Huntington – Faculty and students from Marshall University’s doctorate of psychology program were among the panelists at last week's Comic-Con International.

Dr. Keith Beard, Psy. D. director, Dr. April Fugett, a psychology professor, Dr. Britani S. Black, instructor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine in the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine; and  Casey Collins and Jake Bass, Psy.D. students,  presented  “Christmas in July: The Psychology of Pop Culture and Christmas,” to the 1,700 participants. Due to the pandemic, the event was altered to a virtual one, and dubbed Comic-Con@Home.  

Held  July 22-26, it featured over 350 panel discussions that included actors, writers and other famous names from television, movies, gaming and comics. 

“Comic-Con is such an exciting experience, and with it being completely virtual this year, it opens up the opportunity for us to talk about our research to a worldwide audience who would never have the chance to attend or see us present in person,” Beard said in a university-issued press release. “I believe that our ability to do this type of research and then a presentation to this audience is particularly useful in helping people see that research and psychology at Marshall can be fun, informative, educational and on things that people are interested in learning more about.”

The group has participated in Comic-Con International in previous years as well. Last year, a group from Marshall traveled to San Diego and presented on the topics of nostalgia and animation, as well as some psychological aspects of Harry Potter fandom, as part of the 50th Anniversary of Comic-Con International.

Their research and presentations have always included students.

“Marshall is helping to train students in how to learn, conduct and evaluate research and giving them the opportunity to do this on topics that are of interest to them,” Beard said.

Black said that the experience of presenting at Comic-Con shaped her academic career when she was a student on the panels.

“Now, as I start my career, it is continuing to do so with new media,” Black said. “It was wonderful to be part of their at-home initiative during such a stressful time, and to be able to showcase our work and students in such an exciting manner.” 

This year’s presentation discussed popular and unpopular Christmas movies, other programming and the psychological aspects of how people choose their favorites.

It’s an important opportunity for researchers as well as students, Fugett said.

“Presenting research to a broad and diverse audience with different experiences and backgrounds is a good reminder that while we may see things differently at a personal level we can still come together and find commonalities,” she said. 

The Marshall psychologists’ discussion  is available online at