Research opportunities are plentiful in the Psychology Department. Getting involved in research is a great way to gain practical experience whilst gaining professional connections and work experience. St. Mary’s students routinely partner with professors on research projects, the results of which are often published in academic journals and/or presented at professional conferences.
Faculty members have a wide range of research interests in both human and animal behavior. Areas of specialization include:
- Behavioral neuroscience
- Clinical/Counseling psychology
- Cognitive psychology
- Developmental psychology
- Social Psychology
Starting as early as their first year, students can gain valuable experience working with faculty on research projects.
Research Participation in Connection with Coursework
Introduction to Psychology students have the option of participating in research in order to fulfill the Introduction to Psychology Research Requirement. Some students have the opportunity to earn extra credit for psychology courses by participating in research.
St. Mary’s Projects
The St. Mary’s Project is a year-long, 8-credit, independently designed and executed course of study intended as a capstone experience for a student’s time at St. Mary’s, and it is a wonderful way to gain research experience. Many psychology students choose to complete an SMP that involves a hands-on, empirical research experience. Psychology majors who started at SMCM in Fall 2018 (catalog year 2018-2019) and afterwards are required to do an SMP. They can choose to complete an SMP in psychology, another established academic discipline, or a cross-disciplinary study area. Majors who started at SMCM in Fall 2017 or Spring 2018 (catalog year 2017-2018) or earlier are not required to do an SMP but rather can choose do the Alternative Capstone Experience instead. For those in the option cohorts, the SMP is highly encouraged, particularly for students planning to continue their education at the graduate level.
“I found that conducting research expanded my job opportunities and also helped me obtain a research assistant position when I attended graduate school. The SMP was particularly helpful. Even four years after graduating job interviewers still ask me about this project and are impressed by the level of initiative and depth that the SMP requires.” – Stephanie Klapper ’10
SURF (St. Mary’s Undergraduate Research Fellowship)
SURF is an eight-week annual summer program at St. Mary’s, where students from a variety of disciplines delve into research topics of their own aspirations with guidance from faculty mentors. The SURF symposium held in early July culminates with the presentations of research projects to an audience of your peers and professors. Approximately 10 to 12 students participate in SURF each summer since it started in 2012. The program is selective, with a fifty-percent acceptance rate. SURF is made possible by support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in addition to a number of internal funding sources. A portion of the funds go toward a stipend for the students, as well as room and board for the eight weeks.
Other (non SMCM) Undergraduate Research Opportunities
The Summer Program to Increase Diversity in Undergraduate Research (SPIDUR) at NCC: an eight-week summer program for high-achieving under-represented, first generation, or disabled undergraduate students
University of Virginia Educational Psychology and Applied Developmental Science Summer Undergraduate Research Program: a 10-week internship that provides undergraduates with valuable research and professional development experience under the guidance of UVA Faculty conducting education research
Funding to Support Student Research & Related Travel
There is funding available to support student research efforts, especially travel to present at conferences.
Learn about the Psychology Research Fund and the Bucknam-Glidden Fund
Student research with faculty, especially on St. Mary’s Projects, occasionally leads to publication in peer-reviewed journals, a highly prestigious accomplishment for college students.
Representative recent publications: (* = St. Mary’s students):
- *Wolf, J., Williams, E. N., *Darby, M., *Herald, J., & *Schultz, C. (2018). Just for women? Feminist multicultural therapy with male clients. Sex Roles, 78, 439-450.
- *Roberts, B.M., *Jarrin, S.E., Mathur, B.N., & Bailey, A.M. (2016). Illuminating the undergraduate behavioral neuroscience laboratory: A guide for the in vivo application of optogenetics in mammalian model organisms. The Journal of Undergraduate Neuroscience Education, 14 (2), A110-A15.
- Mirabile, S. P., & *Kodluboy, C. (2015). Description and validation of a teacher report version of the Self Expressiveness in the Family Questionnaire. European Journal of Developmental Psychology. 12(6), 678-687.
- *Grein, K. A., & Glidden, L.M. (2015). Predicting well-being longitudinally for mothers rearing offspring with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 59, 622-637.
- *Piantadosi, P.T., *Holmes, A., *Roberts, B.M., & Bailey, A.M. (2015). Orexin receptor activity in the basal forebrain alters performance on an olfactory discrimination task. Brain Research, 1594, 215-222.
- *Sullivan, E.M., & Glidden, L.M. (2014). Changing attitudes toward disabilities through Unified Sports. Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, 52, 367-378.
Students and faculty regularly present at regional, national, and international professional conferences. Recent conferences attended include the Society for Neuroscience, Eastern Psychological Association, American Psychological Association, and Society for Research in Child Development. Some of these students have been supported by competitive travel awards sponsored by the Faculty for Undergraduate Neuroscience, the Council on Undergraduate Research, the College or the Foundation.
Representative recent conference presentations:
- *Ertman, B. & Mirabile, S. P. Parental low negative expressivity and ignoring children’s negative emotions: Implications for children’s emotion regulation. Poster submitted for presentation at the 2019 biennial conference of the Society for Research in Child Development, Baltimore, MD.
- Foster, N. L., Mantell, J. T., & *Azimi Vahdat, M. M. (2018, November). Measuring the Vigilance Decrement Under Divided Attention. Poster presented at the 59th Annual Meeting of the
Psychonomic Society, New Orleans, LA.
- Williams, E. N., & *Shimoda, A (2018, August). Problematic Empathy in Counseling and Psychotherapy. Poster presented at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association, San Francisco, CA.
- *Darby, M. E., Williams, E. N., *Wolf, J. A., & *Marcelli, M. (2018, August). Feminist approaches to mentoring undergraduate students: Development of a measure. Poster presented at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association, San Francisco, CA.
- *Haber-Sage, S., & Platt, R, (2018, May). Changing attitudes towards the insanity defense. Poster presented at Forensic Mental Health Awareness Conference, Washington D.C.
- Tickle, J., *Kass, A., & McKissick, C. (2018, March). The experience of virtual reality: Use enhances attitudes toward VR. Poster presented at the 2018 annual meeting of the Eastern Psychological Association, Philadelphia, PA.
- Koenig, C. S., *Ertman, B., & Mirabile, S. P. (2017, November).The importance of competence, relatedness, and autonomy for the success of emerging adult college students. Poster presented at the convention of the Society for the Study of Emerging Adulthood, Washington D.C.
- *Kostelnik, C., *Madden, M., *Robey, K., *Barrett, A., *Leyder, E., Thompson, S. & Bailey, A. (2017, November). Intraventricular and intrahippocampal infusions of A5 subunit-selective negative allosteric modulators of GABA-A receptors produce rapid antidepressant behavioral changes. Poster presented at the 2017 Society for Neuroscience Meeting, Washington, D.C.