December 17, 2015 | 4:40 p.m.
By Lauren Pareigat '08, Communications Specialist for College of Arts & Sciences
College of Arts & Sciences alumna Megan Finsaas ’10 has received a prestigious Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) award from the National Science Foundation (NSF). She is one of 10 graduate students at Stony Brook University in Stony Brook, New York, to receive fellowships.
Finsaas is a psychology and honors graduate of Bethel, and is continuing at Stony Brook in a doctoral program focused on clinical psychology. “My research is grounded in the differential susceptibility theory, which asserts that people have varying levels of sensitivity to positive and negative environmental influences, and that these influences can in turn have varying degrees of negative and positive effects on later outcomes,” she says. “I plan to examine the interaction between positive and negative early life experiences (stressful live events and parenting) and genetic differences in predicting neurophysiological responses to emotional stimuli, which represent an index of motivational systems. My research on motivational systems could provide a framework for the development of interventions and identify individuals who would benefit most from the interventions.”
Finsaas attributes much of her current success to the role Professor of Psychology Adam Johnson has had in her education. “He was my mentor for my senior Honors thesis at Bethel and was very influential in my decision to pursue a graduate degree in psychology. Since graduation, he has provided me with a great deal of invaluable advice and support, and written me letters of recommendation, including one for this fellowship. I'm very grateful to him for making me feel I was capable of attending graduate school at a rigorous university, and for all the insights he's shared with me along the way.”
“This fellowship has been a launching pad for some of our best and brightest researchers,” notes Johnson. “Megan certainly belongs with that crowd.”This year, the NSF received 16,500 applications and awarded only 2,000 nationwide. Read more from Stony Brook.