Featured student

Div. 20 student member explains how division membership has benefitted his professional development.

By Matthew McCurdy

My research training began in a master’s program at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, where I developed an interest in aging. After receiving an MS in research psychology, I was accepted into the cognitive psychology PhD program at the University of Illinois at Chicago, working with Eric Leshikar, PhD, in the functional aging brain laboratory. As a PhD student, my research focuses on devising ways to promote memory throughout the lifespan, which is important given the memory declines often experienced with increasing age.

My involvement in Div. 20 has played an important role in my development as a researcher in the aging field. I recently attended APA’s Annual Convention as a Div. 20 member and presented some of my research focused on exploring the generation effect as an effective strategy to enhance memory in older adults. This study was a follow-up to an earlier project that showed promising results in younger adults, for which I received the Graduate Student Best Paper Award in the cognitive division at the 2017 Midwestern Psychological Association Annual Meeting. The experience of presenting at APA’s convention as a Div. 20 member allowed me share and discuss my work with others and allowed me to meet other professionals in the aging field. I have found that meeting and learning from some of the most respected professionals in the field has been an important part of my professional development.

My involvement in Div. 20 has also given me the opportunity to learn about and apply for awards and grants to support my research. I have found being a part of the Div. 20 Listserv is a great way to learn about various funding and presentation opportunities to promote my research and to gain skills in effectively communicating the importance and impact of my work to the science community.

In my time as a Div. 20 member, I have already experienced many of the benefits this organization has to offer and my involvement has already had a significant impact on my professional development. In the future, I aim to extend some of my behavioral research to other methods, including imaging and stimulation techniques to further explore ways to improve memory in older adults. I look forward to the future opportunities as a Div. 20 member that will benefit me in my research training, as well as my future as an aging researcher.