MSU psychology major is university’s newest Fulbright finalist

Contact: James Carskadon

Rachel A. Booth (Photo by Logan Kirkland)

STARKVILLE, Miss.—A Mississippi State psychology major is the university’s newest Fulbright finalist.

Rachel Booth, a graduating senior from Lindale, Texas, will represent MSU and the United States while spending 10 months studying cognitive psychology and conducting research at Germany’s Universität Ulm. Booth’s selection marks the third consecutive year at least one MSU student has been named a Fulbright finalist. She is a member of the Judy and Bobby Shackouls Honors College and earlier this month was inducted into the Gamma of Mississippi chapter of Phi Beta Kappa at MSU.

“Not only will I learn a lot as a researcher, but I’m really looking forward to representing America and Mississippi State University abroad,” Booth said. “I’ve had such a wonderful experience at this university, so I’m really excited to represent it in the best way possible and be an ambassador.”

David Hoffman, associate professor in MSU’s Department of Anthropology and Middle Eastern Cultures, helped Booth through the application process as MSU’s Fulbright Program administrator and part of the advising team in the Shackouls Honors College Office of Prestigious External Scholarships.

“Rachel is an outstanding student that took advantage of every opportunity available to her for undergraduate research, study abroad and foreign language study,” Hoffman said. “Her Fulbright success is direct evidence of how the combination of these opportunities and close mentorship that MSU provides translates into student success and recognition. Rachel will be an excellent ambassador to the people of Germany. Not only is her research exciting and important, but she fits the ideals of promoting mutual understanding that are the hallmark of the Fulbright Program.”

After her time abroad in Germany, Booth plans to enroll in graduate school at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro. The Texas native was drawn to MSU, she said, by strong scholarship and financial aid support, as well as an environment that provided a fun, traditional college experience and the opportunity to focus on undergraduate research.

During her time at MSU, Booth has worked as a research assistant for three labs–the Mississippi Tobacco Data lab at the Social Science Research Center; the Construction Materials Research Center in the Department of Civil Engineering; and the Attention, Reasoning, and Creativity Laboratory in the Department of Psychology. Her research interests include the role of memory in reading comprehension, analytical and insightful strategies in creative problem solving, and the parameters of divergent and convergent thinking.

“The research experience has been the most important part of my time at Mississippi State,” Booth said. “It’s helped me not only understand cognitive psychology better, but it has also helped me relate that to other fields and the general public at large.”

Booth has been able to travel abroad to the University of Oxford in England and to Germany’s Die Neu Schule. She chose to pursue a Fulbright opportunity at Universität Ulm because of Germany’s strong history in the field. She will be working in a department for individual differences and psychometrics, where she will evaluate psychological measures and their validity.

In addition to Booth’s selection as a Fulbright finalist, MSU graduate student Rita Bouwens has been named an alternate for the Fulbright Program in Costa Rica. Bouwens, a native or Marne, Michigan, is a master’s student in the Department of Anthropology and Middle Eastern Culture’s applied anthropology program. She may be offered an award by the program if additional funding becomes available.

The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and those in other countries. The primary source of funding for the program is an annual appropriation made by Congress to the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Participating governments, host institutions, corporations and foundations in foreign countries and in the U.S. also provide direct and indirect support. Recipients of Fulbright grants are selected on the basis of academic or professional achievement, as well as demonstrated leadership potential in their fields. For more information, visit

For more about MSU’s Judy and Bobby Shackouls Honors College, visit The Department of Psychology, part of MSU’s College of Arts and Sciences, is online at

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