Terziyan Is Her Name, Research Is Her Game

  • Treysi Terziyan '10
  • Terziyan works with a child during a research project in the Child Development Lab.

Ask Treysi Terziyan '10 about the three posters she presented at the College's spring research fair, and you might not get the answer you expected.

"I don't remember which three you're talking about," she says.

Terziyan, a native of Turkey, finds the question difficult to answer because she has turned her undergraduate experience at Franklin & Marshall into a research extravaganza. In addition to three posters last spring, she presented another at the autumn research fair, and has worked on several other major academic projects. The psychology and scientific and philosophical studies of the mind (SPM) double major plans to enroll in graduate school in 2011 with the goal of becoming a professor.

"I love doing research, I don't know if you can tell," Terziyan says, explaining one of her many projects in the Child Development Lab in the Barshinger Life Sciences & Philosophy Building. "In psychology, we're trying to understand something we can't see. We can't sit in a lab and look under a microscope. I love trying to be clever in developing new ways to study what we're thinking about."

Terziyan wanted to attend college in a small town after spending most of her life in one of the largest cities in the world, Istanbul. She heard about F&M at an international college fair and decided to make the trip to Lancaster after reading some of the College's admission materials.

"In the catalog, Old Main looked bright orange," she says. "I thought, what a fun school to attend. I was so disappointed when I came here and it wasn't bright orange."

Adjusting to American culture was a challenge that Terziyan took in stride. She had to get used to "personal space" that Americans tend to value more than people do in Turkey. "Once, I pulled up a chair to join a circle of my friends, and people moved their chairs away," she says. "It's just a cultural difference. People in Turkey like to be close to others."

As a sophomore, Terziyan launched her research career in a class taught by Michael Anderson, assistant professor of psychology. She studied change blindness—a phenomenon in which a person fails to detect changes in imagery—in a cross-cultural project that took her to Bilkent University in Ankara over spring break. The results of her study indicated that Turkish people are similar to Americans in their perception of small changes in images.

"Turkish people are from the Middle East, and Americans don't consider themselves to be anything like us," Terziyan says. "But we perceive things the same way. Who knew?"

In the summer of 2008, Terziyan remained in Lancaster to work in the Child Development Lab with Krista Casler, assistant professor of psychology. One of her first tasks was to call parents to ask permission for their children to participate in research projects.

"On my second call, a father said, 'No, he can't,'" Terziyan says. "He was very aggressive, and told me that his wife had left him and took his son with her. And remember, I was new at this. So I went through the worst right away."

Terziyan's research blossomed in her junior year, during which she produced three significant projects:

  • "Can Artificial Life be Closed to Efficient Cause?" (with Anthony Chemero, associate professor of psychology and SPM)
  • "Do Bilinguals Have Different Sets of Concepts for Each Language?" (with Anderson)
  • "Do Toddlers View Tools Normatively?" (with Kimberly Greene '09 and Casler)

Terziyan capped her junior year with the Edward S. Reed Prize for scholarly excellence in SPM, which she shared with Sarah Coughlin '09.

Terziyan produced another research project this fall, titled "One Tool, One Function: Functional Fixedness in Preschoolers," also with Casler. She is on track to graduate one semester early, in December.

"Treysi has two great strengths: enthusiasm and creativity," Anderson says. "Neither would work without the other. Finding a student with this combination is rare, indeed."

As Terziyan waits for children to arrive to participate in studies in the Child Development Lab, she takes a minute to put her undergraduate experience into perspective.

"You know, I think F&M is the best thing that ever happened to me."

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