Faculty Research and Grants

Jason Arndt – Cognitive Psychology

Prof. Arndt’s research examines the processes that underlie human memory, including why memory errors occur, how memory errors can be limited, how taking a test enhances memory and how emotion influences memory. His lab currently is conducting research that seek to understand the representational bases of false memories that people claim to “recollect” and the types of memory processes that memory retrieval (taking a test) enhances. His research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and Vermont-EPSCoR.

Susan Baldridge – Social Psychology

Prof. Baldridge’s research focuses on the intersection of the study of gender, sexuality, and close relationships. Recent projects include work on how the interpersonal process model of intimacy can be applied to understanding college students’ sexual and romantic experiences, as well as a study of stereotype threat as an explanation for gender differences in visuospatial ability. [Please note that because of Prof. Baldridge's current administrative position, she is not taking on research students at this time.]

Marcia Collaer – Cognitive/Neuroscience

Prof. Collaer’s research interests focus on sex and individual differences in cognitive abilities, particularly visuospatial skills.Work in her lab investigates reasons why men and women, or individuals, perform differently on spatial tasks. Factors of interest include investigating how people ‘pay attention’ to their environment, the strategies they employ, the influence of pressure, the role of social influences such as stereotypes, and levels of steroid hormones including testosterone and cortisol.  Her research has been funded by NASA.

Kim Cronise - Behavioral & Contemplative Neuroscience

Prof. Cronise's research program focuses on how mindfulness practices impact emotion regulation and interpersonal dynamics including aggressive and compassionate behaviors.   Her studies assess both behavioral outcomes and psychophysiological measures including electrodermal response (EDR), neuroendocrine assays, and electroencephalograph (EEG) brain wave activity.  

Mike Dash - Behavioral Neurophysiology

Prof. Dash's research interests focus on the effects of spontaneous brain activity on both brain function and brain physiology. By simultaneously monitoring electrical/chemical indices of brain activity along with behavior, he aims to understand the neurophysiological underpinnings and consequences of fundamental behaviors such as sleep and learning/memory.

Suzanne Gurland – Clinical Psychology

Prof. Gurland conducts research on interpersonal processes that help children thrive in their family, school, and other contexts. She has studied, for example, which of adults’ interpersonal styles result in greatest rapport with children; how children respond to parents’ ways of motivating them; and how children's beliefs about their teachers affect the teacher-student relationship. She is also interested, more generally, in the effects of interpersonal styles on motivation, creativity, and perspective-taking; and in the interfaces among clinical, developmental, and social psychology. Her research has been funded by the Spencer Foundation and by the Vermont Genetics Network.

Barbara Hofer – Developmental, Educational, and Cultural Psychology

Prof. Hofer’s research interests focus on learning and development, particularly in adolescence and emerging adulthood. Research interests include: 1) the development of personal epistemology (beliefs about knowledge and knowing) and how this relates to learning, motivation, cognition, and academic performance; 2) the development of self-regulation and autonomy; 3) psychology and emerging technology; 4) cross-cultural issues in education and psychology. Her research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, Developmental and Learning Sciences division, and through the Fidler Award from the National Resource Center for the First-Year Experience and Students in Transition. 

Matthew Kimble – Clinical Psychology

Prof. Kimble’s research interests focus on attentional processes in survivors of psychological trauma, particularly military veterans. He uses eye tracking and brain imaging to better understand difficulties with concentration and hypervigilance in trauma survivors. His research is currently funded by the National Institute of Mental Health.

Michelle McCauley – Applied Psychology

Prof. McCauley’s research focuses on applying cognitive, social, and developmental theory to current problems across multiple domains.  Since 1996, she has overseen the Children’s Memory Project Lab, which addresses questions around adults’ interviewing  style and behaviors,  particularly how the use of the Cognitive Interview affects the quality and quantity of children’s memory reports. In addition, she runs the Conservation Psychology Lab where her team investigates how variables such as social expectations, psychological need fulfillment, and childhood life experiences intervene between one’s environmental attitudes and actual behavior. Her research has been funded by VT EPSCoR, the Fahs Beck Fund, and the Vermont Genetics Network.

Rob Moeller - Developmental Psychology

Professor Moeller’s research has focused on the development of health behaviors among adolescent and young adults. His research has included the study of sexual and racial minority adolescents exploring correlates and trajectories of substance use and sexual risk taking behaviors. Professor Moeller utilizes both longitudinal and cross-sectional research designs with both quantitative and qualitative data. His research explores the intersection of multiple identities of race/ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation associated with health promoting behaviors. Most recently, his research has focused on the role of emotions and trust in the decision making process. Specifically, Professor Moeller has been studying the development of trust in intimate relationships and exploring how individuals utilize trust to make decisions associated with health seeking behaviors.

Clarissa Parker -  Neuroscience and Behavioral Genetics

Prof. Parker’s research uses the relative simplicity of mouse models to develop concepts, test neurobiological hypotheses, and identify genes that underlie traits with relevance to human psychiatric disorders. Her recent work has focused on behaviors that can be measured in both mice and humans; including conditioned fear (a model of anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder), pre-pulse inhibition (a neurological phenomenon associated with schizophrenia) and methamphetamine sensitivity (a trait indicative of drug reward). This approach has provided fundamental insights into the neurobiology underlying these traits and a better understanding of the mechanisms by which genes influence behavior.  Currently, Prof. Parker is using a newly developed outbred population of mice to search for genes and biological pathways associated with conditioned fear and measures of ethanol sensitivity. She is funded in part by a NARSAD Young Investigator Grant from the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation (www.bbrfoundation.org); and the Vermont Genetics Network (VGN).

Martin Seehuus - Clinical Psychology

Prof. Seehuus’ research is primarily in sexuality, particularly focusing on the complex causes and consequences of sexual behavior, including the precursors of sexual distress and dysfunction.  Prof. Seehuus' secondary line of research is in sleep, exploring the relationship between disrupted sleep and other psychological distress, such as trauma, depression, and anxiety.  In both lines, he is interested in developing and testing clinical interventions, particularly in underserved populations.  Throughout all of his research, Prof. Seehuus is interested the nature of psychological distress as an underlying and yet largely unexplored common factor.

Carlos Velez-Blasini – Personality

Prof. Velez-Blasini’s research focuses primarily on risk-taking behaviors by college students. In particular he is interested in alcohol consumption, its causes and consequences, as well as sexual risk-taking, including casual sex and protective behaviors. Recent work has examined possible avenues to reduce riskiness regarding the latter. His approach to these topics relies primarily on social-psychological, cognitive, and cognitive-behavioral models and interventions. His work has also examined personality dimensions of alcohol use and sexual risk-taking. He is also interested on these issues and on psychological processes of a more general nature in a cross-cultural context as it pertains to all U.S. minorities, especially Latinos.

Zu Wei Zhai - Self Regulation & Addiction

Prof. Zhai’s research focuses on the development of self-regulation, cognitive abilities, and their neural correlates among at-risk youth, as well as their contribution to substance/behavior addictions by using neurocognitive test batteries, structural and functional MRI, and modeling. His primary line of research examines the effects of childhood trauma on brain structural and functional development, and their relationship with substance/behavioral addiction. His other line of research focuses on the protective and aversive effects of different parent/family environment on cognitive development and the risk for addiction in youth.

Department of Psychology

McCardell Bicentennial Hall
276 Bicentennial Way
Middlebury College
Middlebury, VT 05753