Deborah (Debbie) O'Donnell

Student involvement in my research

Group gathers for a mealStudents are actively involved in my research in a number of capacities. Some students do research in the form of St. Mary’s Projects, others complete for-credit Directed Research, some volunteer in my research lab, and some are paid research assistants. Two of my former St. Mary’s Project students won prestigious college-wide SMP awards. Many of my students, especially those who study abroad, conduct field research in the communities and cultures in which they live.

A number of students who carry out research with me present their findings at national and regional scientific meetings, including the American Psychological Association Annual Meeting, the Association for Psychological Science Annual Meeting, and the Eastern Psychological Association Annual Meeting. This provides very valuable experience for graduate school and post-college jobs.

Map of The Gambia

If you are interested in pursuing psychology directed research in The Gambia, you can e-mail me to talk more about the many fascinating possibilities.

Psychology in West Africa
Summer 2010
7 weeks of experiential learning


Here are examples of some recent student conference presentations. Student names are in bold.


*Adamson, A. & O’Donnell, D. A. (August 2008). Measuring intercultural sensitivity among Japanese and American college students. Poster to be presented at the 2008 annual meeting of the American Psychological Association, Boston.

Hughes, C. & O’Donnell, D. A. (August 2008). Does study abroad impact undergraduates’ attitudes about international education? Presented at the 2008 annual meeting of the American Psychological Association, Boston.

Hammond, A. & O’Donnell, D. A. (May 2007). Appraisal of goal progress and motivation in a mental health rehabilitation program. Presented at the 2007 annual meeting of the Association for Psychological Science, Washington, DC.

*Krebeck, A. & O’Donnell, D. A. (April 2007). Culturally influenced constructs of respect in interpersonal cross-sex relations. Poster presented at the 2007 annual meeting of the Society of Australasian Social Psychologists, Brisbane, Australia.

Leech, H. M. & O’Donnell, D. A. (April 2007). Women’s rights in the Gambia: an analysis of Gambian newspapers. Poster presented at the 2007 L. Starling Reid Undergraduate Psychology Conference, University of Virginia, Charlottesville.

Richards-Peelle, K., & O’Donnell, D. A. (October 2005). Effects of yoga on body satisfaction and body cathexis in adolescent girls. Poster presented at the 2005 annual meeting of the Mid-Atlantic Society for Psychotherapy Research, St. Mary’s City, MD.

O’Donnell, D. A., Qazi, F., Sloane, S., & Stone, H. (August 2005). Places and spaces of psychology abroad: From Gambia to Kashmir. Poster symposium presented at the 2005 annual meeting of the American Psychological Association, Washington, DC.

Roberts, W. C., & O’Donnell, D. A., Chairs (April 2005). Research narratives from FAM in the GAM to today. Panel Symposium presented at the 2005 annual meeting of the Society for Applied Anthropology, Santa Fe, NM. Student presenters include Andrew Gilman, Leslie Keffer-King, Aurore Krebeck, and Abigail Meatyard.

Toussaint, M. L., & O'Donnell, D. A. (April 2004). A case study of resilience in a young woman with Cerebral Palsy: Social support, hope, and family cohesion. Poster presented at the 2004 annual meeting of the Eastern Psychological Association, Washington, DC.

* Amechi Adamson won the 2008 college-wide Myron G. Marlay Award for Outstanding SMP in the Sciences. Aurore Krebeck won the 2005 college-wide Geneva Boone Outstanding SMP Award. Their conference presentations are based on their SMPs.


Debbie with kids"After doing research with Dr. O'Donnell on West Africa for two years I got a chance to actually go to the Gambia and experience Gambian culture first hand. One of the things that surprised me the most was how much I learned from the Gambians. Their focus on family and friends was so refreshing. Gambians always made time to say hello and help each other. After being exposed to such a profoundly different culture I had to seriously analyze some of my American values like the importance of time and efficiency. Each culture has their own strengths and weaknesses and I think that the Gambian culture's greatest strength lies in their interpersonal relationships."
-Hillary Leech '07