Research is an important component of the science of psychology. Students gain a better understanding of the discipline through direct experience with psychological research. Opportunities to get involved with research are plentiful in the psychology department and conducting research is a great way to gain valuable, practical experience whilst gaining professional connections and work experience. Involvement in research can also develop your analysis and critical thinking skills and lead to conference presentations and professional publications.
Partnering with faculty to conduct research offers a valuable opportunity to learn new techniques and apply methods learned in the classroom. Starting as early as their first year, students can enroll in directed research (PSYC 197/297/397/497) credits; students must complete learning contract paperwork available via the Registrar.
- 1 credit = 40 hrs/semester (2.5 hrs/week)
- 2 credits = 80 hrs/semester (5 hrs/week)
- 3 credits = 120 hrs/semester (7.5 hrs/week)
- 4 credits = 160 hrs/semester (10 hrs/week)
Volunteers are welcome. Some faculty occasionally offer paid positions.
Read through the listing of faculty research interests. If you are interested in the research of any current faculty member, please don’t hesitate to contact them directly to discuss opportunities.
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. An SMP in psychology is not required for the major (there are other capstone alternatives), but 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
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.