2020 Senior Spotlight: Honors graduate takes the lead on evolutionary psychology research

May 15, 2020

Tori Short and Dr. Proffitt Leyva stand in front of Short’s research poster.

Honors graduate Tori Short came to TCU as a pre-med student with an interest in neuroscience.

Her freshman year, she volunteered to serve as an undergraduate research assistant for Dr. Sarah Hill’s lab and discovered a passion for social and evolutionary psychology. That’s also where she met Honors Lecturer Dr. Randi Proffitt Leyva, who was serving as Dr. Hill’s graduate assistant at the time.

“I remember thinking, ‘I want to be like Dr. Hill and Dr. Proffitt Leyva!’” she reflected.

Short presents at the Human Behavior and Evolutionary Society (HBES) conference at Boston University.

Short’s decision to serve as a lab assistant turned into a passion project and four years of intensive work with psychology research.

In her undergraduate academic career, Short has already racked up an impressive CV. In addition to a clinical psychology internship at the UT Southwestern Moncrief Cancer Institute, she has given numerous presentations at national conferences, including being the only undergraduate to give a 15 minute solo presentation at the annual meeting of the Human Behavior and Evolutionary Society (HBES), and has even had her work published in a major academic journal, the Journal of Adolescent and Young Adult Oncology.

She credits Dr. Proffitt Leyva as a big contributor to her accomplishments, extolling the impact of her mentorship. In her last semester at TCU, Short enrolled in Dr. Proffitt Leyva’s course, “Language, Communication, & Cultural Identity: The Psychosocial Self” and said, “It was kind of like coming full circle – from meeting her as a grad assistant to taking a course from her as a lecturer.”

Short shares her research at the College of Science and Engineering annual Honors Research Symposium.

In the future, Short aspires to continue to pursue psychology research. She hopes to have her own research lab and to teach and mentor students. In the fall, she will be attending Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, Oklahoma to pursue her master’s and PhD in a combined experimental psychology program.

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