UCSB Psychology Alumna Amy Hyne ’06 Wins Prestigious Newcombe Dissertation Fellowship

May 05, 2014

University of California, Santa Barbara alumna Amy Hyne (B.A. ’06, psychology with minor in French) has been selected by the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation as one of 22 Charlotte W. Newcombe Doctoral Dissertation Fellows for 2014.

The Newcombe Fellowship is the nation’s largest and most prestigious such award for Ph.D. candidates in the humanities and social sciences addressing questions of ethical and religious values. Each 2014 Newcombe Fellow will receive a 12-month award of $25,000.

Ms. Hyne is now a doctoral candidate in Asian Cultures and Languages at the University of Texas at Austin. Her dissertation, Pathologizing Deviance in India: Constructions of "Madness" in Classical Sanskrit Texts and Contemporary Debates, explores the social, religious, and political motivations behind ascriptions of "madness" in classical Sanskrit texts and contemporary discussions in India.

Ms. Hyne spoke of her experience at UCSB:

“The foundation in Psychology that I received at UCSB has been an invaluable asset throughout my graduate career. Though it may appear to be a big jump--from Psychology to Asian Studies--it was actually a very smooth transition. Psychology and Area Studies scholars ask many of the same kinds of questions, they just use different methods to find answers. Scholars in both fields are interested in the human condition. Why do we think the way we do? Why do act the way we do? How are our thoughts and actions mediated by our personal experience?

While a student of Psychology at UCSB, through coursework and also as a research assistant in Dr. Jim Roney's Evolutionary Psych lab, I learned how to approach these kinds of research questions in very structured, yet creative ways. I learned the value of sound experiment design; the importance of controlling for bias as much as possible; the benefits, downfalls, and approval processes that are integral parts of conducting human subjects research; and, perhaps most importantly, I learned to seriously consider the extent to which our decisions are influenced by our subconscious brain processes, processes which are not solely the product of either "nature" or "nurture," but a combination of the two. The exposure I got at UCSB to countless experiment designs and outcomes through lectures, coursework and journal articles, and the first-hand experience I gained in the lab have significantly influenced the way I approach my research today, even though it may seem far afield from the kind of research conducted in a Psychology lab setting.

My research is comparative in nature and currently focuses on two bodies of material: Sanskrit texts from India's early classical period (c. 2nd century BCE to 7th century CE) and a sampling of semi-structured interviews I conducted in India last year.

In my dissertation I explore the social, religious, and political motivations behind of ascriptions of "madness" in India. Combining the methodological and theoretical insights learned as a Psychology undergraduate with those learned through graduate work in Asian Studies and Religious Studies, I am hopeful that my research will be of interest and use not only to scholars in these fields, but to mental health care providers and those involved in global mental health initiatives and anti-stigma campaigns.”

The Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences congratulations Ms. Hyne on her academic success and receipt of this award and wishes her very well as she completes her dissertation and in her future academic career.

More details about the program and the 2014 competition are available here: