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Graduate Student Profile: Andrew McCullough, Psychology

Meet UC Davis Graduate Student Andrew McCullough

  • Department
  • Program and year of study
    Psychology Doctoral program (Perception, Cognition, & Cognitive Neuroscience discipline), 7th year
  • Previous degrees and colleges
    MA Psychology, University of North Carolina Wilmington
    BA Psychology, University of North Carolina Wilmington
  • Where did you grow up?
    A small town in western Ohio… farm country
  • Where do you live now?
    A small town called Davis, CA… warmer farm country
  • What's your favorite spot in Davis?
    My backyard or the Rocknasium
  • How do you relax?
    On weekdays, I walk, bike, run, or otherwise spend time with my amazing dog, Seneca. And read for pleasure when possible. On weekends, I like to explore California – hiking up mountains, swimming in cold lakes, rock climbing, and general adventuring remind me that even the most difficult challenges can be conquered.
  • What was the last book you read for pleasure?
    Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming by Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway. Highly recommended, and complete with interesting facts about Emil Mrak. 
  • What TV show are you currently binge-watching?
    Inside Out. In 2015. I don’t go to movies often.
  • Research interests
    I am interested in how human memory functions – why we remember what we remember, and why we forget what we don’t remember. I am also interested in a variety of other amazing abilities of the human brain.
  • Dissertation title or topic
    An examination of the effects of post-encoding stress on recognition memory and on the neural correlates of memory.
  • Please share a surprising or noteworthy fact or finding from your research
    In contrast to most people’s assumptions, stress can be very good for memory. In particular, physical stress (rather than social stress) that is experienced just after learning tends to improve memory. So: exercise after studying, and watch horror movies or comedies after class. Not only will you enjoy these activities, but you’ll remember the material better and for longer.
  • Which professor or class inspired you to pursue graduate studies?
    Dr. Jeff Toth at UNC-Wilmington first introduced me to the fascinating topic of human memory.
  • Which scholarly text do you wish you had written? Why?
    On the Origin of Species. It conveys a theory very elegantly, and it altered the public’s view of the entire world. I also think I would have enjoyed living in that time period. 
  • What's the best thing about being a grad student?
    Scheduling freedom. One of the best things about being a grad student at UC Davis is the faculty treat you as peers. They respect your input on scientific theory and experimental design, and are very inclusive with respect to their research endeavors.
  • What's the worst?
    The near-continuous feeling that you can’t possibly get everything done… but you must get everything done!
  • What wisdom can you offer to someone considering grad school?
    Think long and hard about what you want to study and why you want to pursue a graduate degree. Is your source of motivation enough to withstand a few years of stress and obstacles?
  • If you weren't a grad student, what would you be doing?
    Gardening and continuously making additions on a house built into a mountainside.
  • Finally, please ask yourself a question - "What is one thing you’ve always wanted to see?"
    The northern lights, ideally from space, but I’ll take what I can get.

Graduate student profile courtesy of the UC Davis College of Letters and Science.

About Graduate Studies

Graduate Studies at UC Davis includes over 100 dynamic degree programs and a diverse and interactive student body from around the world. Known for our state-of-the-art research facilities, productive laboratories and progressive spirit – UC Davis offers collaborative and interdisciplinary curricula through graduate groups and designated emphasis options, bringing students and faculty of different academic disciplines together to address real-world challenges.

UC Davis graduate students and postdoctoral scholars become leaders in their fields: researchers, teachers, politicians, mentors and entrepreneurs. They go on to guide, define and impact change within our global community.

For information on Graduate Studies’ current strategic initiatives, visit the Graduate Studies strategic plan page.

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