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Psychology Alumna Earns Top Presentation at CSU Research Competition

Staying dedicated to the Learn by Doing motto of Cal Poly, alumna Leah Thomas (Psychology, ’17) earned the top presentation in the undergraduate Behavioral and Social Sciences category at the CSU Research Competition for her presentation and paper, “Meta-Analysis of Internalizing Outcomes in Neurofibromatosis 1.” Held May 4-5 in Sacramento, the 32nd annual competition drew participants from all 23 campuses of the California State University system.

Psychology Alumna Leah Thomas
Leah Thomas

One in 3,000 people across the world has been diagnosed with Neurofibromatosis 1 (NF1). Thomas’s research examines the psychological effects of internalizing emotions, such as depression and feelings of loneliness, caused by living with the disease.

“I think [the values of] dedication and patience have paid off the most,” said Thomas. “The families and the individuals [are] invited to this conference, so that they can firsthand experience and learn what researchers have been working on, and the direct communication between the people who are affected and the researchers… has been very, very special.”

Thomas started working in the NF1 lab in summer 2016 and started working on the NF1 internalizing meta analysis in winter 2017. She is especially interested in the intersection of medicine and psychology.

“Not being afraid to say ‘I can do this,’ dedicating my time to do it, and asking professors to see the process has helped. That’s what I appreciate about Cal Poly — the aspect of practical experience, whether it’s through classes or through research internships,” said Thomas.

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