As part of the Boyer Hall renovations, much of the Psychology Department wing is being reconfigured and reconstructed to create 14 stand-alone lab spaces and a central corridor for faculty offices.
The Psychology program requires that all students in the sophomore sequence do behavioral rat research in the fall semester and an original, independent research project in the spring semester. The new labs will be crucial in managing the volume of research participants over the spring semester. And they will allow student researchers to isolate subjects, ensuring that their behavior results from the experimental procedure and not outside stimuli.
“The thing that makes us [psychology] different from the other sciences is that our labs aren’t filled with special equipment. Our labs are for collecting data or observing behavior, so you need a place where subjects can be isolated from everything else,” says Dr. Steve Robbins, Chair and Professor of Psychology. “In the past, we haven’t had private spaces to put individual humans to expose them to experimental conditions.”
Large rooms that had been used as biology or chemistry labs are being converted into smaller spaces tailored for psychology research. These smaller spaces allow for more studies to be run at any given time.
“Everybody in their sophomore and junior year runs original, independent research projects, usually in groups of three or four. In the spring, we’re probably looking at 60 individual research projects going on somewhere between February and April,” says Robbins. “If you figure that each of those studies needs roughly 30 participants at minimum to give you useful results, it calculates to be something like 1,800-2,000 research participants that we’re trying to push through our labs in two and a half months.”
With the upgraded facility, Robbins expects to see an increase in the quality of studies run, resulting in more Arcadia students showcasing studies at conferences and publishing in scientific journals.