By Joselyne Pimentel ’16 and Huonna McCarthy ’16
Zainab Iqbal ’15, a senior in the science research program recently became the only high-school student to present at the Annual Convention of the Society for Personality Assessment held Thursday, March 5 at the Brooklyn Marriott.
Zainab’s mentor, Dr. Sara Haden, a professor of psychology at Long Island University, encouraged her to submit her project entitled “PTSD Symptoms, Aggression, and Crime Exposure in a Sample of Young Adults” to the prestigious psychological convention.
“I had to send in my application and project abstract in December. I remember there was one question where I had to indicate what degrees I had, and I don’t have any degrees, so I was afraid they weren’t going to accept me,” said Iqbal.
The nerve-wracking wait afterwards proved to be worth it. After submitting her project in December for deliberation, she received news of her admittance to the convention in February.
“I wanted Zainab to gain experience presenting her work in an academic environment and to have her project peer-reviewed by other scholars in the field,” said Zainab’s mentor, Dr. Haden. “This is what scholars in the field are doing – going to SPA and presenting their work. I wanted her to see this and be engaged in the research dialogue.”
Along with the experience of presenting her findings in front of experts of her field, she was also able to receive feedback and criticism from the experts themselves.
“I received a lot of good feedback. They asked a lot of questions and I got to talk to experts from all over the world,” said Zainab.
In addition to her admittance to the Society for Personality Assessment Convention, Zainab’s project has led her to success elsewhere. Zainab received the Intel STS Research Report award for “a well-written, college-level, journal-style research report” at the 2015 Intel Science Talent Search, an honorable mention at the 20th Annual St. Josephs College fair, and most recently has been named a semi-finalist for the New York Science and Engineering Fair, more commonly known as NYCSEF. Zainab hopes the experience with the Society for Personality Assessment will aid her in continuing her success at future competitions, such as the NYCSEF finals round being held this Tuesday March 24 at the Museum of Natural History.
“For the NYCSEF finals I know that there is going to be experts in psychology present, as opposed to just teachers. For SPA there were people that knew beyond my topic, so I think I’ll better know what to say now,” said Zainab.
When it comes to future science research students, Zainab offered a piece of advice.
“My advice to you, well I guess current sophomores, is you should really be interested in what you’re researching. Don’t let yourself be forced into something you don’t really enjoy. The more you enjoy your topic, the better your project will be because you’ll actually like working on it,” she said.