Katie Pfannes

2015 Passion for Research


Katie Pfannes has never been one to settle for just getting by. So when she discovered a love for research, she fully immersed herself in University of Michigan-Dearborn’s research opportunities.

She has joined three research labs as a research assistant, exploring cognitive development, human learning and creativity, and neuroscience. And she has designed her own independent research project, looking at how participants’ perception of emotion changed during distraction.

She did all this while completing the College of Arts, Sciences, and Letters Honors Program and serving as a Supplemental Instruction (SI) leader. She said doing more than what’s required now is one way to guarantee success later.

“I did those things because I love research and I knew it would get me to where I wanted to go,” she said.

Her dedication already is paying off. As an undergraduate student, Katie has presented research posters at two major psychology conferences—the Midwestern Psychological Association conference in Chicago and the Association for Psychological Science conference in San Francisco.

What’s next for Katie? It probably comes as no surprise that she would like to continue to conduct research at the university level.

“I would like to become a professor so that I can share my experiences with other undergraduates who are eager to explore cognitive psychology,” she said. “Some of the topics I would like to cover are emotional perception and memory, and infant development of short-term memory.”

Nitya Sethuraman, associate professor of psychology, has worked with Katie on several teaching and research projects. She said Katie’s on her way to accomplishing her career goals.

“I am constantly amazed at how much Katie takes on and how well she does everything,” Dr. Sethuraman said. “Katie has a very clear sense of self, both of who she is and of what she wants to achieve in her life, and works to gain the experience she needs for her long-term plans.”