Chelsea Grahn Andrews ’15 takes psychology research work to the world stage

The supportive community, student-professor relationships and dance team drew Chelsea Grahn Andrews ’15 to Ripon College. Andrews, of Maryville, Illinois, says, “Suddenly, I was surrounded by admission counselors, students and faculty who were so invested in helping me navigate the college search and understanding what I really wanted to get out of my college experience. The more I learned about Ripon, the more I knew it would be the perfect place for me to call home.”

At Ripon, Andrews pursued a major in psychobiology. She now is in her fourth year of graduate school as a doctoral candidate in the psychology Ph.D. program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is examining how researchers study attention and its changes as we age, specifically in preschool development.

This interest area was manifested in a collaborative research project between the UW-Madison SPACE Lab and the Ripon College Infant Cognition Lab. The collaboration was first established in the spring of 2016 after Andrews graduated a semester early. “When drawing connections between tasks used to measure the same or similar constructs across development, we need to be cautious when interpreting the results across action systems,” Grahn says. “Our results indicate that it is important not only to consider what we are measuring but also how we are measuring it, when researching how attention develops.”

Last year, Andrews presented her research at the 48th annual meeting of the Jean Piaget Society in Amsterdam, Netherlands. As both an observer and a presenter, she says, “I was able to learn about the current up and coming research being conducted all over the world. … As a presenter, I was able to gain valuable feedback on my current research project.”

She says her experiences at Ripon College play an integral part in her successes in graduate school. The writing-intensive curriculum and rigorous courses, such as Psychology Research Methods and Statistics, prepared her for the difficulty of her current program, she says.

Close relationships with professors also were a benefit. Joe Hatcher helped Andrews explore career options in the field of psychology by connecting her to internship programs. Kristine Kovack-Lesh, Andrews’ advisor, supported her different career ideas, helped her to graduate a semester early and worked with her in the Infant Cognition Lab for two years.

After graduate school, Andrews plans to find a teaching-focused job at a smaller college much like Ripon, where she can mentor students like those at Ripon mentored her.

Dakota Marlega ’21
Waupaca, Wisconsin


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