Meet a Lucerna Author: Hannah Doggett

My Lucerna project is about what factors predict the development of PTSD. Interestingly, we found guilt to have significant predictive power in that, as guilt increases, it predicts a decrease in PTSD symptoms.

Why are you interested in this topic?

My grandpa, also my hero, fought in Vietnam. When I was a kid, I cherished “story time with Pawpaw.” He would tell me about his life and fun times in the military, as a state trooper, about my grandma and parents, etc. It wasn’t until I got older he began to tell me some of the harder stories—stories of his battle with PTSD, being spit on and called names when he returned home in uniform, how none of his doctors believed PTSD was something to treat or diagnose, and how he suffered alone for too long before he found people who did believe him and helped him. As I learned more about his life, I researched the history of PTSD and what we know about this diagnosis. It was from this research and my grandpa’s stories and struggles that I become motivated to study PTSD and trauma in adults to help people who are suffering.

 

What have been the benefits and challenges of this project?

First, the benefits have far outweighed the challenges. The experience I gained during this project has put me ahead of several of my colleagues in graduate school. I met and worked with some of the most skilled and knowledgeable students and professors I know at UMKC. I was able to present at local, regional, and international conferences where I gained public speaking experience and learned from some of the leading experts in their fields. Most importantly, I built relationships with individuals I would not have if I not done this project. The most challenging part was to be both organized and flexible. Research never goes as planned. That’s the most important lesson I learned and it taught me to “go with the flow.”

 

What is your advice for students who are interested in publishing their work in Lucerna?

Never be afraid to ask other professors or students for help or advice. It never hurts to have additional eyes reading and critiquing your paper. One major recommendation is to present at the UMKC annual symposium. Because it’s a smaller setting where you’ll know a large number of students and professors, they will hold back less than people at an international conference who don’t know you. Take notes when they give advice and rework the problem if you need to. Never shy away from critiques, even if it means more work for you.

 

What are your professional plans or goals?

I’m currently in the MA psychology program at West Texas A & M University (WTAMU). The next step for me will be a PhD program in clinical psychology and then a post-doctoral internship with the Air Force for three years. Then I will either continue to work as a clinical psychologist for the military and pursue a master’s in psychopharmacology so I can gain prescribing powers, or I will leave the military and teach. I love teaching so I think I will end up doing it at some point in my life.