Santa Clara University

Psychology department

Psychology Research

Faculty research.

Matthew Bell, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
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Matthew C. Bell

Learning Psychology

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I have three primary research lines. One investigates basic learning processes using pigeons as subjects to look at things that affect choice and persistence. A second line looks at applications of the basic research in things like baggage screening and the rubber hand illusion. Finally, (in collaboration with Patti Simone) I’m interested in figuring out how to improve memory, particularly in older adults.

 
contactI prefer that student research assistants become involved on a number of different levels, depending upon their interests and experience. I ask students to make a minimum commitment of two quarters (but one year commitments are preferred) and prefer that they have taken at least PSYC 1. Contact me directly for more information on my lab lab. I require a minimum of a two-quarter commitment.
Katerina Bezrukova, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
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Katerina Bezrukova

Organizational Psychology

My primary research interests include workplace diversity, organizational conflict and performance, intergroup and interorganizational relations, and diversity training. Most recently, I have been interested in exploring the effects of demographic faultlines in diverse groups and understanding the process of conflict escalation in ethnopolitical situations. Some other recent projects involve justice, employee health, and technology.

 
contactBest way to get involved in my research is to take one of my classes.
Burger
Professor
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Jerry Burger

Social Psychology

My research in recent years has been focused largely in the area of social influence. This includes work on compliance; that is, why people agree to or decline requests to do favors, donate money, buy a product, etc. I also look at the effects of social norms, particularly how we can use information about what other people typically do to change unhealthy behaviors. Finally, expanding on my replication of Milgram’s obedience studies, I am interested in the situational variables that lead good people to sometimes engage in bad behaviors.

 
contactI recruit students to work on projects as the need arises. Students should contact me directly to express an interest in getting involved.
gilbert
Professor
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Lucia Albino Gilbert

Women's and Gender Psychlogy

My research has centered on gender issues in late adolescent and adult development on such topics as feminist approaches to psychological treatment, integrating work and family life, and broadening technological opportunities to girls. My current research interests focus on the influence of gender processes on career trajectories and women's career development in atraditional fields.

 
contactAt this point in my current project I would like to work with students who are interested in learning how to code qualitative data. Email me or stop by my office hours. To be considered, students should have completed PSYC 40 and PSYC 43. I require a minimum of a two-quarter commitment.
tracey
Professor

Tracey Kahan

Cognitive Psychology

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My research focuses on consciousness, cognition, and affect across the sleep-wake cycle.

I am currently conducting research into the adaptive functions of imagination (including dreaming) as a cognitive skill.

 
contactStudents are involved in all phases of Dr. Kahan’s research How to Get Involved Contact Dr. Kahan by telephone or by email. She prefers students who have completed PSYC 42 or 43 and at least one of her upper division courses (PSYC 120, 131, 132, 135).
Robert Numan, Ph.D.
Professor
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Robert Numan

Behavioral Neuroscience

My research has focused on two areas of study: (1) The development of an animal model of alcoholism, and (2) The experimental study of the brain systems that regulate the formation and consolidation of different types of memory. Currently, I am not conducting experimental laboratory research.

 
contactI do not currently need student research assistants.
Thomas Plante, Ph.D.
Professor
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Thomas Plante

Clinical / Health Psychology

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I am currently conducting ongoing research on the psychological benefits of exercise. Current projects include the role of social and environmental context in enhancing the psychological and physical experience of exercise. A variety of additional projects are underway which further evaluate the health benefits of religious/spiritual practice.

 
contactInterested students can email me at tplante@scu.edu and may wish to review my research studies on my web page.
Particia Simone, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
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Patricia Simone

Cognitive Psychology

Cognitive aging: Effect of environmental factors, such as continuing education, spaced retrieval, and other moderators of change on cognition (memory and attention) in later life.

Selective attention: Development of selective attention abilities in children, young adults, and older adults. The role of distractor processing in selective attention. Behavioral and neural mechanisms of cognitive inhibition.

 
contactCome by and let Dr. Simone know you are interested. She prefers students who have taken PSYC 40 and 43. PSYC 65, PSYC 165, 166, and/or 167 are a plus, though not necessary.
Kieren Sullivan, Ph.D.
Professor
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Kieren Sullivan

Clinical Psychology

I am currently investigating the role of readiness to change for spouses who want to promote change of a health behavior in their partner. I am also part of a longitudinal study designed to identify the variables that are present in the newlywed stage of marriage that predict marital satisfaction and stability. Finally, I do some research on marital education/premarital counseling.

 
contactContact Dr. Sullivan at ksullivan@scu.edu.
Timothy Urdan, Ph.D.
Professor
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Timothy Urdan

Education psychology

I am currently examining how the cultural identity of immigrant students influences their motivation and achievement in school. This project involves collecting data from college and high school students using surveys, interviews, and computer-based data collection methods.

 
contactContact Dr. Urdan by phone (408-554-4495) or via email (turdan@scu.edu).
Lisa Whitfield, Ph.D.
Lecturer

Lisa Whitfield

Developmental Psychology

My research interests are primarily in young children’s cognitive development, specifically in the areas of spatial problem solving and first language acquisition. Recently, I have become interested in exploring the validity of “nature-deficit disorder”, a notion popularized in a book by Richard Louv in which he asserts that children suffer emotional, physical, and cognitive problems as a result of a lack of connection to the natural world.

 
contactStudents interested in research should contact me via e-mail. Please include information about whether you have completed the following courses: Psyc 1 and 2, 40, 43, and 185. It is also helpful to state how far you have gone in your program of study, i.e., sophomore, junior, etc.
Eleanor Willemsen, Ph.D.
Professor
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Eleanor Willemsen

Clinical / Health Psychology

My last project was related to my specialty in attachment. It was a quasi-experimental study of the emergence of autobiographical memory at 3-1/2. This paper is still awaiting publication.

I am co-authoring a chapter on Children’s Mental health Issues and the Law for a Handbook Tom Plante is editing.

I am an author on his most recent paper on exercise and stress. This is an example of my main focus at this career stage: mentoring and helping others—faculty and students—with their research. If a student has a clearly thought out idea for a study, I will be happy to mentor them.

 
contactStudents working with Dr. Willemsen are usually full collaborators and coauthors. How to Get Involved Give Dr. Willemsen a note describing your background courses, experience, etc. and make an appointment. Depending on the project, she recommends PSYC 40, 43, 155, and 185.