Resources for Undergrads

Major and Minor Information  

Requirements for the bachelor of arts in psychology

Requirements for the minor in psychology

Psychology course descriptions

UC Merced General Catalog

What Can You Do With Your Degree?

s: Professer Jitske Tiemensma Psychology drawings of disease patient drawingsThe psychology major prepares students for a broad range of careers, both within and outside the field of psychology. The Learn Psychology website can help you explore the types of careers you can pursue with a degree in psychology, as well as how to best prepare for those careers. 

The American Psychological Association also has an excellent website to help you understand the job market. APA reports that about 5 percent of those who earned bachelor's degree in psychology in 1997 and 1998 had taken jobs that were actually in psychology. Most psychology major graduates — about two-thirds — took employment in private sector business settings.

Graduates with psychology degrees are highly marketable because they are trained to have good research and writing skills, to be effective problem-solvers in both team and individual settings, and to use critical thinking skills to analyze, synthesize and evaluate information.

Specific examples of employment include administrative support, public affairs, education, business, sales, service industries, health, the biological sciences, computer programming, employment counselors, correction counselor trainees, interviewers, personnel analysts, probation officers and writers.

Undergraduate Research Opportunities

Below you will find a list of the research labs in the Psychological Sciences program. If you are interested in working in a particular lab, email the contact listed directly.

Research spots in labs are limited and require students who are dedicated and interested in the subject field. Please do not contact professors about openings if none are available. However, check back with the website frequently as a lab's status can change at any time.

If you are planning to enroll in Independent Study (e.g., PSY 95, PSY 195), there is a form titled "Independent Study Enrollment" that you need to fill out and turn in. This form is available at the Students' First Center or can be printed out. Unlike regular classes, there is no online registration for Independent Study. The document must be signed by the professor in charge of the research lab. Keep in mind that a minimum of three hours of work per week is required for each unit of Independent Study. 

Research Labs in Developmental Psychology

Lab: Professor Heather Bortfeld
E-mail: hbortfeld@ucmerced.edu
Room: SSM 245 & 247A
Website: http://heatherbortfeld.com/
Research: Bortfeld's research follows two converging lines in Psychology, one in typical language development and one in atypical language development, specifically language learning under adverse listening conditions. The first line looks at how typically developing infants come to recognize words in fluent speech and the extent to which the perceptual abilities underlying this learning process are specific to language. The second line looks at the influence of perceptual, cognitive, and social factors in the language development of pediatric cochlear implant users, who must learn language from a speech signal whose spectral cues are substantially degraded relative to the original source. Results from each line of research inform the other. Our approach is best characterized as integrating (1) multiple methods, (2) different levels of analysis and (3) a broad theoretical perspective. Research findings highlight the central role of early experience, both perceptual and social, in language development.
Research Assistant openings: Currently seeking a web developer. A limited number of research assistant openings are available on a competitive basis each semester. All openings are filled before the start of the semester.
Nature of work: Undergraduate research assistants will assist with participant recruitment and coding videos of parent-child interactions using custom software (ELAN).
Expected time commitment: Can be taken for course credit. Hours to be arranged.

Lab: Professor Jeff Gilger
E-mail: jgilger@ucmerced.edu
Room: SSM 306B
Website: http://faculty2.ucmerced.edu/jgilger/
Research: My Ph.D. training is in developmental psychology and behavioral genetics. I also have a master's of science in clinical child-school psychology. My scholarship is inherently multidisciplinary. My teaching and research has tended to focus on normal and abnormal neuropsychological development, genetics and the etiology of learning-language disorders. Ongoing research projects include the neurology/genetics of the gifted-reading disabled individual, the use of computer programs to stimulate learning, the long-term effects of subtle brain damage in school-aged sports and the etiology of spatial giftedness.
Research Assistant openings: Yes, on a competitive basis based on match and experience.
Nature of work: Undergraduate research assistants will have the opportunity to be engaged in a variety of projects depending on their experience and interests. There is also a need for help in general housekeeping work, such as lab organization, library or online research, data analysis and graphics creation. The lab is just starting up, but there will be work opportunities soon for studies on gifted dyslexics, and other subjects. Students should expect to regularly attend lab meetings.
Expected time commitment: Can be taken for course credit. Hours to be arranged.

Lab: Professor Alexandra Main
Email: amain@ucmerced.edu
Room: SSM 324
Website: http://faculty.ucmerced.edu/amainlab/
Research: My research focuses on social and emotional development of children and adolescents within the family context. Specifically, I am interested in the development of empathy and emotion regulation and how these processes are shaped by temperament, family, and culture.  I am currently working on projects investigating communication of empathy between parents and adolescents, how cultural orientations influence family emotional communication, and the implications of these processes for psychological and physical health.
Research assistant opening: Yes.
Nature of work: Undergraduate research assistants may be involved in a variety of tasks, including testing subjects, engaging in scholarly readings, interacting with and recruiting families from the community, video coding, and data management.
Expected time commitment: Students are expected to work 6-9 hours/week and are required to attend regular lab meetings.

Lab: Professor Rose Scott
E-mail: rscott@ucmerced.edu
Room: SSM 137
Website: http://cecl.ucmerced.edu
Research: My lab conducts research in how children between 1 and 4 years of age make sense of other people's behavior, as well as how they learn their native languages. My studies typically involve showing children short videos or picture books and coding where the children look at key points. This can tell us how they interpret what they see and hear.
Research assistant opening: A limited number of research openings are available on a competitive basis each semester. All openings are filled before the start of the semester. Applications for the summer and fall are due by April 30 and applications for spring are due by Dec. 1 each year. Contact Professor Scott for an application.
Nature of work: Research assistants assist in recruiting participants, running experimental studies and coding experimental data. Assistants need to be very detail oriented, as well as capable of interacting with parents and children.
Expected time commitments: Students can volunteer or enroll for course credit. Students are expected to work about three hours a week for each credit hour (i.e. 3 credits = nine hours a week). Students can enroll for either 2 or 3 credits.

Lab: Professor Eric Walle
E-mail: ewalle@ucmerced.edu
Room: SSM 141
Website: http://idlab.ucmerced.edu/about-us/students
Research: Our lab investigates aspects of psychological development relating to social and emotional processes in infancy. Specifically, we are interested in how the developing infant appreciates the emotional communication of others, and how this capacity guides infants' behavioral responding in social contexts. We are also interested in how infant social capacities change following the onset of walking, including language development, exploration of the environment and social interactions. This research typically involves bringing infants and caregivers to the lab to participate in naturalistic experiments.
Research assistant openings: Yes, on a competitive basis based on match of interests and relevant experience.
Nature of work: Research assistants participate in every part of the research process. This includes testing participants, monitoring testing, participant recruitment, data management and data coding. Research assistants are also responsible for engaging in scholarly readings, conducting reviews of the literature and attending mandatory laboratory meetings.
Expected time commitment: Students may volunteer or enroll for course credit (1 unit = three work hours/week). Most students are expected to work in the lab approximately nine hours per week.

Research Labs in Health Psychology

Lab: Professor Linda Cameron
E-mail: lcameron@ucmerced.edu
Room: SSM 309
Website: www.cameronhcilab.com/
Research: My research focuses on using new psychological advances in cognition, imagery and emotion to develop effective health communications for promoting health behaviors and coping with chronic illnesses such as cancer and heart disease. Research topics include smoking prevention, coping with cancer and heart disease and promoting healthy behaviors such as physical activity.
Research assistant openings: Yes, on a competitive basis based on match and experience.
Nature of work: Undergraduate research assistants are engaged in a variety of projects depending on their experience and learning interests. The projects include Web-based studies of health communications about cancer prevention, genetic tests for disease risk, information for cancer survivors and graphic warning labels for tobacco products. Students are also expected to regularly attend lab meetings.
Expected time commitment: six to 10 hours per week. Can be taken for course credit.

Lab: Professor Jennifer Hahn-Holbrook
E-mail: jhahn-holbrook@ucmerced.edu
Room: SSM 366
Website: http://jhahnholbrook.wixsite.com/latchlab
Research:  Jennifer Hahn-Holbrook’s LATCH Lab studies how psychological, biological and environmental factors shape the health of mothers and their children. Using interdisciplinary approaches, Dr. Hahn-Holbrook is interested in how our rapidly changing world (in terms of technology, nutrition, employment patterns, etc.) impacts maternal-child health. Currently, the Latch Lab is working on projects investigating how breastfeeding impacts child development and how we can use ehealth technologies to identify and help at-risk families.
Research assistant openings: A limited number of openings are available on a competitive basis each semester. To apply, email Professor Hahn-Holbrook with a short description of why you are interested in joining the LATCH Lab.
Nature of work: Research assistants participate in recruiting families, running experimental protocols, collecting biological samples, conducting literature searches, coding data, and participating in weekly lab meetings.
Expected time commitment: Students usually work 6-9 hours a week and enroll in the lab as a class to receive 2 or 3 course credits. Two semester commitments are typically required.  

Lab: Professor Jennifer Howell 
E-mail: howell@ucmerced.edu
Room: SSM 328
Website: http://www.jenniferlhowell.com/mesh-lab.html
Research: We aim to understand health decision making and behavior through a social psychological lens. Most of our work occurs at the intersection of health behavior (e.g., screening, sunscreen use) and the self (e.g., self-enhancement, self-perception), and typically focuses on understanding how people prepare for and respond to bad news.
Research assistant openings: I recruit new students to work in my lab each semester.
Nature of work: Research assistants are responsible for running participants in studies, helping with the development of study materials, piloting study materials, and entering and proofing data. As students advance, there can also be opportunities for lab management positions and individual or small-group research. Students must be outgoing and extraverted, and they must have completed introductory psychology with a B- or better. Undergraduates interested in working in the lab should visit http://www.jenniferlhowell.com/mesh-lab.html#join, download an application form, and send it to howell@merced.edu. The earlier the better! 
Expected time commitment: I require a two-semester commitment (Fall and Spring, or Spring and Fall). Students must be willing to work in the lab up to 7 hours per week (actual hours will vary throughout the semester) and attend a 1-hour weekly lab meeting.

Lab: Professor Anna V. Song
E-mail: asong5@ucmerced.edu
Room: SSM 311
Research: The research focus is on psychosocial factors that influence adolescent and young adult risk-behavior decision making. Risk behaviors that are of interest include smoking initiation, progression, and cessation; sex initiation; and gambling. Professor Song is also interested in adolescents' and young adults' beliefs about risks, benefits and future consequences associated with behaviors, as well as factors that may influence those beliefs (e.g., media, marketing, and experiences with other risk behaviors). Her work also involves identifying and explaining ethnic and class differences in risk behavior prevalence.
Research assistant openings: No

Lab: Professor Jitske Tiemensma 
E-mail: jtiemensma@ucmerced.edu
Room: SSM 348
Research: My research focuses on a combination of health psychology and medical science. Research topics include emotion suppression and immune function in chronic disease; cortisol and illness behavior; and the Drawing Test and illness perceptions.
Research assistant openings: Yes, on a competitive basis based on match and experience.
Nature of work: Research assistants are engaged in a variety of projects depending on their interests. Research assistants engage in every step of the research process, i.e. performing literature searches, contacting participants, helping organize focus groups, sending out mailings, data management and data coding. Research assistants are also expected to attend weekly lab meetings.
Expected time commitment: Students may volunteer or enroll for course credit (1 unit = three work hours/week).

Lab: Professor Jan L. Wallander
E-mail: jwallander@ucmerced.edu
Room: SSM 314A
Research: Quality of life, general health and well-being during childhood and influences on these. Primary focus is on disparities in health in adolescence, with a particular interest in obesity, as well as prevention of neurodevelopmental problems in infants in the global context.
Research assistant openings: No

Lab: Professor Deborah Wiebe
E-mail: dwiebe@ucmerced.edu
Room: SSM 307
Website: http://faculty1.ucmerced.edu/dwiebe/research-interests
Research: I study how people regulate their physical and emotional well-being when facing a health threat.  Most of my work focuses on this question in the context of how families (e.g., adolescents, parents, spouses, grandparents) and physicians work together (or not) to manage serious chronic illnesses such as type 1 diabetes or cancer. I am also interested in understanding how individual risk and resilience factors, developmental factors, and social/cultural factors alter self-regulation and illness management.
Research assistant openings: Yes, on a competitive basis based on match and experience.
Nature of work: Undergraduate research assistants are engaged in a variety of activities and projects depending on their experience and learning interests. Current projects include longitudinal examination of emerging adults with diabetes, parent-adolescent conflict interactions related to diabetes management, and SES and ethnic disparities in chronic illness management. Students are expected to regularly attend lab meetings.
Expected time commitment: 6 hours per week. Can be taken for course credit.

Lab: Professor Matthew J. Zawadzki
E-mail: mzawadzki@ucmerced.edu
Room: SSM 322
Website: http://faculty.ucmerced.edu/mzawadzki
Research: My research examines what stress is, why is it bad for you, and what can we do about it. Although we all experience stress in our lives, what we mean by stress can range from bad things happening in the world to negative thoughts we carry in our minds. My lab looks to develop ways to measure these components of stress and to test whether the differentially predict one’s health. The lab is also interested in ways we can reduce stress in our lives and improve health and well-being.
Research assistant openings: Yes, on a competitive basis based on match and experience. Contact Professor Zawadzki for an application.
Nature of work: Research assistants will be asked to participate in all phases of the research process, including contacting participants, running study protocols, data coding and management, and performing literature searchers. Research assistants are also expected to attend weekly lab meetings.
Expected time commitment: Students can volunteer or enroll for course credit. Students are expected to work about three hours a week for each credit hour (i.e. 3 credits = nine hours a week). Students can enroll for either 2 or 3 credits.

 

Research Labs in Quantitative Psychology

Lab: Professor Sarah Depaoli
E-mail: sdepaoli@ucmerced.edu
Room: SSM 320
Research: The research focus in this lab is generally on creating and refining statistical tools used in a variety of research settings. The primary focus is on latent variable growth models, which are used to assess change across unobserved groups over time. We are also heavily involved with issues surrounding the use of the Bayesian estimation framework and how this framework might affect the estimation of certain latent variable models.
Research assistant openings: No

Lab: Professor Keke Lai
E-mail: klai25@ucmerced.edu
Room: SSM 313
Research: Our research focuses on developing, evaluating, and improving methods for general latent variable models as they are applied to the behavioral, social, and educational sciences. Some ongoing projects include: (a) to understand near-equivalent structural equation models (SEMs; i.e., models that tend to have similar fit across a wide range of data); (b) how to perform SEM simulation studies in a more scientific and realistic way; (c) how to evaluate models and select among competing models in a more meaningful manner; and (d) to apply Bayesian statistics to SEM so that data analyses and statistical modeling can be more flexible and realistic.
Research assistant openings: No

 

Lab: Professor Jack L. Vevea 
E-mail: jvevea@ucmerced.edu
Room: SSM 303
Research: The main interest in my lab is the creation of new statistical models. We do this primarily in the context of meta-analysis, a system of statistical approaches to combining information from multiple studies.
Research assistant openings: No

 

Psychology Chair
Linda Cameron, Professor
 
Psychology Graduate Group Chair
Jan Wallander, Professor
 
Psychology Mailing Address
University of California, Merced
5200 North Lake Road
Merced, CA 95343

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