Department of Psychology

Faculty Research Labs and Opportunities

To see what research is being conducted in which labs around the department, please scan the list and description of faculty research labs below.


Interpersonal Relationships Lab
Kristine Kelly, Ph.D.

The Interpersonal Relationships Lab is involved in a variety of research projects that are related to the study of interpersonal relationships in the following areas:

  • Relationship Dynamics: Much of our research has examined basic psychological processes involved in the formation, maintenance, and dissolution of personal and social relationships. Specific areas of focus include social rejection, betrayal, overinclusion, and mate selection.
  • Individual Differences in Relationships: Our research on individual differences primarily involves an exploration of the interface between individual difference variables and the quantity/quality of important social and personal relationships. Recent projects in this area have focused on gender differences in relationships, personality traits and relationships, and self-regulation.
  • Assessment of Personality and Relationships: This line of research is devoted to the development and validation of psycho-metrically sound research instruments with which to measure relevant constructs of personality and relationships. Some of our recent scales include the Need to Belong Scale, Love at First Sight Scale, and Future Uncertainty Scale.

Prerequisites: GPA must be at least 3.0, preferably higher. Especially looking for freshmen, sophomores, or juniors with graduate school aspirations who are interested in working with me for two or more semesters. I usually do not take graduating seniors.

Student tasks: Posting study information on Sona Systems, entering data, running subjects, submitting research papers to conferences, applying for research grants, advanced students may design their own study. Four hours of research work per week plus weekly lab meetings.

Student skills desired: Professional, collegial, respectful, keep commitments and obligations, know when to ask for help, motivated, hard worker, team player, ethical, fast learner, willing to do whatever it takes to get a job done.

Active research lab: Yes

Currently looking for students: Yes, graduate and undergraduate students. Students sign up for 1-2 credits/semester

Lab location/meeting times: Waggoner 052 (basement); lab meeting times change every semester

Contact information: Email; Phone: (309) 298-2653; application forms on wall outside Dr. Kelly's office (Waggoner 109). For more information, visit Dr. Kelly's website.

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Affect Regulation Lab
Scott Hemenover, Ph.D.

The goals of the Affect Regulation Lab are to conduct high-quality research exploring individual differences in affect regulatory processes and to facilitate the research education of students through a hands-on approach wherein which students act as collaborators through the research process including project development, data collection/management, data analysis/interpretation, and presentation of findings.

Prerequisites: None

Student tasks: You will engage in various research activities including but not limited to: Reading/discussing journal articles, data collection, data entry and data analysis, presentation of research findings, library work, and organization of materials. Research assistants are required to:

  • Devote 5 hours per week to research related activities
  • Keep commitments and obligations in conjunction with lab activities (e.g., readings)
  • Attend all weekly lab meetings (TBA)
  • Conduct at least 2 protocol runs per week (once data collection begins)
  • Spend 1 hour/week entering data (once data collection begins)
  • Present/discuss research findings during lab meetings
  • Students may have the opportunity to submit papers to psychology conferences, attend conferences, and attend departmental colloquia and thesis defense meetings.

Student skills desired: Students who behave in a professional, collegial, and respectful manner when interacting with others, expecially research participants

Active research lab: Yes

Currently looking for students: Yes, graduate and undergraduate students.

Lab location/meeting times: Waggoner; Friday 11-12:30

Contact information: Email; Office: Waggoner 167; Phone: (309) 298-1357

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Behavioral Pharmacology Lab
Russ Morgan, Ph.D.

My lab focuses on the field of behavioral psychopharmacology with an emphasis ont he effects of drugs and/or environmental toxins on the development of cognition function (e.g., attention and memory) in animal models. In recent years we have examined the long term effects of early exposure to drugs such as Prozac, cocaine, and Accutane (acne medication) and toxins (such as lead and pesticides).

Prerequisites: Preferably have taken 223/323 and Physiological Psychology(343), but not mandatory.

Student tasks: Waking the research animals, feeding and caring for them, attending weekly lab meetings and required research activities.

Student skills desired: Must be reliable, able to work independently, and willing to work with other students.

Active research lab: Yes

Currently looking for students: Yes, graduate and undergraduate students.

Lab location/meeting times: Basement of Waggoner; Variable lab meetings.

Contact information: Email; Office: Waggoner 039; Phone: (309) 298-1743

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Laboratory for the Investigation of Psychology and Law
Kim McClure, Ph.D.

We take a social-cognitive approach to understanding eyewitness memory. Current research involves perceptions of eyewitness confidence and how it influences the course of a criminal investigation and eyewitness voice and face recognition evidence. Presentations from the last two years have focused on exploring belief in a just world as a cultural world view; eyewitness confidence influences participant-detectives’ perceptions of accuracy; expression, skin tone and perceiver motivation in recognizing other-race faces; and in-group homogeneity and out-group heterogeneity: The effects of skin tone on other- and own-race faces.

Prerequisites: 3.0 GPA or better (Students with lower GPAs are considered if major GPA meets minimum).

Student tasks: Participation in weekly lab meetings that may involve

  • Data collection, entry, and transformations in SPSS
  • Creation of graphs and tables in Excel and Word
  • Creation of stimulus materials with Photoshop
  • Designing and implementing independent research/readings

Student skills desired: Students should have some basic experience with:

  • Computer skills involving the use of SPSS, Word, Excel, E-prime and Photoshop (not essential, but will be exposed to it) software
  • Critical thinking and integration of current literature on eyewitness confidence and facial recognition.
  • Statistical analysis and scientific report writing.
  • Interpersonal skills relevant to working cooperatively with groups

Active research lab: Yes

Currently looking for students: Yes, I have 2 openings for graduate students and 3 openings for undergraduates. I am open to taking students in their freshman year on a trial basis. Second semester sophomores are preferable. I am least likely to take seniors unless they have excellent academic credentials and a specific goal to accomplish.

Lab location/meeting times: Waggoner 168; Thursdays 9-10 am (variable from semester to semester – we attempt to be flexible to work within the schedules of most of the students)

Contact information: Email; Office: Waggoner 160; Phone: (309) 298-1259. Meet with Dr. McClure during office hours (Fall 2009 – Monday and Wednesday 1:00 to 3:00 pm (or by appointment). Application materials include a personal essay describing your reasons to join LIPL, an informal transcript, and an undergraduate contract.

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Applied Behavior Analysis and Human Sexuality Lab
Dana Lindemann, Ph.D.

Students in the Applied Behavior Analysis and Human Sexuality lab conduct research related to those topics, fairly broadly defined. Students are currently working on studies that assess body image and the media, condom use among LGBT students, sexual behavior among college students, aggressive behaviors related to sports, attitudes toward sexual content in the media, and the efficacy of condom advertisements.

Prerequisites: Contact and meet with Dr. Lindemann to discuss interests, goals, and to determine if this is a good lab for the student.

Student tasks: Students in the lab work on their own student research project (by themselves or with one other lab student), and also contribute to “lab projects.” These projects are ones in which Dr. Lindemann is the primary investigator, and everyone in the lab assists with. Lab projects typically involve evaluating factors related to condom use. Students in the lab work as a team, and everyone learns how to and contributes to data collection, proofing data, and data entry. Projects lead to presentation at local, regional, and/or national conferences (and possibly publication). The lab students are a very cohesive group who generally enjoy helping each other.

Student skills desired: Students who are motivated to expand their research skills and are interested in working among a productive, cohesive group of students.

Active research lab: Yes

Currently looking for students: Yes - I typically accept up to 7 students in the lab each semester. Students are required to take at least 1 credit research or readings hours; however 2 to 3 credits is typical. A one-year commitment is desired (though not required), and weekly lab meetings are required.

Lab location/meeting times: Waggoner 143 and 144; Typically meetings are Thursday afternoons.

Contact information: Email; Office: 166 Waggoner Hall; Phone: (309) 298-1651

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Applied Social Psychology Lab
David Lane, Ph.D.

The research in this lab applies social psychological concepts to understanding real-world problems, especially in the areas of physical health and college student’s academic performance. We are especially interested in understanding health behaviors that can be risky for students’ health. Past studies have looked at what predicts alcohol use (such as getting drunk or playing drinking games), whether online alcohol prevention trainings work, and how social influence affects reckless driving. A second area of research looks at what predicts whether freshmen stay enrolled at WIU. We have studied the role played by various psychological concepts such as sense of community, personality traits, and perceived similarity with other students. The goal is to determine who is at-risk for leaving college.

Prerequisites: No specific prerequisites, although GPAs above 3.0 are recommended. Need to complete application and have interview with Dr. Lane.

Student tasks: Serving as experimenters (face-to-face contact with participants); assisting in creation of study materials; data entry. Students must also attend weekly 50 minute lab meeting.

Student skills desired: Students will be trained in research skills, so past experiences are not as important as (a) high degree of responsibility/ reliability, (b) ability to interact with participants in a friendly yet professional manner, (c) enthusiasm for learning more about psychology.

Active research lab: Yes

Currently looking for students: Yes

Lab location/meeting times: Waggoner 052; Meeting times are variable - Fall 2009: Thursdays 11:00-11:50am.

Contact information: Email; Office: Waggoner 155; Phone: (309) 298-1595

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Western Illinois Center for Neurobiological Investigation of Drug Abuse (WICNIDA)
Steven I. Dworkin

The WICNIDA provides “state of the art” training in research methodology used to evaluate the behavioral, pharmacology and neurobiology of drug abuse. A number of different behavioral procedures are available to examine critical behavioral and pharmacologic factors that are involved in substance abuse and/or the vulnerability to become dependent on abused drugs.
Additional procedures and equipment are available to provide preclinical assessments of novel behavioral and pharmacologic treatments for substance abuse disorders.

Prerequisites: Preferably have taken 223/323, PSY 334-336 and Physiological Psychology(343), but not mandatory.

Student tasks: Conducting experimental procedures with rodents, feeding and caring for subjects, attending weekly lab meetings, Training in the Care and Use of Animals in research.

Student skills desired: Must be reliable, able to work independently, and willing to work with other students.

Active research lab: Yes

Currently looking for students: Yes, graduate and undergraduate students.

Lab location/meeting times: Basement of Waggoner; Variable lab meetings.

Contact information: Email; Office: Waggoner 100A; Phone: (309) 298-1593

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Colin Harbke, Ph.D.

I have extremely broad interests in psychology, which I often try to adapt or expand to assist students with their own projects. I have supervised projects on attractiveness and alcohol use, memory for repeated stimuli (e.g., semantic satiation), after effects and perceptual illusions, electrophysiological responses (e.g., brain waves) to various sounds, and many other topics. Either for my own research or consulting with others I have worked on a research from a variety of topics, ranging from investigations of the impact of sex hormones on tolerance to pain in rats to sexism and the impacts of gender discrimination on women’s health. If you want help turning a research idea into a project, please contact me. If I am aware of another faculty member who may have more expertise for your project, I will suggest you contact them as well.

Prerequisites: Must have an interest in research and time to dedicate toward individual research or helping other with their research (5 to 6 hours a week). Must plan on being at WIU for three (3) or more semesters.

Student tasks: Varies depending on research project. Opportunities to be involved with all aspects of a project, from design to description of results, are typical.

Student skills desired: Experience with computers is desired for most, but not all, projects.

Active research lab: Yes

Currently looking for students: Yes, undergraduate and graduate students are welcome.

Lab location/meeting times: Variable meeting times.

Contact information: Email; Office: Waggoner 106

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Matt Blankenship, Ph.D.

Areas of research include neuroscience; physiological and behavioral factors related to memory, learning and emotion. Primary focus is on Alzheimer's disease.

Prerequisites: None

Student tasks: Collecting data and running rats in mazes; processing tissue samples, surgical implants.

Student skills desired: Students who are eager and interested. Interested in graduate school, medical school, veterinary school makes our lab a good stepping stone.

Active research lab: Yes

Currently looking for students: Not currently - graduate students may need assistance in the spring.

Lab location/meeting times: Basement of Waggoner; Variable lab meetings.

Contact information: Email; Office: 108 Waggoner Hall; Phone: (309) 298-1290.

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Curt Dunkel, Ph.D.

Areas of research include identity, evoluntionary psychology, possible selves, and the sacred and profane

Prerequisites: GPA of 3.0 or higher

Student tasks: Reading background information in area of research, posting information on Sona Systems, entering data, library research. My goal is to have students produce and publish research.

Student skills desired: Reliable, ability to work independently, work with graduate students and participants.

Active research lab: No

Currently looking for students: Yes, graduate and undergraduate.

Lab location/meeting times: Waggoner 158

Contact information: Email; Office: Waggoner 158; Phone: (309) 298-1078.

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Julie Herbstrith, Ph.D.

The focus of my research is in the area of prejudice and variables that may moderate (1) having negative attitudes about particular outgroups and (2) expressing or suppressing these attitudes.

My previous research projects have involved exploring ideas such as the following:

  • how social norms may regulate prejudice
  • factors related to the motivation to control prejudiced reactions
  • sex differences in prejudice toward gay men and lesbians
  • prejudice toward gay men and lesbians who have children
  • how individual differences (such as Big 5 factors) affect prejudice expression

Previous studies I have conducted have involved collecting data using questionnaire, behavioroid, and behavioral measures.

Prerequisites: GPA of preferably 3.5 +

Student tasks: I plan to schedule regular weekly lab hours for research assistants that may include library research, preparing stimulus materials to be used in research, data collection, and data entry.

Student skills desired: Ideally, research assistants will be highly reliable, able to work independently and with others, and conscientious in their work. Good problem-solving skills are a plus, as is the ability to work with research participants.

Active research lab: In development

Currently looking for students: Yes, I’m planning to recruit a graduate assistant and a few undergraduate assistants willing to start in the spring semester and continue through Spring 2011 (or longer)

Lab location/meeting times: Variable; Lab meeting depends on class schedules. Student researchers will maintain their own set lab hours and there will be a 1-hour weekly meeting that everyone attends.

Contact information: Email; Office: Waggoner 131G; Phone: (309) 298-1040

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Eugene Mathes, Ph.D.

I have a life history project involving geneological research ready to go.

Prerequisites: None

Student tasks: Entering data

Student skills desired: Reliable and dependable

Active research lab: No

Currently looking for students: Yes, 1-2 undergraduates

Lab location/meeting times: Variable

Contact information: Email; Office: Waggoner 117; Phone (309) 298-1547

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Hiroko Sotozaki, Ph.D.

My main research interest lies in the area of language, reading, and brain laterality; particularly I am interested in dyslexia and other LD.
The main focus of the lab is two folds: (1) brain and reading and (2) brain laterality. Last year we completed one study investigating whether poor readers use different strategies from good readers when a reading task becomes difficult. I presented this study to the International Neuropsychology Society in February 2009 with a WIU student. The manuscript of the study was submitted to a peer reviewed journal this past summer. I offered the third authorship to the WIU student. I also presented my interview study about dyslexia to the International Hawaii Conference on Education in Jan. 2009. So my interest is not limited in just cognitive and brain areas, but also I am interested in applications of research, e.g., Early prevention of reading and math problems.

I am currently working on one project to investigate the universal characteristics of dyslexia across languages. I completed the data collection in Japan (July 2009), and I am currently analyzing the data with my graduate research assistant. I am also planning on setting up a computerized experiment to investigate alexitimia (an inability of connecting emotional words and emotion) in relation to brain laterality.

Prerequisites: PSY100, motivated and hard workers

Student tasks: The general responsibilities of my student lab assistants are to do library research, coming to the meeting regularly, discussing topics, participating in running participants, entering data and contributing to a project

Student skills desired: Reliable and motivated to work. I would like to guide students on a step-by-step basis, so that students can gradually learn many things without feeling of anxiety or pressure.

Active research lab: Yes

Currently looking for students: Yes, I am looking for both graduate and undergraduate students. In the fall 2009 and spring 2010 semesters, students will mainly focus on reading on a certain topic. However, in the spring semester 2010 we will set up a computerized cognitive experiment.

Lab location/meeting times: Waggoner 152; At this moment we meet three times a week; MWF between 11:15AM-12:00PM.

Contact information: Email; Office: Waggoner 107; Phone: (309) 298-1593

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Virginia Diehl, Ph.D.

I am interested in working with students who are interested in cognitive psychology. If you want to find out more about working with me, please stop by or send me an email telling me about yourself and your research interests and your motivations for wanting to get involved in research.

Prerequisites: None

Student tasks: Variable

Student skills desired: Reliable and dependable

Active research lab: Yes

Currently looking for students: Yes, graduate and undergraduate students.

Lab location/meeting times: Waggoner; variable

Contact information: Email; Office: Waggoner 133; Phone (309) 298-2652

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