This is the third of a 5-part series featuring CoSM's Top Scholars. The College of Science & Mathematics takes great pride in highlighting our talented students.
Joshua Sensenbaugh, Top Scholar for the Department of Psychology is featured in this article.
After completing his first high school psychology class Joshua was hooked. He stated, "I fell in love with how the brain can affect behavior." And with that he set his sights on pursuing a career as a neurologist.
Joshua transferred to Wright State University his sophomore year for financial reasons and to be closer to family. Half-way through his sophomore year, he became interested in clinical psychology, which is a specialty that assesses and treats mental, emotional and behavioral disorders. During his junior year he participated in a clinical psychology practicum with Wright State psychology lecturer Dr. Robert Gordon. Joshua worked with a team from Gordon's private practice in an autism clinic. The experience was a game changer as that is when Joshua decided to pursue a career as a clinical neuropsychologist, specializing in pediatrics, working with children struggling with developmental disorders.
As the lab manager for the Hennessy-Schiml lab, Joshua works with animal models to study behavior and the interaction between physiological factors, social behavior, and environmental influences. Most of their basic studies use guinea pigs as subjects. Guinea pigs are ideal for this work as they show evidence of having a complex social system, with the young displaying behaviors of attachment to their mothers. And like in humans and other primates, social factors have a significant impact on the nervous system and hormonal responses. They are interested in how stressors, like periods of social isolation affect behavior. The lab depends heavily on undergraduate research assistants to complete this work.
Some of Joshua's favorite classes were his psychology capstone courses like Animal Behavior, Clinical Psychology, and the Psychobiology of Stress. He stated in his recent student profile, "I loved how I was able to discuss complex topics while getting to write academic research papers...they prepared me for the type of classes I will be taking in graduate school." Along with tougher courses, Joshua encourages students to seek research experience to expand the classroom knowledge of science. By doing research, students learn how innovations are inspired, tested and possibly validated. He continued, "it is nice to feel like you are contributing to the scientific community through your creativity, innovation, and hard work."
Joshua built on his research experience by taking advantage of an opportunity to study abroad in Poland last summer. The trip was organized by Dr. Michal Kraszpulski, instructor in the department of Psychology and the department of Neuroscience, Cell Biology and Physiology. The research focus was animal behavior. Students conducted research in the Gdańsk zoo on lions, giraffes, zebras, monkeys and tapirs. The experience provided a rich experience working in a broader international scientific community.
When Joshua isn't in class or doing research he works as a tutor at Sugarcreek Educational Concepts. And he makes time to spend with his girlfriend, who recently became his fiancée. She graduated spring 2017 from Wright State's Organizational Leadership undergraduate program. They enjoy movies, at the theater rather than viewing at home to experience of the full sensory perception of theater viewing. He has a cat, and also plays disc golf.
Joshua said he was surprised to be nominated for the 2017 Top Scholar for the Department of Psychology, and was extremely grateful as it validated that he was on the right track to achieve his goals. "Going to Wright State was one of the best choices I made because of the Department of Psychology. I have found faculty members and advisors that motivated me to do my best, but I also found a career path that I am passionate about."
When asked where he sees himself in 5 years, he has earned his Psy.D. and will be continuing his training in a postdoctoral fellowship in pediatric neuropsychology.