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Justin Bell '19 is researching the psychology of addiction through online surveys as a McNair Scholar.


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Justin Bell '19

McNair Scholar

Major in Psychology, Minor in Creative Writing

Justin researched the psychology of isolation and aspects of addiction as a McNair Scholar.

Justin Bell '19 is researching the psychology of addiction through online surveys as a McNair Scholar.

Describe your research.

I was first inspired to plan my project after reading a study now nicknamed "Rat Park" by psychologist Bruce Alexander. He and his team created a little "paradise" for half the rats they studied with plenty of food and recreation. The other rats were housed individually in small cages. Both groups of rats were given morphine-tainted water. The fascinating outcome was that the rats in "Rat Park" would resist using morphine, even when they showed signs of withdrawal. The rats in the cages kept using morphine in large amounts. I wondered if the same is true in humans, and used online surveys to induce feelings of isolation.

How did the psychology department help with your research?

Professor Andy Hertel, my current advisor for the McNair program, has provided a lot of assistance in this endeavor. Overall I find the psychology department to be a powerful resource for research. I often find that if one professor doesn't know a solution, communication within the department will result in someone who can help you. Also, everyone on the McNair staff is helpful with any problems that will inevitably arise when you're doing research.

What are your future plans?

My ultimate goal, and one of my reasons for joining McNair, is to attend graduate school. I'm really looking forward to having a "Dr." in front of my name. I'd like to pursue a lifelong career in research and wherever that takes me. 

What has been your most memorable experience at Knox?

Getting a bid to Sigma Chi. It may sound strange to some, but being a first-year who didn't have his place in the world and being invited into a group of people I already loved was a crazy feeling. It was nothing I'd ever experienced in the jungle of high school. I feel like Knox gave me a place to belong and often that is the most memorable experience: when you feel like you've found a new home.

Justin Bell '19 is one of 10 students who have been awarded a McNair Scholarship to pursue research in their chosen field of study. He is a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity and received an award for Rising Greek Leader of 2016. Bell volunteers for Blessings in a Backpack and the Huntsman Foundation. He works for the Association for Black Cultural Centers (ABCC).

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Printed on Thursday, September 19, 2019