Directed Independent Research

The Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree in Psychology and the Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree in Neuroscience and Behavior both have a strong scientific emphasis that encompasses traditional areas of psychology including neuroscience and behavior, cognitive psychology, social/personality psychology and developmental psychology. Students are strongly encouraged to become involved in research.

For psychology students, in order to satisfy the laboratory requirement, they have the option to enroll in three credits of Directed Independent Research (DIR), either for a letter grade (PSY 4915) or on a pass/fail basis (PSY 4916). It is recommended they meet with their academic advisor to choose the right option.

For Neuroscience and Behavior students, they have the option to enroll in three credits of Directed Independent Research (DIR), either for a letter grade (PSB 4915) or on a pass/fail basis (PSB 4917), to count towards their elective requirements. It is recommended they meet with their academic advisor to choose the right option.

When pursuing research through a DIR, students work alongside faculty and get hands-on experience in a fully functioning lab. Below is a list of Faculty who are inviting undergraduate students into their lab.

Psychology Faculty Areas of Emphasis

Gizelle Anzures, Ph.D.
Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, development of visual & social cognition, functional brain development.
Elan Barenholtz, Ph.D. 
Behavioral & computational approaches to perception, learning, & decision making using embedded deep neural networks & robotic models of behavior. Virtual and Augmented Reality.
Terrence Barnhardt, Ph.D.
Cognitive neuroscience of memory for words, memory for brand-name products, and the effects of emotion on learning.
David Bjorklund, Ph.D.
Children’s cognitive development and evolutionary developmental psychology.
Kevin Darby, Ph.D.
Lifespan development of cognitive processes including memory, attention, and metacognition; experimental and computational modeling approaches.
Chad Forbes, Ph.D.
Social and cognitive neuroscience of the self, prejudice, and stigma in relation to memory and emotion; understanding group-based learning dynamics that foster inclusive learning optimization for negatively stereotyped students. 
Erika Hoff, Ph.D.
Bilingual development, language and literacy growth in Spanish-English bilinguals. (Davie)
Sang Wook Hong, Ph.D.
Visual Perception and Cognition: Color Vision, Motion Vision, Visual Awareness, Inhibitory Processing, Emotional Processing.
Nancy Aaron Jones, Ph.D.
Infant and child emotions and developmental neuroscience linked to risk and resilience during early experiences. (Jupiter)
Alan Kersten, Ph.D.
Language development, eyewitness memory for events and event categorization.
Brett Laursen, Ph.D.
Friendship and romantic relationships during childhood and adolescence and their influence on individual social and academic adjustment. (Davie)
Michael Maniaci, Ph.D.
Close relationships, social support, and interpersonal attraction.
Andrzej Nowak, Ph.D.
Social/Personality, computational and neural network modeling of social behavior.
Monica Rosselli, Ph.D.
Neuropsychology of normal and abnormal aging, bilingualism and cognitive reserve. (Davie)
Summer Sheremata, Ph.D.
Cognitive Neuroscience, neural basis of visual short-term memory.
Robert Stackman, Ph.D.
Neurobiology of long-term memory, in vivo neurophysiology of spatial navigation. (Jupiter)
Robin Vallacher, Ph.D.
Social/personality psychology; computational models of personal, interpersonal, and societal dynamics.
Carmen Varela, Ph.D.  (Jupiter)
Neural basis of learning and memory; extracellular electrophysiology in behaving rodents; thalamic circuits in cognitive function.
Geoffrey Wetherell, Ph.D
Social/personality psychology, stereotypes and prejudice, value and worldview conflict, moral psychology.
Teresa Wilcox, Ph.D.
Infant perception and cognition; functional organization of the infant brain; early knowledge of mechanical and social entities.

How to Start Directed Independent Research

Once you find a faculty member with a research area that is of interest, write that faculty member a professional email explaining your interest in completing a DIR with them. Begin by introducing yourself, state why you are interested in working in their lab and ask permission to enroll in DIR credits with them.

You will then set up a day and time to meet and discuss options, schedule and availability, and possible responsibilities. Please note that some faculty may have specific course prerequisites that must be completed before beginning DIR in their labs.

If the faculty member agrees to allow you to perform DIR under their supervision, the faculty member will give you approval in FAU’s banner system. Then, you will go into your self-service account and register for the course as you would any other. In banner, you will need to set the number of credits that you plan to register for.

From there, you will coordinate with the faculty member on when and where to show up for your first day!


For more information, contact Lakmali Senanayake ( and Lauren Mavica (