SOAR Student Profiles

Alexa Summersill

Alexa Summersill

  • SOAR Position: Member
  • Major: Psychology
  • Faculty Mentor(s): Dr. Liz Barnes

Current Focus: Black undergraduate biology students and their community's attitudes, behaviors, communication habits, and knowledge of COVID19 and COVID19 vaccines

Additional Interests: Understanding current climate change communication habits of undergraduate biology students

Project Description

This study focuses on black undergraduate biology students and their communities' perceptions of COVID19 and COVID19 vaccines. I am working with two other undergraduate researchers on this project. We are interviewing students to understand their personal experiences during the COVID19 pandemic. With this study, we hope to improve understanding of the black communities' attitudes towards the pandemic and how educators can make COVID19 classroom discussions more inclusive.

Why does this topic interest you?

I am interested in research that aims to help make biology education more inclusive, especially when covering more controversial scientific topics. COVID19 and climate change are rarely spoken on in my field of study as a psychology major. I think that understanding student perceptions and communication habits on these topics can lead to undergraduate students both in and out of the science community having a better overall understanding of these topics.

What are your professional aspirations?

I would like to pursue a PhD in clinical psychology and become a therapist for adolescents and young adults. I am specifically interested in looking into men's mental health and body image. Overall, my goal is to help reduce the stigma associted with mental health.

Do you have any advice for future researchers?

I am fortunate that I had the opportunity to start my research journey early in my academic career. It was beneficial to me in a variety of ways, including making connections and helping me become more comfortable with public speaking. I recommend starting as early as you can and do not be afraid to ask questions!

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