College of Arts and Sciences

Research Opportunities

If you would like to gain behind-the-scenes experience in psychological research, you should enroll in PSY 49600. Graduate schools view research experience as one of the most important factors in admissions decisions. The course requirements vary depending on the professor, but most involve administering research sessions and/or data coding and the possibility of contributing ideas to new projects.

Listed below are some helpful suggestions:

  • Approach a professor whose research is most closely aligned with your interests. Research experience in social psychology will increase your chances for admission to a social Ph.D. program moreso than will research in psychobiology, but any research is better than none. Research interests of the various professors are listed below.
  • It is best to approach a professor who knows you from a class, but don't hesitate to approach someone cold.
  • Don't take it personally if a professor says "no." Most of the professors can accomodate only a small number of students, so if one turns you down, approach someone else.
  • Be prepared to work hard on the research. New knowledge does not come easily.
  • Be prepared to work responsibly. You might view the research as a semester's project, but the professor with whom you work probably sees it as part of his/her life work. The professor takes it very seriously, and you should do so as well.
  • The requirements of a PSY 49600 (or equivalent) vary depending on the professor, but most require extensive data collection and/or analysis as well as an APA-style paper.
  • Get involved with research early in your undergraduate career. This increases the chance of your authoring a paper presented at a regional or national meeting, or even of your serving as an author or coauthor on a published article.

Current Research Opportunities

Dr. DiClementi:

Methamphetamine use and HIV-risk behaviors in rural populations; drug-use networks, sexual networks, and undiagnosed Axis I and II disorders in rural methamphetamine users; HIV education and prevention; health disparities in medical education, prevention, and outreach; hypnotizability and information processing as related to interoceptive cueing and symptom perception.

Dr. Drouin:

Dr. Drouin's research concerns how technology influences relationships, communication, and learning. Students may enroll (with permission) in 1, 2, or 3 credits of PSY 496, and are expected to devote approximately 3 hours per week to the research for each enrolled credit. Because of the training involved, I prefer that students plan on being a part of the research team for at least 2 semesters; however, a good candidate would not be turned down because he or she has only one semester available.

Anyone who would like to know more about Dr. Drouin's research lab can visit her NEW lab website for more information: If you are still interested, email her at

Dr. Hill:

Students may become involved in research on attraction and sexuality. Involvement will include assisting with conducting research sessions, preparation of data for analysis, and possibly assisting with data analyses and the design of future research. Typically, students are expected to have completed at least PSY 120, PSY 201 (Statistics), and PSY 203 (Research Methods) in order to become involved in research. It is preferred that research assistants receive academic credit for their participation by enrolling in PSY 496. It is also preferred that students register for 3 credit hours in the course. Students are expected to be willing to devote 3 hours per week for each course credit enrolled. Students are also required to write a short APA-style paper related to the research in which they participate. Please contact Dr. Hill if you are interested to determine eligibility for participation.

Dr. Jackson:

Dr. Jackson conducts research on intergroup relations. This includes studies of social identity, prejudice, and group conflict and cooperation. For more information, visit his website:
or contact him at

Dr. Kaiser:

Dr. Kaiser would like research assistants to help with his studies that examine the function of a brain region called the hippocampus. The hippocampus is a brain region heavily involved in learning and memory. The primary responsibility of research assistants will be to train and test the rats on the behavioral task. The rats must learn to discriminate between cups of scented sand (some of which contain rewards and some of which do not). Dr. Kaiser will tell you more about the task if you get into contact with him at Once in lab, if you are interested, you may also assist with the surgeries that are done to lesion the hippocampus.

Dr. Lawton:

Dr. Lawton's research focuses on psychological effects of virtual reality experiences and also on gender differences in processing spatial information, particularly in relation to wayfinding (e.g., "go north" versus "turn right at the light"). Research assistants will be responsible for running sessions with PSY 120 participants and they will have the opportunity to help design new projects during the semester. Students may register for 1, 2, or 3 credits in PSY 496; volunteers are also welcome. A GPA of 3.0 or above is preferred, and completion of Research Methods (PSY 203) is desirable. If you are interested, please contact Dr. Lawton via e-mail:

Dr. Lundy:

Research assistants needed for projects on parent-infant interactions and cognitive/social development in preschool children. Assistants will conduct experimental sessions, and learn about data analysis. Students are expected to have completed PSY 120, PSY 201 (Statistics), and PSY 203 (Research Methods) to become involved with research. It is also preferred that students register for 3 credit hours in the course. Please contact Dr. Lundy if you are interested in participating.

Dr. Miller:

My research is concerned with emotional aspects of collective action (e.g. unionization). Please e-mail me and let me know if you are interested.

Dr. Perkins:

Dr. Perkins conducts research on how prenatal alcohol exposure impacts the developing brain. To do so, a rat model of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is used in which offspring are exposed to alcohol during development and tested for behavioral impairments in adolescence and adulthood. In addition, many studies look at the brain regions involved in specific behaviors and how they are impacted by developmental alcohol exposure. If you are interested in getting involved, please visit the website ( and/or contact Dr. Perkins (

Dr. Ross:

Dr. Ross's research focuses on the topic of intimate partner conflict, including partner violence. Students interested in taking PSY496 with Dr. Ross to gain research experience should contact her via email at

Dr. Vartanian:

Students interested in Dr. Vartanian's research should visit her home page here.