Addicted to Love of Research

Meet Hannah Fender, senior Honors College psychology major who can’t get enough of research

Kent State Today is following a group of Golden Flashes for the 2023-'24 academic year chronicling their efforts and successes during the fall and spring semesters. The group includes students, faculty and administrators who are at different places on their Kent State University journey.

A Year with a Flash

As a psychology major in Kent State University’s Honors College, someone had suggested to Hannah Fender that she should get involved in research as an undergraduate student. 

At Kent State, undergraduate students have numerous opportunities to take on research of all varieties, and students are encouraged not to wait until they are seniors or graduate-level students to get involved. 

So, Fender signed up in the research lab of Clare Stacey, Ph.D., associate professor of sociology, looking into the question of how empathy changes over time in medical students. 

That's when Fender was first bitten by the research bug. 

“I guess you could say I’m sort of addicted to research now,” Fender admits. 

Stacey said Fender’s enthusiasm for the research project was “infectious.”  

“She came to nearly every meeting with an open mind and unparalleled curiosity. Working with Hannah was a joy,” she said. 

Next for Fender came her honors thesis in the Spring of 2023, working with Phillip Hamrick, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology exploring the relationship between declarative memory and vocabulary development in young children, performing meta-analysis from various articles on the subject to derive a statistical conclusion. That research is ongoing and will continue throughout the academic year until Fender defends her research in the spring of 2024. 

Hannah Fender presented the work she has completed so far on her  honors thesis meta-analysis project of relationship between declarative memory and vocabulary at the undergraduate research symposium.
Hannah Fender presented the work she has completed so far on her honors thesis meta-analysis project of relationship between declarative memory and vocabulary at the undergraduate research symposium.

This semester, she’s also working in the lab of Dana Miller-Cotto, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychology, who studies whole number bias and mathematics in children. Fender’s specific project for the lab is studying executive functioning in children with ADHD, which was a natural transition from her summer internship working at the Cleveland Clinic’s summer treatment program for children with ADHD.  

Hannah Fender had an internship at the summer treatment program, a Cleveland Clinic summmer camp for children with ADHD, held at John Caroll University. She is pictured here with the other counselors from my group during "theme week" celebrating "Maui Monday."

“So, I’m really familiar with children who have ADHD and how they function,” Fender said, explaining her enthusiasm for the study.

Miller-Cotto said Fender has been an excellent addition to her lab. 

“Hannah’s natural curiosity and hard work have been a gift to our lab, and we’re lucky to have her,” she said.  

Fender, 20, is in her third year at Kent State. Thanks to taking 11 AP classes in high school, she is classified as a senior and expects to graduate in May 2024. In her psychology major, she has a concentration in counseling careers and is pursuing minors in Spanish and creative writing.  

A native of Chagrin Falls, Ohio, Fender graduated from Kenston High School, and was not sure what university she wanted to attend. Her father, Adam Fender, BSE '98, a middle school principal, graduated from Kent State and encouraged her to consider his alma mater, but she was certain she did not want to attend. 

“I wanted to do something different,” she said.  

Hannah Fender, bottom left corner, with a group of students from Kent State's Newman Center, gets ready to take part in the 2023 Homecoming Parade.

As the oldest of seven children, Fender’s youngest sibling is just 8, and she hopes to be able to remain close to her six brothers and sisters, so Kent’s location did play a role in her final decision, as did its affordability. 

“I was like, alright, I guess I’ll go there then,” Fender said. “And then I couldn’t have been happier. I can’t imagine not choosing this place. The opportunities they have for psych students are amazing.” 

POSTED: Friday, October 27, 2023 09:11 AM
Updated: Monday, November 6, 2023 02:00 PM
Lisa Abraham