Lab Members Fall 22: Professor Thomas, Julia Pepper, Kyra McNerney, Ella Nasi, Courtney Crawford, Maeve Callahan, Gray Groseclose

Our Current Team

Ella Nasi ‘22.5

I’m a senior Psychology major at Middlebury College, and I’m primarily interested in the study of child development and mood and anxiety disorders within the field of psychology. I also enjoy studying languages, particularly Arabic at this time. Outside of school, I love listening to music from around the world, practicing speaking Spanish, doing yoga, and going on runs in the beautiful outdoors (when VT weather permits)! I love studying psychology because it allows me to contemplate the complexity and multitude of factors that shape mental health. I find this to be not only intellectually interesting, but crucial to finding answers to societal problems. I’ve been a part of this lab for almost a year and am currently conducting an Independent Study called “Exploring Solitude” under the supervision of Professor Thomas. 

Maeve Callahan ‘22.5

I joined the Solitude Lab in the spring of 2022 after working at an outdoor education center during the fall of 2021 sparked my interest for solitude and identity development in children. I am a super senior feb and am majoring in Psychology and have two minors in Environmental Studies and Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies. I feel that the Solitude Lab is a perfect place to combine all these interests! Right now I am working on a publication with Professor Thomas for the Covid-19 Solitude project and helping with the Ego Development and Study Abroad project. After graduating from Middlebury, I plan on pursuing social work. I hope to center my career around Psychology that combines disciplines and contributes to social justice for kids and teens. 

Courtney Crawford ‘22.5

I’m a Psychology major and Political Science minor, but have taken many courses in the Studio Art and Italian departments! I’m specifically interested in Psychology’s contribution to understanding the impact of systemic injustice on individuals in the criminal justice and immigration systems, political psychology and the psychology of language learning. After taking a semester off to live with family in Siracusa, Sicily, I developed an interest in the role of experiences abroad in identity development. This semester I am working mostly on the beginning stages of a study investigating study abroad’s impact on identity development in college students. I also work on campus as an Italian tutor and barista at Crossroads Cafe and hope to teach English in Italy after graduating from Middlebury and then pursue Psychology research or Clinical Psychology at the graduate level.

Kyra McNerney ’24

I am a current junior majoring in Psychology and Political Science. I’ve been working in the lab since September 2021. I decided to get involved in the lab because I wanted to learn more about research in psychology, and I felt that my interests in the field aligned with Professor Thomas’ work. I’m particularly interested in how experiences of solitude can impact self-efficacy and identity development. In the lab, I transcribe interviews from participants in Professor Thomas’ study with the Mather Institute and her Study Abroad research. I also will soon begin coding responses from surveys completed by participants after taking a solitude skills course. I’ve really enjoyed being able to learn from Professor Thomas and work with other Psychology students who share similar interests within the field. I feel very fortunate to be a part of such a talented and passionate group, and I look forward to continuing my work in the lab!

Julia Pepper ’24

I’m a Psychology major and French minor, and I started working in Professor Thomas’s lab in Fall 2022. I will be studying abroad in Paris in Spring 2023, and my anticipation of this experience has led to a growing personal interest in the effects of study abroad experiences. Growing up as an only child and starting my first year of college in 2020 have led to formative experiences of solitude in my life, and curiosity about what can make experiences of solitude helpful or harmful, especially when considering the societal norms about solitude. This semester I am working on preliminary research about the effects of study abroad on ego development, a worthwhile topic that has historically been under-researched. Within the field of psychology, I am also particularly interested in child psychology and psychological skills for coping in the face of physical and mental illness. After college, I would like to pursue a graduate degree in Psychology, and hope to practice clinical psychology when I am older. I’m very thankful for the opportunity to work in Professor Thomas’s lab. In a short time I have already come to appreciate working in collaboration with Professor Thomas as well as the other smart and driven students. I’ve already learned so much from these people, and I’m excited to continue my research and hope to return to the lab after my time abroad. 

Gray Groseclose ‘24.5

I am a Junior Feb majoring in Psychology and minoring in Education studies. I got involved with the lab in the fall of 2022 to gain an appreciation for the work involved in research and to deepen my knowledge in solitude and identity psychology. I am currently working with Professor Thomas to review the literature around the physiological aspects of solitude and help in designing the new study. I have enjoyed my time in the lab thus far and am looking forward to seeing the process advance. My interests in psychology lie in the clinical field with a potential focus in educational settings and psychedelic therapies. When not working in the lab or studying, you can find me skiing, swimming around, and/or eating at Pho Hong in Burlington.

Our Past Team Members

Lab Members Spring 22: Professor Thomas, Ella Nasi, Maeve Callahan, Cassie Kearney, Kyra McNerney, Katelyn Mei, Eva Hendrikson
Lab Members Fall 21: Professor Thomas, Liam Hahn, Katelyn Mei, Cassie Kearney

Cassie Kearney ’22

I am a Psychology major and Global Health minor, and I have worked in the lab for a year. Alongside Professor Thomas, I helped lead and implement the pilot program, “Embracing Solitude.” I worked with data collection and entry, created content, and interpreted narratives using thematic analysis for the program. I also did my Senior Thesis under Professor Thomas. My thesis explored social media use among adolescents during the COVID-19 pandemic. I researched what factors contribute to and result from excessive use of social media platforms (i.e. loneliness, alexithymia, COVID-19 stress). My project sought to identify protective mechanisms and community-level interventions to address problematic social media use as an emerging public health issue. 

I have absolutely loved my experiences in the lab. Our close-knit group is so supportive, hard-working, and super fun to spend time with. It has been so interesting to share our findings, curiosities, and analyses!

Katelyn Mei ’22

I study psychology and mathematics at Middlebury. Working with Professor Thomas, I started my first journey in psychology research and examined the practice of psychological knowledge in the real world. My passion about the impact of digital technology on humanity drew me to the lab. I designed websites for the implementation of Embracing Solitude so that participants can review and engage in the material they learn in the program. Additionally, I focus on both the qualitative and quantitative data analysis of survey data collected from participants through my knowledge in data science.

After graduation, I will further pursue my passion in the intersection of humanity and digital technology in graduate school.

Eva Hendrikson ‘22.5

I am a Senior Feb from Edina, Minnesota. I am double majoring in Psychology and Economics here at Midd and have been lucky enough to get the opportunity to volunteer in Professor Thomas’s Solitude and Identity Lab for the Spring semester of 2022. I have always enjoyed learning about identity development in various psychology classes I have taken throughout my time at Middlebury. Being in this lab has allowed me to have hands-on experiences with coding qualitative data in an attempt to uncover themes regarding the effect COVID-19 has had on certain populations. I have also enjoyed hearing about individuals’ study abroad experiences and how they have impacted their identity considering I cannot study abroad myself due to the hockey season. I plan on finishing my time at Middlebury and applying to graduate schools for clinical psychology. I hope to eventually work with children and teens as a clinical therapist somewhere on the East or West coast.


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