• Sultan: For this student researcher in psychology, the eyes have it


    Although the Marching Band drum line first attracted Sultan Magruder to IUP, the opportunity to do exciting psychological research on eye gazes and empathy was what really "snared" him.

    “I'm excited about this project because I'm becoming an expert in a topic in psychology”

    It was the IUP Marching Band’s drum line that attracted Sultan Magruder to IUP. And, while he joined the band and has enjoyed it and performing in vocal ensembles, he found his major course of study the item that has made him a happy and productive student.

    The senior Psychology major has found a niche that is leading him to graduate school, to which he already has been accepted, and his eventual goal of earning a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology and becoming a licensed psychologist. He also is pursuing a minor in Child Development and Family Relations.

    Sultan credits his success to hard work—he said his mother instilled in him that nothing would be handed to him. He also has learned along the way that experimentation is helpful.

    A McNair Scholar, he completed an internship with Indiana County Children and Youth Services. The experience confirmed for him that he wanted to become a psychologist rather than a social worker.

    “It was very enlightening and provided me a deeper insight into the problems that plague families, but more specifically, children. I was able to shadow different social workers as they went to client’s homes, schools, and treatment facilities,” he said. “I did this internship because I was interested in this area of work and wanted to get a better look at what I would experience.

    “It really opened my eyes and showed me that there is a lot that needs to be done in the area of family. It pushed me into wanting more education—to be able to better impact this area.”

    Sultan now is digging into an original research project that focuses on individual differences in perception that people have in situations of interdependency. His study is examining how empathy and the ability to discern mental states from eye gazes influence competitive or cooperative interaction between people.

    “I am excited about this project because I am actually becoming an expert in a particular topic, he said. “One of the greatest parts about this endeavor is the collaboration with my professor [John Mills]. His insight and support are inspiring.”

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