This year’s Psychfest channelled hippie style and a Woodstock vibe

Psychapalooza: Peace, Love, and Psychology

Groovy moods and psychedelic vibes ruled the cosmos on Friday, May 3, 2019, as the Department of Psychology celebrated their annual Psychfest.

For this year’s theme “Psychapalooza: One day of Peace, Love, and Psychology,” participants dressed up in tie-dye shirts, flower crowns and bell bottom jeans. It was, as one would say, totally out of sight.

“I thought Psychfest 2019 was an exciting mix of science and fun,” said Susan Birch, associate professor of UBC Psychology.

Birch, who was the supervisor on the organizing committee, alluded to the free-spirited energy that encompassed the Woodstock era with many faculty and staff also joining in on the fun.

“It was especially awesome to see a lot of the grad students and faculty members embrace the 60s and 70s theme of the day,” Birch added. “It was a great opportunity to hear about the exciting new research developments from the various areas of our department.”

“Our version of a summer music festival.”
Psychfest Organizer

Kate Kysow, a PhD student and one of five event organizers, worked closely with Birch to ensure the event was a success. Kysow says that the team had lots of fun planning the event which included a group photo, groovy games, a surprise flash mob and some great tunes.

“We chose the theme Psychapalooza because we wanted to throw our own version of a summer musical festival. We thought everyone, especially the faculty, would enjoy a throwback to the Woodstock days.”

Both hosts, Drake Levere and Kyle Gooderham, also dressed for the occasion. By projecting their inner flower child, attendees were able to hang loose and let their freak flag fly.

“I think events like PsychFest help generate and maintain a sense of community within the psychology department,” Kysow said. “…which is very important to keeping morale up!”

“Totally committed to the theme of the event.”
Associate Professor, UBC Psychology

Sheila Woody, director of UBC Psychology’s Graduate Program, issued several fun awards at the end of the day. Specifically, “Best World Implications” or the aptly-named award, “Wow.”

“There was [also] an award for the best faculty introduction which went to Catherine Winstanley who totally committed to the theme of the event,” Birch said.

During the event, Winstanley shunned her birth name in favour of the cosmic name, Moonbeam. She then went on to name her student, Brittney Russell, Starflower.

Moments like these are in stark contrast to Psychfest when it first began. Peter Suedfeld, professor emeritus of UBC Psychology, established Psychfest during his time as head of the department in the early 1980s.

“We were finding that new grad students needed a boost in getting their research started and we wanted to encourage them to get into research as soon as possible,” Suedfeld said. “Psychfest also gave them early experience in presenting talks to an audience, which many had never done before.”

Over three decades later, it’s now helmed by the Psychology Graduate Student Council who have organized a total of 13 years of Psychfest themes ranging from Mardi Gras to Star Wars.

“It is truly one of the best days on the psychology department calendar.”
Director of UBC Psychology’s Graduate Program

Other award recipients included Sophie Smit who won the Stanley Coren award for “Most Outstanding Thesis.” Smit, along with Audrey Aday, also won the Canadian Psychological Association (CPA) Certificate of Academic Excellence for their master’s thesis.

Meanwhile Jennifer Lay won the same award for her doctoral thesis, and Sara Colalillo accepted both the Belkin Award and British Columbia Psychological Association (BCPA) Award for outstanding dissertation and achievements in Clinical Psychology.

“What I love about PsychFest is being able to learn about the great work being done in our department in completely different topic areas,” Woody said. “It is truly one of the best days on the psychology department calendar.”

-Dannielle Piper