SAFE Grant Student Spotlight: Austin Melzer, Psychology

SAFE Grant Student Spotlight: Austin Melzer, Psychology
Austin Melzer is a graduate student in Industrial-Organizational Psychology and Human Resource Management from Apex, N.C.

Student and Faculty Excellence (SAFE) fund recipient
Project: “Understanding Assistive Programs: Evaluating the Impact of Various Math Services on Student Performance”

SAFE grant funding allowed Melzer to analyze the impact of GEAR UP, a program designed to provide educational interventions to students in order to help them enter post-secondary education. Taking data from students, he evaluated how the services they were receiving were impacting their grades and standardized testing scores. This information can now be used to provide more effective services to students.

Funding also covered expenses for Melzer to travel to the 2019 River Cities Industrial Organizational Psychology Conference (RCIO) in Tennessee. The RCIO is an annual outreach and education initiative managed by the University of Tennessee's masters degree program in Industrial and Organizational Psychology.

At the conference, Melzer presented a poster about his project’s purpose and initial findings, allowing him to speak with conference attendees and learn about what other individuals were studying in the field of psychology.

His faculty advisor Shawn Bergman, the university’s Kulynych/Cline Distinguished Professor of Psychology, Department of Psychology, commented, “Support from the SAFE fund allowed Austin to have a great educational experience and allowed him to get some valuable input on his thesis early in his research process.”

Melzer added, “the SAFE funding enhanced the student experience because it allowed for travel without worrying about trying to choose between professional development and finances.”

“Austin’s project involves managing and manipulating a number of fairly tricky datasets and the analysis will be equally complicated. During all of this I have been impressed with how he has continued to learn and keep everything moving forward. The project is going to help him in his career as he moves into industry, works with data, analytics and people in the HR space,” said Bergman.


About The SAFE Fund
Initially endowed by Hughlene and Bill Frank, the College of Arts and Sciences Student and Faculty Excellence (SAFE) Fund provides resources that can be used to support undergraduate, graduate and faculty experiences. The SAFE Fund provides funding for college priorities and opportunities that arise throughout the year. These unrestricted funds support student and faculty travel, publication support for faculty and student research opportunities. Learn more at:

About the Dr. Wiley F. Smith Department of Psychology
Appalachian’s Dr. Wiley F. Smith Department of Psychology serves more than 1,000 undergraduate majors seeking the Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degree in psychology, as well as 80 graduate students in three master’s programs (experimental psychology, school psychology, and industrial-organizational psychology and human resource management) and the clinical psychology (Psy.D.) doctoral program. Learn more at

Compiled and written by Sophia Woodall
August 26, 2021


Austin Melzer, graduate student and SAFE Fund recipient. Photo submitted.
Published: Aug 26, 2021 8:06pm