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Loyola University New Orleans Hosts 2017 Psychology Colloquium

Loyola press release - February 16, 2017

Three fascinating topics, three fascinating speakers: the Department of Psychological Sciences at Loyola University New Orleans invites the public to attend its Spring 2017 Colloquium Series. All talks are free and will be held on Loyola’s main campus, located at 6363 St. Charles Ave.

Led by leading psychologists, the free lectures will address pivotal topics such as why some “children” are more accident-prone, particularly when it comes to pedestrian behavior and what can be done to help curb dangerous tendencies; and how sleep can help traumatized youth to become more resilient. One talk will also explore how ordinary circumstances have a hidden impact on what we think, how we act, and who we are as people. Crowd behavior, gender differences, even love all have powerful impacts on situations that occur in daily life – and understanding that can help to make us more effective people, in both personal and professional pursuits.

“These talks are a wonderful opportunity for Loyola students and anyone who is interested to learn more about these topics which have a lot of practical implications for everyday life,” said Enrique Varela, assistant professor of psychology at Loyola. “The Department of Psychological Sciences at Loyola University New Orleans is thrilled to be able to bring leading scholars to our campus to share new and exciting perspectives, as well as cutting-edge research.”

Varela and the psychology department thanked the anonymous donors who provided the necessary financial support to make these lectures possible.

The talks are scheduled as follows:

Why “Accidents” Are Not Accidental: Using Behavioral Science to Prevent Injuries
Dr. David Schwebel, University of Alabama at Birmingham
Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2017, 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.
Loyola University New Orleans
Miller Hall, Room 114

Guests will learn about several research studies that use behavioral strategies to reduce “accidental” injuries. Many of the studies will focus on children’s injuries, and one tackles the challenge of distracted pedestrian behavior among college students. The studies were conducted both in the United States and abroad. Child injury prevention strategies focus on changing the behavior of both children and the adults who supervise them, often using technology like virtual reality to instigate change.

Dr. David Schwebel is associate dean for research in the sciences at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He has published more than 180 peer-reviewed manuscripts, most focusing on understanding and preventing unintentional injury in children, adolescents, and young adults. From a prevention perspective, Dr. Schwebel has developed and implemented injury prevention techniques for a range of situations, including pedestrian safety training in virtual reality environments, school playground safety via behavioral strategies targeting teachers, drowning prevention through lifeguard training at public swimming pools, dog bite prevention in rural China and in the United States, and kerosene safety in low-income South Africa neighborhoods. Dr. Schwebel’s research has been funded by NIH; CDC; DOT; and several other federal, nonprofit, and industry groups.

Sleep as a Mechanism in the Link between Trauma Exposure and Psychopathology in Youth
Dr. Sonia Rubens, University of New Orleans
Thursday, March 9, 2017, 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.
Loyola University New Orleans
Monroe Hall, Room 610

Sleep plays an important role in the physical, cognitive, and emotional development of youth. In her talk, Dr. Rubens will discuss her research on the role of sleep in the link between trauma exposure and mental health among diverse youth.

Dr. Sonia Rubens is Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of New Orleans. Dr. Rubens has published more than 30 peer-reviewed manuscripts. In her work, she examines ways to promote resilience among youth exposed to trauma. Using a developmental framework, her research primarily focuses on health behaviors (e.g., sleep, physical activity), contextual factors (e.g., peers, schools, neighborhood), and cultural factors (e.g., language, acculturation, ethnic identity) that foster resilience among diverse youth exposed to chronic and acute trauma.

Situations Matter: Understanding the Hidden Power of Context
Dr. Samuel Sommers, Tufts University
Saturday, March 18, 2017, 6 to 7 p.m.
Loyola University New Orleans
Monroe Hall, Nunemaker Auditorium

This talk will integrate behavioral science, popular culture, personal anecdote, and humor in exploring the true nature of human nature. Context—the ordinary circumstances in which we find ourselves— has an enormous, but often hidden impact on what we think, how we act, and who we are as people. We will explore this critical role of situational forces across a range of domains, including crowd behavior, gender differences, and love/attraction, coming the conclusion that learning to appreciate this power of situations on daily life renders us more effective people, in pursuits personal as well as professional.

Dr. Sommers is associate professor of psychology at Tufts University in Medford, MA. Dr. Sommers has published over 40 peer-reviewed manuscripts, several book chapters, and two books. He also blogs regularly for Psychology Today as well as the Huffington Post. His work has been funded through several grants. An experimental social psychologist, he is interested in issues related to stereotyping, prejudice, and group diversity. His research focuses on two general (and often overlapping) topics: 1) race and social perception, judgment, and interaction; 2) the intersection of psychology and law.