PANIL Experience Proves Beneficial for Amanda Cook
By: Trevor Bell
Amanda Cook is a senior Supply Chain Management major from Cypress, Texas, who is set to graduate with her bachelor's degree in December 2016. Throughout her time at Texas Tech, Amanda has been a member of multiple student organizations, including: Women in Business, Tech Supply Chain Association, the Chinese Cultural Club, Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society, and her sorority, Kappa Delta. She has also been a part of the Physiological and Neurological Imaging Laboratory (PANIL), supervised by Dr. Shannon Rinaldo, where she has researched issues regarding consumer behavior and supply chain. Since being involved with PANIL for almost two years, Amanda has gained the valuable skills needed to secure multiple internships with the U.S. Department of Commerce in Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Foreign Commercial Service in Beijing, China (at the U.S. Embassy). Learn more about Amanda's involvement with PANIL in the Q&A below.
Why did you want to be involved with PANIL?
After my freshman year, I studied abroad in China and had to perform my own research for the course. When I returned to the Rawls College, Professor Jeffrey Harper mentioned that Dr. Shannon Rinaldo was looking for students to participate in PANIL. I was initially intrigued by the idea of continuing my research and working more in-depth with the faculty members, so I went to a few meetings and was sold from there. I like the people I worked with, and I enjoyed how I was asked to participate immediately.
What research did you perform in the lab?
When I first started, I dealt with negotiations - particularly how it applied to supply chains - and the aspects of the buyer/seller relationship. The study itself was with Dr. Rinaldo and Dr. Stephanie Thomas, in addition to two Rawls undergraduate students. We measured brain activities during the buyer/seller process. We eventually presented our findings at an undergraduate research conference, and there I realized I would like to create my own study.
In my study, "An Analysis of Product Packaging and Incongruity," I researched almost 300 Rawls students through an online questionnaire about their perceptions toward skincare labels. We initially found that people with prior knowledge about a product want to have congruent labels with their expectations. In other words, people who are more knowledgeable about product categories are least likely to tolerate incongruities. I presented my findings at the Texas Tech Undergraduate Research Conference last spring, and I'm continuing my research efforts in China. The study is fundamentally the same as the one in PANIL, but it's adapted to relate to Chinese consumers.
What did you enjoy most about PANIL?
I had always been interested in consumer behavior and how it relates to psychology, and PANIL gave me the opportunity to learn more. The lab also allowed me to gain important skills such as data analysis, interpersonal communication and critical thinking. As undergraduates, I don't think people understand the material on a deeper level, but PANIL showed me processes behind marketing. The research allowed me to solve problems, and it also correlated with the lessons I had been taught in my courses. It's been a rewarding experience, and I know I can use these skills as I continue in my career.
What advice would you give to students to encourage them to partake in PANIL?
Like I mentioned earlier, PANIL helps you have a greater understanding of the material you're learning at the Rawls College. Additionally, working with such a diverse group of thinkers is a great benefit to you. Dr. Rinaldo has essentially become my mentor, and she's been influential in helping me achieve my goals. I also was able to work with other professors and Ph.D. students, so I was constantly growing my network. The lab is very hands-on and one-on-one, so you're working closely with everyone, and that leads to a richer learning environment.