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Undergraduate ResearcHERs: Raegan Harrington

Written By: Daphne Fauber (Guest Writer)

Raegan Harrington, a senior at the University of Maine, Orono majoring in Psychology, knew she wanted to pursue a career in psychology after taking the associated Advanced Placement class in high school.

“I always wanted to help my community and make an impact, but before this course I was not sure how I might do that,” Harrington explained. “[It] made me realize that I could link my interests in psychology with my desires to help the world by becoming a clinical psychologist, making an impact through research and clinical practice.”

She did not have to wait long to begin fulfilling her dream of making an impact. Her freshman year of college, Harrington was invited to become an undergraduate research assistant in the Peer Relations Lab, a lab studying how the social relationships of young people affect health outcomes. The instructor for one of Harrington’s classes approached her about joining the lab they worked in due to her exemplary performance throughout the course, and Harrington has been in the lab since.

“Undeniably, joining a research lab was the best choice I made in terms of gaining significant research opportunities... I encourage [people] to think about their general research interests and join an active research laboratory with related research topics,” Harrington explained.

As a part of her work within the Peer Relations Lab, Harrington has used existing data to answer her own original research question about the effects of co-rumination, a phenomenon in which peers engage in repetitive, speculative, and negatively-focused problem discussion, on the health of teenagers. In order to answer her research question and assist in the research of others that work in the Peer Relations Lab, Harrington has collected observational and self-reported data from local schools and drawn on data from an already available data set, the Maine Adolescent Peer Project.

Harrington has had the opportunity to publish several peer-reviewed papers and present about the new knowledge she has helped create through her work in the Peer Relations Lab. Her contributions have been significant enough that she is now Lab Coordinator, training and supervising other undergraduate research assistants.

Harrington described her formula for success when working in a lab, “When in a research lab, it is incredibly important to be engaged, detail oriented, and clearly seeking advanced responsibility in order to gain increasingly more significant research opportunities.”

After Harrington graduates, she will be joining the Doctoral Training Program in Clinical Psychology at the University of Maine. She will be continuing her project with the current professor she works with, and will be expanding her research project on co-rumination. Harrington hopes to become a clinical psychologist where she could continue her research projects, teach classes, and be involved in clinical practices.

Harrington’s college career has revolved around research, and she has no intentions of stopping anytime soon. “I enjoy adding to the literature to create a more nuanced understanding of topics such as depression and friendship which are important to our community and global wellbeing...I enjoy that there is always more research to be done and more to learn.”

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