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CSULB 2014/2015
Faculty Thesis Areas

Courtney Ahrens

I am broadly interested in community psychology and the psychology of women. My research focuses on violence against women (e.g., sexual assault, domestic violence) with an emphasis on campus-based prevention, the criminal justice response to survivors, and the ways in which culture affects survivors’ experiences of abuse, help-seeking, and recovery.

James H. Amirkhan

Stress and coping, health psychology, attribution theory. As a Personality psychologist, I am particularly interested in individual differences in the above domains — e.g., the person-related variables that lead one person to confront a stressor and another to avoid it.  Currently, I am using a recently published measure (Amirkhan, 2012) to identify those most likely to develop stress-related disorders in high-risk groups.

Young-Hee Cho

I am broadly interested in psychological well-being of elders. Particularly, I am interested in the effects of a multifactorial fall prevention program on the physical, cognitive, and overall psychological well-being of elders.

Maricela Correa

My research examines the organization of childhood and family life in communities that do not have a long history of participation of schooling. In particular I examine some of the ways that families organize teaching and learning in everyday family and community life and some of the strengths associated with these forms of learning. My work has centered on families that have historical roots in the Americas (Mexico and Central America in particular) as well as in immigrant families.

Martin S. Fiebert

1) Variables related to Facebook behaviors
2) Transpersonal Psychology and Meditation

Dennis G. Fisher

Areas of interest include the following: Drug Abuse, Substance Abuse and Infectious Disease, Reliability and Validity Studies, Cluster Analysis, Survival Analysis, Logistic Regression, and Clinical Trials. My publications have mostly been in the area of drug abuse, hepatitis and needle exchange, with a secondary interest in psychometrics. Dr. Fisher’s divisional affiliations within the American Psychological Association are: Division 5, Evaluation, Measurement & Statistics; Division 38, Health Psychology; and Division 50, Addiction.

Araceli Gonzalez

I am broadly interested in assessment and treatment of internalizing disorders (i.e., anxiety, depression, traumatic stress, somatic complaints) in children/adolescents and parents. Specifically, my work focuses on (a) trying to understand risk factors for the development of these problems, and how risk and resilience factors might vary in different cultural groups, and (b) developing and improving culturally sensitive mental health services for these problems. I am currently conducting research examining youth stress response during interactions with their anxious parents. I am also conducting a pilot study to examine the role of community mental health workers in delivering a behavioral intervention for anxiety and depression to low-income Latinos in a rural medical setting.

May Ling Halim

In my primary line of research I study how, across different cultural groups, children’s gender identities develop from preschool to early elementary school. I am interested in both adherence to gender norms (i.e., girls wearing pink from head to toe) and deviation from gender norms (i.e., tomboys). I also investigate what factors lead to differences in gender identities (e.g., cognition), as well as what consequences are associated with them (e.g., intergroup gender attitudes, interest in STEM-related fields, psychological adjustment). In my secondary line of research I study how forms of group-based discrimination (ethnic, gender, language) interact with one’s identity in affecting one’s personal health and the health of one’s child.

Diane Lee

Primary areas of interest: Psychology of Learning, Biological Psychology, and Cognitive Ethology. Specifically, my research efforts address the role that the birth of new neurons (neurogenesis) plays in learning and memory using birds as the primary animal model. By integrating techniques, research can range from field and laboratory investigations of learning to the neurobiology mediating learning and memory formation. The research is currently directed along three basic lines of inquiry. First, when and where in the avian brain does adult neurogenesis occur? Second, what types of learning experiences and/or fluctuations in hormone levels influence the rate at which neurogenesis occurs and the direction new neurons take? And third, how does neurogenesis influence subsequent learning and memory?

Kevin B. MacDonald

I am interested in developmental research with children in virtually any area of social and personality development. I am also interested in personality research on adults as well as any area of research related to evolutionary perspectives on psychology.

Lisa M. Maxfield

My formal training is as a cognitive neuropsychologist with emphasis in human memory as well as language processing capacities as they are instantiated across the two cerebral hemispheres of the human brain. My primary interest in human memory has evolved to include how humans learn as well. I am now pursuing these interests in applied settings, rather than as basic research. As CSULB’s General Education Coordinator, my research is looking at issues of student achievement in college, including how faculty can facilitate learning and engagement in college classrooms. The research has significance for understanding issues of teaching and learning, specifically educational effectiveness of teaching practices and what types of learning experiences best serve college students.

James Miles

“I investigate the relationship between perception and action. My research looks at the interaction between cognitive control and environmentally based response biases, and my most recent work examines this in two domains: 1) How are different forms of spatial information encoded and represented, and how do they affect behavior? 2) How do features of tools and other controllers influence our movements towards objects in the world. In particular, how does the relationship between non-functional features of tools and target objects (e.g., color) affect our decision making processes and how is this reflected in our actions?”

William C. Pedersen

My research is primarily focused on factors that impact aggressive behavior and violence. I am interested in a variety of personality factors including trait rumination, narcissism, impulsivity, attachment style, and religiosity. I have also investigated a variety of situational factors that impact aggression including rumination, social support, power restoration, alcohol priming, and drug use. A related line of research investigates the impact of trait displaced aggression on romantic relationships, life satisfaction, and both mental and physical health. Finally, I have smaller research programs in the areas of both intergroup relations and evolutionary psychology (specifically gender differences in mating strategies).

Sherry A. Span

My research to date has focused on the relation among the following:
1. Risk factors associated with alcohol/substance abuse
2. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
3. Clinical Neuropsychology

Thomas Z. Strybel

Auditory/Visual Space Perception
Auditory/Visual Displays

Dustin Thoman

My research focuses on how individuals develop and maintain motivation (particularly for long-term pursuits), and how this motivation is influenced by the individual’s social context. More specifically, I aim to understand the social nature of intrinsic motivation, the development of interests and integration of interests into identity, and how stereotypes and discrimination influence interest, motivation, and choices. This program of research relates to several topics, including: intrinsic motivation, development of interest, stereotypes and social stigmas, self-regulation, development of self and identity, attributions, and evaluation. Although much of my research occurs in the lab, I am passionate about the applied aspect of this research, as well as how these processes function across cultures. My training is grounded in social psychology, but my research interests also strongly overlap with developmental and educational psychology.

Guido Urizar

My research in the area of Clinical & Health Psychology has focused on examining psychosocial, behavioral, and physiological factors associated with mental and physical health outcomes. The primary objective of this research is to identify groups that are at-risk for chronic health problems and to develop and test community-based interventions that are designed to promote chronic disease prevention and management in low-income, ethnic minority, and other medically underserved populations. Specific areas of my research include examining the impact of stress and its biomarkers (e.g., cortisol) on health, identifying risk factors for adverse maternal and infant health outcomes, and evaluating the efficacy of health behavior programs (e.g., exercise, nutrition, stress management) on preventing stress-related disorders. For more information about my PRO-Health research group, please refer to the following web site:

Kim-Phuong Vu

Cognition, Human Performance, Human Factors, and Human-Computer Interaction: My first area of research focuses on the topic of action selection. Action selection refers to how a speeded decision is made regarding which action to take in response to perceptual events. One of the major factors affecting efficiency of action selection is stimulus-response compatibility (SRC), or the mapping of stimulus (or display) elements to responses (or controls). Studies of SRC effects have been a valuable tool to study automatic and intentional processes associated with the response selection that intervene between perception and action. In addition, research in the area of action selection has implications for how displays and controls should be organized and mapped in order to achieve efficient performance, with minimal errors. My second area of research focuses on more directly on human factors (designing products for human use) and human-computer interaction. My work in this area includes human factors issues in Web design, computer security, and Web privacy. Finally, a third area of my research is on aviation Human Factors.  This line of research focuses on the  development of metrics for measuring human performance in complex systems such as the Next Generation Airspace Transportation System (NextGen).

Christopher Warren

The domains of research I am current investigating can be roughly grouped into three categories: affect, performance, and psychometrics. My work on affect, or affectivity, investigates the various predispositions that shape the way we view our environment and interpret our work settings, along with more momentary job related affective reactions to workplace environments. Another area of interest for me includes individual performance, especially regarding both internal and external determinants of self regulation, and how those translate into worker safety behaviors. Finally, my work in psychometrics, or the study of psychological measurement, focuses on reliability, or test consistency, and how this effects things such as agreement indices, and be effected by test length and mood.

David J. Whitney

Primary research domain is the application of Industrial-Organizational psychology to improving employment outcomes for individuals with developmental disabilities, particularly Autism Spectrum Disorders. Areas of interest include work expectations, the investigation of obstacles and facilitators of employment for individuals with ASD, co-worker attitudes, and interview coaching.

Arturo R. Zavala

Areas of interests include animal models of drug addiction and developmental neuropsychopharmacology. Specifically, my research investigates the short- and long-term neurochemical and behavioral effects of exposure to psychostimulant drugs across development (neonatal, adolescence, and adulthood), as well as determine the impact that early exposure to drugs may have on the susceptibility to abuse drugs later in life.