Juliana Petersen ‘16 isn’t moving far from her alma mater. This week she begins work as a research assistant at The Center for Treatment and Study of Anxiety, an internationally renowned research center affiliated with the Perelman School of Medicine.
This work will be a continuation of the psychology major’s interest in anxiety disorders. Peterson will help manage the Center’s longitudinal research project on the treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). She will also be running smaller research projects on anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder—the latter is a topic she has long been interested in, but was not able to fully explore during her time at Haverford.
“Clinical psychology treatment studies are particularly fun to manage because you can really see how patients improve from their first day of treatment to the end,” says Petersen. “It’s really rewarding!”
Because working as a research assistant requires specific qualifications and experience, Petersen had to make sure to plan ahead while she was still in school. She took clinical classes at Haverford and Bryn Mawr, such as “Anxiety Disorders and Their Treatment,” and she learned how to manage her own research in her psychology labs. She is especially grateful to Visiting Assistant Professor of Psychology Seth Gillihan, who helped introduce her to the researchers at a University of Pennsylvania lab. That connection not only landed her an internship during her junior year, during which she studied how anxiety in romantic relationships affects social support and criticism between partners, but it also allowed her to present data from her research at the Association for Psychological Science (APS) conference in New York last May.
Petersen is also planning to apply to graduate psychology programs. Because the Center engages in both research and treatment of patients, she will be able to spend this next year exploring her interest in both. This will enable her to choose the best path for her future studies.
“This combination appeals to me because I am interested in pursuing a Ph.D. in clinical psychology, and I am not sure if I want to focus on research, treatment, or both,” she says.
“Where They’re Headed” is a blog series reporting on the post-collegiate plans of recent Haverford graduates.