Shantal Taveras’s Summer 2017 SPUR Reflection

Shantal Taveras headshotDuring my two months abroad, I truly felt at home in the School of Psychology at the University of Glasgow. Dr. Rachael Jack, my mentor, was motivated to ensure that all my expectations and goals were met. She recognized my potential and knowledge, and she encouraged me to go far beyond them. Every day was different and filled with new challenges. Thus, each day, I was invigorated to strengthen my skills and learn as much as possible.  

My task for the summer was to investigate facial self-perception, utilizing a unique computer graphic platform of random face identities. Initially, I was overcome with distress not knowing the first course of action. However, Dr. Jack and her doctoral student, Jiayu Zhan, were available anytime I needed help. With them, I learned the meticulous process of running a study. The process involved research on the intricacies of facial self-perception and computer platform used. It also included writing the required ethical forms, gathering and booking participants, setting up the lab environment, preparing a script for the experiment, and data collection. Along the way, I also learned to code for MATLAB, a programming software for storing data, running analysis, and creating figures.

Furthermore, the School of Psychology encompasses a wealth of knowledge within its walls. I have met several professors, researchers, graduate students, and doctorate students, and they acquainted with their experiments and all the complications and achievements they have experienced. Several researchers also ran experiments over the summer, and I have the luck of participant in a few. Over the summer, there is an array of conference, talks and presentation given by noted researchers on their studies. Overall, my experiences in Glasgow was incredibly well-rounded.  

“Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.” — These were one of the first words I heard from my mentor on my first day. I remember laughing heartily, thinking it was simply as customary joke that is passed on across the years from mentor to mentee. The well-known adage, however, could not be any closer to the truth. To my frustration, I found myself repeating this phrase often throughout this summer. Eventually, this maxim not only became a lesson, but also lifestyle. In every situation and circumstance, I learned to adaptable. I realized that small deviations can sometime lead you to a path more knowledge. Most importantly, I learned appreciate wholly that you have a team of dedicated people who are willing to help at a moment’s notice. This phrase has transformed to represent continuous growth. Thus, these are the words that remained highly esteemed as I departed on my last day.

Through the generosity of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, I had the great honor of working with Dr. Jack and Jiayu Zhan. Thanks to these intelligent women, I can confidently say that research in psychology is where I am meant to be, and I will work ceaselessly to attain my future endeavors.