Student Notebook

State of the APS Student Caucus

Looking  back on the past, assessing the present, and preparing for the future are important for determining goals and evaluating our progress throughout our lives. The goals of the APS Student Caucus (APSSC) are to promote, protect, and advance scientific psychology; to enhance the professional development of its members; and to improve psychological science training. To accomplish these goals, the APSSC coordinates a series of yearly programs and annual convention events designed for APS Student Affiliates.

The APSSC Executive Board held its annual Fall Meeting at the APS headquarters in Washington, DC, from September 30 to October 1, 2011, to evaluate our effectiveness and to assess current student needs. We reviewed feedback from students on the annual Student Affiliate survey as well as emails and casual conversations. We also discussed current challenges, the present effects of programming changes made over the course of APSSC history, and how to improve our programming for this year.

I am pleased to report that the APSSC is thriving. Our membership is growing, and our convention events, funding opportunities, communications, and publications have maintained high levels of student involvement. The APSSC Board is working to ensure this trend continues.

Membership

The APSSC continues to grow and, as of November 2011, we have a membership of 7,559 students from over 1,200 institutions—both of these numbers are up from this same time last year. In addition, the APSSC has increased its international representation with more than 1,000 members outside the United States. These increases in membership can be attributed, at least in part, to the work of over 100 campus representatives and seven regional representatives. Moreover, we have expanded our regional representation to Europe, Asia, Australia/New Zealand, and Oceania in addition to the regional representatives within the United States. On this front, Michelle Patriquin (Membership and Volunteers Officer) has been instrumental in conducting membership drives, recruiting representatives, and spreading awareness of APS/APSSC both locally and abroad.

Convention

The APSSC held a variety of student events at the 23rd Annual APS Convention in Washington, DC, this past May. The Student Social on opening night attracted more than 350 graduate and undergraduate members in a casual networking environment. The next day, the three panels comprising The Naked Truth series provided students with practical advice on the graduate-school application process, life as a graduate student, and applying for academic jobs. The How to Get Published panel provided students and professionals with tips on submitting work to peer-reviewed journals. The following day, outstanding student work was recognized during the RISE Research Award and Student Research Award symposia. Finally, the Champions of Psychology event enabled students to have candid conversations with influential psychological scientists in a small group setting. All of these convention events had increased attendance from the previous year and high audience interest.

Funding Opportunities

Many students are concerned about the availability of funding, both for conducting research and for education-related expenses. The APSSC offers three award competitions each year: the Student Grant Competition, the Student Research Award, and the RISE Research Award. Applications are evaluated by peer reviewers, and multiple winners are chosen for each competition. This past year, the number of applications, as well as the number of reviewers for all three competitions, nearly doubled. Applicants report that the reviewer feedback they receive is very helpful, and the reviewers gain valuable experience for their professional development. In the 2012 awards cycle, Sean Hughes (Graduate Advocate) and Andrew Sage (RISE Coordinator) will work to better advertise the competitions and improve the application process. In addition to these three awards, the APSSC provides travel-related assistance to help Student Affiliates attend convention. Unfortunately, the need for assistance is much greater than the funds available. There is no easy solution, but we try to support students with the greatest financial need. APSSC also lists psychology fellowships and awards in our monthly eNewsletter.

Communications and Publications

The APSSC uses a variety of methods to communicate with members and to publish student work. Nathan Medeiros-Ward (Communications and Marketing Officer) manages our monthly eNewsletter, which includes program announcements, practical advice, funding opportunities, and recognition of student members who have done outstanding service for APSSC. Facebook (facebook.com/apssc) and Twitter (http://twitter.com/#!/APSStudent) help us stay in touch with members and allow us to quickly disseminate relevant updates and information about psychological science.

The APSSC also has two publications that address relevant professional development concerns such as research methods, work-life balance, and graduate school applications. Nicholas Eaton (Student Notebook Editor) solicits and edits student-written articles for the Observer. For undergraduate members, Kris Gunawan (Undergraduate Advocate) coordinates the online Undergraduate Update, which features articles relevant to undergraduate students (e.g., graduate school applications or gaining research experience). Both publications showcase student work, and they receive positive feedback from student members. In addition, Gunawan oversees the undergraduate mentoring program, which pairs undergraduates with graduate students who share their scientific interests. This program has been slowly growing, and students who get involved have found it to be very rewarding.

Current Directions

The Board and I seek to expand our programming to meet current student needs and continue to improve current projects. One student concern that has garnered more attention in recent years is work-life balance, particularly with respect to family, children, and long-distance relationships. We are currently working on Student Notebook and Undergraduate Update articles as well as convention events to address this issue. In addition, because funding continues to be a primary concern of Student Affiliates, we will continue to make enhancements to the Online Funding Database and work toward a searchable resource. We have recruited student reviewers to help keep the database as current as possible by checking the relevance of the announcements, dates, and links. Finally, we will continue to promote all three APSSC award competitions.

The impact and effectiveness of the APSSC continues to grow. It is my hope, and my expectation, that this trend will continue. I would like to publicly recognize and thank the current Board for their service and dedication to the APSSC this year: Nicholas Eaton, Kris Gunawan, Sean Hughes, Nathan Medeiros-Ward, Michelle Patriquin, Andrew Sage, and Peter Vernig. I would also like to thank all of APSSC’s members — we are thriving thanks to your support. See you in Chicago for the 2012 Annual Convention!

Observer Vol.25, No.1 January, 2012

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