Psychology Dean's Medalist aims to understand prejudice and romantic conflict

April 1, 2022

This spring, Cora Baron was named the ASU Department of Psychology’s Dean’s Medalist. Baron is a member of four different research labs and will be pursuing a doctoral degree in social psychology.

"I’m generally interested in how people’s decisions and behaviors are informed by the environment that they are a part of, especially with regard to their relationships and communities,” Baron said. “Specifically, I aim to understand what aspects of relationships and communities affect their thoughts and attitudes about the world around them.” Portrait of ASU student Cora Baron. This spring, Cora Baron was named the ASU Department of Psychology’s Dean’s Medalist. Baron is a member of four different research labs and will be pursuing a doctoral degree in social psychology. Photo by Robert Ewing/ASU Department of Psychology Download Full Image

One of Baron’s key interests is conflict management in romantic relationships.

Conflict is an ever-present part of most romantic relationships, and the ability to communicate and navigate through conflict is often a good predictor of relationship success. Whereas healthy coping with conflict allows partners to grow closer together, unhealthy conflict management strategies or consistently negative social exchanges are associated with worse health and relationship failure.

The first lab that Baron is part of is the Evolutionary Social Cognition Lab with Foundation Professor Steven Neuberg and President’s Professor Douglas Kenrick. Neuberg is also the chair of the Department of Psychology. In this lab, the research focuses on how fundamental social motives (e.g., mating, status-striving and social affiliation) change how we think about people, how physical and social ecologies shape social behavior and culture, and a range of other questions that apply evolutionary science to understand social behavior.

“I really appreciate the evolutionary approach to social psychology — I think it's fascinating,” Baron said. “It’s been great working with both mentors because they work in really different ways that have informed my development as a researcher.”

Baron started as an undergraduate researcher in the spring semester of her freshmen year and is now the assistant manager for the lab.

“Cora represents everything we value in a young scholar. She is incredibly curious and intellectually engaged. She is very smart. She looks to see how the science can relate to real-world challenges. She works hard and she’s ambitious, in the best sense of the word. We’re really proud of all she’s accomplishing, and can’t wait to see what comes next,” Neuberg said.

Baron is presenting an honors thesis on close relationships, difficulties and the lay theories about whether those conflicts can strengthen those relationships in the long run.

“While this research was on romantic relationships, it made me think about interpersonal relationships more broadly, too,” Baron said.

She hopes to continue interpersonal relationship and emotion regulation research in graduate school.

Baron’s interest in interpersonal relationships also led her to be part of the Shiota Psychophysiology Laboratory for Affective Testing (SPLAT) lab with Associate Professor Lani Shiota.

The SPLAT lab conducts research on emotions, with emphasis on positive emotions, emotional processes in close relationships, effects of emotion on cognition and the implications of emotion for health and well-being. Shiota recently hosted a mindfulness conference with the Dalai Lama to embrace hope and compassion during times of crisis, like the pandemic and war.

“Close relationships and emotions are really closely tied together and can tell us a lot about how people interact with the social world around them, and I'm also really interested in why those relationships form and keep going through conflict,” Baron said.

The third lab that Baron is an undergraduate research assistant for is the Behavioral Alcohol Research for Clinical Advancement lab (BARCA), where research is done on alcohol-use disorders in a simulated bar. The lab’s research aims to inform both prevention and intervention efforts with contextualized research on the subjective response to alcohol in a social setting.

“I was really interested in the research done at the BARCA lab because I've met a lot of students who have experienced forms of sexual victimization and sexual harassment in college, and I wanted to see how alcohol and our perceptions of our peers kind of work together to create attitudes or behaviors about seeking or receiving sexual consent,” Baron said.

Finally, Baron’s fourth research lab isn’t even in Arizona. As part of the The Leadership Alliance, she was invited to Chicago to participate in a research lab at the University of Chicago’s Center for Decision Research with Associate Professor Ed O’Brien. Following the conclusion of the summer project, Baron stayed with the lab and continued to conduct research on how people seek out or give advice to others.

“While all of my research labs are disparate, they all center on the notion of managing conflict," Baron said. "Social psychology really is understanding behavior and understanding how people think about the situations that they're in. Additionally, my favorite part about research is the mechanics of how you're going to research something and why you're going to research it.”

A family award

Family is incredibly important to Baron, and she plans to make her graduate degree decision in order to continue her research with a supportive mentor, but also to be close to her three siblings and parents. When she told her family about winning the Dean’s Medal, they were all overjoyed, but what mattered most to Baron was the fact that her younger brother could share the award with her.

“My younger brother is one year younger than me, and he has special needs and he will not be attending college. He’s in a day program right now and doing great, but winning this award, while exciting for me, is something that I know will make him proud too,” said Baron.

Robert Ewing

Marketing and Communications Manager, Department of Psychology


ASU music professor awarded highest honor from Royal College of Organists

April 1, 2022

Kimberly Marshall, the Patricia and Leonard Goldman Endowed Professor of Organ in ASU's School of Music, Dance and Theatre, was awarded the Medal of the Royal College of Organists by the Royal College of Organists at Southwark Cathedral in London on March 12.

The Medal of the Royal College of Organists, also known as the the RCO Medal, “recognizes distinguished achievement in one or more of the following areas relating to organ and choral music — performance, teaching, scholarship, composition, organ-building, conducting, administration and philanthropy.” Kimberly Marshall, the Patricia and Leonard Goldman Endowed Professor of Organ in ASU's School of Music, Dance and Theatre, smiling while seated at an organ. Kimberly Marshall, Patricia and Leonard Goldman Endowed Professor of Organ. Photo by Sven Andersson Download Full Image

“We are very proud of Goldman Professor Kimberly Marshall and this recognition of her life’s work as a devoted scholar of the organ, its history, construction and performance practice,” said Heather Landes, director of the School of Music, Dance and Theatre at ASU. “Dr. Marshall models what it means to truly be an artist-scholar by her longtime commitment to the performance and study of the organ, evidenced by her live performances on the world’s most significant organs, her discography of recordings and her books, editions and peer-reviewed journal articles that pass along her research to the next generations of organists.”

Marshall said she received a letter from Gerard Brooks, president of the Royal College, informing her that she was the recipient of the award in recognition of her distinguished achievement in organ performance and scholarship.

“I feel very honored and gratified that they are recognizing my scholarship as well as my concert career,” Marshall said. “I have worked very hard throughout my career to be a scholar and a performer and to use my research into the history of the organ and treatises on performance practice to inspire my work as a performer.”

woman receives medal at lectern

Marshall (right) receives the RCO Medal.

Marshall and seven distinguished musicians, composers and scholars from the fields of organ and choral music received the Royal College’s highest honor. The 2022 event featured presentations to both the 2021 and 2022 RCO Medal honorees.

Marshall is described by the RCO as a “performer, scholar and educator who is a committed advocate of the organ who has worked tirelessly to engage students and audiences in the instrument in all its richness and in its many contexts.”

“I am attracted to the organ by its vast possibilities of timbre and complex development since its invention in the third century BCE,” Marshall said. “My work reflects this enthusiasm for musical creativity and historical awareness.”

To her knowledge, Marshall said she and American colleague and scholar Kerala Snyder are the only two Americans to have received the RCO Medal. She and Snyder have worked together in many different contexts in Europe.

The RCO is considered the queen's college and has an immense library that is open to all members around the world as a resource for research into organ playing, organ history and organ music. The RCO also offers organ lesson programs for a wide range of students, from young people to the elderly.

Trained in Europe, Marshall studied in England, France and Italy, and received her doctorate from the University of Oxford. She was appointed an assistant professor at Stanford University and co-created the Organ Research Center there. After teaching and researching in Australia, she was recruited to serve as dean of postgraduate studies at the Royal Academy of Music in London. She also served as project leader for the Organ Research Center in Gothenburg, Sweden. She has had a very active career in England and a long history with English organists and organ scholars, and has taught master classes for the RCO and been published in their journal.

Marshall joined Arizona State University in 1998 to oversee the organ studio and preside over the newly acquired Fritts organ. She served as director of the former School of Music from 2006–2012. Marshall said she has tried to incorporate European modes of pedagogy in the organ program she has developed at ASU.

A large part of Marshall’s research has been on the earliest organs and their repertoire and techniques. She has presented concerts, workshops and lectures on early music and is considered a leading expert on the organ and its repertoire. She has performed on the world’s most famous organs, including at Notre-Dame in Paris, St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, the Washington National Cathedral and on the Hildebrandt organ in Naumburg, Germany, which J. S. Bach himself examined in 1746.  

Marshall said at times during her career she was torn between her scholarship and her performance, but is grateful that she pursued both paths simultaneously.

“I have really been able to see the results and bring both together in my teaching,” Marshall said. “I think that this is one thing that distinguishes my program at ASU from other American organ programs. We are trying to foster a culture here that shares ASU’s amazing organs with both local and global communities through performances, recordings and publications.”

Lynne MacDonald

communications specialist, School of Music, Dance and Theatre