Psychology Doctoral Student David Lewis 2009 Update

David LewisThis semester, my IE Pre-Grad intern Daniel Conroy-Beam and I worked together on multiple projects, focusing mainly on an evolutionary approach to friendship. Our study is based on the hypothesis that friends trade benefits with one another in the form of either direct benefits with direct costs ("altruism") or with indirect benefits derived from innate characteristics ("positive externalities").

Dan's duties in running this project have included contributing to hypothesis generation, discussion mediation, and generation and distribution of study pilot materials. Simultaneously, he has been contributing valuably to other projects outside of the friendship umbrella. The work pace was slow at first, but has accelerated at breathtaking pace due to his invaluable opportunity to both learn from and teach other research assistants as well as his astonishing ability to absorb Evolutionary Psychology information. Starting this internship as a Rhetoric major with no knowledge of the field, Dan has evolved into a talented aspiring Evolutionary Psychologist.

At the end of the semester, Dan and I traveled to a conference in California to present some of our work on a previous project. Dan was in his element, surrounded by the top scholars of the field. He once again surprised me with his thirst for knowledge and critical eye. His unique experience throughout the internship helped him to develop an ability to understand comparable to a dedicated scholar. The internship clearly gave him not only a library of static information (which one could get sitting in any classroom), but a new set of skills and thought patterns he can use to solve even novel problems.

From his striking transformation I can see the benefits the IE Pre-Grad internship has had on Daniel. He has not only had unique insight into the life of a graduate student-both the pain of relentless work and the joy of new understanding-but he has also gained a new set of tools which he continues to apply to all of the problems he encounters. The internship has helped to shape Dan into both a better researcher and a better student.

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