A few brave student scholars participated in the 46th Western Psychology Conference for Undergraduate Research at St. Mary’s College of California April 16, 2016. Mason Rivera, Zachary Fleeman, Nina Brewster, Jacqueline Martinez and Amanda Cantu all presented research posters from their Experimental Psychology Lab projects. Elizabeth Lake, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology, taught the class and organized the trip.


  • Rivera/Fleeman—“Does it Matter Where You Take a First Date?: A Blind Date Experiment”

  • Nina Brewster/Martinez—“Hungry for Sex?: An Investigation of Chocolate’s Effect on Arousal”

  • Cantu—“If Rocky Can Do it, So Can You!: Music’s Effect on Internal and External Optimism”

While students see this achievement as fodder for resumes and graduate school applications, the benefits are even greater. “The opportunity to practice their oral skills is tremendous,” Lake said.

The time leading up to the presentations was nerve-wracking, including the drive to the college, east of Oakland and Berkeley. “They were shaking in their boots,” Lake said. But after less than a minute of talking about their projects to assembled psychology faculty and students they were presenting like professionals, reaping praise and suggestions.

This was the second year members of Lake’s class participated in the conference. All members of the class made posters for the campus wide Undergraduate Research Day event April 14. “The ones who went were the brave ones. But all the students could have,” Lake said.


Wayne Steffen
Associate Director of Publications and Media Relations