Research and Applied Opportunities

research labs

Faculty and students engage in research and development activities in various arenas of Psychology through laboratories operating in the Department.



Behavioral Neuroscience Lab: Allen Schneider
The behavioral neuroscience laboratory conducts research on the neurochemical basis of emotional memory.  Experiments are directed at characterizing and pharmacologically targeting underlying mechanisms mediating abnormal fear memory based on an animal model of anxiety disorders including PTSD.
Students can get involved in the lab through PSYC 103 (Research Practicum in Behavioral Neuropharmocology), through thesis work, or as volunteers.

Cognition and Development Lab: Stella Christie
The KidLab focuses on learning processes. Research at the lab investigates children’s learning through comparison and analogy, language acquisition, and social cognitive aspects of learning from others. Students with developmental and cognitive interests may be involved in all aspects of research. Research takes place both in the laboratory on campus and in local preschools, involving infants and toddler participants.

Cognition and Perception Lab: Frank Durgin
The Cognition and Perception Laboratory at Swarthmore conducts research on systematic distortions in the perception of outdoor locomotor space as well as on perceptuo-motor calibration and multimodal feedback processes that allow us to nonetheless act accurately in space. The laboratory also investigates the processing of extended metaphor using eye-tracking during reading, ERPs, divided-visual-field techniques, and survey methods to study the communicative efficiency of figurative language. The laboratory is equipped with multiple stereo virtual reality and eye-tracking set-ups, as well as a variety of high-quality display generation equipment for psychophysical experiments on a variety of topics including unitization in numerosity perception.

We use electrophysiological techniques (EEG, ERP) to measure the brain's electrical activity while participants engage in research studies. These studies include cognitive tasks such as language processing or visual perception, and social and emotional tasks such as gambling or face perception. The lab has two dense-array EEG systems that can be incorporated with eye-tracking, virtual reality, and/or brain-computer interface facilities.  Contact Amanda Elam, Research Fellow, by email at after September 1st for more information and to get involved in the EEG/ERP lab.

Resilience and Well-Being Lab: Jane Gillham
Our research focuses on: (1) identifying and understanding the personal, social, and contextual factors that promote resilience and well-being or that increase risk for psychological distress (e.g., depression, anxiety);  (2) evaluating school- and community-based intervention programs designed to promote resilience and well-being. Most projects focus on adolescents (including middle and high school students); (3) some projects focus on younger children and adults. Students can get involved in the lab through PSYC 109 (Research Practicum in Social and Emotional Well-Being), through thesis work, or as volunteers.

Selective Attention Lab: Lisa Payne
The selective attention laboratory investigates the neural and cognitive mechanisms of suppressing distraction. Behavioral, electrophysiological (EEG), and eye-tracking techniques are used to characterize selective ignoring during sensory perception and working memory.

Social Neuroscience Lab: Catherine Norris
Our research approach is to examine social behavior using neuroscience methods, such as event-related brain potentials (ERPs), functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), and psychophysiological measures such as electrodermal activity (EDA), facial electromyography (EMG), and electrocardiography (ECG). We study a broad range of topics, including emotion, ambivalence, race bias, imitation and empathy, meditation and attention, and social rejection. One focus in the laboratory is on individual differences and personality, or how different people can respond to the same event in very different ways, and how these differences relate to mental and physical health.
Students can get involved in the lab through PSYC 105 (Research Practicum in Social Neuroscience), through thesis or independent research work, or as volunteers. Contact Professor Catherine Norris by email at for more information.

Social Psychology Lab: Andrew Ward
The social psychology lab investigates issues relevant to how individuals think about and behave in the presence of others. Particular areas of inquiry include self-regulation, conflict and negotiation, and strategies and shortcomings of social perception.
Students can get involved in the lab through thesis work, through PSYC 094, or as volunteers.

The Psycholinguistics Laboratory: Dan Grodner
The Psycholinguistics Laboratory investigates how people comprehend, produce, and acquire of language.  Recent work explores how people take the perspective of others in communication, how adults and children learn to resolve linguistic ambiguity, and connections between language and memory. Students can get involved in the lab through PSYC 104 (Research Practicum in Language and Mind), through thesis or independent research work, or as volunteers. Contact Professor Dan Grodner by email at for more information.


Applied Opportunities

Practicum in Clinical Psychology: Jane Gillham

An opportunity for advanced psychology students to gain supervised experience in off-campus clinical settings. Students have completed placements in a variety of setting including outpatient clinics, clinical research centers, psychiatric hospitals, special education settings, and crisis hotlines. Requirements include 8 hours per week in an off-campus placement, weekly meetings to discuss placement experiences and relevant readings, and a major term paper. Students are expected to have clinical contact with clients/patients and to have an on-site supervisor.

         Prerequisites: -PSYC 001

                                             -One of the Following: PSYC 038, PSYC 041, PSYC 050

                                             - Students applying must be either a Junior or Senior

                                             - Students applying must have at least a B average