Research Opportunities

Research opportunities for students are available for credit. Completing undergraduate research is a valuable opportunity to design, carry out, and write up your own experiment with a faculty member.

If you are interested in undergraduate research opportunities in the psychology department, please speak to your advisor. 

Sample Research Projects from the Class of 2020

Neuronal loss in the Prelimbic Cortex, not the Infralimbic Cortex in a mouse model of Huntington's Disease

Presented By: Brandi Pang, Pallavi Saharia, Julia Norton
Faculty Sponsor: Zach Simmons, Mark Pitzer

We utilized immunofluorescent techniques to investigate neuronal and glial changes in the infralimbic and prelimbic subregions of the mPFC, two regions that innervate the nucleus accumbens shell and core respectively. Results indicated significant neuronal loss in the prelimbic cortex of HD mice compared to controls at 15 weeks.

Perceived Social Support and Compensatory Consumption Using High-Status Products

Presented By: Lindsay Phillips
Faculty Sponsor: Zach Simmons

The present study examines how manipulating perceived social support influences purchasing behavior (as a proxy for status-seeking). The results provide evidence against one model of self-concept (self-gifting theory), because participants in the low social support group did not rate items at a significantly higher rate than those in the control or high support groups.

The relationship between the mother-daughter bond and a new mother’s psychological and physiological response to her baby

Presented By: Allison Keil
Faculty Sponsor: Zach Simmons, Sarina Saturn

This transgenerational study explores how new mothers respond to their infants in both stressful (heel prick) and bonding (breast feeding) contexts, and whether these responses are informed by the relationship reported between the mothers and their own mothers (i.e., grandmothers).

Effect of Task Related Self-Efficacy on Performance and Self-Evaluation

Presented By: Jasmine Langley
Faculty Sponsor: Zach Simmons

The present study utilized an experimental design to test whether experiential or vicarious self-efficacy experiences had different influences on a subsequent task (unscrambling anagrams). Though no differences emerged, positive correlations were observed between self-efficacy, task performance, and self-evaluation while depression was found to have negative relationships with these variables.

Jury Studies: Mental Health Cases

Presented By: Brittney Stroud
Faculty Sponsor: Zach Simmons

The present study compares punitive sentiment recommended for defendants who are identified as having issues with mental health, substance abuse, or no extenuating circumstances. The study also tests whether the presence of expert testimony in support of these defenses significantly impacts sentence length.

Pain Perception and Tolerance Modulation by Chronic Social Ostracism

Presented By: Mitchell Koontz
Faculty Sponsor: Zach Simmons

Previous research demonstrated correlations of anterior cingulate cortex activation in response to both social exclusion and physical pain, suggesting the two may operate via a common neural circuit. If there is overlap, then it's possible that chronic activation of the circuit via one type of stimuli might influence responses in the other. The present study sought to test both these predictions.

Psychopathy and corticostriatal connectivity: the link to criminal behavior in methamphetamine dependence

Presented By: Merel Jacobs
Faculty Sponsor: Milky Kohno

This study shows psychopathic traits contribute to weaker corticostriatal connectivity in methamphetamine dependence and are associated with the increase in criminal behavior. Methamphetamine use and psychopathic traits reduce treatment responsiveness and increase likelihood of recipism, and it's therefore important to understand factors underlying the propensity to engage in criminal behavior.