Graduate Student in Community Psychology Shares Research at National Conference
Graduate Student in Community Psychology Shares Research at National Conference

by Jackie Hennessey
Communications and Public Affairs Writer/Editor

Soon after presenting a paper earlier this summer at the 2013 Society for Community Research and Action Biennial Conference, Ryan Weston, a graduate student in community psychology, was approached by one of the attendees. The interested participant turned out to be the coordinator of the community psychology program at Wichita State University, Greg Meissen, a noted expert in the field.

The professor had recognized Weston from the committee work he had previously done for the Society for Community Action and Research, and he wanted to applaud the student for his work.

Ryan Weston with Melissa Whitson

“I could not believe that such a prominent researcher was familiar with the work that I do with the different committees,” Weston said. “That certainly made my day.”

As part of the conference, Weston presented his thesis abstract, “Self-Monitoring and the Advisor-Advisee Relationship in Graduate Community Psychology Programs.”

Weston argued that the advising relationship can have a significant influence on the advisee’s development as a practitioner and as a scientist. His study of current research led him to see that an individual’s attitude toward research and his or her productivity can be heavily influenced by a positive or negative relationship with his or her thesis advisor.

“It is very important for graduate students to have a positive relationship with their advisor as most students rely on them for job recommendations as well as many other key roles,” Weston said.

The scholarly literature on this subject is rather scarce, Weston said, so he is hopeful his continued research in this area will garner attention and help him when he applies to Ph.D. programs. He was very pleased with the paper’s reception at the conference.

Weston said he was grateful to his thesis supervisor, Melissa Whitson, assistant professor of psychology, for her guidance. Whitson attended the conference, which Weston said, “made presenting this research project much more meaningful to me.”

This fall, Weston will continue recruiting more students to take part in his research. His goal is for his findings to be published in the American Journal of Community Psychology. He also will intern at the Consultation Center at Yale University, working on a project to provide training to mental health and human service workers to help relieve stressors in the workplace.

“All of these experiential learning opportunities,” he said, “are what drew me to UNH.”

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