Research experience leads ASU psychology student to pursue a juvenile criminal justice career

By

Robert Ewing

Behind Greg Chase's bright, helpful smile is an Arizona State University psychology student who is determined to make a difference.

Chase is studying psychology and family and human development. He works as a student researcher with Thao Ha, assistant professor of psychology and director of the Healthy Experiences Across Relationships and Transitions lab (@HEART), and Nancy Gonzales, a Foundation Professor of psychology, dean of natural sciences and director of the Bridges/Puentes Lab.

The @HEART Lab studies how romantic relationship experiences affect emotions and behavior using tools like videotaped interviews and electroencephalography (EEG) recordings of brain activity in couples. The lab recently published work looking at how events during childhood, adolescence and early adulthood can create a cascade effect leading to unhealthy adult relationships. In the @HEART lab, Chase helped collect simultaneous EEG recordings from romantic couples, called dyadic EEGs.

“Seeing the direct impact your research can have within the community is so inspiring.”
— ASU student Greg Chase

“Greg has assisted in the acquisition of dyadic EEG recordings of romantic couples participating in a three-hour lab experiment. He is a reliable member of our team and cares about the value of his work and his contribution to our lab and its research,” Ha said. “Greg is also an inquisitive, positive and self-motivated individual. His interpersonal skills are matched by his overall aptitude of his work in the lab.” 

The Bridges/Puentes Lab, led by Gonzales, studies how to prevent alcohol-abuse problems in adolescents. The lab recently showed that a family-based intervention given to seventh-graders attending Title 1 schools was protective against underage drinking. Chase helped with questionnaires for the participants, as well as collecting saliva samples to measure cortisol levels. He also acted as the lead research assistant who works with the in-school assessment supervisors and conducts interviews with caregivers.

“Greg is one of our best students — smart, accomplished and quick to learn everything he is asked to do," Gonzales said. "On top of it all, Greg is a natural leader and has tremendous skills to work with others in a team environment. His supervisors love to work with him, as do his lab teammates and the students he has worked with on our project. This winning combination will take him far.”   

Last summer, Chase worked as an intern with the Arizona Juvenile Court and said the experience laid the foundation for his goal to pursue a doctorate in clinical psychology. He wants to work as a research director in the juvenile court system, both to conduct research and develop intervention programs.

“Seeing the direct impact your research can have within the community is so inspiring,” Chase said.

In addition to his research, Chase helps other undergraduate students through his work with the Department of Psychology academic advising office. He helps students with problems like choosing classes, figuring out when to study and finding a tutor. Chase is an avid fan of ASU athletics and also works as part of the game operations staff at many ASU sporting events, including basketball.

“Greg is a proven student leader in the Department of Psychology. Greg is someone who has taken control of his education and created opportunities for himself along the way that support his own personal growth as well as his professional growth,” said Dawn Phelps, assistant director of academic services in the Department of Psychology.

We asked Chase some questions about his experience and future plans.

Question: What is your hometown?

Answer: San Diego.

Q: What was your “aha” moment, when you realized you wanted to study the field you majored in? 

A: I decided to major in psychology when I was a junior in high school. I took a psychology and human development course that inspired me to become a psychologist because I thought it would be the best way to have an impact on the community. 

Q: What’s something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you, or changed your perspective?

A: While at ASU, I have learned the importance of taking charge of your own learning. There are great professors here who do a lot of amazing research and public work, and it is important to connect with professors to discover your passions and interests. At ASU, I had the opportunity to work alongside some amazing scientists in their labs, and these experiences helped me develop a passion for research. 

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: I chose ASU because it was far from home but was still close enough to go home often. After researching the psychology program, I decided it was the best choice for me academically.

Q: Which professor taught you the most important lesson while at ASU?

A: In my sophomore year, I took a class called CDE 312: Adolescence taught by Dr. Justin Jager. The class was always very interesting, mainly because of Dr. Jager’s passion for the material. Dr. Jager has inspired me to follow what I am passionate about and to make it into a career. 

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?

A: My biggest piece of advice I have for students who are still in school is to be open to every experience because you never know what good can come out of it.  Before college, I never thought that I would want to do psychological research but now that I have done it, I want to keep doing it as a career. 

Q: What is your favorite spot on campus, whether for studying, meeting friends or just thinking about life?

A: My favorite spot on campus is Wells Fargo Arena because I have so many good memories working basketball games with my boss, who has provided so much leadership and inspiration. 

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: My plan after graduation is to enroll in a clinical psychology or law and psychology doctorate program. I want to continue doing research and eventually become a research director in a juvenile court system.  

Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?

A: The problem I would want to solve is the lack of mental health resources available to veterans after they return home. A significant amount of my family has served in the military, and I know just how little mental health resources are readily available to veterans. I think it would be amazing to be able to provide programs that help support veterans in their transition back to civilian life so that they do not fall into unemployment or homelessness.