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Newsletter Winter 2017

From left to right: Fred Aeilts (spouse of Lloyd), and University of Michigan Psychology alumni - Jacqueline (Lillis) K. Lloyd (A.B. 1967), Dr. Wayne R. McCullough (Ph.D. 1982), and Dr. Allen I. Kraut (Ph.D. 1965)

Did you attend our 2016 Psychology Department Homecoming Tailgate? If so, you may remember the great food, the good conversations, or maybe you even ran into some friends you haven’t seen in 35 years? That is the case for some of the alumni above. You can read more about their unexpected reunion and their time at UM here.

In this issue, you will find…

  1. A Letter from our Department Chair, Patricia Reuter-Lorenz
  2. Donor Impact
    • Joe Roberson Bequest, A Fitting Tribute to His Late Wife
    • Giving Blue Day 2016
  3. Alumni Spotlight
    • Larry Gach, Psychology BS, 1983
    • Christopher Rothko, Clinical Psychology PhD, 1995
  4. Alumni: Share your Career Experience
  5. Alumni in the News: Vanessa Hus Bal, Psychology BA, 2004
  6. Graduate Student Research Highlights
    • Joshua Wondra, Psychology PhD Student, Social Psychology
    • Babe Kawaii-Bogue, Psychology PhD Student, Joint Program in Social Work and Personality & Social Contexts
  7. Faculty Research Highlight: J. Frank Yates, Arthur F Thurnau Professor of Psychology
  8. Psychology Faculty in the News
  9. Psychology Faculty Honors & Awards
  10. Faculty Retirements Spring 2017
  11. Exploring the Mind Community Talks by UM Psychology Faculty
  12. Where in the World Have our Psych T-Shirts Been?
  13. In Memoriam
  14. Ways to Support Psychology

Letter From Our Chair: Patricia Reuter-Lorenz

Dear Friends of Psychology,

Winter 2017 marks the start of the University’s Bicentennial celebration.  Our Department’s roots date back to the late 19th century when John Dewey, a professor of philosophy, founded the first psychological laboratory at the University of Michigan. Walter Pillsbury went on to establish Psychology as an independent department, and by 1957, Donald Marquis, the department’s second chair, built Michigan Psychology to become the nation’s largest and most comprehensive department, a reputation we proudly uphold today.  And in 2017, we are so much more! Our diverse and award winning faculty and students conduct research that ranges from genes and brain circuits to social identity and intergroup relations. We explore the human mind and its myriad of interactions with all its facets. Each year we educate thousands of UM students who, like many of you, go on to exciting careers after earning bachelors and graduate degrees in psychology and other related disciplines.  We hope you enjoy the recent highlights and event announcements shared in this newsletter.  We welcome your ideas, your energy and your connections!  Please visit our website to find ways to be involved (  

With my very best wishes,

Donor Impact

A Fitting Tribute: A planned gift from Joe Roberson honors his late wife’s dream by helping rising scholars achieve theirs.

Joe Roberson and his wife, Barbara Perry Roberson, liked to say that they’d never met a couple who could beat the six U-M degrees between the two of them. Not only were they students at U-M, Joe also served as the associate vice president for development and as U-M’s eighth athletic director. According to Joe, “We had few unfulfilled dreams or needs, except for her goal of obtaining a Ph.D. in Psychology. The combination of society’s expectations of women and her devotion to her family kept that from happening… When Barbara passed away, I thought the best way to honor her was to create opportunities for other women to pursue their degrees.”

In memory of his wife, Joe created the Barbara Perry Roberson Fellowship to provide scholarships for women graduate students in the Psychology Department. Over the years, this fellowship has been awarded to over one hundred emerging female psychologists, helping them to complete their studies and pursue their educational and career goals. This gift is proof that our dreams—and our impact on the world—can live on long after we are gone. Read more about the Robersons’ inspirational story and the stories of two award recipients, here.

Giving Blueday 2016

Thank you everyone who supported Giving Blueday 2016! The day has passed, but the impact of these gifts is just beginning.

Alumni Spotlight

Life after Graduation: Putting Psychology to Work with Larry Gach

Larry Gach, Houston Regional Sales Mgr, Ford
University of Michigan, Psychology BS, 1983

 Mr. Gach is the Regional Sales Manager servicing the 110 Ford Dealer partners that blanket half of Texas. According to Larry, “studying at Michigan and my experiences in Ann Arbor are woven into the very fabric of who I am and I lean on my Michigan experiences all the time.” Despite living in Texas, Mr. Gach is an avid Michigan Football fan and very rarely misses a home game.
Read more about what inspires Mr. Gach and his experience at the University of Michigan here.

Life after Graduation: Putting Psychology to Work with Christopher Rothko

Dr. Christopher Rothko, Writer and Psychologist
University of Michigan, Clinical Psychology PhD, 1995
Although psychologically informed, Christopher’s last fifteen years have been exclusively in the world of art, where he manages the legacy of his father, Mark Rothko.
Dr. Rothko is inspired by the great artistic achievements of human kind in musical, literary, architectural and painted form. Read more about how Psychology is intertwined with these passions here.

Alumni: Share your career experience?

We would love to hear from alumni who have pursued non-traditional psychology careers! Project Outreach, a service learning course offered through the UM Psychology department, has been working with interns to create videos spotlighting the careers of our alumni. The goal of this project is to show our undergraduates the wide range of careers that can be achieved with a degree in psychology. 

If you would like to share your post-graduate career experience, contact us at

Did you land your dream job? Continue your education? Receive an award?
Send us your news and let us know what you have been up to. 

If you would like to stay connected with our department, we invite you to register in our database of graduates.

Alumni in the News

The Great Search for Work-Life Balance

Vanessa Hus Bal, Assistant Professor, UCSF School of Medicine
University of Michigan, Psychology BA, 2004 
Between making breakfast, walking the dog and cajoling Annelise to brush her teeth, Bal and her husband Brian map out the day. On a typical morning, he drops Annelise at daycare and returns home, where he builds iPhone and Android apps. And she heads straight to the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), where she explores the lifelong effects of autism with her LifeSPAN team. After work, she picks up Annelise from daycare and grabs groceries on the way home. On their own, these roles are relatively straightforward. It’s the need to do all of them at once that complicates her life, Bal says.

The search for work-life balance can seem elusive. Read more about how Dr. Bal seeks to achieve it here.

Graduate Student Research Highlights

Josh Wondra, Psychology PhD Student, Social Psychology
“I wanted to pursue how empathy might have more to do with how we perceive the situations others are in than with the emotions we think they feel.” Read more about Josh’s decision to come to Michigan and his current research here.

Babe Kawaii-Bogue, Psychology PhD Student, Joint Program in Social Work and Personality & Social Contexts
 “I always knew I really wanted to do clinical work and be a teacher, but I didn’t know what that would look like. I am passionate about teaching.” Read more about Babe’s Michigan experience and research here.

Faculty Research Highlight

J. Frank Yates, Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of Psychology

From childhood, Dr. Frank Yates has always been curious about how and why people decide as they do. Read more about how this childhood curiosity has contributed to Dr. Yates’ research here.
The Psychonomic Society has also recognized Dr. Yates’ outstanding research by recently announcing the J. Frank Yates Student Travel Awards: Supporting diversity & inclusion in cognitive science. Cathleen Moore, chair of the Psychonomic Society Governing Board, said “We’re so excited that Frank Yates has agreed to have this important award named after him. He is an outstanding researcher in our tradition, served as a respected associate editor of the Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, and has worked to support diversity and equal opportunity for decades.”

Faculty in the News

Kevin Miller (left), Professor of Psychology and Education & Kai Cortina (right), Professor of Psychology

Can an educator overcome a bad first impression? Find out by reading about the interesting research conducted by Professors Miller and Cortina here.

Rachael SeidlerProfessor of Psychology & Kinesiology; Research Professor, Institute of Gerontology

Have you ever wondered how space travel might affect the human body? Dr. Seidler is quoted in the Fox News article, "Space flight changes astronauts' brains, research reveals", which investigates this important Phenomenon.

James Jackson (left), Daniel Katz Distinguished University Professor of Psychology; Professor of Health Behavior and Health Education, School of Public Health; Director of the Institute for Social Research Oscar Ybarra(right), Professor of Psychology; Innovate Blue Faculty Co-Director for Undergraduate Education; Professor of Management and Organizations, Stephen M Ross School of Business

Detroit Public Television will be airing a short-form documentary series throughout 2017 to recognize 200 years of the U-M's role as a global institution of higher learning. The March episode, "An Eye for Science," featured Dr. Jackson and the November Episode, "An Innovative Spirit" will feature Dr. Ybarra. Learn more

You can visit the Faculty News page at any time to keep up-to-date with exciting Psychology faculty research that has been recognized in the News.

Faculty Honors and Awards

We are thrilled to share news about the numerous prestigious honors and awards bestowed on our faculty this past year. Please visit the Awards page on our website to learn more about all the important accomplishments and wonderful recognition the University of Michigan Psychology faculty have received.

Faculty Retirements Spring 2017

Richard Nisbett, Theodore M. Newcomb Distinguished University Professor of Psychology and Research Professor at the Research Center for Group Dynamics, ISR
Dr. Nisbett joined the University of Michigan faculty in 1971 as an associate professor, becoming a full professor in 1976. Dr. Nisbett is widely regarded as one of the most creative and productive social psychologists in history, as an amazing teacher and mentor, and as a leader at the University of Michigan, within the field of psychology, and across the world. He is the author of over 100 articles and books that together have been cited over 75,000 times. His honors include election to the National Academy of Science (2002) and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1992); the American Psychological Association’s Donald T. Campbell Award for Distinguished Research in Social Psychology (1982) as well as its Distinguished Scientific Contributions Award (1991); the Distinguished Senior Scientist Award of the Society for Experimental Social Psychology (1995); the William James Fellow Award for Distinguished Scientific Achievements of the Association for Psychological Science (1996); and the Gold Medal Award for Life Achievement in the Science of Psychology (2016).

The Psychology department will celebrate Professor Nisbett’s career on May 19, 2017 at a Symposium entitled, “Cognition, Rationality, and Culture.”

Robert (Bob) Pachella, Professor of Psychology
Dr. Pachella joined the University of Michigan faculty in 1970 as an assistant professor, ascending to full professor in 1979 and remaining at the U of M ever after. As a young researcher, Professor Pachella helped grow the new field of Cognitive Psychology. He also became legendary for his undergraduate classes: small honors seminars on topics such as Law and Psychology, and larger lecture courses on topics such asPerception, Science, and Reality. Furthermore, Professor Pachella was an accomplished administrator, directing the word-famous Michigan Human Performance Center for several years, and participating in the LS&A Honors Program as both instructor and faculty advisor for several decades. For these contributions, he received the Distinguished Faculty Service and Ruth M. Sinclair Awards.
We wish Bob well in retirement as he enjoys the view from his home “up north.”

Exploring the Mind Community Talks by UM Psychology Faculty

UM Psychology’s monthly “Exploring the Mind” series of community talks, offers the public an inside look at emerging topics in the field of psychology. You can view past presentations, see a schedule of future talks, and subscribe to our community talk email list here.

Where in the World Have our Psych T-Shirts Been?

Sarah Westrick, Biopsychology Graduate Student
Sarah and some 25 day old red squirrels in the Kluane Region, YT, Canada.

Gabrielle WesseldykPsychology and Communication Studies Undergrad Student
Gabrielle at the Temple of Heaven in Beijing, China. She traveled there last May through the Global Course Connections Program.

In Memoriam

Martin (Marty) MaehrProfessor Emeritus of Education and Professor Emeritus of Psychology
William UttalProfessor Emeritus of Psychology


Thank you for supporting the University of Michigan, Department of Psychology. Every gift matters.