Department of Psychology
Department of Psychology

Recent Events

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Each spring, the clinical area holds PsychFest, a daylong event and banquet in honor of second-year students. This event features individual presentations by second-year students of their current research (typically, the second-year project) and course of future studies. The department invites a distinguished speaker to attend the event, meet with students, and give a lecture; organizers solicit student input when choosing each year’s speaker.

Past speakers have included:

  • Sonya Lyubomirsky, University of California, Riverside (2016)
  • Michael Bailey, Northwestern University (2000)
  • John Weisz, UCLA (2001)
  • Jack Rachman, the University of British Columbia (fall, 2002)
  • Edna Foa, the University of Pennsylvania (spring, 2004)
  • Margaret Kemeny, UCSF (2005)
  • Bill Miller, the University of New Mexico (2006)
  • Andrew Shatte' , Managing Director at Adaptiv Learning Systems (2007)
  • James Coyne, the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine (2008)
  • Julia Heiman, director of The Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction (2009)
  • Elizabeth Loftus, University of California, Irvine (2010)
  • Charles Carver, Distinguished Professor at the University of Miami (2011)
  • Richard McNally, Harvard University (2012)
  • Matt McGue, University of Minnesota (2013) 
  • Ian Gotlib, Stanford University (2014)
  • Matthew Nock, Harvard University (2015)

To the right of this page is a list of student presentations from this year's event.

The Polka Docs, a band comprised of several clinical faculty members (and quite possibly the only band featuring an accordion AND a didgeridoo), has provided entertainment at a number of the evening banquets.

Lee Willerman Award for Excellence in Research

A highlight of PsychFest is the presentation of the Lee Willerman Award for Excellence in Research, which is given for the outstanding student paper publication. Dr. Willerman, a distinguished researcher in the clinical area from 1971 until his untimely death in 1997, was well-loved by his students and colleagues. The area established the award in 2000 as a tribute to Dr. Willerman and his contributions to the department and the field. The winner receives a plaque and a cash award, and his or her name is added to the permanent plaque displayed in the Seay library.

This year's Lee Willerman Award was given to Sonya Kaur for her paper, "Central Adiposity and Cortical Thickness in Midlife," which was published in 2015 in the journal, Psychosomatic Medicine, 77, pp. 671–678.

Please click here to see the names of past winners.

Clinical Party

The area hosts a Fall dinner and party for clinical faculty, students, and their partners or spouses. A party highlight is the videotape made by second-year students to welcome the first-year students. In past years, this "welcome video" has included Dr. Telch’s moving efforts to excite a depressed clown, and a current doctoral student "dumpster diving" to find a golden ticket admitting him to the clinical program.

First-Year Clinical Students 2017
First-year students 2017 (l to r): James Madole, Ciara McAfee, Bridget Freihart, Valeria Treytak, Alban Foulser, Emma Siegel, Talya Feldman, Nell Thompson, Aditi Sabhlok, and Brennan Hickson


Keynote Speaker:

Jim Pfaus, Ph.D., IF, Professor, Concordia University

Keynote Address:

The Path of Cupid’s Arrow: How Experience with Sexual Pleasure Creates Sexual Preference and Desire

Student Speakers:

Andrew Grotzinger
Relationships between hair testosterone, hair cortisol, and adolescent externalizing behaviors

Ariel Handy
The role in interoception in women's perception of their arousal

Chelsea Kilimnik
A developmentally relevant approach to the classification of nonconsensual sexual experiences

Travis Mallard
Genetic risk for psychiatric disorders & externalizing behavior

Santiago Papini
Behavioral plasticity in the recognition of threat

Mikael Rubin
Public speaking in an immersive 360-degree video environment

Download PsychFest 2017 Poster (PDF)

Past Winners of the Lee Willerman Award

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  • Department of Psychology

    The University of Texas at Austin
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    108 E. Dean Keeton Stop A8000
    Austin, TX 78712-1043