GRCC hosts Psychology Department Speaker Series



Leah Nixon

Director of Communications


Oct. 16, 2013 GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Grand Rapids Community College is bringing together experts from its own campus as well as those in the community for the 2103-2014 Psychology Department Speakers Series.

“The purpose of this series is to present to our students and the community topics related to psychology that are relevant, interesting and, often times, practical,” said GRCC psychology professor Frank Conner, of the series, now in its fifth year.

“While many of those attending the series are students, community members often come to learn about topics such as ADHD, Alzheimer’s, animal behavior, sleep disorders and hypnosis. With all the presentations, we try to share practical and valuable information.”

All of the sessions are free and will be held in room 168 of the Wisner-Bottrall Applied Technology Center, 151 Fountain St. NE.

Series topics are:

  • “Do Parents Make a Difference? An Exploration in Raising a Child,” by GRCC psychology professor Kate Byerwalter, runs from 1-2:30 Oct. 16. In this presentation, Byerwalter will introduce the current research around the practice of parenting. She will present different parenting styles and explore how culture might affect parenting. Participants will leave with an understanding of how parents do matter in their child’s development and knowledge of what practices are connected to optimal outcomes.
  • “Do Sports Matter as Much to Girls as They Do to Boys? Gender and the Myth of the Blank Slate,” by Dr. Robert O. Deaner, runs from 1-2:30 p.m. Nov. 14. Deaner, an associate professor in Grand Valley State University’s psychology department, will confront the conventional wisdom and U.S. federal policy stating that there are no appreciable sex differences in sports interest between boys and girls. But theory and data from several fields challenges this “blank slate” position of equal interest. Deaner will discuss why this discrepancy is important to resolve, review relevant evidence, and present new research.
  • “Human Sexuality and Sex Therapy: Yes, Our Brain is the Biggest Erogenous Zone!” by therapist and social worker Phyllis M. Schadler, runs 1-2:30 p.m. Feb. 18. Schadler, a registered play therapist and certified sex therapist with Psychology Associates of Grand Rapids P.C., will explore the ever-changing role that sexuality plays within the lives of individuals. She will introduce topics ranging from the effect of sexual trauma, sex related to aging, and how today’s society minimizes the power of emotions in sex. She will also talk about the role of a sex therapist and the path to working within this field.
  • “Stress Can Destroy a 66 Ton Bridge; Imagine What It Might Do to You? Understanding and Managing Stress” by Steven L. Pastyrnak, runs 1-2:30 p.m. March 12. Pastyrnak, division chief of pediatric psychology at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, will provide an overview of stress, including aspects of anxiety and depression. You’ll learn ways to recognize stress as well as its short- and long-term effects. Pastyrnak’s presentation will be practical and hands-on, at times with audience participation.

For additional information, contact Frank Conner at or (616) 234-3612. You can see topics from previous years in the series by clicking here.

Grand Rapids Community College encourages the entire community to participate in its programs and activities. If you anticipate a need for an accommodation or have questions about accessibility, please call Disability Support Services at (616) 234-4140 in advance of your visit or program participation.

Grand Rapids Community College, established in 1914, offers opportunities for more than 30,000 students annually in degree courses, certification and training programs, workshops and personal enrichment classes. GRCC holds classes on the downtown Grand Rapids campus as well as several locations throughout Kent and Ottawa counties.