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Danielle Polage Interview

What's your favorite quote?

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding. In all of your ways acknowledge Him and He will keep your paths straight." Proverbs 3: 5-6

What drew you to the field?

Elizabeth Loftus. I took a cognitive psych course in college (I was a math major at Emory University) and was totally intrigued by Beth's research on memory change and eyewitness testimony. She has inspired me in my career since day 1. I've been in love with the topic ever since.

How did your college experience affect you?

Budapest HungaryI studied abroad twice in college (an Italian language and Art History program in Italy and a Math Honors Program in Budapest, Hungary) and they ignited a love of traveling and learning about other places and cultures. The math program helped me realize that I was not as good in math as I thought I was and that becoming a math professor was unlikely. When I returned to the US, I started thinking about what I was going to do after college. That semester I took my second psych course (cog psych) and that was the point of transition into the field of psych.

How did you end up in Ellensburg?

I went to UW for my PhD and had been trying to get back to WA ever since. I live in Yakima where my husband grew up.

What is your favorite class to teach?

I love teaching S&P (Sensation and Perception) and Cognitive because it is so exciting to teach students about how their brains work and help explain some of the phenomena they experience daily but don't understand.

Research underway:

I'm conducting a few studies on lying and memory change to see if people who lie come to believe the lies they tell. I'm also looking at the effects of an expert witness on a mock jury trial. I also have student projects on various topics underway.

Grants (anticipated)

Nothing right now.

University Service

Undergrad Curriculum Committee,Undergraduate Advisement Committee,Associate Graduate Faculty Member, Faculty Senator (alternate), theses member.

Philosophy of teaching

I want to give students a firm foundation of the topic, make them want to know more about the topic and help students learn how to find their own answers so the learning can continue even after the class is over.

Greatest Accomplishment and Awards

Successfully working full time while being a mom.

Professional organizations:

  • Association for Psychological Science
  • American Psychology and Law Society
  • Society for Applied Research in Memory and Cognition
  • Society for Teaching of Psychology

Interviews Given / Awards

I was interviewed on TV one time but have never seen the interview- it was supposed to be about my research but turned into questions about why people do weird things. I hear the reruns are on in the middle of the night, so I'm assuming it isn't very good. I was also written up in a British newspaper after an APS presentation several years back- I need to see if I can dig that one up.


I enjoy tennis, skiing, scuba diving (water sports), hiking/camping, traveling.

Special Interests (travels)

I'm addicted to traveling. I've been to every state in the US except Oklahoma and Arkansas. I've been through most of Canada except dead center (like Winnipeg) and New Foundland, Nova Scotia and Northern Territories. I've been to every country in Europe except Portugal, Ireland, Scotland, Bulgaria, Romania and parts of the former Soviet Union (although I've been to St Petersburg Russia). I have not been to anywhere in Africa and the only places in Asia I have been are: Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Seoul Korea, Japan. I have been to Australia, most of New Zealand, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Bahamas, and Costa Rica. I have not been to anywhere in South America except the islands of Curacao, Bonaire and Aruba off the coast of Venezuela. We lived for about 6 months in France, 6 months in Victoria, BC. I haven't been to Antarctica. Plenty more to see!

Favorite Vacation Spot is so hard to pick one, but here are some of my favorites: New Zealand, the islands off of Malaysia, Italy, Western Canada (Victoria, Banff, Jasper, etc), and most recently Maui.

An interesting thing that happened to you

ThailandWhile traveling on a bus between Thailand and Malaysia, we were on a pitstop and my girlfriends and I decided to go for a quick jog. We were in the jungle somewhere and wandered down a path where we came upon a little village. The villagers started lining up along the sides of the path and soon there were tons of them, waving to us as we walked past. We felt like stars in a parade. A local missionary who spoke English invited us into his home and asked a young boy to climb up a tree to get us a coconut. We sat talking to this family as young village girls stroked my hair (which at the time was very blonde). The man told us he was pretty sure that the villagers had never seen a white person before and the girls were fascinated with my hair. It was one of the neatest experiences ever.

Hidden Talents

I placed 6th in the nation for collegiate javelin and I won a cello award in High School (I can't do either anymore)

If you could do anything, what would you do?

EphesusTravel around the world. I REALLY want to go to Turkey. I want to go to the beaches and also do the Biblical sites tours. That would be awesome. I also really want to go to Scotland and Ireland -- I was supposed to go 6 years ago to present at a conference and ended up 8 1/2 months pregnant at the time! I love seeing new places, doing new things, eating new food, meeting people, learning foreign languages, etc. I LOVE everything about it. One of these summers I will go and live in Italy.


Did you have a profession before becoming a psychology professor?


Most meaningful experience

Laying in bed at night with my kids and chatting- cherishing the special moments in everyday life.

Childhood Hero

My nonni (paternal grandmother) - everyone loved her, she was humble, an amazing cook, handled adversity with grace, always saw the best in everyone and every situation.

What was your family of origin like?

I'm a typical middle child.  I have an older sister and a younger brother. We are all very close. My sister was the first person in our immediate family to graduate with a 4 year college degree. I'm first generation American. My mom is Norwegian and my dad is Italian. My nonni brought my dad and uncle to the US when they were teenagers and my nonno joined them 5 years later. My mother's father died 3 days after I was born so I never met him. When I was a teenager, my grandmother lived with us. I videotaped my grandparents telling their stories so I can pass on the history to my children. They have some really amazing stories - especially about living in Italy during WWII.


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