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Growing up in Singapore, Stacy Sim (’14) sat in classrooms where teachers did all the talking. Even while attending an international high school in Thailand, she says, “I was never a stellar student and didn’t think of myself as an academic.” That changed when she got to OSU.
Sim found her calling in research psychology. “Going through the research process showed me I’m competent, which gave me confidence.” Her recent study assessed how accurately people can judge the intelligence of others as strangers, and again once they were well acquainted ten weeks later. The project earned Sim OSU’s 2014 Undergraduate Researcher of the Year award.
“I never expected it,” said Sim. “There’s so much awesome research going on on campus. It’s gratifying that psychology could be recognized this way. I’ve worked really hard, but I wouldn’t have had any opportunities if not for my professors’ encouragement and support.”
Sim also might not be where she is today if not for a few dolphins. That’s right. She spent summer 2011 working with them in Costa Rica, as a freshman at the University of Oregon. That fall she transferred to OSU as a marine biology major, but realized that she missed learning about and working with people.
So she tried Dr. Frank Bernieri’s Introduction to Psychology class, and that did it. “I loved learning about people and how we interact with others. And doing research, every single data point represents something about a person. It’s so cool that you can analyze these to interpret patterns, showing the objective truth of what you know anecdotally.”
The connections Sim makes go even further. An Undergraduate Research Ambassador since August 2013, she speaks to the public and potential students about her research. Recently, she presented a research poster at the Society for Personality and Social Psychology annual conference in Austin, Texas.
“I’m interested in bridging the gap between cutting-edge psychological knowledge and the general population, by getting information outside the lab, through articles and conferences,” she says. “Research has important implications for people. For instance, maybe it can shape the way employers conduct job interviews, so their judgment of candidates is more accurate and the information they collect more valid.”
Sim also tutors the university’s students in psychology, math and the atmospheric sciences. As vice president of the OSU chapter of Psi Chi, the International Honor Society in Psychology, she developed a mentoring system to connect students with similar interests to each other, so they can pool their resources and further their learning. She also set up a website linking members to professional prospects.
Her long-term goal? To become a research professor. She wants to continue helping students discover their talents and passions, just like others did for her.