» Faculty and Student Research

Are you a student interested in hands on research with world-class faculty? No matter what your interests, fascinating research is happening each and every day at Crean - and you can be a part of it!

Psychology Labs

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Early Human and Lifespan Development Program

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The goal of the Chapman Early Human and Lifespan Development Program is to advance understanding of the role of the perinatal period in maternal and child health. Led by Dr. Laura Glynn, this laboratory examines the interplay between biological, psychosocial and behavioral processes in human pregnancy.  The interdisciplinary research team focuses on questions such as: Why do women give birth to babies that are born early or small?; How does fetal experience shape the health and development of infants and children?; Does the prenatal period represent a critical period of neurological development, not only for the fetus, but for the mother too?

Dr. Laura Glynn
Location: 544 N. Cypress Avenue

Healthy Aging Lab (HAL)

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Dr. Tara Gruenewald is an Associate Professor and Chair of Psychology who joined the Chapman faculty in the Fall of 2017.  Tara is a social and health psychologist with additional postdoctoral training in Public Health and Gerontology.  Her research focuses on the social and psychological factors which shape cognitive and physical functioning, physiology, and mental and physical health across the life course.  Current foci include: (1) Identification of the psychological, social, behavioral, and biological pathways which underlie socieoeconomic gradients in functioning and health, (2) The role of perceptions of generativity in shaping health and functioning in later life, and (3) Examination of health correlates of generative activity and intergenerational civic activity engagement.  Her research utilizes a wide array of designs including longitudinal cohort studies, experience sampling investigations, and experiments in the lab and in natural environments, as well as diverse data collection methods.

Dr. Tara Gruenewald
Location: Crean Hall, Room 121

Culture, Evolution, and Behavior Laboratory

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Dr. David Frederick's program of research investigates how mass media, interpersonal relationships, and biological factors shape body image dissatisfaction, attraction, health behaviors, attitudes towards weight, self-regulation, and relationship stability among gay, lesbian, and heterosexual men and women.  His work investigates how these experiences differ for ethnic minority versus majority men and women. 

To examine these issues, Dr. Frederick conducts and analyzes large-scale national survey studies, directs cross-cultural research studies, assesses biological factors such as hormone levels, and conducts experimental studies.  He currently supervises graduate and undergraduate students conducting research sex and sexual orientation differences in jealousy and mate preferences, on the effects of exposure to news media on support for different obesity-related public policies, and sex and sexual orientation differences in body dissatisfaction.

More information on Dr. Frederick's recent work can be viewed at his personal website. Students interested in working with Dr. Frederick can contact him at dfrederi@chapman.edu.

Dr. David Frederick
Location: Crean Hall, Room 132B

Health & Well-Being Laboratory

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Although being happy, optimistic, and fulfilled inherently feels good, do such positive psychological characteristics relate to better physical health? Under the direction of Dr. Julia Boehm, the Health & Well-Being (HWB) Laboratory broadly investigates this question and seeks to understand how people can thrive both mentally and physically. 

Dr. Boehm’s research indicates that initially healthy people who are optimistic and satisfied have a reduced risk for heart attacks more than five years later, compared with individuals who are less optimistic and less satisfied. Research in the HWB Laboratory uses both longitudinal and experimental methodologies to further understand the association between positive psychological characteristics and improved cardiovascular outcomes. In particular, the HWB Laboratory examines how positive psychological characteristics are associated with the behavioral and biological processes that are relevant for cardiovascular health including physical activity, diet, blood pressure, and lipids. For example, Dr. Boehm has found that more optimistic people tend to have healthier healthy levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol and triglycerides. Additional work from the HWB Laboratory suggests that positive psychological characteristics are also associated with reduced risk of smoking and increased likelihood of exercising.     

The ultimate goal of the laboratory’s research is to identify positive psychological characteristics that contribute to healthy trajectories of cardiovascular functioning across the lifespan, with a specific focus on underlying behavioral and biological pathways.

Dr. Julia Boehm
Location: Crean Hall, Room 132
Website: http://sites.chapman.edu/hwblab/

Complex Adaptive Systems in Psychological Research (CASPR) Lab

Dr. David Pincus’s program of research focuses on understanding biopsychosocial resilience using models and methods from a nonlinear dynamical systems theory.  

Recent empirical work in the lab includes:  (1) Measuring shifts in behavioral flexibility associated with severe and persistent self-injurious behaviors; (2) Measuring the effects of experimentally induced psychological conflict on social resilience; (3) Measuring the relationships between fractal personality structure and broadband psychopathology; and (4) Modeling sexual identity integration processes underlying psychological resilience in gay adolescent males.  Future lines of research that are under development include: (a)  Measuring resilience in as shifts to nonlinear coupling in biopsychosocial networks for women across the menopausal transition; (b) Testing an approach to psychotherapy based in complex adaptive systems theory:  Experiential Balancing Therapy; (c) examining the role of the imagination in the experience of pain and pain relief.

More information on Dr. Pincus's recent work can be viewed at his faculty website.  Students interested in working with Dr. Pincus can contact him directly.

Dr. David Pincus
Location: Crean Hall, Room 132J

Social Determinants of Health Laboratory

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Why do some population groups have lower mortality rates and better health than others? While biological and genetic factors play a role, they are only one part of the story. The social conditions in which people are born, live, and age, are important determinants of health. For example, nearly 70% of cancers are preventable through modification of lifestyle factors, such as quitting smoking, maintaining a healthy diet, and becoming physically active. These issues are shaped by our social and economic environments, which are largely impacted by the distribution of resources, such as access to education, in society. Consider the impact of neighborhoods on the ability of individuals to engage in healthy behaviors: people who live in safe neighborhoods, with green space, and access to fresh fruits and vegetables, are much more likely to engage in physical activity and maintain a healthy diet. The Social Determinants of Health Lab, under the guidance of Dr. Georgiana Bostean, investigates the social and physical factors that impact health and well-being, and contribute to population health disparities. 

Current studies in our lab focus on how and why health outcomes are patterned by race, ethnicity, and nativity. This includes investigation of the Latino health paradox, whereby Latinos in the U.S., and immigrant groups generally, report better health than other racial and ethnic groups. In order to better understand the paradox, we are comparing smoking trends in the U.S. and Mexico to assess whether Mexican immigrants in the U.S. "import" their smoking behaviors from Mexico and whether there are cohort differences in smoking rates among immigrants, in order to better understand the reasons for the paradox. Another study tests whether family relationships play a role in protecting the health of certain ethnic groups. In a current study of e-cigarette policies and retailers in Orange County, we are examining whether certain vulnerable population groups, including immigrants and youth, are at disproportionate risk of exposure to these retailers. This information will help guide policy development surrounding the use and sale of these products. Undergraduate student research assistants are involved in various capacities in our lab, including in designing a research study, conducting a literature review, and collecting data.
The goal of our research in the Social Determinants of Health lab is to understand how we might improve individual health and well-being and ultimately reduce population-level health inequities through changes at the social and policy levels.

Dr. Georgiana Bostean

Affect Regulation and Health Lab

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The Affect Regulation and Health Lab explores questions related to how emotions change over time. Taking both a basic and translational science approach, this lab tests questions such as: What do patterns of emotion variability look like? How do we measure changes in emotion over time? What are the health implications of emotion variability? How can we help others manage their emotions over time through emotion regulation? How does emotion regulation skill development across the lifespan? To answer such questions, we have looked at how emotion variability is related to outcomes such as antibody response, depressive symptoms, and well-being. Because of the health implications of emotion variability and emotion regulation, this lab conducts research at the Children’s Hospital of Orange County (CHOC). The pediatric hospital setting is a particularly stressful place for children and caregivers. Therefore, at CHOC, we create and test emotion regulation strategies to help these populations cope during stress. For example, we teach parents to use emotion regulation strategies like distraction and reappraisal with children undergoing surgery and test the effectiveness of these strategies. 

Dr. Brooke Jenkins
Location: Crean Hall, RM 127


Computational Neuroscience of Volition, Decision-Making, Consciousness, and Moral Choice


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Uri Maoz is a core member of the Brain Institute and the Psychology Department at Chapman University. Using the tools of computational neuroscience, the Maoz Group carries out research at the intersection of volition, decision-making, and moral choice. Our methods range from online and behavioral studies, through virtual reality and motion capture, to real-time neuroimaging studies using machine-learning and computational modeling. Our goal is to develop a computational account of volition, with an emphasis on the decision-making processes that lead to voluntary action and on the role of consciousness in such processes. We are further interested in the legal, ethical, conceptual, and economic implications of this work.

Dr. Uri Maoz
Location: 561 N Glassell Street, Orange, CA and 14725 Alton Parkway, Irvine, CA

The Computational Analysis of Health Behavior Laboratory

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The Computational Analysis of Health Behavior Laboratory (CAHB Lab) investigates how real-time sensing technology is changing the framework by which behavioral health interventions are performed. Whereas these processes were once dominated by infrequent measurement collection and static behavior change strategies, technological innovation in mobile sensing devices now open the door for dynamic, ongoing interactions between participants and providers. Our focus is on quantitative techniques that fully leverage the data from mobile sensors in order to improve interventions designs and more precisely detail study outcomes. A wide range of technologies and fields are covered including the assessment of physical activity from accelerometers, the measurement of tobacco smoking via in-home air particle sensors, and the use of vehicular location/motion sensors to gauge aggressive driving.

Dr. Vincent Berardi
Location: Crean Hall

The Onward Lab

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The Onward lab is directed by Dr. Amy C. Moors, Assistant Professor of Psychology at Chapman University. This lab investigates a variety of issues at the intersection of gender, sexuality, and relationships with the goal of narrowing health and well-being inequalities. Specifically, this lab focuses on diverse expressions of sexuality and inclusion/belonging in higher ed. Research assistants work individually and collaboratively on a range of projects and activities. Previous research experience is not needed. 

Dr. Amy Moors

Location: Crean Hall

Context and Aging Research (C.A.R.E) Lab

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Neighborhoods are inherently social environments where people often live, work, and play. People’s subjective experience of these environments, as well as their direct exposure to neighborhood hazards and resources, are associated with a myriad of psychosocial, physical, and cognitive outcomes. Work in this lab involves secondary analysis of multiple large national surveys including rich information about United States adults’ genetic, demographic, health, economic, and neighborhood status.

One line of research tests questions about the degree to which people’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors partially explain links between neighborhoods and residents’ health. Feeling unsafe in one’s neighborhood, for example, may result in symptoms of anxiety, gradual deterioration of the body’s physiological regulatory systems, and poorer health behaviors, each of which may increase risk for poor health. Another line of research involves the analysis of gene x environment interactions, investigating whether neighborhood hazards ‘trigger,’ and neighborhood resources ‘offset’ genetic risk for adverse health outcomes. Health is considered in broad terms, including psychosocial, physical, and cognitive outcomes as well as global (e.g., cardiovascular disease), episodic (e.g., depressive symptoms), and daily (e.g., negative affect and physical symptoms) aspects of health and well-being.

The primary aims of the research in this lab are to identify modifiable aspects of people’s environments, determine the degree to which these environmental factors are causally linked to health, and to predict whether some people are more vulnerable to adverse neighborhood environments than others. Each of these aims serve the overall purpose of understanding how to live longer lives in optimal health.

Dr. Jennifer Robinette

Location: Crean Hall

Health Science & Physiology Labs

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The Community Health Equity (CHE) Lab

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The Community Health Equity (CHE) Lab is a grant-funded research collective that engages community residents and organizations to diagnose and redress glaring health disparities in disadvantaged communities. Directed by Dr. Jason A. Douglas, CHE faculty and student researchers leverage community-based participatory action research to investigate social and environmental determinants of public health disparities. Current CHE investigations include social determinants of physical activity in urban parks, respiratory health benefits of public parks and open space in communities with high air pollution burdens, and geographic correlates of crime and violence in low-income communities. CHE collaborators ultimately seek to enhance community-engaged research and empowerment pathways toward the development of grass-roots solutions and policies that advance the health of people living in marginalized communities.

Dr. Jason Douglas

Skeletal Physiology Lab

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Dr. Sumida’s initial research focused on the impact of endurance training on hepatic gluconeogenesis using the liver perfusion method and isolated hepatocytes.  These investigations revealed that endurance training elevates the glucose production capacity of the liver that could help to prevent the decline in blood glucose concentration during prolonged exercise.  Dr. Sumida used these same techniques and switched his research to investigate the sex differences for hepatic gluconeogenesis following chronic alcohol consumption.  This research demonstrated that female animals were more susceptible to alcohol-induced hypoglycemia compared to males.  Recently, his research has taken a different path.  He currently investigates the impact of resistance training on bone formation during the growth period.  These studies are revealing the existence of an exercise threshold for bone formation as well as sex differences in the training-induced response.

Dr. Kenneth Sumida

Physical Therapy Labs

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Neuromechanics of Human Movement Laboratory

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Dr. Jo Armour Smith’s program of research investigates how postural control of the trunk is adapted in response to pain, aging and skill training, and the mechanisms underlying these adaptations. Her current research focuses on the adaptations in trunk control that are associated with persistent low back pain, as these adaptations may contribute to the recurrence of symptoms. She uses a neuromechanical approach that blends biomechanics and neuroscience to study how the nervous system and musculoskeletal system interact to produce movement in healthy individuals and individuals with back pain. Research in the Neuromechanics of Human Movement Laboratory (NOHMLab) explores trunk muscle activity, trunk motion, and associated cortical function during controlled postural perturbations and during more complex functional tasks like walking and turning.

Initial work in the NOHMLab will examine the relationship between cortical function and impairments in postural control in individuals with persistent low back pain. Translational studies will also quantify changes in cortical function in response to physical therapy intervention. Clinical studies will then investigate the effectiveness of motor learning exercise interventions for enhancing postural control in individuals with acute and persistent low back pain, with the ultimate goal of increasing the understanding of mechanisms underlying the transition from acute to persistent back pain and enhancing physical therapy treatment of this disorder.  

Dr. Jo Armour Smith
Location: Harry and Diane Rinker Health Science Campus

Gait Rehabilitation and Research Lab (GRRL)

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Gait Rehabilitation and Research Lab (GRRL) investigates intervention solutions for fall prevention. Our research investigates the effectiveness of perturbation training for enhancing postural and dynamic stability in individuals with neurological or musculoskeletal disorders. We also design fall assessment portable tools such as smartphone apps and use inertial sensors in understanding movement characteristics. Our research involves understanding Activities of Daily Living (ADL’s) using inertial sensors. Research in Gait Rehabilitation Research Lab explores stability and stride interval complexity due to controlled gait and postural perturbations and during more complex cognitive and functional tasks while walking. The ultimate goal of our research is to improve quality of life of patient population by introducing interventions for movement disorders.

Dr. Rahul Soangra
Location: Harry and Diane Rinker Health Science Campus

Motor Control and Motor Development Research Laboratory

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Dr. Grant-Beuttler’s research has focused on motor control and motor development in the newborn infant and young child.  Specifically, she is interested in how uterine confinement and muscle tendon unit play a role in the development of motor skills.  Use of movement analysis systems have frequently been employed in this research.  Currently, she is working to develop a clinically useful movement analysis system for clinical and research use.  Her research has also addressed youth obesity and youth at risk for obesity and she has participated in developing a school based exercise and nutrition program for middle school students who are at risk or obese.  In addition, Dr. Grant-Beuttler has been involved in Constraint Induced Movement Therapy and the use of movement analysis systems in evaluation of this intervention in both children and adults.  Dr. Grant-Beuttler has received funding from the Department of Agriculture, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, and private foundations.

Dr. Marybeth Grant-Beuttler
Location: Harry and Diane Rinker Health Science Campus

Telerehabilitation, Robotic Therapy, and Augmented Reality Games for Stroke Recovery

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As part of a series of collaborative clinical research studies with Dr. Steven Cramer’s Lab at UCI, Dr. McKenzie and Chapman DPT students have been involved in the inception and implementation of innovative approaches to stroke rehabilitation that incorporates cutting edge technology into emerging models of neurorehabilitation for stroke.  The interdisciplinary research team includes neurologists, post-doctoral fellows, M.D./Ph.D. and Ph.D. students, physical and occupational therapists, bioengineers and bioengineering graduate students, computer scientists, and undergraduates.

Dr. Alison L. McKenzie
Location: Harry and Diane Rinker Health Science Campus

Speech-Language Pathology Labs

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NeuroCognitive-Communication Lab

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Over 2 million individuals sustain a traumatic brain injury (TBI) in the US annually. The increase in public awareness of sports-related and war-related TBI has brought this epidemic to the forefront. Most of these are concussions, yet many individuals experience life-changing cognitive, communication, and psycho-social consequences that effect their ability to return to school, go to work, resume their family roles, and participate fully in their community.

Despite this increase in public awareness, there remains much to learn about how TBI impacts ones life. In the NCCL we investigate the cognitive and communication disorders that result from brain injury using quantitative and qualitative methods. It is widely accepted that memory, attention and executive functions disorders are the result of TBI, including concussion. How these cognitive disorders impact everyday life and how speech-language pathologists can best evaluate and treat these cognitive impairments is the focus of the NCCL. Based on the World Health Organization’s International Classification Framework, Dr. Kennedy and graduate students are researching three areas that impact the ability to return to home, work and college:

1.  The validation of the use of interviews and surveys as assessment procedures that document everyday cognitive and communication disorders associated with brain injury, including those with post-concussion syndrome;
2.  The investigation of the effectiveness of dynamic coaching, developed by Dr. Kennedy, as an approach for improving outcomes of returning to school and returning to work after injury;
3.  The translation of research evidence into best clinical practices for assessing and treating individuals with brain injury.

Dr. Mary R.T. Kennedy
Location: Harry and Diane Rinker Health Science Campus

Early Language and Cognitive Development Lab

Mary K. Fagan is an assistant professor in Communication Sciences and Disorders. She received her Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology from the University of Missouri and was a NIH postdoctoral fellow at Indiana University, School of Medicine. She has a master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology. Dr. Fagan’s research centers broadly on infant development and investigates patterns and predictors in speech and language development, mother-infant interactions, and early exploration. In addition, she is interested in cognitive and pre-linguistic development in infants with hearing loss and in identifying interventions that promote word learning and vocabulary development in infants with profound hearing loss before and after they receive cochlear implants.

Dr. Mary Fagan
Location: Harry and Diane Rinker Health Science Campus

Laboratory for Communication Diversity Across the Lifespan

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Our laboratory works collaboratively with individuals with developmental disabilities such as autism, intellectual disability, and learning disability across the lifespan. We embrace diversity in communication abilities and disabilities. Our mission is to improve access and competency in communication.
Dr. Deanna Hughes
Location: Harry and Diane Rinker Health Science Campus

Cognition Rehabilitation And Neurolinguistics In Aphasia Lab (CRANIAL)

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At the Cognition Rehabilitation And Neurolinguistics In Aphasia Lab (CRANIAL) we aim to gain an understanding of the underlying language and cognitive deficits resulting from stroke and neurodegenerative diseases. We also conduct clinical treatment research to determine how to best enhance recovery processes. Almost 800,000 people suffer from strokes every year in the United States, and strokes will frequently lead to short- and long-term deficits. Furthermore, currently, 4-5 million people are living with dementia in the United States. Yet, we do not have a good understanding of which neurological and treatment factors best drive recovery in patients who have had strokes, or the factors that help decelerate the progression of language loss in patients with dementia.

 At CRANIAL, under the guidance of Dr. Sheppard, a team of scientists and clinicians including Chapman graduate students and external collaborators apply cutting edge neuroimaging and behavioral methods to better understand the mechanisms that lead to language deficits in stroke and neurodegenerative diseases. We study the fundamental cognitive and linguistic processes that characterize the deficit in patients with stroke-based aphasia. We also research communication deficits associated with right hemisphere stroke, with an emphasis on understanding difficulties expressing and understanding emotion in speech (emotional prosody – changes in pitch, rhythm, rate, and loudness that indicates emotion).

CRANIAL is also developing treatments that use neurostimulation techniques like transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) to enhance traditional language therapy in people with stroke-based aphasia and Primary Progressive Aphasia (PPA). PPA is a neurological syndrome caused by neurological diseases like frontotemporal lobar degeneration and Alzheimer’s disease. There are very few evidence-based programs designed to treat language loss in PPA. We are conducting clinical trials to determine whether brain stimulation paired with language therapy will help slow the loss of language in patients with PPA.

Dr. Shannon Sheppard
Location: Harry and Diane Rinker Health Science Campus