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Student successes in graduate school: Lauren Luther

Lauren Luther | Ph.D. Student, Psychology | Department of Psychology IUPUI’s proximity to several hospitals and medical centers such as the Richard L. Roudebush Veterans Affairs Medical Center provides students with a wealth of research and clinical opportunities that I did not find at other schools.

What degree are you working toward?

I am currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology.

Why did you choose graduate school at IUPUI?

The Clinical Psychology program at IUPUI offered unparalleled opportunities to learn from and collaborate with renowned researchers who share similar interests. In addition, the program’s training emphasis on severe mental illness and clinical science aligned with my interests and career goals. Also, the welcoming and supportive students and faculty, particularly my mentor, Dr. Michelle Salyers, made IUPUI the ideal place for me to pursue my Ph.D.

What has been your favorite academic accomplishment since you’ve been here?

My favorite academic accomplishment has been being able to explore and refine my own line of research through collaborating with faculty and students and engaging in academic writing and publishing. Within this domain, my favorite academic accomplishment was acting as lead author on a manuscript that was accepted for publication in Schizophrenia Research, a prominent journal in my field.

What do you enjoy most about life in Indianapolis?

Since I came from a larger city prior to moving to Indianapolis, the lower cost of living and relative ease of driving around the city make Indianapolis a great place to live, especially on a graduate student budget. Further, the accessibility of Indianapolis makes it easy to enjoy all of the great restaurants, green spaces, museums, and events that Indianapolis provides.

Please provide some details about your work/research as a graduate student and/or any activities you are involved in.

My research in graduate school has focused on the negative symptoms––reduced motivation, decreased social interest, blunted affect, and anhedonia––in people with schizophrenia, a severe mental illness that affects approximately 1% of the population. Negative symptoms tend to be associated with increased functional disability in people with schizophrenia, yet current treatments have little efficacy in improving these symptoms. One barrier to effective treatment is a limited understanding of the psychological factors that contribute to the development and maintenance of negative symptoms. Accordingly, the goal of my current research is to inform psychosocial interventions by investigating psychological and cognitive mechanisms that contribute to negative symptoms, especially motivation deficits, in people with schizophrenia.