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Newsletter Fall 2023

A Message from the Chair

Greetings everyone,

We are so excited to start another year with our amazing students, faculty, and staff! I am honored to start my first year serving as the chair of the psychology department. In my 24 years as a member of the faculty, I have experienced firsthand what makes Michigan Psychology one of the best departments in the world. We teach thousands of students annually and provide enriching hands-on laboratory and service-learning opportunities (such as Project Outreach, highlighted in this newsletter). Together we produce high quality, impactful psychological science research in virtually every psychology subfield. I look forward to working together with all of you as we continue to fulfill our missions of world-class education and scholarship. I hope you all have a wonderful fall!




Priti ShahArthur F. Thurnau Professor of Psychology; Department of Psychology Chair

Undergraduate Program Spotlight: Project Outreach

Colleen Seifert, Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of Psychology and Director of Project Outreach

Psychology's Project Outreach Places U-M Volunteers Into Local Preschools in Need

As the oldest and largest service-learning course at U-M, Psychology’s Project Outreach has been placing undergraduate volunteers into preschools, health care facilities, and other settings since 1969. Early childhood education has long been the most popular placement, but enrollment is limited by the number of available volunteer slots. However, a new collaboration with Washtenaw Promise has doubled the number of placements in local preschools. In fact, schools need even more volunteers, but increasing transportation costs are an obstacle to continued growth. Read more about Project Outreach and how you can help

Alumni Spotlight: Alexis Dahl, Professional YouTuber

Alexis Dahl, (BA: Biopsychology, Cognition, and Neuroscience [BCN], 2016)

From BCN Student to Professional YouTuber: Alexis Dahl

Alexis Dahl is a science-focused YouTuber based in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. When she first enrolled in the Biopsychology, Cognition, and Neuroscience (BCN) program, she planned to become a neuroscientist. But she discovered that a career in science communications was an ideal fit for her love of both science and the arts. After graduating, she honed her skills at the influential YouTube channel SciShow. Now she is putting those skills to use on her own channel—which is growing rapidly. Read more

Alumni: Share Your Career Experience
We would love to hear from alumni who have pursued careers in psychology or in other fields! If you would like to share your post-graduate career experience, please contact us.

Donor Spotlight: John and Linda Jonides

John Jonides, Edward E. Smith Collegiate Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience, and Linda Jonides

Jonides Graduate Research Fund

From LSA Magazine: "As an esteemed cognitive neuroscientist and University of Michigan faculty member for 48 years, John Jonides knows that opportunities for graduate students to secure funding for their own research are limited. That’s why Jonides . . .  and his wife, Linda, chose to focus their planned giving on supporting graduate student research in LSA's Department of Psychology. Grants from the fund will be used to support the assorted costs associated with a program of research, including equipment and supplies, subject recruitment, conference travel, and journal submission fees." Read more

Faculty Research Spotlights: Amie Gordon and Omar Ahmed

Amie Gordon, Assistant Professor of Psychology

How a New Dating App Will Help Scientists Understand Romantic Relationships

How and why do romantic relationships form? How are they maintained? And why do they often fail? These important questions are surprisingly poorly understood by science, partly because romantic relationships are very difficult to study. Recruiting enough participants whose relationships are poised at critical junctures—and then observing those moments as they happen—is an enormous logistical challenge. But a new dating app in development by Amie Gordon and her lab may help researchers understand some of our most important relationships in ways that were previously impossible. Read more

Omar Ahmed, Associate Professor of Psychology, Neuroscience, and Biomedical Engineering

Dreaming and Brain Waves

From LSA Magazine: "In parenting books, Buzzfeed quizzes, and even dating apps, the concept of the left brain and the right brain divides people into simple binaries: creative vs. organized, emotional vs. factual. The science of the human brain, however, tells us that this is a vastly more complex place. . . . Through this research, Professor Omar Ahmed’s lab has discovered how [activities such as] running and REM sleep cause the left and right brain to communicate in a very specific way—something that could have implications for people living with Alzheimer’s disease." Read more

Lecturer Highlight: Shelly Schreier

Shelly Schreier, Teaching Professor and Neil M. Kalter Collegiate Lecturer IV

Shelly Schreier was recently awarded the inaugural Teaching Professorship, which recognizes extraordinary contributions to teaching and mentoring by Lecturers at U-M. She is renowned for her engaging Intro Psych classes and for her courses exploring the impact of children's literature on young people's psychological development. In this interview, she discusses her 43-year history with the Department of Psychology, from her first semester as an undergraduate to her current position as a celebrated instructor, as well as some of the many reasons she is passionate about Psych 101 and children's literature. Read the interview

Graduate Research Spotlight: Logan Walls

Logan Walls, Cognition and Cognitive Neuroscience PhD Student

The Impact of Anticipated Regret on Human Decision Making

When you must choose between multiple strategies, products, or services, what is your process for deciding? Well, it is likely that your processes are more complicated than you would expect. Cognitive scientists have studied human decision making for decades and identified several behavioral patterns and quirks. But a unifying model that predicts behavior across multiple contexts has remained elusive. PhD student Logan Walls hopes to change that with his dissertation, which has important implications for many real-world scenarios including disaster planning, medicine, and clinical psychology. Read more

Undergraduate Student Research Spotlight:
Elizabeth Brouns

As a research assistant in the Ahmed Lab, Elizabeth Brouns studies declines in spatial memory and cognitive flexibility in Alzheimer's disease. Under the guidance of Izabela Jedrasiak-Cape, she also uses immunohistochemistry to examine cholinergic innervation in areas of the brain critical for these behaviors. She is currently working on collecting data for her honors thesis, which will focus primarily on cognitive flexibility in mouse models of Alzheimer's disease.

Faculty Retirement


Twila Tardif, Professor of Psychology, retires 12/31/2023.

In Memoriam


Eric Bermann, Associate Professor Emeritus of Psychology, 1935-2023


George Rosenwald, Professor Emeritus of Psychology, 1932-2023


John Schulenberg, Research Professor at the Institute for Social Research and Professor of Psychology, 1957-2023

Join Us 9/22 for the Psychology Homecoming Picnic!

The Department of Psychology invites you to the 2023 Psychology Homecoming Picnic! Enjoy delicious free food, play games, and catch up with the Department! The event will take place Friday, September 22 from 12-2 PM in the grassy area between East Hall and Weiser Hall. RSVPS are required. Please RSVP HERE by September 8 if you plan to attend. We look forward to seeing you there!

Exploring the Mind Talks

A monthly series of talks by U-M Psychology faculty. All Fall 2023 talks will be held in-person at the Ann Arbor District Library's downtown branch. Talks will be recorded and made available for later online viewing. Details about each talk will be sent separately, so stay tuned! Visit the Psychology Community Talks page for up-to-date info and to view past presentations.

Where Have Our Psychology T-Shirts Been

Yasmeena Jones
, BCN Major, Class of 2025 (left); Sara Zimmerlee, Psychology Major, Class of 2025 (R)