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Psychology student wins research grants

Casey Schofield’s still a doctoral student, but she has already gained valuable grant-writing experience. In fact, the National Institutes of Health and the American Psychological Association are supporting her research into the role of information processing biases on social phobia.

Schofield received a $1,000 dissertation award  from the APA as well as a $50,000, two-year pre-doctoral grant from the NIH.

“She’s exceptional, very bright, hardworking and inquisitive,” said Meredith Coles, assistant professor of psychology and one of Schofield’s advisers. “It’s a huge accomplishment.”

The 40-page NIH grant application involved numerous difficult decisions about experimental design, said Schofield, who still remembers how exhausted she felt as the April 2007 deadline neared.

Schofield summed up the central question in her research this way: “Do people with social phobia have vigilance for negative social cues, and if that is the case, how is that impacting their symptom levels?”

With help from psychology Professor Albrecht Inhoff, Schofield will use eye-tracking measurements as an index of attention.

Coles noted that Schofield’s plan to integrate two fields – eye tracking and personality disorders – attracted unusual interest in her work.

Schofield, who grew up in Syracuse, earned her bachelor’s degree from Colgate University, where she studied psychology and played ice hockey. She worked for two years as a research assistant at a lab in Boston before enrolling at Binghamton. Her experience there led to her interest in anxiety disorders.

“Anxiety is the most prevalent mental disease out there, and so few people are aware of how treatable it is,” she said.

Schofield expects to finish her dissertation in 2009 and receive her doctorate in 2010 after a one-year clinical experience. She eventually hopes to blend teaching and research.

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Last Updated: 10/14/08