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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at St. John's chapter.

Rachel Kowis, M.A. graduated from Southern Connecticut State University with her degree in psychology. She is currently in the process of completing her thesis on Maladaptive Disorder with hopes of entering the research field. Read the interview below to hear more of Rachel’s extensive knowledge and dedication to mending gaps in psychological research. 

While Women’s History Month may be over, the time to celebrate women never ends. I chose a handful of women who I thought deserved to be celebrated. These special women are researchers, pioneers, activists and good friends of mine! Rachel is not only innovative but also a contributor to psychological research. I set up an interview with Rachel after I had met her at the Eastern Psychological Association (EPA) conference. I wanted others to hear more about her journey and research in-depth to further encourage other female students who wish to pursue research.

J: I’m curious about what intrigued you about investigating the relationship between Maladaptive disorder and ADHD. Were you aware there was a correlation and you wanted to uncover more information on the two disorders or were you trying to investigate if there was a relationship?  

R: I’m glad to hear you found it interesting! Previous research has suggested there is a relationship between Maladaptive Daydreaming Disorder -or MD- and ADHD. However, ADHD is often overdiagnosed, especially in cases where there is difficulty with attention, which may be caused by another diagnosis. In the long term, I’m interested in looking into this relationship to see if MD may be one of these cases. 

J: How does it feel knowing you are trying to mend the gender disparity in STEM-related degrees? 

R: It feels good to know that as we grow and leave our mark, little girls will read women’s names in books and papers. I hope this will quickly become what they can expect. Every once in a while, I think about this -sometimes it’s overwhelming- I feel pressure to excel and thrive all the time not to let anyone down or give anyone the wrong impression of women in STEM. It’s comforting to remember we are not creating change solely as individuals but as a group! It reminds me to do my best for us but that I’m not the only one out there with this responsibility. 

J: I am aware that the two fields of study, neuroscience and psychology, may overlap with one another; however, they are completely different. Neuroscience focuses on the chemical and biological aspects of the brain, while psychology focuses on the mind and how we mentally process emotion. What brought you to both fields?

R: In general, I’ve always loved science, especially anything to do with the brain. When picking a major, I tried to look for how I wanted to learn about the brain and initially decided to study neuroscience alone. Because Introduction to Psychology was a required course for neuroscience majors -and I was looking forward to it- I took the class early in college and instantly fell in love! So, I figured out how to major in both while taking the occasional class outside of both for fun. 

J: Is EPA the first conference you have attended and presented a poster in?

R: EPA is not the first conference I’ve presented at, but it was a wonderful experience! As an undergraduate, I presented with another student as part of a lab on COVID-19 and exertional heat stress at the Southeast Chapter of the American College of Sports Medicine -SEACSM- and High Point University’s Research and Creativity Symposium -High-PURCS-, and the Society for Personality and Social Psychology -SPSP- on MD and personality disorder characteristics.

Julissa Osorno

St. John's '24

Julissa is a first-gen, Colombian master's student. She is currently a research assistant in CHIRP. Her research interests include addressing race/ethnicity in Latinx-American and immigrant populations. Aside from writing and reading peer reviews, she enjoys watching movies, listening to music, and eating sushi!