- Project Description
My STEP Project was to present a research poster at and attend the annual Society for Psychophysiological Research Conference that in 2017 took place in Vienna, Austria. My poster was titled ‘Effects of Misspecifying Respiratory Frequencies on Developmental Shifts in RSA from Ages 8-15 Years’. In short, the research was about how RSA (Respiratory Sinus Arrhythmia) generally is incorrectly analyzed in children.
- Transformations that Occured
Starting with myself, I never would have imagined myself presenting a poster at an international research conference, even just a year ago, and I never would have imagined it to be as it was. I gained a lot of confidence in myself because I am an undergraduate engineering student presenting at a psychology conference that is annually attended by tenured faculty from across the world. Also, I was told by the people in my lab that I did a good job of presenting and I am also proud of myself that I managed to learn so much about RSA in such a short amount of time (~1 year). In terms of the world, I got to visit Vienna, which I had never been to before. I had only been to Europe once before this trip, but seeing it again and with who I am now (before I was 16 when I visited), I was much abler to appreciate the differences in cultures and appreciate the city a lot more due to where I am in my life now.
- Causes and Effects of Transformation
For events, the actual presentation session at the conference and the lecture sessions I attended affected me. I have never before taken a psychology class, so when I was accepted into this lab in August of 2016, it was all a lot to take in. But after a little over one year, I was able to knowledgeably present a poster and understand lecture sessions I attended. So, in terms of transformation this helped me with confidence in my skill set and in the results that hard work can bring. I also learned an incredible amount about RSA in over a year, which is just something that’s cool and it could even help in my future career. For example, if I get a job in a health-related field, knowing how to properly analyze time intervals of heart beat variation, basically what RSA is, in children verses adults, as well as people with and without psychopathy could be a very valuable skill.
For interactions/activities, again seeing Vienna as a city, especially in the middle of semester when everything can begin to build up and be stressful, it was amazing to see another culture and experience it for a few days. It definitely opened my mind to focus more on what is/is not important in the grand scheme of things. For example, grades are obviously important, but I didn’t do too great on an exam a bit before I had left for this conference and I realized it’s okay, it will all work out as long as I keep working hard in my academics. Seeing the world in a very different setting than what I am used to help given me a reassurance that everything in my life will work out okay, as cheesy as that may be. It also helped me reprioritize my life a bit more, and focus my energy on what truly is important.
In terms of relationships, this project helped me grow closer to a few of the graduate students I work with, which I am very grateful for. They are all wonderful people, and I have learned a lot from them, as they were a big part in guiding me through this project and helping me every step of the way. I know I can ask them for anything, and they are all good connections to have in the future. I also met other graduate students and faculty at the conference, which I hope can be good connections in terms of networking.
- Transformation Significance
This transformation was valuable in many ways. Firstly, I am much more developed professionally than I was a year ago, or even 6 months ago. I have made networking connections through this conference and I am able to add a poster, and subsequent paper, to my resume. While I’m not certain I want to go into the field of psychology for a career, I am very confident in having it as a back-up career of sorts. While I do want to go into engineering research, it is comforting to know that if something goes wrong and that doesn’t work out, I can still have a stable enough career ahead of me. Academically, this project has challenged me to keep up with academics while using this project to pursue professional avenues for me. Through the entire time I was gone, I kept up with all assignments and turned them all in in a timely manner. And lastly, personally, I was able to experience another culture while in Vienna.