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Summer Programs Faculty Focus: About Developmental Psychology with Dr. Erik Cheries

Posted by Lily Cigale on Feb 9, 2016 2:22:43 PM

Dr. Erik Cheries is an assistant Professor of Psychology in the College of Natural Sciences at UMass Amherst and runs the Infant Cognition Lab on campus. He is looking for a select few high-school-aged research assistants to join him in his lab this summer as a part of UMass Summer Programs' Six-Week Research Intensives Program that places ambitious high-school students in research labs with distinguished faculty members.

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Dr. Cheries grew up in Ashburnham, Massachusetts and attended UMass Amherst for undergrad. After his time at UMass, Dr. Cheries went on to Yale University where he got two Masters degrees and his PhD. He still fondly remembers professors that he had at UMass who sparked his interest in psychology. When I asked Dr. Cheries whether he had always been interested in psychology, he laughed and said, "I haven't met many people who know what they want to do from the beginning." He told me that for him, it was getting to work in a lab that really solidified his interest and gave him a career path to follow. 

High school students who get the opportunity to work in the Infant Cognition lab will get to function as UMass students. They will work with UMass undergrads and PhD students and be part of the research team. Summer pre-college students will be involved in speaking to parents and scheduling times for them to bring their infants in, testing babies, coding and analyzing videos of infant behavior, working with data in spreadsheets, reading and discussing other studies, and discussing lab results. In weekly lab meetings, students will meet with the rest of the lab to discuss their own projects and hear presentations from researchers. Your experience in this lab will give you a good idea as to what it's really like to work in a lab as an undergrad in college. By the time you get to college, wherever you go, you will be more prepared to do lab work than most other students. You will also learn a lot about how babies think and what they do and don't understand, preparing you to interact with babies and infants in any situation. You will learn about cognitive development and how our thinking develops. This research opportunity is super educational, but it's also fun! You will spend all day working as a team with other researchers and working with babies!

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Dr. Erik Cheries studies how babies think before they have sophisticated language abilities and educational experiences. Many of his research projects investigate the development of concepts related to moral understanding and whether babies have intuitions about the behavior of other people. One sample question is whether whether babies "judge a book by its cover", that is to say whether they stereotype people based upon how they look. If you are interested in learning more about babies and how we develop important concepts, spend your summer assisting in his research!! Get experience, make connections, and most of all learn.

For more information about our wide variety of pre-college offerings, check out www.umass.edu/summer/precollege.

Topics: UMass Amherst, 2016, Lab, summer, psychology