FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – Four Fresno State psychology students and their professor will present their neuroscience research at the European Psychiatric Association 2023 Congress from March 25 to 28 in Paris, school officials announced on Wednesday.

Amanda Klassen of Reedley, one of the students attending the conference said she decided to enroll at Fresno State to pursue a degree in psychology, a degree that satisfied an early interest in applied behavior analysis and her passion for working with autistic children. Now as a senior, she is preparing for graduate school.

CSU Fresno officials say another five students, four alumni, and faculty from other universities contributed to these projects. This will be the first international conference and the largest group from Fresno State’s Department of Psychology to present since before the COVID pandemic started in 2020.

Paris is just the beginning, the group will also attend the Society of Biological Psychiatry annual meeting in San Diego from April 27 to 29. 

“If you told me a year ago that I would willingly be taking another statistics class to prepare for graduate school, that I’d actually apply to grad school and wanted to go, and that I’m going to Paris to present at a conference, I would have looked at you like you’re crazy,” Klassen said.

Klassen joined the NOMAD lab, as it is known, this past August after she spent the spring semester of 2022 falling in love with their neuroscience classes.

She explains that in this lab, students analyze published research papers, review brain scans (such as functional MRI), and used meta-analysis and machine learning to determine the brain activity of people with depression and anxiety-related disorders.

The goal is to better diagnose, treat and prevent different psychiatric disorders.

Chris Miller, a psychology professor at Fresno State says he has regularly taken students to international conferences, but only a limited number at a time, and the COVID pandemic forced these events to be held online.

A single culminating experience like this can be transformative for them in their development as a scientist and in terms of their long-term educational trajectory.

Dr. Chris Miller’s Neuroscience of Mood and Anxiety-Related Disorders Lab. 

Senior psychology major Caitlin Baten, says she can’t believe she is traveling to Paris in a few days. She said she flew on a plane for the first time in her life in early February to interview for a graduate program at a university in Iowa.

This year’s students applied in late fall to present in Paris. One poster presentation and four oral presentations were accepted.

Most of the students will be attending their first conference and for nearly all, it will be their first international experience. The group is among the only undergraduates presenting at the Paris conference, Miller said. Most presenters are post-doctorates, fellows, and residents in psychiatry.