Julianna Luna

Julianna Luna


Julianna Luna is pursuing a degree in Biology. She plans to attend medical school and become a physician for her career. Currently, she is in the Chi Omega  Academic Sorority, a lifeguard for the city, and she does research in the Biology and Psychology departments at NMSU. She is also dealing with a debilitating autoimmune disease and had made it a long-term career goal to sponsor and create programs that provide awareness and resources to students with invisible disabilities. It is important to her not only to become a physician to provide medical care but also to support programs for underserved communities such as the uninsured and low-income patients.


Project Description:

The research project is designed to test memory in response to autonomic arousal with the use of pupillometry. The pupillometric scale can also be used to determine readiness to learn before the memory test is conducted and compared to how the subject did as a pretrial. The question at hand is how autonomically arousing stimuli can affect memory retention. The pretrial period will be used to predict how accurately memory retrieval will be. The actual experiment will consist of a series of images shown to participants for a short time, some paired with auditory stimuli and some not, which will influence the memory encoding and retrieval process. It is hypothesized that those who show more readiness to learn will have higher accuracy in encoding and retrieval. It is predicted that the images with autonomic arousal will be more memorable than the images without the stimuli.


Project Benchmarks:

  • Project description, timeline, and milestones developed with mentor; on file with DSP
  • Complete half of project milestones
  • Complete project
  • Present scholarly work at URCAS
  • Attend a professional conference (without presenting)
  • Present scholarly work at a conference, recital, film festival, reading, etc.
  • Applied for graduate or professional school
  • Take an MCAT prep course



Julianna’s mentor: Dr. Megan H. Papesh:


Megan Papesh


Megan H. Papesh grew up near Cleveland, Ohio, and attended Baldwin-Wallace College for her bachelor’s degree before moving to Tempe, Arizona to get a master’s and PhD at Arizona State University.  She was an Assistant and then Associate Professor of Psychology at Louisiana State University for 8 years before joining the Department of Psychology at New Mexico State University. Her research examines basic and applied questions of human cognition, including visual attention, face perception/recognition, and episodic memory.  She has won several awards for research and teaching, including the Rising Star award from the Association for Psychological Science, and enjoys spending her free time playing with her dachshund, hiking, and listening to crime podcasts (she admits this makes her somewhat stereotypical, and she’s okay with that).