Having the opportunity to present at and attend professional conferences is a fantastic way to take your next step into academia. To support undergraduate students, Psi Chi International and UBC’s Psychology Department provide various travel grants that can be put towards such professional development opportunities. Today, UBC’s Psi Chi executives shine the spotlight on Psi Chi member Lauren Wylie, who won the Psi Chi Regional Travel Grant, the Eich Undergraduate Travel Award, and the Quinn Travel Award this year.
With these travel grants, which conference did you go to, and why?
I went to the Western Psychological Association Convention in Long Beach, California. We applied to this conference because it provided an opportunity for all levels of students and professionals to come together and present their research. Additionally, the Psi Chi regional travel grant specifically funded attendance to this conference. In terms of funding options, it seemed like a great choice.
What did you present at this conference?
I co-presented research with another directed studies student, Sally Hope, on the psychology department’s Student Engagement Program. We found that students who participated in our program of student events and peer-mentorship reported greater engagement with the department, a stronger sense of belonging and connection to UBC, and increased knowledge of academic and career opportunities available after graduation.
What was your favourite part of the conference?
I loved the speakers, particularly Elizabeth Loftus and Philip Zimbardo, as well as seeing other undergraduate poster presentations. It is really motivating to see people your age present interesting research.
What’s your long-term goal, and how have your conference experiences contributed to your goals?
I am taking this year to figure out my next steps academically, but I am considering law school. I think the main benefit of this conference was that it allowed me to step outside my comfort zone and gain confidence in presenting research. This conference provided a really supportive environment for practicing public speaking and sharing ideas with other very interesting and bright people. The critical, but positive feedback from colleagues who were genuinely interested in our research was invaluable. It provided us with lots of ideas on how to improve our methodology and analysis, as well as excellent thoughts for future studies.
What advice do you have for students who are interested in applying for travel grants?
Definitely apply for travel grants because they really open up doors for presenting research and don’t be afraid to ask your supervisor for feedback on your application. I even found that the applications themselves are a good way to reflect on why you want to go to the conference and why your research is valuable. Overall, the experience of presenting at an academic conference is really worth the effort required for a successful application.
This year, UBC’s Psi Chi chapter wants to help connect students with many of the available travel research opportunities. If you’re a student and you have questions about Lauren’s experiences with the Psi Chi Regional Travel Grant, the Eich Undergraduate Travel Award, or the Quinn Travel Award, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We can put you in contact with Lauren.
– Natalie Wong and Brandon M. Woo