Three St. Joseph’s University, New York psychology majors from the Long Island Campus spent their summer working on research and research internships, immersing themselves in experiential learning opportunities.
And while each student felt passionate about the work they did, they didn’t all go into it with the same level of interest.
“Prior to my previous semester at St. Joseph’s, I had no interest in pursuing a career in research or even entertaining the idea,” said Courtney Pisano, a senior with minors in art history as well as mindfulness and contemplative living. “I thought that research was boring compared to working in a clinical/counseling setting.
“However, it was after taking a course in research methods with Dr. (Dominique) Treboux and joining Dr. (Thomas) DiBlasi’s research lab that I found research to be an amazing field within psychology,” the 21-year-old from Shirley continued. “Both Dr. Treboux and Dr. DiBlasi have played a monumental role in igniting my interest in research.”
Pisano is serving an internship as a neuro research assistant at St. Charles Hospital in the neurorehabilitation department, which aids patients in recovery from a nervous system injury. She began her internship in June and will continue through October, having made the decision to stay on past the required amount of hours.
“This experience has not only helped me better understand research, it has also helped me greatly in navigating my passions,” said Pisano, who plans to earn a Ph.D. in Psychology. “My internship has made me a better student researcher and will continue to help me no matter what I choose to do. It is thanks to this internship that I have decided to eventually pursue a career in research.”
Some of Pisano’s responsibilities include helping create protocols, writing consent forms, filling out IRB forms and observing studies with participants.
It is thanks to this internship that I have decided to eventually pursue a career in research.”
–Courtney Pisano ’23
“Through this experience, I learned just how important research is in the world,” she said. “Research, especially the studies conducted at St. Charles, are an attempt to understand how hospitals can further help patients recover in the rehabilitation process. This can be through factors such as music, acupuncture, sleep quality and so forth.”
Pisano learned that while research may not be a direct approach to the helping process, like therapy or counseling may be, it is pivotal in helping people.
“Since I was in high school, I always knew that I wanted to pursue a career in which I could help people in some way, shape or form,” she said. “To understand that the research I help with is in an effort to help people is the most rewarding experience I can think of.”
Predicting Student Success in a Post-Pandemic Era
Blanca Reyes, a recipient of St. Joseph’s inaugural Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (S.U.R.F.), received $4,000 to conduct her own research.
“I heard about S.U.R.F. through Dr. Donovan,” said Reyes, who expects to graduate in May with a B.A. in Psychology as a Credentialed Alcohol and Substance Abuse Counselor (CASAC). “I had spent the majority of my spring semester working in her office through some of her own research simply because I was interested in broadening my understanding of research.”
Assistant Professor of Psychology Corinne Donovan, Ph.D., then served as the faculty adviser for Reyes’ own research, which focuses on predicting student success in a post-pandemic era. Dr. Donovan helped Reyes by providing structure, guidance and instruction.
“My favorite part of overseeing her research were those ‘Aha’ moments when you begin seeing the research come alive,” Dr. Donovan said.
As someone who essentially began her college career during the pandemic, Reyes was especially interested in conducting this line of research.
“I was really interested to see how other undergraduate students were affected by the pandemic, and most importantly how colleges and universities should move forward by vocalizing the needs of their students,” the 20-year-old Amityville resident said. “My favorite part of the S.U.R.F. experience was bringing my vision to life, and conducting my own research while being guided with the expertise of someone who has been in the field of psychology and as a researcher.”
Reyes hopes to pursue her doctorate in psychology after graduating and feels that this research experience will help her with her future dissertation.
Psychology and Addiction
Gabriella Caporaso, a senior, spent her summer interning in the Center of Addiction Science at Wellbridge Addiction Treatment and Research in Calverton.
“My favorite part of this internship was the versatility,” the Patchogue Resident said. “Getting to work as an intern at Wellbridge in the Center of Addiction Science, I was able to learn multiple different tasks and explore my interests. It was rewarding meeting so many different people and seeing them throughout their recovery journey.”
Caporaso’s responsibilities at Wellbridge included coding, organizing and categorizing for a research study; observing group therapy; and analyzing employee workbooks for an ongoing research project. She also had the opportunity to present her findings to staff, including the CEO, and she created reports that helped researchers further their work.
“Finding something I am passionate about is most important to me. Luckily, St. Joseph’s University has provided me the opportunity to explore my interests and find my true passion in life,” Caporaso said of her opportunity to conduct a research internship.
After graduating, Caporaso plans on going to graduate school and pursuing a career in clinical social work.
“Fortunately, I was able to learn how much I enjoy research through this internship,” the 21-year-old said. “Now, I am also looking to focus my interests on research, as well. I never would have thought I would enjoy research as much as I did. Thanks to my internship at Wellbridge, I now know just how much I enjoy research, along with how rewarding it can be.”