Erin Ramsey

1. What is your specific area of research (include the name of your faculty and/or laboratory)?
Currently, I am writing up my findings from a research project I conducted over the summer. Specifically, my research focused on the influences of DNA and confession evidence on mock-juror decision-making. My faculty mentors include Dr. Richard Leo, Dr. Peter Ditto, and Dr. Jodi Quas. Our goal is to understand how decisions on verdict, likelihood of guilt, and confidence in verdict are influenced by the presence of various combinations of DNA and confession evidence.
2. When and how did you first get involved in research?
I first began working with Dr. Peter Ditto and his graduate student Sarah Roper-Coleman on a project that focused on understanding how participants respond to health diagnosis (in their study, the diagnosis was fictitious). After learning about the Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP) from Dr. Peter Ditto, I worked together with Dr. Richard Leo, Dr. Peter Ditto, and Dr. Jodi Quas to develop a research topic and proposal. My SURP study was such an enjoyable experience that I decided to approach Dr. David Dooley about participating in the Social Ecology Honors Program.
3. How has research enhanced you education?
Through both the SURP and Social Ecology Honors Program, I have learned so many valuable lessons that have really contributed to my educational experience. I am both a double major in Criminology, Law and Society and Psychology and Social Behavior. My research has allowed me to incorporate both areas of interest and explore their relationships to one another. Research has allowed me to go outside of the conventional lecture hall, to pursue personal research goals. I have learned not only about the research process, I have also learned how to analyze data, develop a thesis, and understand the various degrees of significance a study can have.
4. What has been you favorite experience with research (include any interesting stories or specific events)?
Conducting my research has been a great experience, but I also really enjoy learning about other student's experiences. My favorite experience in research has been learning about other research projects and other student's research experiences. The UROP Symposium enhanced an exchange of ideas between students that is not normally available in the classroom. Attending and presenting at the Symposium allowed me to learn about research findings that often go unnoticed unless they are excepted for publication.
5. What are your future plans and how has being involved in research helped to prepare you to meet your goals?
I plan on first attending law school in the fall of 2004. Upon completing my J.D., I hope to pursue a Ph.D. in Social Psychology or Criminology. I hope to fully incorporate the various social psychological research findings into the criminal justice system. Many criminals are wrongly convicted, and often because of the faulty judgment process of jurors. Jurors are human and can make mistakes, therefore our criminal justice systems needs to control for these mistakes. The US Supreme Court made a landmark decision in Arizona v. Fulminante (1991) when it ruled that coerced confessions are a "harmless error" that does not affect the outcome of a case (Kassin, 1997). Yet, in various studies, many conducted by Saul Kassin, the presence of coerced confessions have an effect that can bias juror's decisions. If we, as U.S. citizens, have all our criminal trials heard by a jury of our peers, then any potential bias of that jury must be controlled for in order for us to maintain a fair and just legal system. Conducting this research project has helped me to fully grasp that the legal system's understanding of jury decision-making is necessary to achieving justice.
6. What advice would you give to a student interested in pursuing a faculty-mentored undergraduate research project or creative activity?
If you are passionate about any area of study, then participating in a research project will allow you to learn about a specialize area of interest. I recommend taking any opportunity you have to go outside the classroom and explore research options. Participating in research also allows you to learn not only about what interests you, but also about things you may not have known interests you. Research can be a very valuable experience.

Past Researchers of the Month

Dec. '03 Jana Remy
Nov. '03 Jacqueline Chattopadhyay
Oct. '03 Anshuman Chadha
Sep. '03 Ted K. Yanagihara
Aug. '03 Stephanie Domzalski
Jul. '03 Susan Milden
Jun. '03 Mai Nguyen
May '03 Chris Smith
Apr. '03 Erin Ramsey
Mar. '03 Michael Williams
Feb. '03 Emily Slusser
Jan. '03 Laleh Boroujerdi-Rad
Recent Year