Sophia Woolery Receives Outstanding Research and Academic Achievement Award

TOPICS: Alumni, Awards and Honors, Research and Fieldwork, Science and Technology, Student Success

Friday, May 10, 2019

This week, the Department of Psychological Sciences is recognizing Behavioral Neuroscience major Sophia Woolery for receiving the Outstanding Research and Academic Achievement Award.


Tell us a bit about yourself. 

My name is Sophia Woolery. I was born and raised in San Diego and I am a first generation college student.

How do you plan to use your degree after graduating?

After graduation I plan on becoming a certified EMT and working until I get enough hours to apply to PA school.

What advice do you have for Behavioral Neuroscience majors?

Think of why you chose this major and find an elective course that explores that area of interest. Being on the pre-PA path, my electives were completed by organic chemistry so I didn’t have to take any additional psych classes. Looking back, I would have loved to have learned more about toddler psychology and abnormal psychology. I was so focused on completing my graduation/pre-PA requirements, that I didn’t get to take classes that I was really interested in.

Why did you decide to major in Behavioral Neuroscience?

When I first came to USD, I thought I wanted to be a biology major. But, when I took psychology 101 I realized that learning about the brain and its functions was far more interesting to me than general biology. I loved that the BN major had room for flexibility. For every category like cognition or evolution, there were multiple classes to choose from. There were more choices which allowed me to enroll in certain classes I wanted to take.

What research projects did you participate in?

For the past three years I have worked in Dr. Molitor’s toddler psychology lab. We worked on observing the comparison of child versus mother influences on maternal responses to toddler negativity.

What was the most memorable part of your research experience?

In our research project we provide challenging tasks, like puzzles, to toddlers from ages 2-4. One of the goals of the study is to observe how the toddler reacts to a frustrating task where he/she can’t get any help. One particular toddler stands out because he never lost his temper. Task after task he persisted even though it was designed as an impossible task for him to complete. He refused to get frustrated and even thanked us after every task. This 2 year old’s ability to cope with difficulty was not only interesting but also very cute to observe.

What advice would you give to students interested in research?

Start looking at labs you are interested in earlier than later. There are always opportunities. When I first heard the word research, I would think of a traditional lab setting with coats, dissections, and rats. If this interests you then there are a lot of opportunities both on and off campus. But this is not the only form of research available that would supplement your BN major.

Sophia Woolery


Jessica Lee

College of Arts and Sciences

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