Research opportunities expand for SDSU psychology department

by Georgina Vargas, Staff Writer

Faculty and students in San Diego State’s psychology department were recognized for their research, advising and presentations this year.

Georg Matt, chair of the psychology department, said the department receives the second highest amount of funding in the state from the National Institute of Health.

“It is something that has grown over many years and the spirit among faculty members is that we are all here to support students and to do good work in research and we found a good way to combine this,” Matt said.


Among the faculty members who have been recognized for her research is Vanessa Malcarne, a professor who studies chronic illness and is part of the SDSU and UC San Diego Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology.

She received a large grant to work with UCSD in cancer research.

The funding will go to students who will be participating in the research.

“We want (students) to be good consumers of research regardless of if they want to be professors because they can be clinicians, too,”  psychology advisor Katherine Turner said.

Psychology professor Terry Cronan also received funding to research gerontology, the study of aging, through SDSU’s Advancing Diversity in Aging Research Program.

Students work with faculty members to learn about specific fields of psychology they are interested in.


The department researches a variety of topics including the brain, the study of humans, organizational behavior and much more, Matt said.

“They have a lot of resources, and the peer advising center is actually really helpful,” psychology and social work sophomore Adriana Benitez said.

The Psi Chi Honors Society  in the psychology department was also recognized this year with an award for its outreach.

This is the first time the club has received a national award.

Other annual awards in the department are the Outstanding Graduating Senior in Psychology award and awards for presentations and research at SDSU and the national level.

Psychology is also helping students in learning multidisciplinary skills so they can apply for careers and research.

“A lot of work we do has translation into practical application and into other departments,” Matt said.

The psychology department will be opening a new imaging center for students who are interested in neuroscience. In this center students  will be able to study autism, effects of alcohol exposure and language development, Matt said.


Turner said that former students continue to stay in touch and inform the department of upcoming opportunities in San Diego.

“The faculty and students are very involved, we couldn’t do it without them,” Turner said.

Students will continue to grow and have the opportunity to discover which area of research they are most interested in through the classes and research that is conducted at SDSU.

“It is something that has grown over many years, it is a spirit among faculty members, that we are all here to support students and continue research,” Matt said.