Baker hosts psychology conference

Story by Nathan Hills, Staff Writer

Baker University hosted the 2019 PERK Psychology Conference on Nov. 1 and Nov. 2. The PERK conference, which stands for Association for Psychological and Educational Research in Kansas, was held at the Baker Wetlands Discovery Center at 3 p.m. Friday, Nov. 1 and at Baker University at 8 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 2. The purpose of the event is to showcase research done by undergraduate and graduate students in the psychology field.

“There will be a series of oral presentations of student research,” Robyn Long, associate professor of psychology said, “and a panel of Baker psychology alumni discussing their experience of getting admitted to graduate school and how to succeed in graduate school.”

Along with oral presentations, there were also poster presentations by students to showcase their psychology research. This research covered a variety of topics, including, policies related to emotional support animals, incorporating arts and humanities and STEM, enhanced interrogation regarding psychologists interrogating detainees and child marriage laws.

“So, some pretty heavy topics, but very timely and important,” Long said.

The event featured two keynote speakers presented on their psychology research. The keynote speaker on Nov. 1 was Molly Ireland, assistant professor of psychology, Texas Tech University.

Ireland presented her research on language style matching. This is the “degree to which two people match each other in their language,” Long said, “which is indicative of both the quality of their relationship and increases positive qualities of the relationship.”

Ireland completed her undergraduate studies at Baker University and her PhD at the University of Texas at Austin in the area of social-personality psychology. Her keynote presentation will begin at 5:30 p.m. in the Baker Wetlands Discovery Center.

The second keynote speaker was University of Nebraska-Lincoln Assistant Professor of Psychology and Women’s and Gender Studies, Kathryn Holland. Holland’s keynote highlighted her research regarding compelled disclosure policies. This refers to when a student reports an assault and the university’s requirement to report the incident under the Clery Act and Title IX. Holland’s keynote presentation will begin at 12:00 p.m. in Rice Auditorium on Nov. 2.

There was also a paper competition for psychology research. Two winners of the competition were selected in two categories: outstanding undergraduate empirical paper and outstanding undergraduate non-empirical paper. The winners of the paper competition were both Baker University students. The winner of the outstanding undergraduate empirical paper was Carrington Ream and the winner of outstanding undergraduate non-empirical was Caroline Birt. A $75 prize was given to the winner of each category.

Long said the main audience for this conference is undergraduate and graduate students in psychology and psychology faculty, but some Baker administrators and members of the community were also in attendance.

The PERK conference is held annually and hosted by different university every year. The Association for Psychological and Educational Research in Kansas is partnered with the Nebraska Psychology Association. The host of the event rotates between colleges in Kansas and Nebraska.

This event is open to the public, but registration beforehand was required because the event included a meal for attendees.  More information about the event and a schedule of events can be found at