Lauren Duvall, Outstanding Undergraduate Psychology Major Award

This student is also the recipient of the 2020 Anna Gordon Memorial Endowed Scholarship, Significant Contribution to Research Award, and is a Psychology Honors Student

Majors: Psychology and dance

Hometown: Brentwood, Tennessee

Favorite Experience at UA: I have had numerous amazing and memorable experiences while studying at UA. I have been able to experience college as a student-athlete cheering at football and basketball games, a performer in student-led dance productions, a peer mentor in a support program on-campus for students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), and a researcher in several research laboratories. My greatest accomplishments as an undergraduate student would have to come from my research work investigating the neurobiological mechanisms of ASD in the Cognition, Brain, and Autism research laboratory. As a student of the Psychology Department’s Honors Program, I have spent my junior and senior years crafting an honors thesis examining the morphometric features of the cortex. Through the process, I have presented at campus and state conferences, secured funding for my project through a grant, and am currently preparing to submit for publication. I am extremely proud of the research work I have accomplished and the relationships I have made throughout this process. I have had the opportunity to not only work closely with and learn from faculty members, but also I have been able to meet graduate students and like-minded undergraduate peers who also want to pursue careers in research.
My favorite experience during my undergraduate career was winning the Emerging Leader Award from the Alabama Autism Providers Network to attend the Annual Alabama Autism Conference in the spring of my junior year. It was the first time I had ever been to a research conference, and I had such an amazing time. Having the opportunity to listen to prominent researchers in my field of research and speak with local providers as well as families in the state of Alabama affected by ASD cemented in me that I wanted to pursue a career in Clinical Psychology and continue researching ASD.

Favorite Class: My favorite class at UA has been Child Psychology, PY 461. This course was taught with a particular focus on child psychopathology, and I found it extremely interesting. My professor, Dr. Bradley White, was a child clinical psychologist, so he was especially passionate and knowledgeable about what he was teaching. I admired how he taught the course with an empathetic approach to understanding how children and their families can be affected by various disorders and conditions. This class was the reason I have chosen to continue studying child psychology for the rest of my career.
I have received a great amount of support and encouragement from many of the faculty in the Psychology department, and my favorite professor I have worked with has been Dr. Rajesh Kana. Dr. Kana has been my mentor for my honors thesis, and by working with him and in his laboratory, I have accomplished more in my undergraduate career than I ever could have imagined. While working with Dr. Kana, I have presented at multiple conferences, won awards and a grant, learned and performed different statistical and research techniques, and learned how to write a scientific paper. I am immensely grateful for the opportunities I have been given while a student in the College of Arts & Sciences.

Future Plans: After graduating from the University of Alabama with a Bachelor of Science, I plan to continue culminating research and clinical experiences. I will earn a Doctorate of Philosophy studying Clinical Psychology on a Child track during which I will continue my research of Autism Spectrum Disorder. My larger career goal is to become a research scientist at an educational institution or similar environment where I can continue my research and practice as a clinician.