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UofGH Psychology alum presents at Canadian Society for Brain, Behaviour and Cognitive Science Conference

University of Guelph-Humber alumna Skylar Rego

University of Guelph-Humber Psychology alumna Skylar Rego recently presented at the 29th annual Canadian Society for Brain, Behaviour and Cognitive Science Conference, held at the University of Waterloo.

Rego worked as a research assistant on a project led by Dr. Adam Sandford, Assistant Program Head of Psychology at UofGH, which focused on facial recognition and how face-shape configuration supports the recognition of faces. For the study, participants viewed a series of famous faces, which were manipulated with a series of distortions and photographic configurations to see if it influenced facial recognition.

Another aspect of the research experience

Rego shared their research findings during the presentation. “The conference went really well! It was a great experience, and I am happy that I was given the opportunity to experience it,” says Rego. “Not only did I get to contribute, but I learned so much more about the field and different areas of cognitive psychology.”

Rego says she was excited to present in front of experts in the research area, and to network with and learn from them. “It means a lot for me to have this opportunity. When I became a research assistant, presenting at a conference was not something I thought I would be able to do, so I am really grateful to be able to learn another aspect of the research experience,” says Rego.

Gaining research experience

Rego landed the research assistant role through UofGH’s Research Grant Fund, which gives students opportunities to work as paid research assistants with instructors who receive funding for their research. Rego began working with Dr. Sandford during her second and third years, when she volunteered to be a participant in a couple of his studies. Interested in his research, and wanting to learn more from the researcher perspective, she applied for the research assistant role in her fourth year.

Rego was involved in all aspects of the project. She helped to coordinate the participants, did an extensive literature review, and was involved with writing summaries for their final write-up of the research. “The best thing about this experience was being able to contribute to this project in so many ways,” says Rego. “I enjoyed working with participants, but also being able to contribute my own ideas and work to the final write-up. I got to learn about a topic of psychology I wasn't really aware of, and was able to utilize this new knowledge for our project. Dr. Sandford provided a lot of opportunities to be involved in the project from beginning to end, so I was able to learn about all of the steps involved.”

“I was very impressed with Skylar. She is a student who has done a lot for UofGH, and has been a great ambassador for the Psychology program and the university,” says Dr. Sandford. “She played an important part throughout the project. She’s been a very strong research assistant, and has been an important part of the process. It would have taken a lot longer without her assistance.”

Rego says research opportunities allow students to learn about the field of study within psychology, use skills they have learned in the classroom, and build skills they can take forward to graduate school. “It allows students to gain experience and more skills at an undergraduate level that they will be able to utilize in graduate school and possibly their future careers,” she says. “Research is a big aspect of most psychology graduate programs, so being able to have experience before you go into graduate school is really important and beneficial.”

Dr. Sandford says that research assistant opportunities are one way for students to set themselves apart, but he encourages students to get involved on campus however they can. “The research assistant position is something I strongly advocate for, but it goes beyond research,” he says. “Students can set themselves apart in other ways. Students can set themselves apart by volunteering on campus, and participating in research studies. As a participant, you’ll still get some insight into what people are investigating, and the research questions being asked. There are many opportunities for students on campus to bear in mind.”

“I highly encourage students to apply for research positions around the school,” says Rego. “Research is completely different from the clinical side of psychology. I think it is beneficial to gain some experience in this field to be able to see if it is something you could be interested in, and to branch out to new areas.”