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The Student News Site of Roger Williams University

The Hawks' Herald

The Student News Site of Roger Williams University

The Hawks' Herald

Dr. Tooley on Psychology at RWU

Dr. Erin Tooley, courtesy of rwu.edu
Dr. Erin Tooley, courtesy of rwu.edu

Dr. Erin Tooley is RWU’s Psychology Department Chair. As an Associate Professor of Psychology, she teaches a variety of courses in the field of psychology, having also designed a few courses here at RWU. Dr Tooley has been teaching since 2014, and she says that she enjoys it very much. 

Dr. Tooley teaches courses at our school such as Health Psychology, Experimental Psychology, and Psychology of Food and Eating, which she says is her favorite undergraduate course that she teaches. In fact, that is one of the classes she designed herself. The class analyzes how peoples’ lives and culture influence their eating habits, exploring how media and politics can affect food choices and habits. Psychology of Food and Eating was the first course Dr Tooley designed at RWU, and she says it has a special place in her heart. She also teaches counseling classes to graduate students, particularly a forensic mental health counseling program, which lets students be eligible to seek licensure to practice clinical work. Dr Tooley’s class, Helping Relationships, is one of her favorites to teach, and serves as a basic introduction to counseling skills. 

From a young age, Dr. Tooley has always known what she wanted to do. Some people only realize their career paths later in life, but Tooley wanted to become a psychologist as far back as she can remember. As a child, she used to pull articles about psychology from magazines and save them in a folder, as she was so interested in the topic. “It’s just always been fascinating to me,” Tooley says. As far as mental health and clinical psychology specifically, Tooley notes that she did not know she wanted to go into that field until she was an undergraduate. There are so many areas of psychology, and she was drawn to topics in health, exercise and nutrition.

When asked what her favorite part of teaching at RWU is, Dr. Tooley smiled and replied  “I love working with the students.” As a small school, RWU has more opportunities for professors to get to know their students and work with them. “RWU students are often engaged and excited, and I find that really rewarding and exciting … I get a lot of really good feedback from my students about what kind of classes [they are] interested in.” Tooley recalls asking her students if they would take a psychology of sleep class, and the majority answered “yes.” She is motivated to design new and interesting classes, excited to share and discuss ideas with her students. 

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Aside from teaching, Dr Tooley also does clinical research. Her research has focused on romantic relationships and how they impact health and behavior, and especially the impact of smoking on romantic relationships. She is interested in learning more about how smoking functions in relationships, and what that means for people who are quitting smoking. In modern young adult populations, Tooley notes that smoking cigarettes is not as common, so she has focused on how vaping affects relationships in young adults, and if it is similar to how cigarette smoking affects relationships. 

At the end of my interview with Dr Tooley, I asked her what her favorite animal is. Her answer was elephants, because they are very intelligent animals, and there might be evidence that they have culture and religion. It was wonderful to be able to talk to the Psychology Department Chair, and it is clear to me that she cares very much about what she does, especially when it comes to intellectual discussion and research. RWU is lucky to have such a dedicated professor, and I am sure Dr Tooley’s students also enjoy the classes she teaches. If you are interested in psychology, I would recommend taking one of her classes. 

 

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Jessie Westgate, Photography Editor
Jessie is a Junior at RWU and a Graphic Design Communications major. They enjoy wildlife photography and drawing. Their hometown is Wilton, Connecticut and they have photographed 98 species of birds so far. Their favorite bird is the Osprey, which can be found in abundance in Rhode Island.

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