The Columns

David G. Elmes Pathfinder Prize in Psychology Awarded to Emma Swabb ’16

— by on January 18th, 2016

Emma Swabb, a Washington and Lee University senior from Erie, Pennsylvania, has been awarded the 2015 David G. Elmes Pathfinder Prize in Psychology.

The Elmes Pathfinder Prize recognizes a student who has shown extraordinary promise in psychological science or in the application of psychological science in the professions through outstanding scholarship in basic or applied psychology.

Swabb, a psychology major and poverty and human capability studies minor, has conducted research with Professor Julie Woodzicka in the field of social psychology regarding humor and prejudice through the manipulation of racist and sexist jokes. She has also served as a teaching assistant to Professors Wythe Whiting and Dan Johnson for a psychology statistics course.

Combining her interests in poverty studies, race and criminal justice, Swabb’s senior thesis investigates how socioeconomic status, skin tone and racial labeling impact mock jurors’ judgments of criminal suspects. During the winter term of 2016 she will complete an internship at Western State Hospital, an inpatient psychiatric hospital in Staunton, Virginia. Swabb will work with a clinical and forensic psychologist to explore her interest in psychopathology and its interaction with the criminal justice system.

Swabb serves as a captain of the Washington and Lee swim team and as a Leading Edge Trip Leader for Appalachian Adventure for incoming first-year students. She belongs to Omicron Delta Kappa Leadership Honor Society, Psi Chi Psychology National Honor Society and Beta Beta Beta National Biological Honor Society.

She has completed two summer internships through the Shepherd Internship Program, working as a social work intern in Atlanta at the Georgia Justice Project and as a teaching assistant at the Washington Jesuit Academy in Washington. She is the impact area leader for Strong Returns, a branch of Nabors Service League committed to connecting student volunteers to service opportunities in the criminal justice and prisoner reentry systems in Rockbridge County. For the past two years, Swabb has served as co-president of SPEAK, a W&L student group that strives to raise awareness of sexual misconduct on campus, support survivors and focus on prevention through active bystander intervention training.

After graduation, Swabb hopes to obtain a fellowship to work at a legal non-profit for a few years before attending law school. She has considered attending graduate school for psychology or obtaining a dual degree in law school.

The Elmes Pathfinder Prize was established in 2007. It derives from the Elmes Fund, a permanently endowed fund that honors David G. Elmes, emeritus professor of psychology at W&L. The many alumni, colleagues and friends who benefited from Elmes’ commitment to learning during his 40-year career as a scientist, teacher and mentor at W&L created the endowment.

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