Assistant Professor of Psychology Nicole Ryerson is a proud Penn State alumni, having earned her undergraduate degree at Penn State Schuylkill. Now at Penn State Lehigh Valley, she is thrilled to share the Penn State experience with her students. “Not only did I love the connection with my professors and the high quality of education I received, but I was also able to engage in research in a way that would have been impossible to do at an undergraduate level at another university,” she said. “I am beyond thrilled to now be in a position where I can give that same experience back to students.”
On campus, Ryerson is a member of the Faculty Senate, Undergraduate Research Symposium planning committee, and Psychology Club. She was the recipient of the Penn State Lehigh Valley Adviser of the Year Award (2020-21) and the Faculty Award for Outstanding Research and Creative Accomplishment (Fall 2021).
Outside of her teaching and research, Ryerson enjoys spending time with her family. A native of New Jersey now residing in Bangor, Pennsylvania, she and her husband have two children, and they love the outdoors—“Four-wheelers, dirt bikes…you name it, we ride it!” she said—and love to go on adventures, with the zoo being a top favorite destination. “We also have two rescue animals—two dogs and two goats—and my husband owns his own electrical contracting company. We stay busy!” Prior to starting her family, Ryerson loved to hit the open road on her motorcycle. “My husband and I would take frequent trips on our Harleys,” she said.
Ryerson’s research interests focus on phenomena that impact, and may be impacted by, exposure to alcohol-related stimuli. Her research goals include identifying psychological mechanisms that influence risk-related behaviors; conducting research using multi-method investigations from cognitive, affective-motivational, and neurophysiological perspectives, and identifying methods to influence the processes underlying risk-related behaviors. “I’m passionate about these subjects because alcohol use has a wide-reaching impact,” she said. “College students are especially at risk for developing hazardous drinking behaviors that could potentially last a lifetime. My long-term research goal is to provide knowledge that can be used identify ways to mitigate high-risk behaviors, thereby increasing overall health and well-being.”
Ryerson is currently researching the effects of COVID-19 on alcohol consumption, including the impact of the pandemic within college populations and research using social media posts as a way to assess alcohol behaviors/attitudes as a result of the pandemic. “I am also working with some colleagues on a large-scale project that will focus on the unique alcohol consumption behaviors that take place at rural campuses,” she said. “Most alcohol research focuses on larger urban/suburban areas, despite the fact that individuals in rural environments are at a greater risk of developing dangerous drinking habits later in life.”
Ryerson NC. “Behavioral and Psychological Correlates of Well-Being during COVID-19”.
Psychol Rep. 2022 Feb;125(1):200-217. doi: 10.1177/0033294120978160. Epub 2020
Dec 10. PMID: 33302799.
B.S., Psychology, Penn State Schuylkill
M.A., PhD, Experimental Psychology, minor in Statistical Analyses, University of Alabama