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Psychology Graduate Students Awarded Travel Grants

Mon, 11/19/2018 - 12:06pm | By: David Tisdale

Eight graduate students in The University of Southern Mississippi's (USM) School of Psychology are recipients of funding from the Graduate Competitive Travel Award (GCTA) program, which supports travel to national or international-level professional conference or exhibitions for presentation of research or creative work.

The Graduate Competitive Travel Award (GCTA) program is jointly funded by the USM Graduate School and the Vice President for Research. A call for applications is issued twice annually to support either fall travel or spring/summer travel, and are reviewed by a faculty committee, ranked, and awards made each funding period. Requests of up to $500 for domestic travel, or up to $1,000 for international travel, are considered.

“This travel support for these students is important to their continued professional development,” said Dr. Joe Olmi, director of the USM School of Psychology. “We're very proud of the recipients and appreciative to Dr. Karen Coats, dean of the Graduate School, and Provost Steve Moser, for their support of graduate education here at USM.”

Lauren Layman is a first-year School Psychology doctoral student from Snellville, Ga. Her travel award will allow her to attend the Association of Behavior Analysts International's (ABAI) 45th annual convention in Chicago in May, where she will present a poster on research completed during her master's program in Applied Behavior Analysis at the University of Georgia, as well as a continuation of that study here at USM in a local school in Hattiesburg, titled: "Effects of Class-wide Function-related Intervention Teams (CW-FIT) on the On-task Group Behavior of Preschool Classrooms."

“My research centers around a class-wide intervention called CW-FIT, which aims to increase on-task behavior of all students in a classroom. The intervention was originally designed to be used in grades kindergarten through 5th grade,” said Layman, whose faculty mentor is Dr. Evan Dart. “However, my study will be the second study that uses CW-FIT in preschool classrooms. I'm very excited to share this important research on the extended utility of the intervention with the rest of the Behavior Analytic field at the convention.”

In addition to Layman, other funding recipients in the school and their faculty mentors include:

• Ashley Jones (Dr. Ashley Batastini)
• Ben Wright (Dr. Emily Yowell)
• Christine Miller (Dr. Mike Madson)
• Jinhao Chi (Dr. Elena Stepanova)
• Kendal Smith (Dr. Mark Huff)
• Riley Davis (Dr. Ashley Batastini)
• Sarah Walkley (Drs. Heidi Lyn and Hans Stadthagen)

“Psychology students are generally very successful in winning these awards because they typically provide thoughtful, detailed applications explaining the importance of the conference/event, and opportunities for professional development they plan to take advantage of while attending the meeting,” said Dr. Coats. “A student's school must also agree to provide some level of matching funds, so supporting the student's professional travel is a true partnership between the Graduate School, the Vice President for Research, and the academic unit.”

For information about the USM Graduate School, visit For information about the USM School of Psychology, visit