Research Opportunities in Psychological and Brain Sciences

Frequent collaboration between students and faculty is one of the department’s distinctive strengths. Students have numerous opportunities for high-level research in partnership with professors who are experts in their fields.

Curricular Research

Senior Thesis

Research is a departmental focal point, and one semester of research is therefore a curricular requirement for students pursuing a psychological science or neuroscience major. Students pursuing honors must complete two semesters of research.

During the spring semester of junior year, each student major identifies several areas of interest for a senior-year research experience. Students are then assigned to faculty research supervisors and assigned to the fall or spring semester sections of a required Senior Research course, during which they will complete their research project and prepare a senior thesis with their findings.

Independent Studies

Students with a research subject of personal interest may have the opportunity to earn course credit pursuing research on that subject—under the guidance of a member of the faculty—via an independent study.

Students earn one credit for each semester of independent study. Students coordinate such independent studies with their academic or research adviser.

Additional Research Opportunities

In addition to research elements built into the curriculum, students may elect to pursue paid research opportunities, supporting the projects of departmental faculty members. Extracurricular research—often in paid positions—can provide students with valuable experiences to build their skills and résumés. Paid research positions are not eligible for academic credit.

Professor Bruce Hansen and student researchers prepare a research subject in the EEG laboratory

Summer Research

Each summer, a number of students remain on campus to conduct funded research in collaboration with, and under the supervision of professors in the department. Projects may originate with faculty members seeking student collaborators, or with students, who may propose projects to execute under the guidance of a supervising faculty member.

Research Assistants

Paid positions as student research assistants are also available in some faculty members’ labs. Students interested in these positions should speak directly with the faculty member. Students who instead wish to earn academic credit for their research should consult with their research adviser regarding the possibility an independent study.

Faculty Research Interests

Research Interest Faculty Member
Animal learning and cognition; cognitive and perceptual development; auditory learning and perception in songbirds Rick Braaten
Human motivation, social skills development, special needs parenting Regina Conti
Cognitive, affective, and physiological mechanisms behind intergroup conflict and discrimination; implicit biases; intersection of different identities (e.g., race, gender, class); impact of shifting American racial demographics on perceptions of race Erin Cooley
Neural mechanisms of early visual processing; neural dynamics in scene perception and categorization; non-conscious influences on human behavior; computational modeling of neural networks; eye-movements and visual attention; human face perception and recognition; neural biases involved in the aesthetics of visual art. Bruce C. Hansen
Experimental psychology, statistics, human cognition, memory, information processing Doug Johnson
Nonverbal and physiognomic elements of social dominance, influence, power, status, leadership and charisma; initiation and hazing; social-emotional development and social bonds from infancy to adulthood; cross-cultural human development. Carrie Keating
Co-speech hand gestures, cognitive neuroscience, verbal and nonverbal communication, psycholinguistics, developmental psychology, second language learning Spencer Kelly
Neuroendocrine control of ingestive behavior; physiological mechanisms by which eating elicits drinking behavior Scott Kraly
Genetic and environmental influence on vocal learning, communication, and its disorders. Wan-chun Liu
Alcohol use disorders: Antecedents, development, course, correlates and consequences, and related public health and intervention issues; college drinking; drug use Julia Martinez
Development of children’s biobehavioral regulation as it relates to health, academic skills, and adjustment Lauren Philbrook
Personality, clinical psychology, child development, personality disorders in youth, internalizing disorders of depression and anxiety Rebecca Shiner
Neurophysiology, neuroethology, physiology of neural circuits in invertebrates, neurobiological theories of mental illness, evolution of nervous systems and cognition Ann Jane Tierney
Social psychology, health psychology, close relationships, psychophysiology, and statistics Jennifer Tomlinson
Regulation of glial cell proliferation during disease and following trauma Jun Yoshino

Research Resources

Colgate is equipped with a state-of-the-art EEG system that was funded through a National Science Foundation grant.

About the ERP lab 

Colgate's Institutional Review Board (IRB) supervises and approves all research involving human participants. 

About the Institutional Review Board

Easy access to key documents, resources, and templates for students conducting in research projects. 

Explore resources for students