Research in Psychology

Marcia Pasqualini


Marcia Pasqualini, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology
P: 816-501-3664 / E: marcia.pasqualini

Why Engage in Psychological Research?

Conducting research develops your ability to pose good questions, think logically, problem solve, write concisely, speak before an audience, and work on a team: abilities highly valued by employers. Collaborating within a research group at Avila enables you to work closely with a faculty member, who can put your particular talents to best use (and write those all-important letters of recommendation!). With our apprenticeship model of research, the specific tasks you will work on will be commensurate with your current level of experience and knowledge.

If you are interested in applying to the Ph.D. programs in Psychology, research experience is mandatory. Most programs are highly competitive, and nearly all of your competition will have had research experience of some sort.

Research involves making new discoveries, about finding answers to questions that puzzle you. Best of all, you can take advantage of opportunities to present your research at regional, national, or international conferences. There’s no better way to make contact with professors and other students who share your interests.

As an undergraduate or master’s level student at Avila, you will learn to do research from professors adept at research.

Work on Research Projects: Undergraduate Students

Avila undergraduate students from any discipline may work on a psychology research team with the permission of a faculty research supervisor.

Non-psychology majors, and psychology majors who have not yet completed Psychological Statistics and Research Methods I & II (PY 261 and PY 262) should sign up for Research Experience I (PY 297). This course is taken for ONE credit hour at a time and can be repeated.

Psychology majors (from any area of concentration) who have completed PY 261 and PY 262 should sign up for Research Experience II (PY 497). This course is also taken for ONE credit hour at a time and can be repeated.

Psychology majors in the Research Concentration will additionally complete PY 498, Senior Thesis (3 credits per semester; normally taken for two semesters).

Work on Research Projects: Graduate Students

Students in the Master’s of Science in Psychology and the Master’s of Science in Counseling Psychology programs may work in a psychology research team, with the permission of a faculty research advisor.

Students interested in gaining research experience should enroll in PY 647, Research Experience, which is offered for ONE credit hour at a time.

Students in the MSP Research will complete PY 697 Master’s Thesis.

Department of Psychology Faculty Research

The following faculty members are currently accepting research students:

Dr. Jared Branch is interested in better understanding how the mind works by asking questions centered around memory, mental time travel, counterfactual thinking, and clinical applications of these phenomena. Students in the Cog Sci Lab answer these questions using the methods of psychology, philosophy, and other fields of cognitive science, using Oculus Quest virtual reality.

Dr. Jon Mandracchias research focuses on suicide, particularly among offender populations, as well as maladaptive thinking patterns that perpetuate criminal behavior (i.e., criminogenic thinking).

Dr. Marcia Pasqualini heads the Emotions Laboratory, and her research interests relate to people’s emotions in social situations. Specific research topics include public speaking anxiety, facial expression, emotions and decision-making, and individual differences in emotional reactivity. Students have the opportunity to use Meta Quest 2 VR headsets for studies of anxiety; Mindware BioLab to measure heart rate variability, impedance, skin conductance, and facial EMG; Noldus Observer for synchronized behavioral observations; and E-Prime for stimulus presentation. Students may also have the opportunity to collaborate with research on brain imaging related to disordered eating, addictions, and aging.

Dr. Jordan Wagge runs the ROSE Lab at Avila University. The lab’s primary focus is on tackling the “replication crisis” in psychology by conducting replications of published research. Dr. Wagge is also the Executive Director for the Collaborative Replications and Education Project (CREP), which has been awarded a $267,741 NSF IUSE grant to improve undergraduate STEM education by supporting students and instructors in completing this type of work. Dr. Wagge’s additional research interests are 1) the types of things that happen in research methods courses, and 2) debunking myths related to the relationship between a person’s weight and their health. Recently, a student presentation by Lindsay Wing related to this second topic has won awards at two different conferences. You can read more about Dr. Wagge’s research and lab at

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