The Ohio State University at Newark


Piper Clark Finds Unique Opportunities at Ohio State Newark

August 1, 2022

Faculty Mentors Nurture Her Passion for Psychology

Piper Clark points to her research poster as she explains to a guest at the 2022 Ohio State Newark Research Forum.

From the moment she set foot on campus, Piper Clark could tell she belonged at The Ohio State University at Newark.

“As soon as I got there, I knew that this was where I was supposed to go,” she says. “I really like how small the campus is, how chill it is; but at the same time, it has a lot of really good opportunities.”

Even from the beginning of her freshman year, the soon-to-be junior was especially excited about her field of study, which evolved from general psychology to the more specific social psychology — a field that examines how people’s behaviors are motivated by others, Clark says, adding that “it’s just really fun to learn.”

Ohio State Newark’s small class sizes created unique learning opportunities for Clark, who came under the wing of professors like Drs. Melissa Buelow and Bradley Okdie, both of whom she credits with nurturing her interest into a viable career path.

In Okdie’s psychology lab, Clark found mentorship and advice — someone with whom she could exchange ideas and gain knowledgeable feedback. The associate professor of psychology offered to meet with Clark to talk about graduate school before they’d ever met face-to-face.

“I feel like I've never had a person believe in me the way that he does,” Clark says.

Latching onto Clark’s passion for psychology, Buelow invited Clark to join her at a Midwestern Psychology Association conference in April and even offered to let Clark give a presentation there in front of specialists in her field — an opportunity for which she is exceedingly grateful.

“That experience not only validated that this is something I wanted to do, but it also allowed me to get the chance to present research, which I feel is very important,” Clark says.

Thanks to their investment, Clark is well on her way to forging a path in the field of social psychology that extends well beyond her time at Ohio State Newark.

During the 2021-22 school year, Clark’s research and interest earned two separate opportunities: A $6,000 undergraduate research scholarship, awarded for her thesis research proposal regarding how implicit gender bias affects decision-making, and acceptance into the 2022 Undergraduate Research Apprentice Program.

Offered through the Columbus campus of Ohio State, the apprentice program is “an opportunity to not only start on my thesis project, but also gain research experience and really immerse myself into what it's like to be an experimental psychologist and learn the skills that I need,” Clark says.

During the paid apprenticeship, Clark works 38 hours a week on various tasks aimed to enhance her research skills and further develop her thesis project. Admission into the program is competitive, and Clark is grateful for the opportunities it will create — as well as for Buelow’s role in helping her secure it.

“I really think (Buelow) has given me so many great opportunities. I feel like I can't even put into words how thankful I am for it,” Clark says.

As she continues to delve into social psychology, Clark’s prospects for the future are bright. She hopes one day to attend graduate school and continue her research, becoming tenured faculty and mentoring students as she herself has been mentored by faculty at Ohio State Newark.

“They’ve given me so much, I feel like I have to do that, too,” she says.