Posters on the Hill

Michelle Flynn (left) and Dana Verhoeven (right) will represent the creative team led by Marissa Shuffler (center) at the 20th Annual Posters on the Hill session in Washington D.C.
Image Credit: Marissa Shuffler

CLEMSON — Clemson University psychology students will present research sponsored by NASA at the 20th annual Posters on the Hill session on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., April 19 and 20. The Council on Undergraduate Research selected the team for inclusion in the event  to demonstrate the importance of its research and give students the chance to meet one-on-one with interested members of Congress.

Undergraduate student Michelle Flynn of Clemson and graduate doctoral student Dana Verhoeven of Morrisville, North Carolina, will represent a Creative Inquiry team led by Marissa Shuffler, an assistant professor of psychology. Shuffler said potential benefits to presenting this research to members of Congress could provide lasting benefits for the team and its research.

“We want to investigate the dynamic of teams in confined environments as these will be the conditions NASA astronauts face on their proposed 2030 mission to Mars,” Shuffler said. “Posters on the Hill is an exciting opportunity to gain more public recognition for this issue.”

The title of the team’s project is “Moving Beyond Traditional Leadership to Build Highly Functioning Autonomous Spaceflight Teams.” The research focuses on leadership issues in spaceflight and has included data from NASA’s HERA laboratory, which features a simulated spaceflight environment.

Shuffler’s team is also collecting data with student teams at Clemson University using a computer simulation that provides a controlled environment for examining leadership. Flynn has served as an undergraduate lead on the project and will continue her duties on the team as she joins Clemson’s industrial/organizational psychology graduate program in fall 2016.

The team has reviewed crew behavior on documented, long-duration ocean races as a point of reference. From this research, they will be able to analyze critical incidents and recommend training efforts that will enhance leadership behaviors that defy traditional hierarchical structures.

“Spreading awareness of this project to congress could potentially aid our efforts by demonstrating its value,” Shuffler said. “Our research has already shown to be valuable to students, the university and the community, and further findings hold great promise for NASA.”

Posters on the Hill helps raise awareness of the high-quality research undergraduate students undertake, the impact of this research on students’ professional preparation, and the importance of continued investment in and expansion of undergraduate research support. Hundreds of attendees, including legislators, their staffers and federal program representatives, come to Posters on the Hill each year.