The Department of Psychology’s Doctoral Program in experimental psychology provides a foundation in psychological processes underlying behavior. Students are exposed to a blend of didactic, practical, and scholarly activities that can be tailored to provide a broad education. Students become actively involved in research early in their first year, often culminating in thesis or dissertation projects.
Jordan Bailey, a graduate student at Auburn University, is working in the behavioral toxicology lab to see cognitive behavioral effects of chronic mercury exposure on mice.
“What we are really doing is giving calcium channel blockers to mice that are exposed to mercury at different doses and seeing how well that it protects against the signs and symptoms of mercury exposure,” said Bailey.
The mice consume the mercury through water like we would through our diet. They are hoping to find a way to prevent mercury consumption and alleviate some of the sensory or motor problems associated with mercury exposure.
“This will mimic a person’s lifestyle that is really high in fish consumption over their whole lifetime,” said Bailey. “No one knows what calcium channel blockers will do and it has been hypothesized that they will prevent the cell death associated with mercury and we are seeing some neural protection.”
He was interested in research and also did very well in a drugs and behavior course. The professor of the course, M. Christopher Newland, PhD, asked Marien to help in his research lab.
Dr. Newland is the professor over this lab. Some of his recent research includes aging and methyl mercury exposure, adult effects of fetal exposure to chemicals, choice, learning, and advanced operant techniques, and quantitative analysis of behavior.
“Working in the lab has been so much fun," said Marien. “I love working with the mice and actually being able to help with research that one day could help future generations.”
He weighs the mice, feeds the mice, creates data sheets, and many other tasks to help the graduate students in their studies.
“The thing I like most about working in the lab at Auburn University is the experience it has given me,” said Bailey. "I get to write papers, and it will help further my career aspirations.”
This is just one experimental psychology lab. Students in the Department of Psychology also have worked with Psychology faculty to pursue interests in substance abuse, developmental disabilities, anxiety disorders, advanced quantitative techniques, and behavior analysis.