The Psychology Department offers students opportunities to become involved in research. Hands-on research experience provides valuable skills in literature review, experimental design, research methods, and data analysis. The skills obtained through research experience will help students further understand concepts relating to psychology and research and will also help prepare students for graduate study.
Faculty members are often more than willing to mentor and supervise student research projects or have students help with faculty research projects. The Psychology Department faculty here at UW-Whitewater study a wide array of research topics spanning from school and social psychology to cognitive psychology and neuroscience.
By enrolling in PSYCH 498 (Independent Study) or PSYCH 499 (Senior Thesis), students can earn credit for their research. Students may also apply for grants to fund faculty-mentored research projects through the UW-W Undergraduate Research Program. Students must have taken the appropriate prerequisite courses in order to enroll in Independent Study or Senior Thesis.
Students may gain valuable research experience through the department's research labs dedicated to psychological research: the Behavioral Neuroscience Research Lab and the Laboratory for Language and Emotion. Interested students are advised to have successfully completed both PSYCH 215 (Basic Statistical Methods) and PSYCH 216 (Research Methods), and have Junior standing before applying to join a lab.
Behavioral Neuroscience Research Lab
We study the neural mechanisms of reward evaluation in the mammalian brain. Specifically, we study how neurochemical manipulations of cells in a structure called the extended amygdala affect rats' evaluation of the reward effect of stimulating the brain's medial forebrain bundle. Ultimately, we seek to computationally model how cellular activity patterns in the extended amygdala represent the momentary value of a reward in the context of the animal's current internal and external environment.
The work of undergraduate assistants is critical to these goals. Each semester students in both psychology and the biological sciences assist with animal testing, data analysis, and other related tasks. Some students earn competitive undergraduate research grants, complete thesis projects, and present their work at professional conferences and in professional journals. Students also get to know other motivated, curious, hard working students with a variety of interests and gain experience working as part of a team to achieve important goals. If you would like more information about our lab contact Dr. Waraczynski (email@example.com) or any students currently part of our research team.
Laboratory for Language and Emotion
The Laboratory for Lanugage and Emotion uses the theory of embodied cognition to explore the relationship between language and emotion. This lab is specifically interested in how language can evoke strong emotions in people, and also, how emotions impact language comprehension. Recent research has shown that manipulations of participants' facial expressions of emotion change the speed with which they comprehend emotional sentences. For example, pleasant sentences are read faster while smiling than while frowning, and vice versa for unpleasant sentences. This finding helps support theories of embodied cognition, and shows that emotional states interact with sentence understanding. Students who participate in this lab will be exposed to a variety of research methods, including the use of electrodes and eye tracking equipment. Please visit the lab's website or contact Dr. Havas (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information about this lab.
UW-W alum featured in video
Ashley Acheson, Ph.D., is a 1998 UW-Whitewater graduate in psychology. Ashley is currently an assistant professor of psychiatry and research imaging at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. He conducts brain scans and psychological testing of children who are at risk for drug use. Check out Dr. Acheson's work in this video.