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Senior Research

Senior Research

Psychology majors complete either PY417 (Senior Seminar: Research in Psychology) or PY450 (Senior Seminar: Advanced Topics in Psychology) during their senior year. Upon completion of the course, each senior presents his/her research project to faculty and students at the Psychology Senior Conference.

In PY417 students actively explore their own interests by conducting a complex research project from start to finish, including forming a research question and hypothesis, designing an experiment or observational study, collecting and analyzing data, and presenting the findings orally and in written form. This demanding yet rewarding task is often the most valuable experience our majors have during their time at BSC.

Recent research papers from PY417:

Traits associated with the accurate perception of sexual orientation in male faces
Katie Sack, Sarah Carper, and Mohammed Jasser

Walk this way: Auditory priming effects on subsequent motor behavior
Cedric Evans, Haley Johnson, Richard Vance, J. D. Hulse

Close(r) friends?: Social motivations affect perceived distance to other people
Ashley Cook, KK Hultberg, Kace Franks, Katelyn Wilson

Caffeine: Wake up and smell the memory
Meghan Morales, Ameet Bosmia, and Mary Avant

In PY450 students gain an in-depth view of an advanced topic in psychology (e.g., violence, media psychology, psychotherapy). This class is quite comparable to a graduate level course in format (i.e., discussion-based) and content. The final project in this class is similar to that in PY417, but because so many research ideas are near impossible to pursue as an undergraduate student (e.g., conducting a randomized controlled trial investigating the efficacy of Zoloft in the treatment of severe depression), PY450 offers an opportunity for students to propose a research project -- any project (the sky is the limit!) -- but not actually carry it out (well, at least not until later in life when they get a NIH multi-million dollar grant).

Recent research papers from PY450:

Examining the efficacy of Mirror Therapy in the treatment for phantom limb pain
Janelle West

A complete dismantling of Cognitive-behavioral Therapy as treatment for primary insomnia
Milli Boozer

A proposed randomized control study on Narrative Exposure Therapy as a treatment for African refuge children with posttraumatic stress disorder
Katie Sack


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    Additional research experience:


    To gain additional research experience, advanced students can apply for volunteer positions in faculty research labs. These labs involve faculty-directed research that may lead to collaborative or even student-led projects for select students (PY493 Independent study). Dr. Joe Chandler runs the brand new Federally-funded Sleep Lab, Dr.Shane Pitts runs the Social Cognition Lab, Dr. Greta Valenti runs the Social Psychology lab, Dr. Richard Rector runs the Developmental Psychology lab and Dr. Lynne Trench runs the Rat Lab. Most of the students participating in the labs have an opportunity to accompany professors to regional or national conferences! Please contact these faculty members if you are interested in applying for a position in their lab.

    From left: M. Claire Williams, Meredith Wolfe, Rachel Kendra, Dr. Tricia Witte

    From left: M. Claire Williams, Meredith Wolfe, Rachel Kendra, Dr. Tricia Witte

    From left: Katie Sack, Dr. Shane Pitts

    From left: Katie Sack, Dr. Shane Pitts

    From left: Allison Thompson, Hannah Pinckney

    From left: Allison Thompson, Hannah Pinckney

    From left: Sean Hollis, Rachel Kendra

    From left: Sean Hollis, Rachel Kendra

    Ameet Bosmia

    Ameet Bosmia

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    The Rat Lab:


    Dr. Lynne Trench oversees the Rat Lab, which is housed in the 24.1 million dollar state-of-the-art Elton B. Stephens Science Center. Students enrolled in Psychology of Learning have the rare and extraordinary opportunity to work with rats to better understand how animals (and humans) learn new behaviors. Students use operant boxes (or Skinner boxes) to train rats to press a bar for food, among other things.

    Occasionally, students in PY417 (Senior Seminar: Research in Psychology) will use the Rat Lab to conduct a study for their senior project. In the past, students have conducted studies on the effects of Ginseng or Ginkgo on rats in the Morris water maze or on running wheel activity.

    Watch video clips of past student projects for Psychology of Learning!

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    Internship opportunities:


    Birmingham offers a rich environment for internship opportunities. Listed below are just some of the internships that students have obtained in the past few years. Students interested in learning more about internship opportunities should contact Dr. Shane Pitts (spitts@bsc.edu).

    • UAB Center for Psychiatric Medicine
    • Trinity Medical Center Behavioral Health Department
    • UAB Substance Abuse Program includes -- TASC (Treatment Alternatives to Street Crime)
    • The Exceptional Foundation
    • UAB Children’s Center for Weight Management
    • Mitchell’s Place
    • Mental Health Association of Central Alabama
    • Edgewood Elementary
    • Homewood High School, Homewood Middle School
    • Crisis Center of Birmingham
    • UAB Pediatric Neuropsychology
    • Health South Rehabilitation Hospital
    • UAB Children’s Hospital
    • The Amelia Center
    • CampFire USA
    • UAB Sparks Clinic and Behavioral Assessment Clinic
    • UAB Department of Neurology, Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center
    • Planned Parenthood Association
    • Futures Incorporated
    • Impact Family Counseling
    • YWCA
    • Prescott House
    • Grayson and Associates
    • Pathways
    • Mitchell’s Place
    • UAB Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurobiology, Neuroimaging and Translational Research Laboratory