 2021 graduate Riley Grady, of Palatine, IL: The College of Arts and Sciences Honorary Recognition Award recognizes graduating seniors with overall outstanding achievement during their time at WIU, who also show promise of further successes beyond WIU. Nominees are identified from Anthropology, Liberal Arts and Sciences, Political Science, Psychology and Sociology to represent the social sciences area. Grady was selected as the Psychology Honorary Recognition Nominee, and was later selected for the Social Sciences Area Award. During her time at WIU, Grady was involved in multiple research projects, including a cognitive-forensic psychology project as part of the Laboratory for the Investigation of Psychology and Law, and completed an honors thesis regarding nervous laughter. She plans on pursuing her doctoral degree in forensic psychology at the University of Toledo.

Psychology Distinguished Juniors – Emma Holtz and Heather Wicker - The Distinguished Junior Award recognizes one or two students who exemplify superior scholarly and professional performance at WIU through their junior year. Holtz, a senior Psychology major, of Wonder Lake, IL, is a member of two faculty-led research labs, and has collaborated on multiple research projects, which includes mating strategies, emotional intelligence, and the role of the neurohormone oxytocin in trust and betrayal. After graduation, Holtz plans to continue studying oxytocin in graduate school. Wicker, a senior Psychology major, of Hampshire, IL, is currently a member of the Laboratory of the Investigation of Psychology and Law, and plans to continue her training in psychology and mental health as a graduate student. She anticipates pursuing a Psy.D. degree in the future.

Fulkerson Outstanding Alum Award – Dr. Linda Spear
Frank Fulkerson was the fourth chair of the WIU Department of Psychology (from 1976-1984, and also in 2008). Throughout his time at WIU Fulkerson was a dedicated advocate for the University and the broader Macomb community, and frequently promoted the value of community service as part of a successful student experience. The Fulkerson Outstanding Alumni Award traditionally recognizes psychology graduates who demonstrate a high level of service within their community, and a high level of professional accomplishments.

Spear earned her Bachelor of Science in Psychology from WIU in 1972. In 1976, she joined the faculty at Binghamton University, and later founded one of the earliest undergraduate neuroscience programs. A trailblazer in many ways, Spear was the first woman to earn the rank of distinguished professor at Binghamton University, and she trained more than 50 graduate students for future neuroscience careers. Spear's scholarly and professional accomplishments include more than 300 authored or co-authored articles, numerous national honors and awards, and service to many major national and international organizations for the advancement of science and neuroscience, many of these organizations she also helped found.

Spear returned to Macomb and WIU in 2011, and delivered a memorable colloquium regarding the impact of alcohol consumption on adolescents and their developing brains. Recognition of Spear's many service and professional accomplishments with the Fulkerson Outstanding Alum Award marks the first time such an award has been given posthumously, as Dr. Spear died in October 2020. More information regarding Spear's many contributions, and her legacy, can be found at bit.ly/2TElAQe.

Jim Joyce Psychology Scholarship Awards

Jim Joyce was a faculty member and chair of the WIU Department of Psychology when it was founded in 1961. Psychology majors began graduating two years later and, since then, the Psychology department has trained more than 4,500 undergraduate students, 550 masters students, and 200 specialists in school psychology. Each year, several outstanding students receive James Joyce awards, which recognize those students who exemplify superior scholarly and professional performance. Jim Joyce Award Recipients for Spring 2021 include (along with advice for future graduates):

Monika Mazela, a Spring 2021 Psychology graduate, of Winnebago, IL – "Getting involved provides the opportunity to network with other students and faculty members."

Heather Wicker, a senior Psychology major, of Hampshire, IL – "Try your best to not be afraid to reach out of your comfort zone."

Sydney Pryor, a Spring 2021 Psychology graduate, of Sycamore, IL – "Join Hotline and research stud(ies) early."

Blair Atherton, a junior Psychology major, of Avon, IL – "Keeping a calendar has been one of the easiest and most helpful ways to stay organized and productive."

Tyler Jakubowski, a senior Psychology major, of Blue Grass, IA – "Do not be afraid to reach out or ask questions."

Emily Haynes, a Spring 2021 Psychology graduate, of Woodstock, IL – "Students should get to know the faculty. They are excellent sources of information and are always willing to help."

Riley Grady, a Spring 2021 Psychology graduate, of Palatine, IL – "Explore multiple research interests with multiple people; that's the best way to have a well."

Lynnelle Johnson, a junior Psychology major, of Rockford, IL - "Anything is achievable through hard work, determination, and a positive attitude."

For more information on the WIU Department of Psychology, visit wiu.edu/psychology.

Posted By: WIU News (U-Relations@wiu.edu)
Office of University Relations