Franklin & Marshall College Franklin & Marshall College

Margaret Clark, Ph.D., '73

Psychology

I entered F&M with no particular career goal nor interest in graduate school, a very quiet personality and no knowledge that psychology was a science. I planned (and completed) a government major. Along the way a fellow student talked me into taking a psychology course. Then the dedicated teachers and scientists in the psychology department, a group who had just designed and built their own laboratories (including space for student scientists-to-be), captured me and set me on a career path that changed and enriched my life.

I uttered not a word in class but wrote good papers and did well on exams. My professors noticed. Some (warmly) teased me; all encouraged me to speak up. They invited me to join them in research. They offered me a job in the department. As I completed work they encouraged me to write it up and send it off for publication. My first three publications arose from my undergraduate research at F&M, and one paper continues to be well cited to this day. Thanks go to Professor Isen for this. One of the three papers didn’t even include the professor who guided my research as an author. This extraordinary and unselfish mentor, Dr. Wist, encouraged me to be the senior author on the paper and guided me in its preparation even after he had moved to Germany to be a faculty member at another institution. I mastered statistics and computer programming, reluctantly but (eventually!) confidently under the guidance of yet another extraordinary mentor, Dick Lehman. Chuck Stewart served as a model of a master teacher with high standards to which he expected his students to live up and with a willingness to help them do so. These people shaped me as a researcher and as a teacher to my own students.

I’ve now been a psychologist for almost forty years first at Carnegie Mellon University and now at Yale. When at F&M, I did not understand just how extraordinary the faculty’s willingness to invest in me was. It’s telling, I think, that when I arrived to join a psychology faculty of about twenty-five at Yale, I found that three of us had been undergraduates at Franklin & Marshall: Wendell (Tex) Garner, then the James Rowland Angell emeritus professor at Yale and a cognitive psychologist known for work on auditory perception, Karen Frick a behavioral neuroscientist conducting ground breaking work on hormones and me, a person who studies emotion and social interaction. (Note the diversity of areas. Its origin is the diversity of research interests represented in the psychology department at F&M.) At the time, some expressed surprise at the coincidence of us all having been undergrads at the same small college -- F&M. It wasn’t a coincidence.

  • Alumni Profile: Margaret Clark, Ph.D., '73