Research Opportunities

Students may enroll in PSYC 2999 or PSYC 4999 for research credit and some faculty may accept volunteers. Below is the list of our faculty members and their areas of research specialization. Please directly contact the professor whose research you are interested in.

For approval, please download either a PSYC 2999 or PSYC 4999 form and complete the form entirely. Please read the form and all directions carefully. Once you have obtained all necessary signatures, email the completed form to for approval.

Cognitive and Brain Sciences

Dr. Beck conducts research on visual memory and attention.

Current research employs techniques such as tracking participant's eye movements as they search for a visual target or try to detect visual changes in a display. Dr. Beck is also interested in people's beliefs about how their visual system works and how the inaccuracy of these beliefs influences perception.

Students interested in working in Dr. Beck's laboratory should send an e-mail to, call 578-7214, or stop by 209 Audubon Hall.

View Dr. Beck's faculty biography page.

  • Disaster Stress and Cognition in Midlife and Later Adulthood
  • Interdisciplinary Approaches to Healthy Aging

DR. CHERRY is interested in factors that impact healthy aging. Current research projects focus on disaster stress related to the historic flooding of 2016 and prior hurricane experience. Students may be involved in recruiting and testing community-dwelling adults both at LSU and off-campus locations, data entry, and library work. For more information, contact Dr. Cherry at

View Dr. Cherry's faculty biography page.

Dr. Cox applies a combination of behavioral research, computational modelling, machine learning, and neuroimaging to investigate the representational format of semantic knowledge.

Our knowledge of the world shapes our path through it: the decisions we make, the things we attend to and ignore, and what we think we know about an unfamiliar environment when we enter it for the first time. How this knowledge is acquired, and a brain-based account of what that knowledge is and how it is physically represented in the brain, are critical questions for cognitive psychology and cognitive neuroscience. Interested students should contact Dr. Cox at for further information.

Dr. Elliott has a primary research interest in memory, working memory, attention, and the development of attention and memory in children.
One current line of research includes an investigation of how people perform in the presence of sounds that are irrelevant to the main task.

For more information, contact Dr. Elliott in room 228 Audubon Hall, 578-7460, or email

View Dr. Elliott's faculty biography page.

Dr. Hicks is conducting research in the general area of human memory.

Current research involves the investigation of factors that influence recognition memory (did I experience that?), source memory (from which of the two or more sources did a memory originate?), and prospective memory (remembering to fulfill delayed intentions).

Duties will vary depending on the particular project and the student's motivation, but will usually include developing stimuli, conducting experiments, scoring data, entering data into computers, etc. 

For further information, contact Dr. Hicks in room 208 Audubon Hall, or email

View Dr. Hicks's faculty biography page.

Dr. Lucas conducts research on how people learn and remember information, and how different aspects of memory are implemented in the brain.

She has a particular interest in how people manage the limits of their own memory abilities by making decisions about when and how to interact with to-be-remembered information— for example, by deciding what information to prioritize and how best to learn it. Another topic of interest is how memory contributes to a variety of tasks that require flexible thinking, such as creative problem solving. Dr. Lucas uses a variety of methods in her work, particularly event-related potentials (ERPs) and eye tracking. Students participate in the design of experimental materials, data collection, data entry/analysis, and participant recruitment. Opportunities for additional involvement may be available for interested and motivated students who work in the lab for multiple semesters. For further information, contact Dr. Lucas at

View Dr. Lucas' faculty biography page.

Dr. McDonald investigates how people (children and adults) acquire and comprehend language

She is interested in factors (e.g. age of acquisition, working memory capacity, amount and type of exposure) that determine the mastery of the structural aspects of language. Research projects include investigating language mastery in elementary school- aged children, in native speaking adults under different learning and testing conditions, and in second language learners. 

Students with interest in linguistics, cognitive processing, and second language learning (especially if you are fluent in two or more languages) are encouraged to contact Dr. McDonald in room 223A Audubon Hall, 578-4116, or email

View Dr. McDonald's faculty biography page.

Dr. Soto investigates the cognitive and behavioral effects of drugs.

Dr. Soto's current research is focused on evaluating cognitive decline in trasgenic mouse models of Alzheimer's-disease related pathology as a first step toward the evaluation of potential pharmacotherapeutic drugs for treating Alzheimer's-related cognitive impairment and on the long-term effects of early-life exposure to psychiatric medications such as antipsychotic medications.

Dr. Soto has a strong track record of mentoring undergraduate students in research and his students have presented their research findings at regional and national conferences and have been accepted into graduate programs at prestigious institutions such as Wake Forest University and Rutgers University. Undergraduate students are encouraged to apply to work in the lab and should contact Dr. Soto at

View Dr. Soto's faculty biography page and Dr. Soto's laboratory website.

 Clinical Psychology

Dr. Buckner's laboratory focuses on research concerning adult anxiety and substance use disorders. 

Current research has particular interests in the high rates of substance use disorders among those with pathological anxiety and ways to improve empirically supported treatments of those disorders.

Student responsibilities could include involvement in psychophysiological data collection (e.g., skin conductance, heart rate), serving as a confederate in anxiety induction protocols, collection of ecological momentary assessment of drug use in the natural environment, participant recruitment, data entry, and literature searches and library work. Preferences will be given to Psychology majors, students with serious interests in research and attending graduate school, and those with a GPA 3.2 or higher.

Students interested in anxiety and/or substance use research experience should contact Dr. Buckner at

View Dr. Buckner's faculty biography page. Alternatively, view the Anxiety and Addictive Behaviors Clinic (AABC) webpage.

Dr. Calamia is interested in how we measure cognitive and emotional functioning in individuals with neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and traumatic brain injury

Students may be involved in a number of activities including patient recruitment, administering neuropsychological tests and measures, and clinical data entry. For more information, please contact Dr. Calamia at

View Dr. Calamia's faculty biography page. View Dr. Calamia's lab website.

Dr. Cohen's laboratory focuses on researching severe mental illness

Current projects are aimed at better understanding symptoms in individuals with schizophrenia and those at risk for developing psychotic-spectrum disorders.

Students can serve a number of duties, including data-coding, computerized analysis of patients' behavior, literature searches and assisting with data-collection.

Responsible students interested in severe mental illness are encouraged to contact Dr. Cohen at for further information. 

View Dr. Cohen's faculty biography page. Click here to view the Severe Psychopathy Research Laboratory (SPRL) webpage.

Dr. Copeland is conducting research in stimulant use, primarily nicotine dependence and smoking cessation. 

She is presently interested in identifying how mood and beliefs about smoking affect ongoing smoking, smoking cessation and relapse.

Student responsibilities include interviewing subjects, data scoring, data entry, and library work.

Interested students should contact Dr. Copeland in room 224 Audubon Hall, call 578-4117, or email

View Dr. Copeland's faculty biography page.

Dr. Frick conducts research on children and adolescents with serious behavior problems.   

Current research projects focus on how the various factors within the child  and his or her social context can lead him or her to act in ways that hurt others (e.g., aggression and violence) or that violates important societal norms (e.g., school rules, laws).  This research is used to improve how youth with behavior problems are diagnosed and treated.  It is also used to influence public policy for how youth are best treated by the justice system.  Projects involve children as young as age 3 through young adulthood.   The research would be particularly beneficial for students who are interested in pursuing graduate work in developmental, clinical, or forensic psychology.   

Students interested in working in Dr. Frick's laboratory should send an e-mail to

View Dr. Frick’s laboratory page.

Dr. Kelley conducts research in several areas.

Dr. Mary Lou Kelley’s research is focused on the treatment of children with ADHD as well measurement development. Specifically, Dr. Kelley studies how parent involvement can improve children’s academic success, homework completion, and classroom behavior. Additionally, Dr. Kelley is interested in developing and evaluating parenting techniques that appeal to impoverished parents. Interested students will be involved with data collection and data entry.

Students with a serious interest in doing research and attending graduate school as well as a 3.3 GPA should contact Dr. Kelley in room 227 Audubon Hall, 578-4113, or email

View Dr. Kelley's faculty biography page.

Dr. Tucker conducts research in the field of suicide prevention with a specific focus on novel contributors to suicide risk and historical and current cultural factors that influence suicide risk and resilience in underrepresented populations (e.g., transgender veterans and ethnic/racial minority adults).

Students can assist in multiple phases of this research, including literature searches, participant recruitment, survey and experiment development, statistical analysis, and dissemination (research posters and publications). Dr. Tucker’s research program is also active in online awareness campaigns. Responsible interested in suicide prevention are encouraged to contact Dr. Tucker at and visit his website for more information

View Dr. Tucker's faculty biography page.

Dr. Matson's research interests have focused on the development of assessment and treatment methods in the fields of intellectual disabilities and autism spectrum disorders.

Dr. Matson has over 800 publications including 41 books on mental retardation, autism, and severe emotional disorders. He is a 3 time recipient of the Thomson Reuters World's Most Influential Scientific Minds and a 2 time recipient of the Clarivate Analytics Highly Cited Researchers awards.

Former doctoral students have taken positions in state developmental centers or as faculty in academic departments. Academic departments have included Johns Hopkins University Medical School, University of Oregon, Ohio State University, University of Georgia, University of Maryland Medical School, Western Michigan University, Mississippi State University, Auburn University, Indiana University Medical School, and University of Illinois Medical School, among others. Students who are interested should contact Dr. Matson at

View Dr. Matson's faculty biography page.

Industrial/Organizational Psychology

Dr. Harman works to understand how we make decisions and form judgments.

Current projects include studying the decision-making processes we use in health, the environment, and in organizations. The research uses basic and applied experimental paradigms along with computational modeling. For more information contact Dr. Harman at

View Dr. Harman's faculty biography page.

Dr. Zhang is an Industrial and Organizational Psychologist.

His research interests involve risk taking at work, statistical communication, and employee selection decisions. Undergraduate researchers may be involved in a variety of tasks including coding qualitative data, running experiments, and literature review. Students who are interested should contact him via email at and visit his website for more information

View Dr. Zhang's faculty biography page.


School Psychology

The Donaldson Applied Behavior Analysis Lab focuses on examining treatments for problem behavior in young children.

Dr. Donaldson conducts applied behavior analytic research related to reducing problematic behavior in young children. Her current research involves examining features of classwide interventions (e.g., Good Behavior Game) and time-out procedures to generate more effective and easy-to-implement interventions. Undergraduate research assistants will have the opportunity to collect direct observation behavioral data and conduct research sessions with individuals and/or groups of children. In addition, research assistants will be expected to attend weekly lab meetings in which the data are presented and relevant research articles are discussed. Interested students should submit an application to Dr. Jeanne Donaldson at

View Dr. Donaldson's faculty biography page.

Dr. Long's laboratory focuses on improving the implementation of evidence-based treatments in schools and culturally responsive practice

Despite the proliferation of evidence-based treatments for use in schools, desired student outcomes remain unattained. Thus, Dr. Long’s current research focuses on the identification of prominent implementation barriers and facilitators that might lead to the development of effective implementation supports. A second major aim of her research is examining cultural variables that moderate treatment outcomes (i.e., retention, engagement, and improvements in functioning/performance) and the impact of interventionist cultural competency on client outcomes.

Student responsibilities could include data collection in schools or community settings, data coding and entry, literature reviews and/or the development of study materials. Preferences will be given to Psychology majors, and students with serious interests in research and attending graduate school.

Students interested in implementation science and culturally responsive practice research should contact Dr. Long at

View Dr. Long's faculty biography page.

Dr. Clark’s research is centered on promoting student mental health and academic functioning within school settings and beyond.

Dr. Clark is interested in students’ perception of school climate and their sense of school belonging, as well as academic engagement (affective, behavioral, cognitive) and achievement. Dr. Clark’s conceptualization of mental health considers not only psychological risk factors and symptomatology, but also the presence of protective factors and subjective well-being.

Dr. Clark is particularly interested in the developmental transition from late childhood to early adolescence (i.e., transition from elementary to middle school). She is committed to utilizing empirically-validated universal screening tools and school-based mental health interventions that align within a multitiered system of support (i.e., response to intervention).

Students in Dr. Clark’s lab can expect individualized advising and mentorship, as well as peer mentorship and collaborative experiences across the School Psychology Program and Department of Psychology. Dr. Clark collaborates with students to hone their individual research interests and develop a program of research. Students may become involved in all aspects of the research process, including literature reviews, study conceptualization, data collection and analysis, and disseminating findings via peer-reviewed conference presentation and publication. Students who are interested can email Dr. Clark at

View Dr. Clark's faculty biography page.

Dr. Gilroy's research interests include the socialization and communication impairments demonstrated by individuals with disabilities (e.g., autism, intellectual disabilities), the evaluation of Behavior Analytic intervention packages using randomized-controlled designs, and exploring how models of decision-making and operant demand relate to caregiver decision-making (i.e., which treatments to implement and to what degree).

Aside from clinical research and service delivery, I develop and maintain numerous apps (i.e., speech-generating devices) used in clinical interventions and statistical packages (i.e., operant demand, delay discounting) used in clinical research. Everything I develop and research is released under free and open source licenses to support interventions in resource-strained settings, such as homes and schools. All projects, to date, are contained in my active GitHub repository.

My current projects include developing free and open source tools for use in communication interventions and in modeling caregiver decision-making. Per communication interventions, this project is dedicated to developing affordable and sustainable applications that can be used effectively by families and educators across environments. My projects related to caregiver decision-making are primarily statistical in nature, focusing on modeling how caregivers select interventions for their children and allocate their time and effort. Students who are interested can email Dr. Gilroy at

View Dr. Gilroy's faculty biography page.

Adjunct Faculty

Dr. Brantley is conducting research on psychological aspects of physical illness

Current research involves studies to investigate psychological factors that may promote long-term adherence with chronic medical conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and obesity. 

Students will be required to perform library work, data collection, and data coding and input. Specific duties vary with each research project.

For further information, contact Dr. Brantley in the Behavioral Medicine Laboratory at Pennington Biomedical Research Center, call 763-2629, or email

View Dr. Brantley's faculty biography page.

Dr. Carmichael is using neuroimaging to investigate the effects of aging, diabetes, exercise, and diet on the brain.

Current research involves functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) of the brain in younger and older adults performing cognitive tasks.   The fMRI data is compared between individuals with differing histories of weight gain, diabetes control, and exercise engagement.

Students learn how to analyze MRI data, learn the current state of brain MRI research, and perform literature searches. Specific duties vary with each research project.

For further information, contact Dr. Carmichael at Pennington Biomedical Research Center:

View Dr. Carmichael's faculty biography page.

Dr. Staiano is interested in obesity treatment and prevention in children and adolescents, with a focus on the behavioral contributors to pediatric obesity. 

Dr. Staiano is currently leading a physical activity trial for overweight adolescent girls that uses active video games (on Kinect for Xbox) to encourage physical activity. She is also directing pediatric weight loss programs in local schools and pediatric clinics. 

Students may perform participant recruitment, data entry, literature searches and library work, and other activities related to specific studies. Students will have the opportunity to observe clinical assessments, data collection, and interventions. 

For more information, contact Dr. Staiano in the Pediatric Obesity and Health Behavior Laboratory at Pennington Biomedical Research Center. Call 225-763-2729 or email

Visit Dr. Staiano’s lab’s website.

Dr. Morrison has a general research interest in whole animal neuroendocrinology and physiology, especially as applied to the neuronal regulation of feeding behavior, body weight homeostasis, reproduction, growth, and metabolism.

Dr. Morrison’s work has recently focused on dietary protein content and its effects on food intake and body weight. Dietary protein restriction significantly alters body composition, metabolism and food intake, but the mechanisms through which protein intake is detected and regulated are largely unknown. Recent work in the Morrison lab has discovered novel pathways contributing to the detection of protein restriction, and in particular has identified the circulating hormone FGF21 as the first known endocrine signal of protein restriction. Ongoing work is focusing on both the mechanism through which dietary protein regulates FGF21 and the mechanisms through which FGF21 coordinates adaptive changes in food intake and metabolism in response to protein restriction. In addition, separate experiments seek to identify novel pathways connecting dietary protein intake to metabolism, feeding behavior and longevity.

View Dr. Morrison's faculty biography page.