Much of the research VCU Psychology faculty conduct includes opportunities for majors to gain research experience and earn research internship credit. Students who register for PSYC 494 work with a faculty member on research, often as part of a team of undergraduate and graduate students. They may work on various phases of a research project (design, data collection, data entry, data analysis). This course is designed to enhance a psychology major's career pursuits for either graduate level training or post-baccalaureate employment.
A list of opportunities is available in the undergraduate advising office on the first floor of 806 W. Franklin St. Permission of a faculty research supervisor must be obtained prior to registration. Prerequisites include PSY 214, 317, or permission of instructor.
The VCU Office of Research has a resources page for undergraduate students interested in research. During Spring 2015, 53 of our students presented research findings at the VCU Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program annual poster symposium.
This summer, the Department of Psychology held its inaugural Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship Program, SURF into Health Psychology. Eight undergraduate psychology majors were selected from a competitive applicant pool to participate in one of three laboratories: the Developmental and Family Psychology Laboratory (directed by Robin Everhart, Ph.D., and Marcia Winter, Ph.D.), the Behavioral Health Research Laboratory (directed by Caroline Cobb, Ph.D.) and the Behavioral Pharmacology Laboratory (directed by Joseph Porter, Ph.D.).
Undergraduate fellows received a stipend to participate in health psychology research for eight weeks for a total of 224 hours. They received broad exposure to research and to the health psychology discipline. The Department held a welcoming event, provided mentoring and offered several programs for the fellows throughout the summer including meetings about vita development and GRE preparation. The fellows also had the chance to meet with the department chair, Wendy Kliewer, Ph.D., and the College of Humanities and Sciences' new dean, Montserrat Fuentes, Ph.D. Future summer fellowship programs may use different themes. The closing event was a poster session on November 4.
The project: “Possible Selves and Health Behaviors of Latino Adolescents” — A study identifying whether Latino adolescents’ future goals are related to their educational and health behaviors, and how their hopes and fears motivate those behaviors.
The student researcher: Neha Jadhav, junior, psychology major with a concentration in life sciences, pre-med; minoring in chemistry and creative writing
The faculty mentor: Rosalie Corona, Ph.D., associate professor, Department of Psychology; director, Clinical Psychology Program and Health Psychology Program; director, Latino Mental Health Clinic
Neha Jadhav: I got involved in this project as part of the Honors Summer Undergraduate Research Program through the Honors College. Our goal was, and is, to find a correlation between what Latino adolescents hope to become and what they’re afraid of becoming in the future, and how those outcomes can be improved. Having to step outside my own culture and comfort zone, I learned as much about myself as I did about the research topic.
Rosalie Corona, Ph.D.: It’s a great thing for undergraduates to go beyond the classroom into a real-world setting — to get out of the textbook and make it real, and see how research can contribute to the community. Neha sought us out when she was still a sophomore. She had an interest in psychology research and chose the Possible Selves project. For someone as young as she was when she started in research, I was really impressed with her natural ability in terms of the scientific process. She picked up on and was able to write and make manuscript contributions right away. Very quickly we realized that was a strength of hers, so she got to participate in tasks that I haven’t had undergrads working on that intensely.
The results: While the Possible Selves project is still ongoing, data analysis so far has identified several key findings. Few adolescents reported balance in their possible and feared selves, with nearly a quarter reporting an achievement possible self and a risky behavior feared self. This highlights the relevance of risky behaviors to Latino adolescents’ educational goals. Results suggest that prevention programs may want to focus on educational goals/outcomes and risk behaviors.
- Courtesy of VCU News
- Photo by Tom Kojcsich, VCU University Marketing