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Psychology Major Explores Profession as Children’s Hospital Intern

Georgia BelkGeorgia Belk By Rachel McLemore ‘12

Georgia Belk, a junior psychology major from Marion, Ark. is exploring the professional applications of her degree through an internship at Arkansas Children’s Hospital.

Belk is working as a research assistant in the Complex Brain Function Laboratory with Dr. John Chelonis, the principal researcher who oversees the lab.

The lab has been called the “nickel game lab” because of its use of nickels as reinforcers in the Operant Test Battery used in the studies, Belk said.

The OTB tests motivation, time discrimination, color discrimination, short term memory, and learning. 

“Right now we are examining performance differences in children with and without high anxiety using these various tests,” she said.

Belk’s duties include recruiting participants for the study; testing those participants; scoring, entering, and checking the data from those tests; reading lab articles; performing literature searches regarding manuscript preparation and attending lab meetings.

“I have learned how to score a handful of psychological assessment tests that test things such as intelligence, achievement, anxiety, and other disorders,” she said. “I have also learned how to use the graphing system known as Prism, which Dr. Chelonis uses in his manuscripts.”

Not only is she gaining valuable lab experience, Belk is considering her options after Hendrix more closely.

“Besides the massive amount of psychology experience I am amassing, Dr. Chelonis is very grad school-oriented,” she said. “This has forced me to explore career choices and outlets like I hadn’t before.”

“Any research experience is good, but this is great,” she continued. “Not only am I learning how to be a valuable research assistant but I am learning about myself and other areas of psychology. Dr. Chelonis makes sure that we take time for ourselves to figure out what we want the rest of our lives to look like and to make sure that we aren’t wasting our time in the lab.”

Belk chose to pursue this internship because it offered exposure to real-life lab situations and experience interacting with child populations. She plans to work with children in the future so working at Arkansas Children’s Hospital was an exciting opportunity.

“The Complex Brain Function Lab offered both experience in psychology as well as an interesting interaction with child populations,” Belk said. “Although we do little hands on work with the children I am learning a lot about childhood disorders and how those manifest themselves.”

Belk is participating in this internship through the Odyssey Program, which she says has made the experience all the more rewarding.

“Writing a daily journal and reporting back to my professors—as well as knowing that I will have to do a presentation on my experience—has made me really focus on understanding the concepts at hand,” she says.

Rachel McLemore is a senior history major from Marion, Ark. She is a student writer in the Office of College Relations and a member of the Office of Admission’s Hendrix Experience Ambassador Team (HEAT).