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Swift Thinking: 2011 Spring

Registration Information

Fall Courses   

Tables showing our anticipated undergraduate course offerings for Fall 2011 and a still-tentative Academic Year 2011-2012 course plan can be found online. Please check the registrar's website for updates to these schedules and descriptions of psychology courses.

Preregistering for Fall Courses 

The Psychology department will be offering preregistration through CAESAR for most of our courses the week prior to regular registration. To see which courses are available for preregistration, look at the “prereg” column in our Fall 2011 course schedule. All students listed as psychology or cognitive science majors or minors in the registrar's computerized system should be able to preregister through CAESAR for these courses. 

Preregistration times are announced by the Registrar's Office. You can preregister for at most two courses.

Note that PSYCH 205-Research Methods is available for preregistration; no permission numbers will be required. PSYCH 201-Statistical Methods in Psychology or an approved substitute is a prerequisite for PSYCH 205. We will regularly check class rosters for PSYCH 205 during the registration process. Those who lack the prerequisite will be required to drop the course. You must complete the prerequisite before taking PSYCH 205.  For example, if you are in PSYCH 201 this Spring, you may sign up for PSYCH 205 for Fall because you will complete PSYCH 201 before Fall quarter starts. However, you may not take both PSYCH 205 and the prerequisite during the same quarter. 

Most courses not available for preregistration are those for which students need department consent in order to enroll. PSYCH 397, 398, and 399 require department permission throughout the registration period. See the section below on  Courses Requiring Department Permission for additional information on these courses.

Wait Lists

Psychology courses are very popular, and they often close during registration. What should you do if a course you want to take has closed? That depends on which course it is.

For most of our courses, we will be using the "electronic wait list" function on CAESAR. If you try to add a course that is full, CAESAR will tell you that there are no openings and will ask if you would like to be on the wait list. As students drop the course, we will check the electronic wait list and send permission numbers to students who can enroll.

All psychology courses will require department permission during the add period (the first week of fall classes). Course professors will prepare lists of students whom they have agreed to add to their courses, and these students will then receive permission numbers. In many cases, available slots will be offered to interested students who come to the first class and are nearest the top of the CAESAR wait list.

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Courses Requiring Department Permission

One great way to learn more about psychological research is to become actively involved in research activities through PSYCH 399-Independent Study or the two-quarter PSYCH 397-Advanced Supervised Research. This is especially valuable for students considering graduate study in psychology, and it can be an educational and enjoyable experience for others as well. To enroll in PSYCH 397 or PSYCH 399, you should get an application in the department office, fill it out, and have it signed by the professor with whom you will be working. Then, take the signed application to the department office to get a permission number for the course; permission numbers will be available beginning Monday, May 10. Remember that PSYCH 205-Research Methods in Psychology is a prerequisite for PSYCH 397. For more information on 397 and 399--including the differences between them, how they count towards requirements, and tips on finding a research adviser--see our webpage on doing research for course credit.

Students who will be taking PSYCH 398-Senior Thesis Seminar next year will also need permission numbers. These will be available in the department office beginning Monday, May 10, for everyone on the list of students selected to participate in our honors program next year.

Special Courses for Fall Quarter

PSYCH 332 - Native American Culture and Environmental Decision Making (Dr. Doug Medin)

Although this new course satisfies a requirement in the Environmental Policy and Culture program, it also has always been intended as a course in critical thinking. The focus will be on the relationship peoples have with nature, with a particular focus on Native Americans and the environment. The course will also focus on stereotypes, such as that of the “ecological Indian.” Did the colonial powers find a pristine environment when they arrived in America? Did Native Americans have a special spiritual connection with nature? Do Native Americans today also have this same spiritual connection?

One of the books we will read argues that the ecological Indian is a myth. The author, Shepard Krech, suggests that the limiting factor in their impact on the environment was population (there were just too few people to do much damage) and access to technology (which helps do more damage). We’ll also examine an edited book written as a response to this book. But the key work will be done by you as you evaluate these arguments, seek additional information and bring out the contemporary relevance of ways of relating to nature.

The course will involve reading, responding to the readings and conducting various mini-research projects bearing on various facets of Native Americans and the Environment. Your final project will consist of a paper consisting of your analysis of these issues which may either take the form of an overview or a focused analysis of one facet or component of these issues.

PSYCH 357 - Neurobiology of Depression and Bipolar Disorders (Dr. Robin Nusslock).  

This course will be a survey of research on the neurobiology of mood disorders, such as depression and bipolar disorder. The course is introductory in nature and it is not expected that students have had previous courses on either neurobiology or mood disorders. The course will focus on the biological mechanisms underlying mood disorders and their treatments.  There will not be a textbook for the course. Reading materials will be research articles and book chapters that will be provided as pdf files by the professor.

PSYCH 357 counts toward Column A and also fulfils the Row 2 (upper-level research) requirement for students majoring in psychology. PSYCH 205 is a prerequisite for this course.

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News from the Undergraduate Psychology Association (UPA)

by Scott Beymer, UPA President

Spring Quarter is an exciting time for the Undergraduate Psychology Association!  We will be hosting our annual Graduate Student Panel featuring graduate students from the psychology department right here at Northwestern.  The date, time, and location of the panel will be announced in the near future.  We have already held one "Lunch with a Prof" starring our very own Mesmin Destin.  At least one more lunch will be planned for the quarter.  We also plan to team up with the CogSci Club for an event, as we did with the very popular "Lab Night" that was held last quarter.

The UPA would like to encourage all psychology majors and minors to nominate their favorite psychology professor for the UPA Distinguished Teaching Award. Each year, the UPA recognizes a professor who has “demonstrated dedication to undergraduates, creativity in the classroom, and enthusiasm for his/her field.” If you would like to submit a nomination, please write a brief paragraph explaining why your professor is a great candidate for this award and submit it to Caroline

We are currently in the process of establishing a volunteering relationship with Youth Organization Umbrella. Although we already have quite a few volunteers, please contact Kathryn at if you are interested in joining. The current board is excited for the incoming board and what they will do next year, and we have established the basis for some very successful events. However, we would also love to hear your ideas for UPA!  Please email Scott with your suggestions. If you would like to receive email updates about our events, please email Aime Lynn at to subscribe to our listserv.

We would also like to announce the new UPA executive board for 2011-2012:

President: Kathryn Rulon 
Vice President: Matt Zellner
Secretary: Sree Kathiravan
Treasurer: Hee-Jae Kim

The outgoing board would like to thank everyone for a great year and let you know that we're very excited for what the incoming board has in store for you!
Finally, we would like to thank our members for their enthusiasm and for attending our events this year. We hope that we have been a resource for you, as well as a way to connect to other psychology students and professors. Thank you again for a wonderful year!

Psychology Honors Students and the Undergraduate Research Symposium

The psychology department has a stellar group of honors students this year!  Please consider attending the 2011 Undergraduate Research Symposium to see many of these students present the results of their honors research. The symposium will be held in Norris University Center on Monday, May 23. In addition to learning more about the impressive research efforts of these students, attendees can vote on their favorite posters.  Those students receiving the most votes will receive “People’s Choice” awards!

2010-2011 Honors Students in Psychology 
Kathleen Belleville
Rachel Bencic
Scott Beymer
Rebecca Blackwell
Casara Clark
Carolyn Cook
Maria Dangles
Alexandra French
Brittany Myers
Brandon Ng
Christina Panton
Lauren Puetz
Christina Schonberg
Ritika Singh
Cindy Teng
Reina Uchino
Heather Waldron
Ashley  Whang
Elizabeth Wilson

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Summer Study in Psychology

Several psychology courses will be offered at Northwestern during the summer session. These include some courses taught during the regular academic year and some summer-only sections of PSYCH 314-Special Topics in Psychology. To learn more about NU Summer Session courses, see the summer session website.  

Taking Summer Courses at Another School

If you plan to take psychology courses at another school this summer and want to count them toward your Northwestern degree, then you must have prior permission from the Weinberg Office of Undergraduate Studies and Advising (OUSA) and from our department. Take your course descriptions to the OUSA at 1922 Sheridan Road, pick up the relevant forms, and then see either Dr. Linsenmeier or Dr. Broaders to talk about getting psychology department approval. You can schedule an appointment to see either of them by contacting Maria Candelario in the department office (Swift 102, phone 847-491-5190). Weinberg College guidelines and the petition form for courses taken away from Northwestern are also available online.

Graduate School Information

If you're thinking of doing graduate work in psychology, the department has several resources you may find helpful. One resource is the department webpage on graduate study in psychology. In addition, our faculty members and graduate students can provide you with useful information about choosing a field of specialization, applying to graduate school, and what life as a graduate student is like.

If you're interested in clinical psychology, be sure to take a look at Considering Graduate Study in Clinical Psychology.

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Juniors: Time To Do Your Graduation Petition

Spring of the junior year is the usual time to file a Graduation Petition. You need to have the petition reviewed and signed by an adviser in each major and each minor you plan to complete. This is important for making sure that you haven't overlooked or misunderstood any graduation requirements--and that you and the degree auditors in the Registrar's Office agree on how your courses fit department, college, and university rules. It's also a good opportunity to think about how you'd like to spend your final year as an undergraduate student.

Forms should be submitted to the Registrar's Office a full year before you plan to graduate. If you expect to graduate next June with a major or minor in psychology, then this quarter is the time to do your petition. Students in each of Northwestern’s undergraduate schools can find the appropriate form in the “Graduation” section of the Registrar's website You should fill the form out and then discuss it with a psychology department adviser. To schedule an appointment, contact Maria Candelario in Swift 102 (phone 847-491-5190). Our tentative 2011-2012 course schedule may be helpful to you as you complete the form. 

After your form is signed, turn it in to the Registrar's Office. Be sure to look carefully at the feedback you get from the Registrar's office after you submit this form.

Seniors: Graduation Reception

The psychology department will honor all students graduating with a major in psychology at a reception on Friday, June 17, 2011. The reception will he held from 2:00-3:30 P.M. on the first floor of Swift Hall. All of our graduating seniors and their families are invited to attend and to celebrate with us!

Awards and Accolades

Congratulations to the many psychology majors and minors who have won awards, presented papers at conferences, or been involved in other special activities this year. Listed below are some of the students in our department who have received recognition for their achievements this year.

Three students will receive Benton J. Underwood Fellowships from the Department of Psychology for their research this summer: 

William Dombai (working with Wendi Gardner)
Nicole Hendrix (working with Sue Hespos) 
Kristine Kohlhepp (working with David Rapp) 
In addition, four psychology undergraduates received funding for their summer research from the University's Undergraduate Research Grants committee:

Arthur Jago (working with Neal Roese)
Kaitlin Meyer (working with Renee Engeln-Maddox)
Ellen Reynolds (working with Robin Nusslock)
Sara Weston (working with Bill Revelle)

Congratulations to the winner of the Win Hill Award, Sandra Kang, for the best paper in Research Methods.  Her paper entitled  “Shared Group-Membership Increases Positive Perception in Greek-Affiliated and Non-Greek-Affiliated Students” was not only the best in Paul Reber’s class but in the entire department.

All of the students listed below won Lois Elizabeth Henrikson Undergraduate Travel Awards to support their travel to conferences for the presentation of their research.

Sravya Tumuluru presented a first authored paper at the Society for Research in Child Development. 

The following are all presenting first authored papers at the Association for Psychological Science meeting in Washington, D.C. this Spring: 

Scott Beymer 
Kaitlin Meyer 
Anna (Sara) Morrow 
Kathryn Rulon 
Heather Waldron 
Abigail Wesley 

Cindy Teng will be presenting a first authored paper at the Stanford Undergraduate Research Conference.

Congratulations to all our award-winning undergraduate students!