By: Maggie Warnick
This fall with the return to in-person classes in full swing, it has become easier to notice new faces among the St. Mary’s faculty. One of these faces is Dr. Elizabeth Enright in the Psychology department. Enright received her PhD from the University of Washington and came to SMCM after her postdoctoral work at the University of Illinois. “I’ve kind of been all over!” she noted, and went on to say that she was drawn to St. Mary’s for its “great campus where…students are really involved in research,” especially with student St. Mary’s Projects and all the opportunities they give for hands-on research. “The psych department is the best!” she exclaimed, “…students should know there are all these people they can do research with and gain experience and everyone is doing really cool things.”
As far as her own research goes, she currently has three directed research students who are starting up studies that look into the understanding that children have of exclusion of others. Once children are able to be vaccinated, they plan to bring babies and children into the lab to study what they know about their social world and their social-cognitive development overall. Topics Enright plans to research include prosocial behavior and what influences childrens’ choice to help others or not, early moral understanding and biases children possess, whether social class, gender or race-oriented.
This research with students is the aspect of being a professor Enright likes the most. In working collaboratively with students, there is the opportunity to see students grow as researchers and work with them to discover new things. “It’s awesome to see how much students grow in that experience,” she stated, “from not ever conducting research before to becoming experts on a specific topic they’ve read a lot about..they might be the premier expert in that specific thing because we could be the only ones to have a study on that specific question.”
This semester, Enright is teaching both Lifespan Development and Infant and Child Development, and in the spring she will be teaching a moral development course in addition to Lifespan Development. She tries to keep her classes exciting, doing “a mix of different things, giving slides and content, mixing it up with group activities..so it’s not the same thing every day.” Along with this, she likes to use empirical research articles to give students a good grip on what is happening in the world of research as well as an opportunity to analyze and critique the article and learn that no article is perfect. “Every article has its flaws, that’s why we need to do a lot of different studies to come to conclusions….or to inform society through research.”
Her efforts to vary her teaching style seem to be appreciated by her students. Nicolette Lacona, a junior at St. Mary’s who is taking Infant and Child Development this semester, said of Enright “I personally really enjoy her class. I think she has a positive energy each class, and she will definitely work with you to explain things multiple ways…she tries really hard to encourage and to make everyone understand what she’s teaching and to get everyone as excited as she is, which is very engaging.”
If you see Professor Enright in Goodpaster Hall or on the path, be sure to welcome her to our campus!