Featured Students

Featured Student: Tommy DeRossett


  • Name: Tommy DeRossett
  • Year: Junior
  • Major: Psychology
  • Hometown: Paducah, KY
  • Quirky fact: I used to be a biology pre-med major
  • Favorite thing to get (food/drink) on campus: Spicy chicken sandwich from the T-Room
  • Best movie you’ve seen recently: The Witch
  • Favorite movie: The Big Lebowski
  • Best book you’ve read recently: Girl on a Train by A. J. Waines
  • Favorite book: Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
  • What you like to do on campus: Go to basketball games



Tell us about yourself:

My name is Tommy DeRossett, and I’m a psychology major. I’m a junior from Paducah, Kentucky. I do a lot of research on personality and sport fans with my advisor Dr. Wann. I’m a student ambassador and training to be a Summer O counselor. I work at the University Store and am a tutor for student athletes. I am also part of the Partners for Success program here in the College of Humanities and Fine Arts.

What made you come to Murray State?

It was close to home and our amazing merit scholarships made it affordable. I had been here a few times on field trips, for FBLA and other groups. I just really loved the campus and the small town feel of Murray.

Who have you enjoyed working with?

My advisor Dr. Dan Wann is probably the person I work with the most. We do a lot of cool research on personality and sport fandom, we collaborate with Dr. Jana Hackathorn, and we’ve worked together on several projects that have been both interesting and challenging. We rarely get the results we expect, which makes us dig deeper into the literature to find explanations.

Who inspires you in life?

My parents are probably my biggest inspiration because I’m one of five kids, and one of four that grew up in the same household for a while together. They always found a way to make everything work, keeping us all involved, keeping us focused on school and athletics, making sure we didn’t get in trouble all while maintaining a great family atmosphere.

What made you choose the major you did?

I came here as a biology pre-med major, but I was always much more interested in psychology. I wanted to choose psychology first, but I had always heard horror stories about how you won’t find any jobs in psychology. After my freshman year, I realized that I was struggling to find motivation because I did not enjoy what I was studying. I decided that if I was going to have to go to medical school for years, I might as well go to grad school instead for something that I’m going to actually enjoy.

Work/ projects related to your major?

Last semester alone I was involved in five or six different research projects. The two biggest ones I’m working on right now have to do with belonging and distinctiveness with sport fans. Dr. Wann and I looked at University of Louisville men’s basketball fans vs University of Kentucky men’s basketball fans to see if one set of fans leaned more toward belonging or distinctiveness. We found significant results, and then we tripled our sample size and the significance went away, so that idea didn’t really work out. But the one we’re working on now, we just got done analyzing. We looked at belonging and distinctiveness and the type of sport that someone chooses to follow. This one is pretty cool. We actually got some good stuff out of that, but we are collecting more data now so I don’t want to jinx it by talking about it too much.

Recent awards/ honors?

Last year I received a distinguished research award for research I had done in psychology and I was on the Dean’s list. I got selected as a student ambassador last semester and as a Summer O counselor this year. I have also been accepted into multiple conferences to present my research.

Future plans?

After I graduate from Murray State University, I’ll be in school for another five or more years. I plan to pursue a Ph.D in social psychology. There a few schools on my wish list at the moment. So I will hopefully have a whole lot of school after my undergraduate career, and then I would like to become a psychology professor at a University and continue conducting research.


“It has truly been a pleasure to work with Tommy and to direct his independent research.  He has completed or is currently working on a very impressive list of studies.  He has already given multiple conference presentations on his work and his research likely will be published in the near future.  Tommy has a true passion for psychological research.  He has the ability to think independently and develop very thoughtful and sound hypotheses based on theory and past research.  It has been a pleasure to guide his development and it is clear that he has a very bright future in psychology.”

– Daniel Wann (Psychology Professor)

“Tommy is a rarity.  He is exceptionally talented, dedicated, personable, and incredibly productive.  I think he might have more studies going than I do.”

– Jana Hackathorn (Psychology Professor)


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