Student Profile: Senior Biochemistry and Psychology Major Thomas Sonnanstine

Thomas Sonnanstine

As a transfer student, what drew you to KSU?

Sonnanstine: I originally attended Johns Hopkins University where I planned on playing football, but after suffering a hip injury my first semester, I decided to stop playing and transfer to Kent State. I chose to transfer to Kent State because of its partnership with Northeast Ohio Medical University, along with its proximity to my family. 

What do you research?

Sonnanstine: I work as an undergrad RA in Dr. Ben-Porath's MMPI research lab. The MMPI-2-RF (restructured form) is used in a variety of assessment settings, but my research deals with its use in screening back/spine surgery candidates. I am looking to examine differences in psychopathology and spine surgery outcomes between patients who experience an increase in negative affect from pre- to postoperative and those who do not. 

Why did you choose this research topic?

Sonnanstine: It relates to psychology and medicine, two fields that I am passionate about. Furthermore, I have had my own experiences with multiple hip surgeries and dealing with negative affect post-surgery. As a result, I was curious whether there are certain scores on the MMPI that can predict the development of higher levels of negative affect post-surgery. 

How has research impacted you?

Sonnanstine: Participating in research has helped me improve my time management skills while also allowing me to learn new skills, such as coding data. Furthermore, it has opened my eyes to the overlap of psychology and medicine, which is the field I hope to enter in the future. Lastly, research has helped me become more familiar with faculty and graduate students within the psychological sciences department. By coming in so often over the summer, I began to see familiar faces and quickly felt more integrated into the community.