Undergrad Research Labs
The unifying themes in my action-research, clinical work, and policy/advocacy are the development of positive, constructive life paths for children and youth and the organization of opportunities to allow this to happen in equitable ways. This has brought me into areas such as social-emotional learning (SEL), its more recent variation, social-emotional and character development (SECD), emotional intelligence, social competence promotion, character education, primary prevention, school-based, evidence-based intervention, and socialization of identity. It has also brought my work increasingly into the areas of implementation and sustainability of interventions, and cutting edge issues such as the link of SECD and academics and the distinguishing features of sustainable, versus well-implemented, empirically supported innovations. Finally, I have most recently begun to work in the area of promoting civic engagement among Rutgers University students via the creation of a Collaborative for Community-Based Research and Service (engage.rutgers.edu).
I have worked to establish the field of prevention, school-based preventive intervention, and social competence promotion as a credible, important, and rigorous area of research, practice, and public policy. To accomplish the latter, collaborative models are necessary, as are programs of longitudinal, synergistic action-research with an explicit eye to practice and policy. Thus, I have organized my work within the Rutgers Social-Emotional Learning Lab (http://www.rci.rutgers.edu/~melias/ and www.edutopia.org/user/67). The Lab is dedicated to conducting action-research in public, private, and religious school settings for the purpose of building children’s skills for facing the tests of life, and not a life of tests. It focuses on understanding the relationship of academic achievement, social-emotion competencies, and the development of character and a core set of life principles, and the development of school-based interventions to strengthen social-emotion skills , character, and one’s Laws of Life, and prevent bullying, violence and victimization, substance abuse, and related problem behaviors.
Projects of the Rutgers Social-Emotional Learning Lab focus on students and their school, family, and community environments. We employ a project-based, constructivist and inquiry-oriented social-learning approach to pedagogy and a developmental ecological-community psychology approach to understanding settings and designing, delivering, and evaluating interventions. In addition, we carry out applied research related to bullying/youth violence, victimization, character development and identity, spirituality, purpose, and forgiveness, social-emotional and social decision making skills, social support, classroom organization, management, and discipline, test anxiety and motivation, menschlekheit development in schools and families, Jewish education, emotional intelligence, and the design, implementation, and sustainability of preventive interventions.
Current projects include:
- Developing Schools of Character in New Brunswick and Jersey City
- Improving School Climate for Academic and Life Success
- Laws of Life and Social-Emotional Learning in the Schools: A Longitudinal Action-Research Project
- Implementation and Sustainability of School-Based Interventions
- Assessment and Improvement of Civic Engagement
- Social-Emotional Learning and Academic Achievement/Closing Achievement Gaps Project
- Empowerment , Leadership, and Service-Learning Groups for At-Risk Girls and Boy
The Women's Treatment Project is a five year National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism funded study of outpatient behavioral treatment for women (18 and older) who have drinking problems. After an extensive assessment of drinking, psychopathology, functioning, and family history, women are randomly assigned to individual or group therapy. They then enter a 12-session treatment program with therapists who specialize in the treatment alcohol problems. Women are followed for a year after treatment to assess outcomes. All assessment and treatment sessions are free of charge. Women in the study are paid for their participation in the research aspects of the program. Undergraduates have opportunities to learn about clinical research, assist in conducting assessments with the women, and assist with basic aspects of the research such as data entry and preparation of research materials.
If students are interested, they can send:
- Brief cover letter/email (include GPA and SAT scores)
- List of psychology courses and grades
Prerequisites: (1) Abnormal Psychology (830:340); (2) Quantitative Methods (830:200)
My research concerns perceptual organization, grouping, visual similarity, shape representation, object categorization, and other aspects of human visual cognition.
Research on the behavioral genetics of memory in mice in Dr. Gallistel's lab. Opportunity to take part in all phases of the experimental process. Undergraduates working in the lab are responsible for daily running of the mice in automated experimental procedures, data analysis, and the writing of a paper describing what we are doing and why. We are developing highly automated procedures for screening mice for the effects of genetic variation and genetic manipulation on the molecular mechanism of memory. Students with some computer programming experience are particularly welcome. Work-study students also sought. Opportunity for paid full-time employment during the summer.
Cognitive Development & Learning Lab
Our group is interested in both early and later conceptual learning. In particular we study knowledge about causality, arithmetic, language and some scientific concepts. We have developed ways to show what knowledge preschoolers have aqcuired, pretty much on the fly, without formal learning. We also work on coming to understand the nonverbal arithmetic abilities that adults share with children and animals and why adults find learning about abstract mathematical concepts so difficult. A particular focus of the lab this year is on the fact that a very large number of undergraduates have a limited understanding of rational numbers, both with respect to their formal status and algorithms for working with these. Another topic of current interest has to do with the relation between the language of number and seemingly related features of natural language. We are likely to continue working on what children perceive in a picture of an unfamiliar animal that allows them to treat them as representations of living kinds; and psychological factors that contribute to the creation of a set to be counted.
Seriod experience with Macintosh computers is required. Preference will be given to students who are able to make a commitment for two semesters and have solid backgrounds in linguistics, mathematics, computers and science; or have computer graphics and animation skills. In order to participate in preschool or school-based research, students need to have at least two mornings available. Fluent use of another language is helpful--especially Mandarin, Spanish, and Korean.
Students who have worked in my lab, almost always go on to graduate school, law school, and schools of education. If you goal is clinical training, be advised that I do not provide relevant experience.
Dr. Arnold Glass
When we see something or recall something or plan a sentence, a representation of what we see or recall or wish to say forms in our brain. What are these representations like? If we knew exactly what they were like then we could replicate them in databases that would be used by computers to see and speak the way we do.
I have been trying to create descriptions of the representations that we use to see and remember and speak in sufficient detail to enable a computer system with all these abilities. Such descriptions are called computational models and may take the form of actual computer programs.
When we see or hear, our brains are transforming information from one form into another. So our brains are information processing systems, just like computers are. Computers can electronically perform operations must faster than our brains. But the procedures that our brains use for transforming information are much faster and more efficient than those currently used by computers. Describing the procedures that the brain uses to encode and retrieve information is the goal of my research.
Students who enjoy mathematics and/or computer programming who are interested in how the mind works should find this work fascinating.
We have reached the point in our ability to record neural processes to make neuro-cognitive modelling possible. I cooperate with fMRI and ERP labs on collecting data that illuminates the neural processing that supports neural computation. Students who are interested in this work are also welcome in the lab.
Our new understanding of human cognition has many important practical implications. One is in the area of education. I am doing classroom based experiments that test instructional methodologies that improve academic performance. Students interested in creating instructional materials and in data tabulation and analysis are welcome to join this project. I am also involved with a team of engineers studying how human reasoning and preferences affects the functioning of the complex communication, energy, and transportation systems that support our modern world. Students excited about creating the future will enjoy these projects.
Finally, my broad interests have inclined me to understand human cognition in terms of a set of inter-connected functional neural systems. There is a huge need for anatomical maps of these systems and I have taken up this challenge. Anyone who likes to draw and is interested in neuroscience will find this work very rewarding.
Behavioral and educational research conducted with children and adults with autism. Areas of research include evaluating the effectiveness of treatment procedures, assessing family functioning, and influencing social behavior in autism.
Participation includes ten hours per week of involvement in varied research activities: collection, coding, and analysis of data, systematic observation of instructional sessions and naturalistic interactions, and literature reviews.
Seminars and daily contact allow the student to share a variety of experiences with both the instructor and other students.
Open to juniors and seniors. Priority is given to students who have done field work at the Douglass Developmental Disabilities Center. ENROLLMENT IS LIMITED.
We are currently looking for a part time lab assistant for the 2016-17 academic year. Please visit our lab website to apply.
How do people use information from complex naturalistic environments when retrieving information from memory? My research focuses on the relationship between mental representations of the environment and episodic memory, and how people use knowledge and expectations about their environment to make decisions. To better understand the cognitive goals underlying memory I combine computational modeling with behavioral experiments.
Current studies include:
How do prior knowledge and expectations about objects in natural and ransom scenes influence episodic memory?
How do people categorize color and how do prior expectations about color influence episodic memory?
How does the natural frequency of, and object or word affect recognition and recall?
How can prior knowledge be useful in assessing the validity of eyewitness testimony?
How do people use natural frequencies when reasoning?
Research in the lab is heavily dependent on the use of computers. Familiarity with Matlab programming and/or strong skills in photoshop are very helpful.
For more information, visit the lab website or email Pernille Hemmer with a brief description of your cognitive science and programming background.
My research is concerned with mental time travel, that is, how we think about the past and future and how memory and foresight abilities develop. We currently have a number of studies underway that examine various aspects of autobiographical memory and future thinking in children and adults:
1. Development of future thinking in preschool children. We are collecting data on how children at 3 and 4 years of age reason about the future. Some of the questions we are concerned with include: Is it easier to imagine oneself in the future or another person? Is the ability to think about the future related to the development of working memory and/or executive function skills?
2. Autobiographic memory and the life story. How do specific autobiographical memories contribute to the development of a person's life story?
3. Planning and time management. Is the ability to plan for the future related to the ability to manage one's time effectively?
4. Mother-child interaction and the development of future
thinking. How do conversations between mothers and children about future events contribute to the development of future thinking in young children?
5. Development of time concepts. How do young children learn to think about the past and future in terms of conventional units of time (e.g., hours, days, months and so on)? What role do parents and teachers play in this development?