Undergraduate Research Assistants

Courtney Nutt

2022 - present

Courtney is currently a junior at the University of North Georgia. She is working towards a psychology degree with a minor in human services and delivery administration. Her research interests are focused on behavioral, clinical, and developmental psychology. She plans to use her experience with cognitive psychology to discover how attention, perception, and memory affects family dynamics and intimate relationships. Courtney is currently working on a collaborative multi-experiment project studying a surface completion and color spreading illusion known as the watercolor illusion. This project will be submitted to a high impact journal for publication consideration in the coming months. Additionally, she is in the early stages of designing an independent studies research project in collaboration with an undergraduate peer in the lab. This project will utilize advanced equipment in visual perception such as virtual reality and/or eye tracking technology. Research from both of these projects will be presented at research conferences in the coming academic year. After graduation, Courtney plans to attend The University of Georgia to receive a master’s degree in human development and family science with a certification in marriage and family therapy.


Patsy Folds

2021 - present

Patsy is a third-year student at the University of North Georgia. She is currently working toward her bachelor's degree in psychology with a minor in human services. She is interested in understanding more about human memory systems, capacity limitations, and memory errors. She would also like to study the development and progression of psychological disorders, focusing on neurotypical children who develop atypicality in adulthood. In the spring of 2021, Patsy began working in the Hale Vision Lab under the direction of Dr. Ralph Hale. That summer, she was hired as a paid research assistant through UNG’s Faculty Undergraduate Summer Experience (FUSE) program. In this eight-week program, she worked alongside Dr. Hale and a fellow research assistant to develop a research project, recruit participants, collect data, clean and analyze data, and present progress and findings after each milestone (four presentations in all). This project focused on the relationship between ambiguous figure/ground organization and a visual phenomenon called the watercolor illusion (WCI). The final results from this project were presented in a poster session at the Southeastern Psychological Association (SEPA) in March of 2022. Later that semester, Patsy presented a follow-up study related to the WCI in a poster session at the Vision Sciences Society (VSS), an international visual perception conference. This study and presentation further examined the interactions between the WCI, luminance contrast, and figure/ground organization. UNG’s Center for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities (CURCA) awarded travel grants to fund travel to both SEPA and VSS. Currently, Patsy is working collaboratively to write a manuscript detailing these recent WCI experiments. This manuscript will be submitted to a high-impact journal for publication consideration in late 2022. In addition, a new project in the Hale Vision Lab is being developed that will utilize specialized equipment in visual perception research including virtual reality and/or eye tracking. Patsy is working collaboratively with another undergraduate research assistant in the lab on this project. Following graduation, Patsy plans on attending graduate school to obtain a PhD in psychology.



Kyle Kroeger

2020 - 2022

Jonathan Kyle Kroeger is a junior at the University of North Georgia. He is majoring in Psychology with a minor in Business Administration. After graduation, Kyle plans on going to graduate school in pursuit of a Ph.D. in behavioral psychology. He is interested in studying mental disorders and drug addiction from a behavioral perspective. Additionally, Kyle is interested in sensory perception, reaching for a further understanding of the “shortcuts” the brain uses to reduce incoming stimuli into the conscious mind. In the future he hopes to study how perception might be affected by various mental disorders and how that might be used to better identify them earlier. In Fall 2020, Kyle presented a poster examining the connection between motion aftereffects and boundary extension at the Georgia Undergraduate Research Conference (GURC), a study undertaken by the Hale Vision Lab. He then went on to present a poster at the Vision Sciences Society (VSS) in 2021 focused on the effects of luminance and surface area on figure-ground organization. Now with more than a year of research experience, he plans to further assist Dr. Hale with ongoing research related to the watercolor illusion and its impact on figure-ground organization in various global contexts. This research is likely to improve our understanding of visual surface completion and perceptual organization. He plans on conducting research on social gaze in the fall of 2021.


Erin Conway

2020 - 2022

Erin is a third-year student at UNG majoring in Psychology and minoring in Neuroscience. She has an interest in cognitive psychology related to attention, memory, sensation, and perception. She is chapter president for UNG Gainesville Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP), an international organization that aims to mend the many incomprehensible policies related to drugs in this country. She participated in SSDP’s Psychedelic Pipeline mentorship program as a mentee where she created a harm reduction peer support group with the support of UNG’s counseling center. Additionally, she volunteers with Dancesafe, a harm-reduction organization. Her research interests include visual perception and the way we use our memory to interpret new stimuli. In Fall 2020, she started a novel research project on fragile memory. During Spring 2021 she presented her research at UNG’s Annual Research Conference (ARC) and plans to present new findings at additional conferences in the near future. She was awarded the 2021 Outstanding Psychology Student Researcher award for the Gainesville campus. She was also accepted into the University of Georgia's Summer Undergraduate Research Experience in Neuroscience (NSURE) program, an NHI-funding training program designed to provide an immersive biomedical research experience for the next generation of underrepresented students in the biomedical sciences. Following graduation Erin plans to pursue a Ph.D. to further her research in these many areas of interest.


Alexandra Negru

2020 - 2021

Alexandra Negru is a freshman at the University of North Georgia who is majoring in psychology and minoring in philosophy. Alongside Dr. Hale, she is currently working on her first research project that aims to explore an association between music and cognitive abilities such as memory retention. As a student of the University of North Georgia’s Honors Program, she plans share her findings at various research conferences in the southeast. By executing and presenting this research, she hopes to encourage awareness of scientifically supported methods of enhancing cognitive facilitation. Alexandra also intends to find more efficient ways for future students to study through her research in this area. Alexandra’s long term goal is to attend Harvard Law School and pursue a career as an attorney. She plans to use her psychology knowledge in law school and beyond in the hopes of better understanding the needs of her clients.

Kalyn Garmon

2019 - 2021

Kalyn is a third-year student at the University of North Georgia majoring in psychology with a minor in criminal forensics. Her general research interests are in behavioral and abnormal psychology. She is also interested in cognitive psychology as it pertains to sensory stimulation and the expression of behaviors. By having a background in cognitive psychology, it will help her studying different human behavioral expressions. Following graduation Kalyn plans to attend graduate school to seek a masters and doctorate in Behavioral Psychology so she can work in government or industry as a behavioral/criminal analyst. Currently, Kalyn is working on two projects. The first is a project investigating the influence of emotions and motivational factors for an adolescent or young adult’s first sexual intercourse and how this relates to the Object Relations Theory. The second project is investigating the influence of illusory surface color on figure-ground assignment by attempting to bias abstract ambiguous figure-ground stimuli using the watercolor illusion. This project is likely to better our understanding of the roll of surface properties in perceptual organization.

Erica Darragh

2018 - 2019

Erica is a graduating psychology major and computer science minor pursuing a doctorate in clinical psychology with a specialty in substance use disorder. As part of the McNair Scholars program, she completed a research project titled "Lexical harm reduction: Language perpetuates stigma related to substance use disorder" which investigated the types of judgments elicited by clinical and colloquial language related to substance use disorder. Her broader research interest is psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy, and she plans to complete her graduate research on the potential role of ibogaine as a clinical intervention for substance use disorder. She is the director of the Georgia chapter of Dancesafe, a nonprofit public health organization that provides harm reduction services at music festivals and other events. She is also a long-time student leader for UNG's Students for Sensible Drug Policy chapter, a board member of Peachtree NORML, and a volunteer for the Zendo Project and the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies. Erica's interest in perception stems from the insights this field may provide into the processes involved in perceptual distortion during psychedelic experiences. She is particularly interested in synesthesia, the blending of sensory modalities often reported during acute drug effects of psychedelics.

Miranda Clark

2018

Miranda is a senior at the University of North Georgia who plans to graduate this fall with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a minor in business administration. She has interests in the field of social psychology as demonstrated in a study titled “How phubbing affects group interaction” where she examined college student perceptions of phone usage in social interactions. Due to her interests in behavioral health, Miranda has worked locally with Avita Community Partners in Gainesville, GA at the Women’s Treatment and Support Program. This opportunity has helped her gain hands-on training with substance abuse in nearly a dozen women and children - an opportunity that has provided useful insight into her future goals and aspirations related to mental health. Miranda has also acquired a passion in environmental psychology including specifically how outdoor activities, fresh air, and interactions with nature can help those struggling with depression and anxiety disorders. Miranda also fosters a love of animals which has led to a desire to research animal behavior, animal cognition, the evolution of social behaviors, animal perceptual processes, and the efficacy of emotional support animals. As well as being a full-time student, Miranda works full-time in the service industry. Additionally she works part-time as a Lab Assistant for the Psychology Department at UNG. She is a member of the UNG’s First Year Foundation Peer Mentor group, engaging with over ten assigned freshmen mentees per semester. Miranda plans to complete a doctoral program in Clinical Psychology where she hopes to answer a variety of behavior, health, and cognition-related questions through her research in the program.

Interested in joining our lab? Contact me: Ralph.Hale@ung.edu