Chelsea Fordham

Mentor: Dr. Susan Bluck
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
"I became interested in undergraduate research shortly after taking my first psychology course and realizing that I wanted to answer my own questions about human development and cognition. I became a research assistant in the Life Story Lab where I gained experience working with narrative data while collaborating with a team of researchers on projects dealing with autobiographical memory and adult development. Under Dr. Susan Bluck's mentorship, I've been able to identify my own research interests and explore them in this research project. "


Psychology, English, and Women's Studies



Research Interests

  • Developmental Psychology
  • Autobiographical Memory
  • Aging

Academic Awards

  • UF University Scholars Program 2014-2015
  • Florida Bright Futures Academic Scholar
  • Coy L. Sykes Memorial Scholarship


  • Pride Student Union


  • Life Story Lab
  • Pride Mentor Program at UF

Hobbies and Interests

  • Thrifting
  • Literature
  • Painting and Drawing

Research Description

"I was just hanging in time, nothing felt real": Emerging adults' descriptions of death-related experiences

My project seeks to describe and analyze the memories shared when emerging adults were asked to describe an experience where, at least for a moment, they were faced with danger and actually thought they might die. I hope to describe the type of events that participants shared, in terms of event type (i.e., Illness, Accident, Physical Assault, and Rape and Sexual Assault) and accidental nature (expected event or actual accident). To understand the nuanced differences of the participants’ description of their death-related experiences, or how their experiences might affect them, I look at different aspects of experience within the narratives, including the participants’ Out-of-Time experiences (Time Bending and No Future experiences), the likelihood of death (Subjective and Actual Death Threat), and memory qualities (Personal Significance and Vividness). Lastly, I seek to understand how personal characteristics of the participants, including gender, self-esteem, Future Time Perspective, and ethnicity, might relate to these specific aspects of experience within the narratives (Out-of-time experiences, likelihood of death, Personal Significance, and Vividness). The results of my analysis will aid in the understanding of autobiographical memory processing in emerging adulthood, as this is an important time for emotional development (Arnett, 2000).