In the next 20 years, air traffic is expected to double, and the number of planes in the sky will exceed the ability of even the most expert air traffic controllers to track, says Arathi Sethumadhavan, a psychology graduate student at Texas Tech University. That's why she is investigating how computer automation can help or hinder air traffic controllers—and she's finding that computer systems that tell controllers how to avoid collisions have a major drawback: The humans monitoring them stop paying attention.
"When you work with a fully automated system," she says, "you get reliant on it, and if it fails, it becomes difficult to recover and perform the task manually."
Thanks to a $3,000 Ruth G. and Joseph D. Matarazzo Scholarship, Sethumadhavan will share her findings on air traffic control systems with scientists and Federal Aviation Administration officials at an Aerospace Medical Association meeting in May.
Sethumadhavan is among the 13 students who won Graduate Research Scholarships. The scholarships help fund research costs, travel to scientific meetings, books and supplies.
The scholarships are funded by the American Psychological Foundation and the Council of Graduate Departments of Psychology, and administered by APA's Science Directorate.
The other top winner, Kristen M. Culbert, of Michigan State University, received the $2,000 Clarence J. Rosecrans Scholarship. She will study whether early testosterone exposure later inoculates people to the effects of ovarian hormones on disordered eating.
Eleven students won $1,000 research scholarships. They are:
Jennifer M. Brielmaier of George Mason University. Using a rat model, Brielmaier will examine whether stress enhances nicotine reward differently for adolescent males and females.
Melody Manchi Chao of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. For her dissertation research, Chao will investigate how people's beliefs about race influence their social perceptions and interracial relations.
Rachel H. Lucas-Thompson of the University of California, Irvine. Lucas-Thompson will examine the role of marital conflict and parent-adolescent relationship quality in predicting adolescents' stress physiology and health.
Melissa J. Mathews of the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Mathews will investigate whether older adults can enhance their memories when they are taught to improve their information-processing speed.
Aimilia Papazoglou of Georgia State University. She seeks to identify the cognitive, behavioral, medical and demographic variables that best predict day-to-day living skills among children with epilepsy.
Laura C. Rusch of the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee. Rusch will test interventions designed to reduce the stigma of mental health problems among depressed Caucasians and African-Americans and assess how the intervention affects participants' treatment-seeking behavior.
Brenda Jeanette Salley of Virginia Tech. Salley's research uses infant perceptual tasks to identify children at risk for language and social engagement dysfunction.
Naomi Samimi Sadeh of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her research examines cognitive and emotional functioning among psychopathic inmates.
Julie Maria St. Cyr-Baker of Brock University. St. Cyr-Baker will explore the effects of mild head injury through cognitive testing to determine whether stress disproportionately affects injured participants' performance.
Kimberly Allison Van Orden of Florida State University. She will develop a test to measure the feelings of "thwarted belongingness" and "perceived burdensomeness," among people who've had suicidal thoughts or behavior.
Laura M. Widman of the University of Tennessee. Widman will determine if a new test of people's implicitly assessed attitudes toward rape better identifies sexually aggressive men and predicts their recidivism risk than traditional self-report measures.
By Sadie F. Dingfelder
NOMINATIONS FOR 2009 COGDOP SCHOLARSHIPS
APF invites psychology departments to nominate graduate students for the 2009 COGDOP scholarships. Applications are due June 15. More information is available from APF.