Undergrad

My Research Trip to Germany

Gracie DeLaBruere is a senior psychology major at Clarkson University with a concentration in health psychology, and is on a pre-physical therapy track. She is also part of the Honors Program.

This past summer, she traveled to Germany with several other students and her professor to continue their research work in partnership with the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin. We spoke with Gracie to learn more about her trip, and about her Clarkson experience.

Can you tell me about your summer research and what you did?

This summer I continued to work on my research project involving statistical thinking in children with Andreas Wilke, the chair of Clarkson’s Psychology Department. This project will help us understand how people come to search for resources when they encounter different statistical patterns.

Clarkson students and Dr. Wilke with our German colleagues!

We are specifically looking at children aged 3-10 and how they perceive these patterns. The study involves 3 short iPad games that the children play. The study is cross-cultural, meaning the same study we are conducting in the United States is being conducted in Berlin, Germany at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development. I have been working on this project alongside Dr. Wilke since its pilot stages and began the summer before my freshman year.

In 2021, we received a grant from the National Science Foundation which allowed us to travel to Germany this summer. While we were in Germany, we helped train the German research assistants and helped them start the testing process over there. We began testing in the United States in April and finished data collection this summer. We ended up testing a total of 161 children. 

How did you benefit from traveling abroad?

The food was one of the cultural focal points of our trip to Germany.

Going abroad was a great experience. Before this trip, I had never travelled outside of the United States besides to Canada. I was able to experience different cultures and meet some amazing people.

Research wise, going abroad allowed me to meet some extremely important scientists in the Psychology field. For example, I was able to meet and listen to Gerd Gigerenzer, who is an extremely prominent German psychologist who has helped to shape our understanding of heuristics.

Why did you choose Clarkson? 

I originally found out about Clarkson because my older brother Caleb, who graduated with a degree in Software Engineering in 2021, went here. I knew Clarkson was a strong engineering school, but after looking into more I realized that they have other programs that are strong too.

I chose Clarkson because of its emphasis on research and the support I knew I would receive from the faculty and staff. The location was another factor that helped me make my decision. I grew up in rural Vermont, so I love spending time outdoors. Being located right outside the Adirondack park has allowed me to continue this hobby. I have spent a lot of weekends hiking and skiing. 

Why did you choose your major?

I chose my major because before I study physical therapy and the physical issues that people may encounter, I wanted to have an understanding of the mental processes that they go through. Mental and physical health are extremely interconnected and I wanted to have a solid foundation before entering a field where I interact with people everyday. I chose the concentration in health psychology because I believe it will provide me with more of a focus on patient interaction and how psychology plays a role in that. 

What do you like about this major at Clarkson?

I enjoy that there is a certain flexibility to it. With my Psychology major there are around 49 credits in free electives. This means I can earn my degree but also take classes that interest me in other areas. In my case, it allowed me to easily be able to take all of my prerequisites for physical therapy school without delaying my degree progress. The faculty in the Clarkson Psychology Department is another reason I love my major. They are all extremely welcoming and supportive, not to mention extremely talented professors and researchers. 

How has the Honors Program here at Clarkson helped you?

The Honors Program helped kickstart my work with Dr. Wilke, which led to this trip to Berlin!

The Honors Program has helped me greatly while I have been at Clarkson. They have opened many doors for me and are the reason I was able to start in a research lab so early on in my undergraduate career. I participated in the pre-frosh research program during Summer 2019 and that is when I began working with Dr. Wilke. I am now Dr. Wilke’s teaching assistant for all of his classes and his research lab manager. Without the Honors Program I may never have made that connection.

Why did you choose the Honors Program?

I chose the Honors Program because I knew that it would tailor my education to prepare me for graduate school. I also wanted to surround myself with other students who were highly motivated and had similar goals as me.

What other experiences have you had at Clarkson so far?

I am a member of Psi Chi: the international honor society in Psychology and I also enjoy playing intramural soccer in both the Spring and Fall. Psi chi allows me to get closer to the other students who are Psychology majors. Soccer is just for fun, but I appreciate that I have an outlet to have some fun and relax with my friends.

What are your future plans/goals/dreams?

My future plans are to obtain my doctorate in physical therapy and hopefully one day specialize in pediatric physical therapy.

How is Clarkson helping you to achieve that goal?

Clarkson allowed me to take all the classes I needed to get into physical therapy school and properly prepared me for the rigor of graduate school. Clarkson also has a pre-physical therapy track. You are assigned a pre-physical therapy advisor that helps make sure you are meeting all the requirements for PT school and helps answer any questions about the application progress. The Clarkson Physical Therapy Program also holds a certain number of spots for Clarkson pre-physical therapy students who meet all of the requirements. 

What do you think makes Clarkson unique?

I think the emphasis Clarkson makes on undergraduate research is not something I have seen at many other schools. To be able to work alongside professors and develop research skills wasn’t something that I thought I would be able to do before graduate school, but Clarkson made it happen.

What would you say to someone from your high school about Clarkson?

I would highly suggest Clarkson University to anyone from my high school. My experience here has been extremely positive and something that I will miss when I graduate in May.

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