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Washington State University
College of Arts and Sciences Department of Psychology

Undergraduate Research Opportunities

Students interested in conducting research under the direction of psychology faculty may enroll in Research Participation (Psych 498 or 499).

  1. Check the bulletin board for listings. It is located on the 2nd floor of Johnson Tower or contact Psychology research faculty via email.
  2. Go to Johnson Tower 233 to pick up a “Psych 497, 498, 499” form.
  3. Take the form to the person you will be working with and ask him/her about the work. If you agree to work with him/her, the Mentor’s signature is required on the form.
  4. The cumulative maximum credit hours for Psych 498 is (8). You may take (4) credits of Psych 499 per semester and it may be repeated for an unlimited number of credits.
  5. Remember, one credit is equivalent to 3 hours of work per week.
  6. Be sure to register for Psych 498 or 499 along with your other courses.

Undergraduate Research Grants

To develop and showcase outstanding undergraduate research in psychology, the Department of Psychology awards research grants each fall and spring semester to undergraduates conducting independent research projects under the direction of psychology faculty.

To be eligible for a research grant, the student project must fulfill the following criteria:

  1. It must be developed in collaboration with a mentor on the psychology faculty.
  2. It must have scientific merit.
  3. It must include an original contribution by the student. That is to say, the scientific question and the written proposal should be as student-driven as possible.

In addition, applicants should have some previous research experience before they apply (e.g., Psych 498 credits) and they must have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or better.

Research grants of up to $750.00 will be awarded to defray costs associated with conducting the project. Applicants may request any amount of money up to, but not exceeding, $750.00. In their proposals, applicants should outline why the funds are needed to complete the project and provide a budget that specifies how the funds will be used. Grant recipients will be selected and announced annually in March and November. All recipients will present the results of their projects at the Department of Psychology’s Undergraduate Research Symposium, held each year in April. For this reason, projects funded in November must be completed by April of the following year. Those funded in March must be completed by April of the following year.

Applications for research grants are available in the Department of Psychology main office (Johnson Tower 233). Proposals are reviewed each fall and spring semester by the selection committee. Deadlines for submission vary from semester to semester, but typically occur in late Oct each fall semester and mid-March each spring semester. Students interested in applying for a research grant are encouraged to talk to their faculty research mentors about this opportunity.

Undergraduate Research Symposium

Initiated in 2002, the Undergraduate Research Initiative is designed to recognize and reward outstanding undergraduate research within the Department of Psychology. Each year, undergraduate students are invited to submit proposals for original research projects. Students design these projects with the assistance of psychology faculty. These projects reflect the diverse interests of our students and faculty, and include both basic and applied research. Each spring, the results of these projects are presented at Department of Psychology Undergraduate Research Symposium, an event open to the entire university and Pullman/Moscow community. Joining the grant recipients are other undergraduate presenters who are conducting psychological research under the direction of faculty mentors. This event has steady grown in size since 2002.

In conjunction with the symposium’s poster session, a guest speaker gives an invited presentation on his/her research within the field of psychology. Past guest speakers have included:

  • 2003: Dr. Robert Horner (WSU alumnus; Department of Psychology, University of Oregon)
    “Conducting Behavioral Science to Improve Our Schools and Communities”
  • 2004: Dr. Carl Swander (WSU alumnus; co-owner of Ergometrics and Applied Personnel Research, Inc.)
    “The Future of Hiring: Research Drives Exciting Advances in Job Simulation”
  • 2005: Dr. Gregory Belenky (research professor and director of the Sleep and Performance Research Center at WSU Spokane)
    “Sleep and Human Performance.”
  • 2006: Dr. Rand Walker (Clinical Services Director of the Center on Disabilities and Human Development)
    “The Real Scoop on the Role of Research in Clinical Psychology”
  • 2007: Dr. Timothy Smith (Department of Psychology; University of Utah)
    “Marriage and the Heart: Behavior During Marital Conflict Predicts Coronary Artery Disease”
  • 2008: Dr. G. Alan Marlatt (Department of Psychology; University of Washington)
    “Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention in the Treatment of Addictive Behaviors”
  • 2009: Dr. David Strayer (Department of Psychology, University of Utah)
    “Multi-Tasking in the Automobile: Are We Being Driven to Distraction?”
  • 2010: Dr. Maureen Schmitter-Edgecomb (Department of Psychology, Washington State University)
    “Aging and Dementia: Memory, Everyday Activities and Intervention”
  • 2011: Dr. Brady Duchaine (Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, Dartmouth College)
    “Exploring Human Social Perception via Deficits and Disruptions.”
  • 2012: Dr. Scott Lilienfeld (Department of Psychology, Emory University)
    “Public Skepticism of Psychology: Why Many People Perceive the Study of Human Behavior as Unscientific.”

The following are quotes from past grant recipients about their experience conducting research as an undergraduate:

“My experience in research goes onto my resume as well as my transcript. I feel that it gives me an edge over other applications and shows my responsibility and determination to potential employers and graduate programs.”
(Kristie-Lea Kelley, ’04 Zoology BS)

“This experience strengthened my knowledge about psychology and I hope that the knowledge and experience gained will benefit my future goal of graduate school. I hope this experience, along with my previous experience with neuroscience research, makes me a first choice candidate.”
(Summer Sweet, ’04 Psych BS & Neuroscience BS)

“Being encouraged to produce and develop research proposals at the undergraduate level is very motivating and inspiring. It gives a student the chance to test out areas of interest in research and further helps to decide post-graduation plans.”
(Kelby L. Holtfreter, ’05 Psych BS & Neuroscience BS)

“My experiences involving research will aid me in my future goals of becoming a valued researcher in the field of behavior analysis. The opportunity to perform my own research will contribute to better performance and acclimation in any type of scientific environment. It promotes flexibility in problem-solving and critical analysis of theoretical concepts.”
(Shea Colleen Bower, ’04 Psych BS)

“I now feel that medicine without understanding the foundations of research is rather pointless. I hope to combine my knowledge of medicine and clinical psychology.”
(James Bales, ’04 Psych BS & Neuroscience BS)

“[Research] helped me to improve many skills such as time management, verbal and written communication and collaborative skills. Although my current research is not directly related to the field [I eventually hope to enter], it taught me many skills that will enable me to pursue my goals. Graduate school and Ph.D. programs require a lot of research and with this background, completing such projects should be a lot easier.”
(Emily Verbon, ’04 Psych BS)

“The best part about doing research is the extended interactions I have had with people I work with, both professors and graduate students.”
(Jeremiah Brown, ’03 Psych BS)

“The best part about undergraduate research is the chance to gain practical experience in your chosen field (or a related one) that can help you determine if you actually enjoy doing that type of work. It is also a great opportunity to make contact with researchers in the field and expand your knowledge of career possibilities.”
(Victoria Cussen, ’03 Psych BS)