Senior Melissa Hatch was recently awarded an undergraduate research grant from Psi Chi, an international psychology honor society. The research grant provides funds for applicants who demonstrate competence and commitment to psychology's best research practices.
Hatch is a Lincoln-native psychology major whose interest in neuroscience began in high school. In college, her interests sprouted through Nebraska Wesleyan's “Zombie Brain” Archway Seminar where she conducted research on prosopagnosia. She also acquired hands-on learning as a CNA (Certified Nurse Assistant) in Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital’s traumatic brain injury (TBI) unit while she worked with patients who suffered a traumatic brain injury where alcohol consumption was involved.
Hatch is using the grant to study alcohol consumption and TBI within 24 young male adult rats.
“When I started looking into research, I saw there was a lot to learn and wanted to conduct my own research,” said Hatch. “The goal of my research is to raise awareness of the effects that chronic alcohol exposure can pose in regard to TBI. Additionally, results from my study can stimulate future research focusing on therapies that may reduce neuroinflammation and therefore reduce risk of secondary injury,” said Hatch. Her work takes place in Nebraska Wesleyan's newly built Acklie Hall of Science.
"This is a very distinguished award and speaks highly of her work."
Hatch has found enthusiastic support from the best faculty around. She has built a close relationship with psychology professor Dr. Elizabeth Freeman, who provides inspiration and support throughout her study and academic career. The two first became acquainted due to their common interest in neuroscience. Dr. Freeman helped Hatch plan and refine her methods, and she will assist and supervise Hatch. “With my lab they are independent researchers and I supervise them as their faculty mentor,” said Dr. Freeman. Outside the lab, Dr. Freeman is helping Hatch prepare for graduate school.
"This is a very distinguished award and speaks highly of her work," said Dr. Freeman. "Findings from this study will not only raise awareness but also promote future research on therapies."
Eleven grants are awarded globally, showcasing the prestigiousness of the grant and the diligence of the applicants. Requirements for the award include: be enrolled as a major or minor in a psychology program, complete at least three semesters or equivalent of full-time college coursework, complete at least nine semester credit hours or equivalent psychology courses, have a cumulative GPA that is in the top 35% of their class (sophomore, junior, or senior), and have a minimum 3.0 GPA average for psychology courses.