The Douglass Developmental Disabilities Center recently participated in the Rutgers Graduate School’s Research Intensive Summer Experience (RISE) at Rutgers program. Olivia Heck, a rising senior undergraduate student at Ripon College in Ripon, Wisconsin, won a fellowship from the Associated Colleges of the Midwest and was placed in the Rutgers program based on her interest in applied behavior analysis.
RISE is a nationally acclaimed summer research program for outstanding undergraduates from diverse backgrounds. Scholars participate in 10 weeks of cutting-edge research in the biological, physical, and social/ behavioral sciences, math, engineering, and interdisciplinary areas under the guidance of carefully matched faculty mentors. A comprehensive professional development component, including GRE preparation, complements the research.
Heck, who is studying psychology and education at Ripon College, spent her summer at the DDDC conducting research to evaluate the impact of two different prompting strategies on treatment integrity in behavior chains. Heck helped author the protocol for the study, ran daily research sessions with adult clients with autism at the DDDC, and analyzed all data. “It was a total pile-on of responsibility,” said Kate Fiske, clinical associate professor and associate director of Behavioral and Research Services at the DDDC. Heck presented her research in a poster session for RISE students and faculty on August 1. “She did a great job; many of the attendees asked very pointed questions, and Olivia handled it all beautifully.”
RISE not only helps to introduce talented students to Rutgers graduate school opportunities, but also helps students from underrepresented, disadvantaged, non-traditional or first-generation college backgrounds, or who attend schools with limited research opportunities, to further their education.
“I did not know very much about applied behavior analysis before coming to the DDDC,” said Heck. “I learned so much, and this experience has set me up to pursue it in grad school.” Heck is excited to return to Ripon College this fall so that she can mentor her peers and give back. “This was such a cool experience, and I cannot wait to be able to share this with my professors and other students.”