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Want to join the lab?

I am almost always searching for students who would like to work in my lab. My stance on mentoring is a developmental one: Students start out as close followers of an experimental protocol and grow into independent leaders of studies. Below are the ways in which this mentorship model plays out for various types of students.

Click the links to expand details on my mentorship model for each type of student.

I begin by guiding graduate students closely through an initial study that will allow them to acquire expertise in study design, data collection, and writing professional papers. As graduate students become familiar with the workings of that initial study and learn the data acquisition, reduction, and analysis skills to complete it, I challenge them to think about the next questions that could be answered with future studies. I provide them conceptual frameworks to organize their knowledge and interests, guiding them in developing a Master’s project that flows directly from interests we have discussed and previous work they have done. In this project, they begin to take some of the supervisory work from me and lead their own teams of students, though with my consistent supervision and feedback.

Finally, I encourage graduate students to think more broadly about the sorts of research questions they would like to tackle in the next five to ten years of their career and engage them in thinking about a doctoral study that would represent an independent line of inquiry that will build programmatically on the work they have performed thus far if they have not done so with the Master’s project. This culminating project represents the work that will lead to their dissertations, and I expect them to apply for external funding to get early experience with pursuing grants – a skill that is paramount in an academic career.

I WILL NOT be accepting graduate students for the 2022-2023 academic year. Any applicant for the 2023-2024 academic year MUST have a strong background in psychophysiological data collection and reduction. Graduate students can expect to work with central and peripheral psychophysiological measures to answer broad questions about psychopathy and reward processing. I encourage you to contact me with your CV and a summary of your research experiences and goals to see how your interests and training goals might mesh best with mine. I also have some tips on writing a personal statement for maximum success in applying to work with me.

I recognize that beginning students need closer attention on smaller tasks when they start out; as they master those smaller tasks, new ones are added to increase their autonomy and body of knowledge. For instance, a student may start out simply learning under my guidance to apply psychophysiological electrodes and run through an experiment and follow the standard operating procedure. However, when a sufficient level of mastery is achieved in placing sensors and running the study, they will then be able to teach others how to run the study and thereby understand the ins and outs of its conduct as I supervise their teaching.

Eventually, a student who understands how a particular study is designed may have sufficient understanding to help with data analysis, reducing self-report, behavioral, or psychophysiological data to provide answers to the questions the study was designed to answer. Students may additionally grow into developing other studies that I set out for them, programming them with my consistent feedback to help them understand how to make a study do all that is necessary to collect sound, interpretable data. Throughout your lab experience, we will have lab meetings to review the progress of our studies, to discuss ethical treatment of participants, to review journal articles and other developments in the field, and to aid in your career development. With enough expertise (after at least a year of work in the lab), you may even get to present results from the study you’ve been working on!

I anticipate there may be openings for the fall 2021 semester.

Take a look at my advice on how to apply to a lab. The minimum requirements I have for students wanting to work in my lab are as follows (which should be emailed to [peplab] AT [unlv.edu] with the title “Documentation to apply as a PEPlab research assistant”):

  • GPA ≥ 3.0 (both cumulative and psychology; please email me your unofficial transcript)
  • A history of at least 6 credits worth of work in psychology (this requirement may be waived with previous lab work)
  • The ability to commit consistently to two to three 3-5 hour blocks of time (this is how long our psychophysiological runs take)
  • A commitment to work at least two continuous semesters if you are interested in psychophysiology or study programming (you will be trained extensively, and your first semester is often an extended training semester; if you don’t finish out these two semesters, I can’t write letters of recommendation)
  • Completion of IRB training before the start of lab work (this ensures you can be added to IRB protocols with human research to run subjects; bring a copy of your completion certificate to the first lab meeting)

Historically, good honors projects will take two years of work to complete. In this model, the first year is devoted to designing the study that will be run and programming it; you’ll likely be enrolled in psychology department independent research credits for this year. The second year involves running participants, analyzing data, and writing your thesis; this is when you’ll be enrolled in HON498H and HON499H. Nevertheless, even in the first year, you’ll get experience running participants in the lab’s studies if you’ve got the time and interest in doing so. I will usually put honors students in charge of one of the major projects going on in the lab to make sure you get the most out of your experience. I will work with you to figure out which of the lab’s projects best fit your interests and goals. Honors graduates of my lab have thus far always gone on to research positions or graduate programs.

Unfortunately, I can’t offer this sort of honors supervision (in which study programming, design, psychophysiological data collection, reduction, and analysis are handled in house) for students whose interests wouldn’t be served by participating in the lab’s main projects. However, if you’re an incredibly independent worker who is driven, able to function on your own, and you’ve got a question that could be answered with self-report measures or archival data analysis, let’s talk! I did my own honors thesis based on my work in my research methods class, and I’d be glad to help shepherd a project like that through.

I am particularly interested in supervising honors students in my lab. I aim to take on one honors student per year into the lab.