Exciting news! The Athletes and Stress Study has officially received approval from the Brandeis institutional review board! Or course, we received this approval two days after my summer internship ended… but on the bright side I have been offered to continue working with this lab next summer so I will be able to be involved with the data collection and analysis of the project after all! I will be studying abroad in Paris throughout this coming academic year, but as this is a long-term study there will still be plenty to do next summer. It will be exciting to see the data collected and progress made by my return.
Some timing did work out in my favor: on my last day in lab my supervisor approved the survey I developed for measuring critical body talk! This survey will be the backbone of my independent focus, and it will be administered as part of the larger study. I will begin analyzing its results next summer.
Although I originally thought we would begin running the study this summer, it turned out to be fortunate to enter this lab in the formative stage of the project. I was able to incorporate my research interest into the larger work, and I had time to explore how self-criticism may be related to other important areas like body esteem, perceived stress, the physical stress response, competitiveness, activity level, and body objectification. Furthermore, if all goes well, I may be able to integrate my work this summer into a future senior thesis. That remains yet to be determined, but it would be a productive way to utilize any findings that the critical body talk survey yields.
This summer gave me firsthand experience of what it could be like to be a psychological researcher. I learned that health psychology is an ever-growing field, and it seems to be on the cusp of exciting new research with important implications for mental and physical well being. The WOW program is an excellent way for students to gain insight into the future careers they may want to pursue. My WOW experience leaned in a slightly different direction: I got a glimpse of what it would be like to be in graduate school for psychology. Since this would be the next step in my progress to a career in this field, I’m so grateful to have experienced what this next step could be like! From what I observed working with a team of graduate students to set up this study, and talking with them about their past experiences and present research involvements, I think I would really enjoy psych grad school! Working in a lab like this is a great opportunity to balance collaborative work with a team and independent work on personal projects. In my experience this summer, I saw a group of passionate and interested researchers all doing important work on their own, and then coming together to combine their interests and expertise to create a larger, multifaceted, and cohesive project. I like the idea of working with such a team in my future research because by working together you can cover one research area from many different angles, and you can discover interactions you may have never thought of on your own.
If another Brandeis undergrad was interested in doing work with this particular lab, I would say it is important to be able to work on your own, stay on top of things, and to not be shy to ask for help. I had to create my own work schedule between lab meetings. I knew the end goal of my work and sometimes I had to figure out how to fill in the middle. Through reaching out to the others on the team, I found guidance and support. It is important to join a lab that interests you. It is also helpful to come into the lab being informed and interested in the project, and having your own related but individual interests. When I spoke up about my interests and how I wanted to be involved, the team was happy to incorporate me, and they helped me narrow and define what I want to research.
The critical reading, organization, and self-initiative skills I fostered this summer will serve me well in all my future academic work. Through working with this team, I made relationships with bright minds in the psychology field. These individuals are doing research on such interesting areas, and I look forward to seeing how their work continues in the future! I’m happy to have experienced being part of this community at Brandeis, and I feel inspired to continue my work in psychology research.