Research Overview

The University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), one of only 88 Carnegie level-one research universities in the nation, is the largest institution of higher learning in the Chicago area. UIC's federal R&D expenditures exceeded $100 million in 2002, passing two Big Ten universities, Michigan State and Purdue. In all sources of research funding, UIC is third among Illinois universities. UIC, at $99.7 million, ranks fortieth among domestic higher education institutions for NIH awards (FY00 - FY02). The Department of Psychology at UIC is rated in the top 50 in the country in research productivity. There are over 30 faculty members in a department that is highly successful in attracting external funding including training grants. In recent years, our level of extramural funding (which provides support for state-of-the-art laboratories and research opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students) typically exceeds $5 million per annum. Our faculty are engaged in a broad spectrum of research, supervision, and graduate teaching. Faculty research programs are supported by a variety of external agencies including: CDC, NASA, NIH, NHLBI, NICHD, NIMH, NIMDS, NIAAA, NIDA, NSF, HHS, U.S. Department of Education, U.S. Department of Defense, Agency for Health Care Policy and Research, Ounce of Prevention, The Surdna Foundation, The Joseph P. Kennedy Foundation, the Fetzer Institute, and the William T. Grant Foundation.

The Department of Psychology is strongly committed to interdisciplinary scholarship and research, and has a long history of effective collaboration with other UIC training units including: the Institute for Juvenile Research,the College of Health and Human Development, the School of Public Health, the College of Education, the Health Research and Prevention Centers, the Center for Urban Educational Research and Development, the Center for Literacy, the College of Nursing, and the Jane Addams College of Social Work. The Department of Psychology also participates in the UIC Committee on Neuroscience and the UIC Committee on Educational Psychology. These collaborations provide students and faculty with interests in these burgeoning, multidisciplinary fields an opportunity to cooperate in research and training.

Research in the Department of Psychology can be broadly divided into five programs:

Program of Behavioral Neuroscience

Faculty interests include the neural mechanisms of motivation and reinforcement, the effects of drugs of abuse on the brain, the neurobiology of learning and memory, the physiology and psychology of visual processing, and the neural basis of attention and cognitive behaviors. Research involves examining brain functions in fish, rodents, non-human primates and humans. The program provides instruction in a range of state-of-the-art behavioral, neurochemical, neuroanatomical and neurophysiological techniques ranging from the recording of the activity of single neurons and the measurement of neurotransmitter release in behaving animals, to the imaging of patterns of neural activation throughout the brain and the behavioral effects of central nervous system lesions. The Behavioral Neuroscience Program is committed to an interdisciplinary approach to the study of brain function. The Program is an integral component of the Laboratory of Integrative Neuroscience (LIN), a unit made up of faculty and students from the Departments of Biology, Chemistry, Psychology and Philosophy which promotes research, offers courses, and hosts seminars on research topics ranging from molecular to systems-level neuroscience.

Program of Clinical Psychology

Faculty interests are diverse and include: health promotion and disease prevention, behavior change mechanisms, cigarette smoking, smoking cessation, cancer prevention, etiology and treatment of eating disorders, eating behavior and obesity, diet and behavior, drug's effects on emotion and attention, individual differences in drug dependence, cognitive models of depression, anxiety and drug use, neurocognitive assessment, neuroimaging and psychopathology, cortical control of eye movement, schizophrenia and autism, social behavioral medicine, AIDS-related behavior, sex roles and sexual orientation, social psychological aspects of alcohol and drug abuse/use, field research, minority education, resilience and protective factors in high-risk urban minority children and adolescents, the role of peer and other social support in academic adjustment, prevention of high-risk behaviors, development of depression, cognitive vulnerability-stress models of depression, developmental psychopathology, gender differences in depression, and comorbidity of depression and other psychiatric disorders. The mission of the division of clinical psychology is to educate innovative research-oriented scholars. We emphasize the integration of research and clinical work to produce leading researchers who will advance theory, research, and application in the areas of assessment, treatment, and the prevention of psychopathology. Our educational philosophy emphasizes a scientific and socially responsible approach to clinical psychology, including sensitivity to ethical issues as well as gender, ethnic, and cultural diversity. The Department also has its own community based training clinic.

Program of Cognitive Psychology

The Program of Cognitive Psychology conducts basic and applied research on human cognition and prepares students for careers in research and teaching.

Research programs share a focus on complex cognitive processes, which include attention, memory, bilingualism, discourse processes, problem solving, creativity, conceptual change, skill acquisition, expertise, and individual differences. Students receive training in a wide range of cognitive methods including basic experimental methods, individual differences approaches, cognitive and mathematical modeling, protocol and gesture analysis, eye tracking and neurophysiological measures. Several faculty members use cognitive research to inform educational practices and the design of educational software, making UIC an ideal location for students interested in education. Members of the Cognitive Program are involved in the Learning Sciences Research Institute, which supports multidisciplinary research on learning and instruction.

Program of Community and Prevention Research

The mission of the Community and Prevention Research (CPR) program in the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) Department of Psychology is to train students to conduct innovative prevention and intervention research in community settings. Through research and practice experiences, students examine the interplay of contextual, organizational, group, and individual factors. The program provides training in the theories and methods of community psychology and of prevention and intervention research to strengthen students’ abilities to think creatively and critically about social problem solving. UIC CPR Faculty work in the rich social ecology of the communities in the Chicago area. Our applied research takes place primarily in Chicago-area schools, neighborhoods, and human service settings.

Program of Social and Personality Psychology

The social-personality program at the University of Illinois at Chicago provides intensive training in research methods, statistical analysis, and a wide array of theoretical perspectives on the cognitive and motivational foundations of social interaction and behavior. Social psychology emphasizes the power of the social situation as a determinant of individual behavior, thinking, and emotion. Personality psychology emphasizes the psychological architecture of the person. The social-personality program at UIC specializes in a number of basic and applied approaches to theory and research including self, social identity, and self-image threats; stereotyping and prejudice; dynamics of intergroup interactions; interracial friendship; lay theories of intelligence; peoples’ conceptions of justice and fairness; attitudes formation and change; attribution moral conviction; political psychology; personality coherence; self-regulation; social cognition and affect; psychology and law; jury decision making; health psychology; AIDS-related behavior; sex roles and sexual orientation; social psychological aspects of alcohol and drug abuse/use; and cognitive processes in motivation and behavior change.