Supporting students, mentors, and instructors engaged in research.

Emma Murrugarra

Student Spotlight | September 2017

Major: I am a triple major in Psychology, Human Biology, and Philosophy

Describe your work in a few sentences that we can all understand: For my research I have been investigating the role of menstrual hormone regulation in impacting mood disturbance, sleep disturbance, and rate of cognitive error. I hypothesized that women with irregular menstrual cycles were more likely to experience increased mood disturbance when mediated by sleep quality and cognitive error. 




Q: Who mentors your project?

A:   Dr. Ruth Ann Atchley, Department of Psychology


Q: What surprised you about doing research?

A: How long everything took! I've learned that, in planning your research design, the rule of thumb is to take the amount of time that you think your project is going to take...and then multiply that by three. What started out as a 3-month project for me turned into a 2-part study over the course of a year.     


Q: What did you find most challenging about getting involved in or doing your project? What advice would you offer to students facing similar challenges?

A: Getting started was by far the hardest part. Emailing my prospective mentor, setting out to do the literature review, narrowing down my specific interest. These were all very daunting tasks in the beginning. Luckily, most things got easier after that. Once I had gotten the hard stuff out of the way, I started to pick up a lot of momentum. Before I knew it, I was sharing my work at different conferences, networking, and getting ready to start my next big project.

1. Things do get easier. 2. Remember that, even though it doesn't always feel like it, you are becoming the expert on your topic. Have confidence in your work and in yourself!


Q: What do you like most about your project?

A:  I loved everything about it! I had a lot of control over my project, so I got to be very involved in the research process. I got the chance to learn new research skills and work with many different people. I learned a lot about a subject that I am passionate about and I got the chance to use that knowledge to make an impact on the perception of women's health in psychology.


Q: What advice would you give to a friend wanting to get involved in research?

A: Don't think too hard about it. It is easy to convince yourself out of getting involved, but in the end, it is an invaluable and enjoyable experience. You will learn so much -- both about your field and yourself. 

Don't stress about looking silly or incompetent. We've all been in your position, your mentor included. If you ever need help, don't hesitate to reach out to all the resources there is to offer, whether that be your mentor, your instructors, the Center for Undergraduate Research, or even fellow students. They are usually happy to help and often flattered and/or excited that you asked.


Q: How do you spend your time when you're not working on your research?

A: Oh boy. That's the real question. I usually spend a lot of my time playing videogames or napping. Right now I'm on a Final Fantasy XIV kick, so we will see how well that goes for me! 


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