Research Much? MSRG is Where to Be!

December 21, 2016

Cameron Pugach, a motivated member of the Master’s Student Research Group

(MSRG), took time out of one of the three research labs he participates in, to sit down and talk with me. 


I asked Cameron about how he got started in the very small student group; there are only four members.  “ To be honest, I didn’t know much about it.”  He went to events the group hosted occasionally, and that was about it.


The members of MSRG change each year.  In March or April, the team accepts applications, looking for new board representatives.  The process involves reviewing many applicants’ transcripts, personal statements, and pending a collective aboard review, some are invited to interview.  New members are phased in and briefed on the many wonderful things this group stands for.  Over the summer, the new members generate ideas for the upcoming year based on holes or ar



eas that might have needed more clarification from the previous year.  Through this trial and error process, they hope to make the transition to graduate school smoother and better each year.


Joining Cameron this year, are Nicole Whalen, Sydney Wood and Imani Randolph.  Each member takes on many incoming Forensic Psychology Master’s Students to mentor.  I unfortunately had to miss new student orientation, but Nicole helped me get caught up right away. 


MSRG helps guide these new students, supplying materials or technical tips, and a 24-hour help center for any and all questions.  (They are the best, but please don’t tell Nicole I said it was ok to call her at 3am).  The group has coordinated many events throughout this semester, often aimed to help all psychology graduate students utilize the time at JJ in the most productive ways possible.  These include: orientation information sessions; a research fair to meet fellow student and faculty researchers and get a quick introduction of their labs available at JJ (kind of like speed-dating); a PhD panel of current JJ students, forensic and clinical, to offer advice and personal experiences about the application process and requirements.  MSRG also co-hosted multiple events, part of a Professional Development Series, with Jessica Mooney, Assistant Director of MA Program Career Advisement.  These included Externship and Career Coaching, Resume Development, and CV and Cover Letter Development.  The last event of this semester was a seminar on how to conduct a proper literature review, co-hosted with Dr. Charles Stone.  It was geared for students pursuing the thesis track, and instructed how to prepare for Psy 738, Advanced Research Methods.  Even though I’m not sure if I’m going down that road yet, I attended and learned some great tips for my end of semester research papers. 


Another amazing accomplishment MSRG’s 13th annual conference held at end of the school year.  Last year, 70 people attended.  It’s a great way to get your feet wet into the research world, by creating a poster or giving a 10-12 minute presentation, and showcasing a thesis or developments in laboratory studies.


MSRG isn’t all business; they also have fun socials, where students can mingle and let off steam.  If you’re piggy bank is lacking pennies, they can also help direct you to scholarships and work-study funds at JJ and in general, just for being a graduate student.


Even though MSRG was created with advising Forensic Psychology master’s students in mind, their resources are abundant and plentiful.  Keep an eye out for an event next semester, exploring other career options that a master’s degree in Forensic Psychology may lead to, not solely academia, research or a step-stone to a PhD.  Forensic Psychology and Forensic Mental Health Counseling are more related than some of us realize; we don’t have to separate them so much.  MSRG also looks forward to working more closely with FCSG (Forensic Counseling Student Groups).


Cameron hopes to pursue a PhD in Clinical Psychology, but he has many interests: addiction to mindfulness to adverse and traumatic childhood experiences.  “Getting involved is great.”  He also serves on the Excellence Fees Committee that host many amazing events throughout the year.


Cameron is happy he can help make incoming and current students’ lives a little easier, by giving more direction that’s not always offered at school.  “I wish I had had a bit more of that when I got here; I was more of a do-it yourself kid, and didn’t reach out enough.”  So know that MSRG is here for you!

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