Research Facilities and Technical Support

Research Facilities

The department's neuroscience laboratories employ state-of-the-art approaches directed towards understanding the mechanisms by which cortical neurons encode sensation and perception, mediate learning and memory and other high level processes, as well as how they become appropriately connected during early development. The main approaches include combining transgenic animals, conditional gene knock in and knock out, in vivo and in vitro intracellular and extracellular electrophysiology, and advanced anatomical and microscopy techniques to examine the dynamics of neuron morphology and changes in the anatomical patterns of synaptic connections and gene expression resulting from altered patterns of sensory inputs. The impact of these manipulations on behavioral tests of learning and memory is also featured. Also, the campus instrumentation facility for genomics, bioinformatics, proteomics and advanced microscopy is available to the faculty and graduate students.

Faculty in the cognitive area enjoy the use of outstanding research facilities, with an emphasis on computer-assisted experimental control and multiple subject data collection. The various labs include state-of-the-art computers and other hardware for research involving speech digitization, sound synthesis, eye-tracking, video image manipulation, almost any kind of reaction time task, and video image analysis. For more graphics or data intensive applications, such as computational modeling, Linux and Sun workstation platforms are used. Researchers in the cognitive area maintain relationships with the Departments of Engineering, Computer Science, Philosophy, and Neuroscience and the San Diego Supercomputing Facility.

The developmental faculty have laboratory facilities to study parents and children, and have access to the campus day-care center for studies that involve toddlers and preschool children. In addition, we maintain a good working relationship with several school districts in the area and have been very successful in conducting research in the local schools. There is a significant retirement population in this area of southern California, and we have access to individuals of all age groups for research purposes. The campus at Riverside is close to three state hospitals, a school for the deaf, a medical training center, and a Veterans Administration hospital. Many of our faculty and students collaborate with professionals at these institutions. Through such arrangements, we have access to developmentally disabled children, psychiatric outpatients, deaf children, and veterans. The population in Riverside represents a cultural mix, so studies of a variety of cultural subgroups are relatively easy to accomplish. The developmental faculty all participate in the Center for Family Studies which is an interdisciplinary center involving psychologists, sociologists, educators, anthropologists, historians, and economists. These 20 faculty all approach critical issues within the family from their area of expertise.

The social/personality psychology faculty maintain several well-equipped laboratories and a number of field sites. For the study of social perception, nonverbal communication, emotional expression, and attribution processes, we have audio-visual laboratories, observation rooms, and editing facilities. The campus also provides additional equipment and technical support through its Media Resources Center. For the study of group interaction, there are laboratories for the study of small groups and group communication. To facilitate data collection and analysis, all the labs contain computers and direct data lines tied to the central campus computers.

Outside the lab, faculty and student research has been conducted in Mexico (cross-cultural studies and television influence processes), in local hospitals and clinics (studies of psychosocial factors in health and illness), in the nearby state mental hospital, and in assorted community settings. There are also ties to the systemwide Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation.

UC Riverside is actively providing interdisciplinary training in Health Psychology and the Psychology of Well-being. The emphasis is on such issues as health communication, emotion regulation, personality and disease, social support, happiness and well-being, health promotion, and healthy development and healthy aging. The basic training is in social and personality psychology, or in developmental psychology, with breadth as needed in related fields, and in-depth training in specific health issues. The student is thus able to work in such areas as conducting original psychological research in coping and health maintenance, evaluating health care, ethnicity and health, developing health and well-being promotion efforts, or consulting with health care professionals and organizations on thriving and health.

A further specific emphasis is personality psychology . Faculty have expertise and active research programs in personality assessment and relationships between personality and social behavior.

Students have the opportunity to visit other UC campuses and take additional courses as needed. Some psychology students have moved from one UC campus to another as they proceeded from undergraduate to graduate to post-doctoral to research associate to faculty positions. Regular intercampus conferences in psychology have been held. Direct free access is available to online library resources.

Technical and Computing Support

The Psychology Department provides a wide range of technical support services for those students needing information or technical assistance in the areas of computer hardware or software as well as access to shops for electronic, optical, and mechanical work.

State-of-the-art computing resources are available in various faculty laboratories. They range from high-powered workstations through smaller, personal computers. They are used for research in neurophysiology, nonverbal communication, speech analysis, stimulus control, spatial information processing, monitoring eye-tracking apparatus, neural network modeling, and data processing. Students working in these labs can gain experience on these computer systems. An Experimental Psychology Lab (independent of faculty labs) is equipped with 10 computers and a laser printer. These computers are equipped to do speech manipulation, reaction time experiments, motor control and human factors research. PsycInfo and PubMed, as well as dozens of other databases, are accessible from all computers linked to the Internet.

All of the computer packages typically used in psychological research are supported by the Academic Computing Center and are available for the use of graduate students (e.g., SPSS-X, SAS, LISREL and Mathematica). Academic Computing has technical staff who also conduct workshops on a wide range of topics and they are available for individual consultation. UC Riverside is a member of the San Diego Supercomputer Consortium and consultation on using supercomputing resources is available on our campus.