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Psychology in Action

Our research mission involves generating scientific discoveries that shed light on psychological processes involved in human behavior. This includes identifying normal and disordered processes that contribute to mental and physical health disorders across the lifespan, as well as the psychological and social processes that influence people’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors as they engage with family, work, and their community. Our faculty are highly research active, maintaining large federal grants, publishing in top outlets in science and in their specific field, and leading the field on editorial boards and grant review panels. Beyond these metrics, we highlight a few examples (out of many) of recent work that has transformed the world:

• Dr. Maren and colleagues demonstrated that a common heart medication can disrupt the fear-learning mechanisms involved in the development of PTSD. This work was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and extensively covered in the media.
• Drs. Payne, Bergman, Miner, and Carter-Sowell have developed measures of campus climate and inclusion for faculty and students as part of the University ADVANCE grant. They have also developed interventions to improve climate and recruit and retain women and faculty from underrepresented minority groups in STEM fields.
• Dr. Morey has transformed how human functioning and dysfunction are conceptualized. His most impactful work relates to Borderline Personality Disorder, a severe personality disorder which disrupts daily functioning and is associated with suicide attempts and
impaired relationships. Historically, this disorder was viewed as chronic and unmanageable. Dr. Morey’s work has challenged this notion and demonstrated that remission is possible.
• Dr. Anderson conducted an investigation using PET that demonstrated that the attention mechanisms related to substance abuse parallel mechanisms for any type of learning. This finding speaks to ongoing debates about whether drug abuse is due to unusually strong reactions to drugs or unusually strong reactions among particular individuals.
• Dr. Schlegel and colleagues received National Science Foundation funding to develop a program with a local school (98% underrepresented minority students; 96% on reduced lunch program) to engage students in “making” and develop a self-identity that includes STEM. This group is currently working to provide training to elementary school teachers in how to incorporate “maker” activities in their classrooms. They are developing a university center to establish this work on campus.

Students present their science and engineering projects
to Texas A&M faculty, staff, and students as part of an NSF-funded project
to develop “maker” identities among children.