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Ingrid Haugen

Psychology graduate turns negatives into positives for hopeful future

Posted: 12/21/2012
Ingrid Haugen has a bright future ahead because she was able to turn negatives into positives, graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from Roosevelt University in December.

At Roosevelt since 2006, Haugen was able to switch gears, changing her major from vocal performance to psychology in 2009 when her dream of becoming a singer no longer seemed appealing.

“It was the best decision I ever made,” said Haugen, who decided to try research as an assistant in the University’s busy psychology laboratories with Associate Professor Lisa Lu, who joined the University in 2007, and Assistant Professor Jill Coleman, who came to the University in 2009.

Haugen, who had been a voice and psychology major a decade earlier at Lawrence University, flourished in Roosevelt’s psychology program, joining the student Psychology Club where she became secretary and then president, and also Psi Chi, the international honor society in psychology, where she served as secretary of the Roosevelt chapter.

“Ingrid is easily one of the most mature and dedicated students I’ve ever encountered,” said Kim Dienes, assistant professor of psychology, who joined the University in 2009, and was one of Haugen’s early advisors. “I am amazed with what she’s been able to accomplish and how she’s done it.”

Haugen almost didn’t make it through the program. Diagnosed in 2011 with breast cancer, she missed a year of classes, undergoing a mastectomy, reconstructive surgery and then chemotherapy when it was discovered that the cancer had spread to her lymph nodes.

The delay in completing the degree was “a blessing for me academically,” said Haugen, whose cancer is now in remission. The time spent on health issues was positive for Haugen, who believes it gave her a chance to fully develop her ideas, skills and direction for the future.

“She spent a lot of time reviewing literature, statistics and brain images, and it’s just remarkable how capable she has become in integrating psychological information across different disciplines,” said Lu, who studies how language and motor skills impact the brain.
Lu presented new research, which looks at the causes of reading disabilities, last semester at a Society for Neuroscience conference.  She is currently writing an article for publication based on the research that Haugen helped produce.

As a result of the work, Haugen grew interested in the field of social neuroscience in which psychologists study how social behaviors impact the brain.  Currently applying to PhD programs, Haugen’s goal is to study racist behavior in order to make a difference in its eradication.

“The research she was doing with me this past semester was pretty complicated as well as very advanced, particularly for an undergraduate,” said Coleman of Haugen’s project, which studied what’s known as the “black sheep effect.”

During the project, Haugen assessed how a member of a group is treated when he or she goes against the grain of the group vs. how an outsider is treated when he or she takes positions outside a group’s norm.  The study, which she will present in May at a Midwest Psychological Association conference, found mixed results.  Haugen hopes to expand the research further as she pursues a PhD.

“It’s been a really great experience for me at Roosevelt,” said Haugen. “I don’t think I would have made it to the point I’m at now without the psychology department’s young and enthusiastic faculty members.”

Coleman, Lu and Dienes lent their support while Haugen was fighting cancer, encouraging her to come back when able to finish her degree.  “They all really care about teaching and their students and it’s really helped me to make something of myself and my life,” Haugen said.