MTSU students take top honors at Tennessee Psychol...

MTSU students take top honors at Tennessee Psychological Association competition

Tennessee Psychological Association award winners from MTSU

Three Middle Tennessee State University students working with Department of Psychology faculty captured top prizes in the Tennessee Psychological Association Convention in Franklin, Tennessee.

logo for Department of Psychology at Middle Tennessee State University

The event brought together students from across the state who submitted proposals for the annual poster and research competition. Theme for this year’s convention was, “Connect to Learn, Connect to Grow.”

“I was really excited to see MTSU students so well represented in this year’s student research competition,” said assistant professor James Loveless, director of the clinical psychology master’s program and TPA Student Engagement chair. “Our students prepared excellent presentations, and really impressed judges and conference-goers alike.”

Isabela Ramos
Isabela Ramos
Dr. Tiffany Rogers

Graduate students Isabella Ramos and Nichole Sullivan and undergraduate Halle Brandt were honored with the 2023 Tennessee Psychological Foundation Student Research Award for Excellence in Research during the Oct. 20-23 convention.

Ramos, a doctoral student in molecular biosciences who is working in assistant professor Tiffany Rogers’ Social and Affective Neuroscience Laboratory, took first place for her presentation, “Novel Behavioral Measurements of Social Motivation in Mice: Comparison Across Sex and Strain.”

“This award is a valuable step toward bringing awareness to how using more precise measures for different behavioral aspects of neurodevelopmental disorders can set us on the path, as researchers, for developing targeted treatments for the symptoms of these disorders,” Ramos said.

Nichole Sullivan
Dr. James Loveless, assistant professor, Department of Psychology, College of Behavioral and Health Sciences
Dr. James Loveless

Sullivan, a May 2023 graduate from the clinical psychology master’s program who worked in Loveless’ Health Psychology Laboratory, took second place for her presentation, “Healthy Sleep Hygiene May Influence Migraine Disability.”

“This award is an enormous honor,” said Sullivan, who is now working as a clinician at Nashville Neuropsychology and Family Services under pediatric neuropsychologist Jackie Klaver. “It was interesting and enlightening to hear the perspectives of TPA members and fellow student presenters regarding my project on the relationship between sleep hygiene and migraine headaches.”

Brandt, a senior undergraduate honors student who is working with psychology professor James Tate, took third place for her presentation titled, “Assessing the Predictive Validity of the Short Form Vaping Consequences Questionnaire: The Positive Reinforcement Subscale.”

“The award, and my overall experience at the conference, has really helped dissuade some of my anxieties, given validation to my academic career, and strengthened my sense of self,” said Brandt, who will graduate in December and plans to apply for graduate programs. “Having the opportunity to discuss my research, learn about other students’ research, and meet people in the field was so rewarding.”

Halle Brandt
Halle Brandt
Dr. James Tate

The Tennessee Psychological Association is the organization for professionals working in the field of psychology. The mission of the TPA is to provide resources and community to facilitate members’ efficacy as scientist practitioners of psychology as a means of promoting human welfare.

Learn more about the Department of Psychology in the College of Behavioral and Health Sciences by visiting

— Nancy DeGennaro (