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Crestview grad involved in ONU research

VW independent/submitted information

ADA — Ohio Northern University student Mackenzie Riggenbach of Van Wert is involved in research projects that will provide invaluable experience for her future academic and professional pursuits. Riggenbach, a senior psychology major, graduated from Crestview High School.

Senior Mackenzie Riggenbach is working with Phillip Zoladz, ONU associate professor of psychology. Zoladz recently received a $418,620 grant from the National Institute of Mental Health for the project, “Stress, sex, and the generalization of fear.” ONU photo

Riggenbach is the head research assistant for ONU associate professor of psychology Phillip Zoladz, Ph.D., who recently earned a $418,620 grant from the National Institute of Mental Health for the project “Stress, sex, and the generalization of fear.” The three-year project could eventually lead to a better understanding of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The project also includes ONU faculty member Boyd Rorabaugh, Ph.D., professor of pharmacology and cell biology.

“Being involved in this lab has provided me with the necessary skills to run a research lab while in graduate school,” Riggenbach said. “I am interested in this area of research regarding stress effects on learning and memory because it is extremely applicable to the real world. Everyone experiences some form of stress throughout the day. Thus, it is interesting to investigate how stress can impact an individual’s ability to learn and remember information.”

Upon graduation from ONU, Riggenbach plans to pursue a doctoral degree in cognitive psychology.

Further, Riggenbach was recently awarded a highly-competitive $1,500 grant from Psi Chi, the international psychology honorary society, for her research project proposal: “The effects of stress that is temporally separated from forced confabulation of information on false memory development.”

Because Riggenbach’s proposal scored so highly, it came along with an additional $1,500 stipend. Riggenbach is currently in the process of completing her proposed study as an independent research project that is being supervised by Zoladz and Kristie Payment, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology.

These projects allow Riggenbach to gain research experience of a particularly high level for undergraduate students.

“It is unusual for undergraduate students in such a small-campus setting to participate in this level of research, and it provides them with great opportunities to enhance their graduate school credentials,” Zoladz said. “For the National Institute of Mental Health project, ONU students will be involved in all aspects of the research, such as running participants through experimental sessions, scoring physiological and behavioral data, and analyzing the results.

“I expect the students to also present their findings at professional conferences as the study unfolds and to help me prepare manuscripts for professional journals at the conclusion of the project,” he added.

The research is being conducted in collaboration with Emory University researchers, and consultants from Emory will be on campus in January, prior to the beginning of the actual tests.

More than 20 ONU students will assist Zoladz in conducting the research project.

“I’m always looking for new students to join my laboratory,” Zoladz noted. “I like to recruit students soon after they enroll at ONU so that they get as much research experience as possible before graduating.”

POSTED: 12/19/18 at 12:39 am. FILED UNDER: News, Youth