Work of professor, students presented at cognitive development conference

Professor of Psychology Kristine A. Kovack-Lesh and two 2023 Summer Opportunities for Advanced Research (SOAR) students attended the biennial meeting of the Cognitive Development Society in Pasadena, California, in March. Ryan Davis ’24 of Fredericksburg, Texas, and Jacoby Cefalu ’25 of Hartland, Wisconsin, presented their poster “Exploring emotional contagion for dogs to early adolescents and emerging adults.” Kovack-Lesh and Associate Professor of Psychology Julia Meyers-Manor collaborated on the poster.

“Both Ryan and Jacoby enjoyed their experience presenting at the conference and learning more about cognitive development,” Kovack-Lesh says. “They did a great job with presenting our work to a broader audience.”

Both students are majoring in psychology. “Traveling to a conference like this one allows students the opportunity to learn about research being done in many places and network with many people at different stages of their career,” Kovack-Lesh says.

A presentation by Kovack-Lesh and collaborators, “Examining the effects of distraction on attention and task performance in a Title 1 school,” was presented at the conference by Dr. Kathleen Kannass of Concordia University-Wisconsin. “This project is bridging the areas of expertise of Dr. Julia Meyers-Manor and me together,” Kovack-Lesh says. “It aims to explore more about dog empathy and how this can connect to children and adolescents’ emotional expressions.”


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