Research Labs

Click on lab name to see more information about the lab.

Anxiety Disorders

Dr. Michiyo Hirai

Research in the Anxiety Disorders Lab focuses on the etiology, assessment, and treatment of anxiety disorders, particularly Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Phobias. Some of the ongoing research projects include:

  • Expressive writing for trauma consequences
  • Attention bias in trauma victims
  • Online assessment and treatment of anxiety disorders
  • Disgust propensity in specific phobia

Applied Cognition

Dr. James Aldridge

My general interests deal with contextual influences on perception of situations, and consequent distribution of attention. I am particularly interested in decision making in higher education and faculty motivation.

Basic Memory and Cognitive Processes

Dr. Jerwen Jou

I am interested in all basic human memory and cognitive processes. Currently I am conducting experiments on recognition memory using response time as a dependent measure. Other areas of interest are false memory, judgment and decision making, and serial-order memory.

Behavioral Neuroscience and Psychopathology

Dr. Fred Ernst

Research in the Behavioral Neuroscience and Psychopathology Lab has two components:

  • Animal Behavioral Studies: Laboratory rats are used to investigate how principles of learning and conditioning contribute to the development of psychopathology and its effective treatment. Research focuses on normal and abnormal behaviors and the way experience shapes behavior and brain architecture.
  • Human Behavioral Studies: Factors affecting vulnerability and resistance to psychopathology. For example, pre-natal influences (inferred from 2d:4d finger length ratios) on gender dimorphic psychopathology.

Behavior Research

Dr. Wendy James-Aldridge

A cooperative project between UTPA and the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, the Behavior Research Lab trains behavioral observers to collect data using a variety of naturalistic observation techniques to answer questions raised by zoo staff about a variety of species in the zoo’s collection. Recent projects have examined:

  • Breeding behavior of Caribbean flamingos
  • Courtship in trumpeter hornbills
  • Variability in maternal behavior in Western lowland gorillas
  • Life without kids; changing social structures in a maturing chimpanzee group

Clinical and Multicultural

Dr. Alfonso Mercado

Research in the Clinical and Multicultural Lab focuses on the etiology, assessment, and treatment of clinical disorders with the Latino population. Some of the ongoing research projects include:

  • Development of ADHD in Latino children
  • Spanish adaption of DBT group therapy with psychiatric population
  • Personality Type and Treatment Outcome
  • Clinical research collaboration with the Universidad de Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico

Clinical Neuropsychology

Dr. Philip Gasquoine

Specializing in investigations of the impact of Spanish/English bilingualism on neuropsychological test scores. (Have also supervised student theses on racism.)

  • What is the effect of bilingualism on cognition?
  • Are bilinguals more likely to be misdiagnosed in neuropsychological assessment?
  • What is the effect of bilingual education on children with learning disabilities?

Contextual Behavioral Science

Dr. Maureen Flynn

The Contextual Behavioral Science lab focuses on treatment development research. The goals of this lab are to investigate the effectiveness of a treatment and the processes (mechanism of action) through which the treatment works. In particular, this lab focuses on researching Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and its 6 core processes: acceptance, defusion, self, present moment awareness, values, and committed action.

ACT is a unified model and has been researched in both clinical and nonclinical populations. Some of the areas I am interested in examining ACT processes include but are not limited to:

  • Healthy living
  • Retention/academic performance
  • Substance use
  • Social anxiety

See for more information about the lab.

Immigration and Mental Health

Dr. Joseph Hovey

Research in the Immigration and Mental Health lab is primarily devoted to the study of mental health-related issues among immigrant-ethnic groups, refugees from other countries, and other acculturating individuals. In addition, the lab examines little-studied areas in the field of psychopathology research, especially in the areas of measure development, stress, resilience, anxiety, and suicide behaviors. Ongoing research studies include:

  • Examination of the Interpersonal Theory of Suicide in individuals living in Mexico
  • Examination of risk and protective factors for PTSD and suicide in Central American refugees
  • Coping competence as a protective factor for Latino/a migrant farmworkers
  • Development of the Coping Inventory, which assesses coping styles of acculturating individuals
  • Relationship of suicide behavior and cyberbullying through social media
  • Rumination and suicide behavior

Lab Website:

Internalizing Disorders in Youth

Dr. Laura Seligman

Research in the Internalizing Disorders in Youth Lab focuses on the etiology, assessment, and treatment of anxiety disorders in children and adolescents as well as examination of the factors related to the accessibility of empirically supported treatments for individuals seeking treatment for anxiety.

Social and Political Behavior

Dr. Jason Popan

Our research investigates psychological aspects political engagement and voter turnout. Our goal is to investigate psychological barriers to political participation, particularly among young and low-income individuals, and to provide research findings that will inform interventions aimed at mitigating psychological barriers to political participation.

An additional research focus of our lab is on the effects of civility and reason-based argument during political communication on political attitudes and evaluations of political opposition groups.

Social Cognitive Development

Dr. Amy Weimer

Research in the Social Cognitive Development Lab focuses on examining development among diverse groups of individuals across the life-span, with an emphasis on childhood. A specific research interest is on investigating Theory of Mind (ToM) development, which refers to understanding one’s own and others’ thoughts, beliefs, and other mental states, and the roles such states play in determining behavior. Some of our studies have investigated:

  • Interrelations among Theory of Mind, Emotion Understanding, and Social Development in Bilingual Learners
  • Cultural and Family Background Predictors (e.g., socioeconomic status, religiosity) of College Students’ Perspective Taking Abilities
  • Children’s Lie-telling, Social Skills, and Parenting Style as Predictors of Theory of Mind Development

Social Psychology

Dr. Mark Winkel

An understanding of the relationship between human social cognition and physiology is the primary focus. This is accomplished by measuring responses such as heart rate, electrical activity of the brain (EEG), electrodermal response, (GSR), electromyography (EMG), pupillary response, and eye blink activity to various social stimuli. Examples of past and present research include social psychophysiology of humor, physiological responses to military training, and compulsive gambling. The lab is located in SBSC 237 and contains the following:

  • Biotelemetry equipment.
  • Lab space with two-way mirrors that include video and audio recording equipment.
  • Computer for data acquisition and analysis.
  • Slot machines.

Stress and Health

Dr. Grant Benham

Research in the Stress and Health Lab focuses on how psychological stress affects physical health and factors that might influence this effect. Some of the questions asked include:

  • What effect does acute (short-lived) stress have on the immune system?
  • Are chronic poor sleep and psychological stress associated with skin healing?
  • Is health adversely affected by suppressing emotions?
  • Does inadequate sleep impact health?