Former MSF intern continues studies at Dartmouth
Sean Guillory is a doctoral student in the Psychological and Brain Sciences department at Dartmouth College. His research seeks to explore the neuroscience involved in processing and enjoying humor. Understanding this phenomenon could prove helpful in improving our daily lives and understanding an important positive component of our consciousness. One of his current studies looks at the effects of incongruity in the memory of humorous stimuli using fMRI to elucidate the differences. His other current study is using intracranial EEG to parse the cognitive phenomena from the motor effects of laughter. He hopes to use these findings to better ground certain disorders where humor and laughter prove to be an important trigger (e.g. narcolepsy with cataplexy), an important healer (e.g. RSD chronic pain), and when it is suddenly ripped from our lives (e.g. Traumatic Brain Injury). He is currently a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow.
Sean and the Mind Science Foundation - in his own words
Even though I am just nearing the end of the second year of my graduate program, the Mind Science Foundation has been an important constant in my evolution as a complete scientist. My journey with them began the summer before I headed to grad school. I was returning from a research internship in Colorado and I wanted to spend the summer with my parents in San Antonio. Opportunities were available to get more lab-based work, but someone from my alma mater (Texas State University) brought the Mind Science Foundation to my attention. Looking deeper into its mission and history, I saw it as an organization that has for decades continued to support the study of the mind and consciousness and emboldened researchers with the opportunities to study the topic with state of the art techniques. Mind Science has repeatedly shown a pattern of supporting researchers at the early crossroads of their career, where they may feel discouraged to undertake ambitious works dealing with consciousness, and helping them to flourish into leaders in the field. I was drawn to try to work for Mind Science because of the insight it could give me as a researcher who will be seeking out funding; but I was also drawn to work for them because deep down, I hoped to draw strength from the organization to pursue my passion (humor research) in the face of difficult odds.
I was ecstatic to be accepted as an intern for Mind Science. I helped to edit and digitize lecture series videos; I helped in redesigning the website; and I helped to find potential speakers for future lecture series. I was amazed by the level of respect that they showed for my input and never leaving me out of organization events. Mind Science was also wonderful in encouraging outreach to inspire future researchers. One agenda item I was happy to be a part of was when Mind Science got involved with the year-long Common Experience of the Mind at Texas State. Another item I was pleased to be a part of was an internal grant for an undergraduate career support program. I received helpful feedback in my writing and approach and I was pleased to see that part of my proposal was a precursor to the undergraduate micro-grant program Mind Science has started for regional institutions. I left that internship with a renewed confidence in that I can reach my goal of being a great scientist and also be able to be successful studying the topics I want to pursue.
Since the internship, I used the knowledge I attained to secure an NSF Graduate Research fellowship; I continued outreach by joining the American Psychological Association Graduate Student Science Committee, and I’ve been successful in opening up communication to have collaborations at Tuck Business School and Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. Recently, I put together a day long pre-conference event for the Psychology of Humor at the last Society for Personality and Social Psychology conference. It was an ambitious undertaking that included multiple symposiums, a poster session, catering, and securing AV and room set-up. Mind Science came to my rescue yet again and helped me put together a budget, secured logistics for sign-ups and credit charges, and were generally supportive when I could have been easily overwhelmed by the event. The success of the pre-conference was one of the greatest moments of my career.
I feel so fortunate to have gotten to know the Mind Science Foundation during such a critical period of me evolving into a scientist. The lessons and experiences I had with this organization continue to be one of the centers I draw my strength from in my academic pursuits. There is so much I owe to them and I hope to continue to make the choices to make them proud.
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