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Rio to host Psychology presentation, Q&A

October 17, 2014

Associate Psychology Professor Melissa Shyan-Norwalt, Ph.D., posing with her Husky Malamute mix Branwyn, will discuss her work in Comparative Psychology during a Nov. 6 presentation titled 'Psychology - It's Not Just For Therapists Anymore!: Comparing Animals to Humans Across Psychology.'

Associate Psychology Professor Melissa Shyan-Norwalt, Ph.D., posing with her Husky Malamute mix Branwyn, will discuss her work in Comparative Psychology during a Nov. 6 presentation titled 'Psychology - It's Not Just For Therapists Anymore!: Comparing Animals to Humans Across Psychology.'

RIO GRANDE, Ohio – Ever wonder what Fido is thinking amidst that epic battle of tug-o-war? What about that dolphin you saw on vacation; was it as fascinated by you, as you were it? And do elephants really battle stress similar to humans?

You can get your answers on Nov. 6, when the University of Rio Grande Psychology Club hosts ‘Psychology – It’s Not Just For Therapists Anymore!: Comparing Animals to Humans Across Psychology.’

The two-hour presentation by Melissa Shyan-Norwalt, Ph.D., free and open to the public, includes a question and answer session and is scheduled for 6 p.m. in room 118 of Bob Evans Farms Hall. Shyan-Norwalt, one of 60 certified Applied Animal Behaviorists by the Animal Behavior Society, joined the Psychology Department at Rio Grande as an Associate Professor this fall.

“This is a very popular topic with the general public,” Shyan-Norwalt said. “I’ll be telling some funny stories about the human-animal bond. Anyone who has ever owned a pet can relate.”

Shyan-Norwalt has amassed an impressive list of accomplishments and experiences within the field of Comparative Psychology. She has appeared on syndicated television programs, been featured in a BBC/PBS documentary, interviewed for various print and online publications, presented at numerous conferences and is widely published.

Shyan-Norwalt’s 22 publications in peer-reviewed scientific journals include the Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science, Journal of Comparative Psychology, Zoo Biology, Animal Learning and Behavior, Lab Animal, Psychological Science and the Journal of Experimental Psychology. She has presented for the Animal Behavior Society, Psychonomics Society, International Society for Anthrozoology and the Interdisciplinary Forum on Applied Animal Behavior.

“Dr. Shyan-Norwalt has a wealth of experience about animal behavior from the variety of positions she’s held throughout her many years in the field,” said Suzanne Hetts, Ph.D., co-owner of Animal Behavior Associates in Denver. “There’s no doubt audiences will gain new insights into the amazing world of ethology from any of Melissa’s presentations.”

Shyan-Norwalt received her Master of Science Degree in Experimental Psychology from the Illinois Institute of Technology and her doctorate in Experimental Psychology from the University of Hawaii. Her professional career spans both academia and the private sector. She has worked as a professor for nearly 20 years at Butler University, South West Texas State University, Martin University and now Rio Grande. Shyan-Norwalt also has worked as the Animal Behaviorist for the Iams Pet Food Company and Operations Manager for the Collier County Domestic Animal Services in Naples, Fla.

At Rio Grande, Shyan-Norwalt teaches Learning Theory, Experimental Psychology, Research Methodology, Cognition, Introduction to Psychology and Honors Seminars. Her vast research areas include: the human-animal bond; dog aggression; cat behavior; animal enrichment; elephant social behavior, memory and vision; monkey cognition; dolphin cognition; and captive dolphin environmental preferences.

Shyan-Norwalt, along with Assistant Professor of Psychology Chad Duncan, Ph.D., who came to Rio Grande last fall, signifies a restructuring of the entire Psychology program to be more scientific and research oriented.

“The popular misconception is that Psychology is just a bunch of therapists with people sitting on couches. That’s only a tiny bit of psychology; there is so much more exciting stuff you can do,” Duncan said. “Dr. Shyan-Norwalt brings great research and teaching experience, along with a strong scientific perspective that will help us reshape the future of psychology here at Rio. Her passion for psychology comes through in the lab, as well as in the classroom, and students love her.”

Duncan, a cognitive neuropsychologist and advisor to the Psychology Club, said the Nov. 6 presentation is hopefully the first of what will become an annual Psychology showcase. The idea is to expose southeastern Ohio, and the entire tri-state region, to the vast world of Psychology, which Duncan said spans more than 60 fields.

“We hope that this can help spread our enthusiasm about Psychology,” Duncan said, “as well as showcase the amazing potential and excitement a career in Psychology offers.”

Rio Grande offers baccalaureate degrees in Psychology, Sociology and Social Work through the School of Behavior Sciences. The department opened a new Psychology and Social Work Lab this fall.

Founded in 1876 and nestled in the beautiful rolling hills of southeastern Ohio, the University of Rio Grande serves as an oasis of learning, innovation and technology. The 190-acre residential campus strikes a balance of liberal arts and experiential learning to prepare students for successful lives as responsible citizens in a culturally diverse, global community. An epicenter of cultural enrichment, Rio offers students a nurturing environment focused on the needs of the individual with a student-faculty ratio of 16:1 and a plethora of extracurricular activities ranging from Student Senate to Greek life, and intercollegiate athletics.

Psychology - It's Not Just For Therapists Anymore!

Time: 6:00 PM until 8:00 PM
Date: Thursday, November 06, 2014
Location: Bob Evans Farms Hall, room 118
Description:

'Psychology - It's Not Just For Therapists Anymore!: Comparing Animals to Humans Across Psychology' is a two-hour presentation by Associate Psychology Professor Melissa Shyan-Norwalt, Ph.D., that is free and open to the public. The presentation, hosted by the Rio Grande Psychology Club, includes a question and answer session with Shyan-Norwalt, one of 60 certified Applied Animal Behaviorists by the Animal Behavior Society.

 

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