Faculty Research Areas

CSULB Faculty Research Areas

Woman with brown hair wearing a pink shirtCourtney Ahrens (Courtney.Ahrens@csulb.edu)
I am broadly interested in community psychology and the psychology of women. My research focuses on violence against women (e.g., sexual assault, domestic violence) with an emphasis on survivors’ experiences of abuse, help-seeking, and recovery.  Current projects include an analysis of cultural influences on survivors’ experiences of intimate partner violence, financial challenges experienced by survivors of intimate partner violence, and supportive services provided by Title IX offices on college campuses.    
Courtney Ahrens CV  


James AmirkhanJames H. Amirkhan (James.Amirkhan@csulb.edu) *not taking students at this time
Stress and coping, health psychology, attribution theory.  As a Personality psychologist, I am particularly interested in individual differences in the above domains — e.g., the person-related variables that make some people vulnerable, and others resilient, to a stressful event.  Most recently, I used newly published stress measures (Amirkhan, 2012; 2016) to identify people most likely to develop stress-related disorders.  This includes populations of trauma survivors (Amirkhan & Marckwordt, 2017), university freshmen (Amirkhan & Kofman, 2018), Dreamers (Amirkhan & Velasco, 2019), coronavirus-prone populations (Amirkhan, 2020), and other high-risk groups.  My lab is currently closed; please do not request to join at this time.


Barbara Caplan (Barbara.Caplan@csulb.edu) – accepting PSY 499 students for Spring 2024

I study families of children with autism and other developmental disabilities and the delivery of evidence-based interventions and practices in community settings. My research seeks to promote equity in care for children with disabilities and their families by studying the use of culturally responsive and research-supported practices with traditionally underserved populations (e.g., families from low income and/or racial/ethnic minoritized backgrounds). To achieve this, I use community-partnered approaches and implementation science methods and frameworks.  I have a particular interest in researching best practices for engaging families in their child’s care.  

Dan Chiappe (Dan.Chiappe@csulb.edu) *not taking students at this time
My basic research interests are in the areas of cognitive science, positive psychology, evolution psychology, and Human Factors. My current cognitive research is in the area of rationality, with a focus on the sociality of reasoning, as well as in the area of extended cognition and memory offloading. My positive psychology research focuses on testing the effectiveness of positive psychological interventions in improving psychological well-being and health behaviors. My recent evolutionary psychology research has focused on the role of humor in human mating. Finally, my Human Factors research focuses of team processes that enable collective agency and presence in remote environments.


Young-HeeYoung-Hee Cho (Young-Hee.Cho@csulb.edu) *not taking students for 2023-24
I am broadly interested in psychological well-being of older adults. My current research involves the identification of risk factors (cognitive, physical, and social factors) associated with falls and the investigation of the effectiveness of a cognitive and physical intervention designed to prevent older adults from falling. Falls are a leading cause of serious injuries in older adults that can lead to hospitalization, nursing home admission, serious psychological consequences or even death (CDC, 2010). Falls can also have serious psychological consequences. I have been working with a team of interdisciplinary researchers at CSULB from Physical Therapy and Gerontology. Our team has been investigating the interplay of both cognitive demand and physical strength on fall risks using the dual-task methodology where individuals perform a cognitive task while walking. Specifically, we investigate (a) the mutual interference of a cognitive task and walking on each other under the various degree of cognitive task complexity, (b) the effect of dual-task (i.e., cognitive and balance exercise) intervention on both cognitive and walking ability, (c) the effect of the intervention on psychological factors (e.g., fear of falling and quality of life).     

Chi-Ah Chun (Chi-Ah.Chun@csulb.edu) *not taking students until Fall 2026
My broad research interests lie in the mental health disparities in immigrant and refugee populations. In recent years, I have shifted my focus to developing, implementing and testing the effectiveness of assets-based, culturally relevant research training programs for underrepresented students and faculty in health-related disciplines.


Woman in glasses with short brown hairMaricela Correa (Maricela.Correa@csulb.edu) *not taking students for 2023-24
My research examines the organization of childhood and family life in communities that do not have a long history of participation of schooling. In particular I examine some of the ways that families organize teaching and learning in everyday family and community life and some of the strengths associated with these forms of learning. My work has centered on families that have historical roots in the Americas (Mexico and Central America in particular) as well as in immigrant families. Some current work also explores how people from non-dominant communities participate in fan culture and fan communities, and also the role of college courses in helping students plan for their post-graduation lives.

Gino GalvezGino Galvez (Gino.Galvez@csulb.edu)  *not taking students for 2023-24
Dr. Galvez has played key roles as an investigator or lead program evaluator on several multi-year grant-funded research projects (e.g., National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, U.S. Department of Education). These research projects have focused on examining interventions that broaden participation in the STEM fields, low-income and underrepresented student success, first-generation status, undergraduate research training programs, the role of mentoring, and the development of noncognitive factors (e.g., science identity). 


Araceli Gonzalez  (Araceli.Gonzalez@csulb.edu) *not taking students for 2023-24
I am broadly interested in assessment and treatment of anxiety and depression in youth and young adults. Currently, my projects focus on (a) evaluating predictors of positive response to behavioral treatment of anxiety and/or depression in youth, (b) understanding college student attitudes toward and barriers to mental health care, and (c) improving assessment of anxiety and related disorders with diverse groups of young adults.


May Ling Halim (MayLing.Halim@csulb.edu) – accepting students for Spring 2024
In my primary line of research I study how, across different cultural groups, children’s gender and ethnic identities develop from preschool to early elementary school. I also investigate what factors lead to differences in gender and ethnic identities, as well as what consequences are associated with them (e.g., intergroup gender attitudes, psychological adjustment). In my secondary line of research I study how forms of group-based discrimination (ethnic, gender, language) interact with one’s identity in affecting health and well-being.

Gabriella Hancock (Gabriella.Hancock@csulb.edu)
I have two main areas of research focus:  human performance under workload and stress (specializing in cognitive neuroscience methods and measures), and human-technology interaction.  In order to facilitate and improve overall system performance, researchers must first identify the junctures at which human performance deteriorates or fails due to stressful environmental or task demands that exceed our natural physical or cognitive capacities. In these efforts, I concentrate on the study of individual differences (the psychological study of human similarities and differences in cognition, emotion, and behavior) as humans’ susceptibility and tolerances for certain stressors or workloads depend on such individual differences.  To better understand the contribution of these and other factors to human performance, I utilize various psychophysiological assessment techniques and quantitative survey tools.  My second area of research is in human-technology interaction. I am interested in how human-computer interaction is changing given the fundamental role shift of the human from operator to monitor or teammate due to the rising popularity of increasingly autonomous systems (i.e., robotic agents, artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles, drones, etc.).  I am also interested in individual differences in motivation, particularly with regards to Self-Determination Theory, and how different types of motivation influence users’ decisions to adopt, modify, or abandon the use of particular technological systems.  These lines of research seek to inform the design of human-machine systems in order to maximize the effectiveness, efficiency, and safety of human work.

Gerry HanleyGerry Hanley (Gerry.Hanley@csulb.edu) *not taking students at this time

Cognition, Human Factors, Online Education:  Enabling free and open access to online education for everyone is the goal of my projects and applied research.  As Executive Director of international online education projects (MERLOT and SkillsCommons), the opportunities for designing, deploying, and evaluating the impact of open educational resources, services, and practices on students, teachers, administrators, institutions, organizations, and the workplace abound.  Strategies for improving digital equity and sustainable employability are priorities.  In the area of human factors, website usability and expertise development are the main topics of my applied and basic research.   In the area of cognition, human memory is my focus with specialties in metacognition, reality monitoring, imagery, decision making, and choice.

David Illingworth (david.illingworth@csulb.edu) – accepting students for Spring 2024

My research interests lie in the field of cognitive decision theory. Specifically, my program of work examines the cognitive processes that influence choices relevant to information foraging. I build and test theories that seek to explain how people perceive value in sources of information, collect information, and engage in everyday hypothesis testing. This work informs numerous lines of applied research relevant to the design and evaluation of decision support systems. These projects generally explore how modified or filtered information streams impact outcomes for decision-makers across various domains. 

Decision & Information Systems Laboratory (dislabcsulb.com)

Danielle wearing purple turtle neck with brown hair

Danielle Kohfeldt  (Danielle.Kohfeldt@csulb.edu) *not taking students for 2023-24
As a social-community psychologist I am interested in understanding and contributing to social contexts that facilitate individual and collective liberation and well-being. Within an overarching programmatic framework focused on social justice, my research interests are eclectic. I and my co-researchers have studied a wide range of topics: neoliberal ideology and the perceptions of refugees, ethics of care and COVID-19, anti-racist and anti-ableist organizing, disability justice and ableism in education, activist art, popular culture fandom communities (e.g., eSports, comics, women in gaming), and children’s participation in social action. Uniting all of my work is a critical psychology approach that seeks to disrupt psychology’s pathologization of difference. To these ends, my work is often participatory (e.g., PAR), community-based, and informed by the perspectives of those most impacted by oppressions and injustices. I am drawn to interdisciplinary theoretical perspectives and methodologies, and have been greatly influenced by feminist, decolonial, crip, queer, and Latin American liberation psychology perspectives. I find academic community within the Society for Community Research and Action, the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues, the Popular Culture Association, and the Comics Arts Conference of Comic Con International.  

Lisa M. Maxfield *not taking students for 2023-24
My research interests are broadly in the areas of human memory and learning.  My laboratory research considers how encoding / learning processes impact people’s retention of new information. My more applied research is in the area of student success in college, and how presentation of material and instructional approaches influence student learning, particularly in online courses.


James Miles (Jim.Miles@csulb.edu)
My areas of specialization include cognitive control processes, stimulus-response compatibility effects, and the interaction between goal intentions and environmental biases.  I also conduct research related to modelling situational awareness (SA), performance while using mixed automation, and eye-gaze controllers.  More recent research includes attention control as well as control of avatars in virtual reality environments.


Karissa MillerKarissa Miller  (Karissa.Miller@csulb.edu
My research focuses on the psychosocial determinants of cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk, with a particular emphasis on the pathways  (endocrine, autonomic) through which health disparities in CVD may arise. I am particularly interested in threat appraisal, and examining how individual differences in attention to threat might contribute to sociodemographic health disparities. This work involves examining whether social disadvantage is reflected in heightened attentional vigilance for threat, and testing whether computerized threat bias interventions might be used to improve cardiovascular health. 


Samar Needham (Samar.Needham@csulb.edu) *not taking students for 2023-24
My area of research lies in the field of behavioral neuropsychology. My broad interest is in emotional and personality changes associated with traumatic brain injury (TBI). Currently, I am studying the effects of structural brain damage (because of TBI) on several factors including depression, impulsive behavior, diabetes, and anxiety. I am also looking at the role of care received to minority groups and those with and without health insurance. Another project I am currently working on is working memory and stress, specifically, I am looking to see how stress affects emotional working memory.


Dr Bill Pedersen

William C. Pedersen (Bill.Pedersen@csulb.edu) *not accepting students until Fall 2024
My research is focused on factors that impact aggressive behavior and violence. I am interested in a variety of personality factors including trait rumination, narcissism, impulsivity, and religiosity. I have also investigated a variety of situational factors that impact aggression including collective rumination, priming aspects of religion, resource inequality, alcohol priming, personal control, and social exclusion.  Please see my lab website for more information (http://www.aggression-irlab.com/).   


Shery SpanSherry A. Span (Sherry.Span@csulb.edu) *not taking students at this time
My research focuses on risk factors for alcohol abuse.  In particular, I examine those variables that moderate the relation between identified risk factors of alcohol abuse and alcohol consumption.



Thomas Z. Strybel (Thomas.Strybel@csulb.edu) *not taking students for 2023-24
I have both applied and basic research interests.  Applied interests include aviation human factors, aerospace simulations, situation awareness, automotive human factors and human-computer interaction.  Basic research interests include auditory, visual and audiovisual perception and attention.



Yada TreesukosolYada Treesukosol (Yada.Treesukosol@csulb.edu) – accepting students for 2023-24
Taste cues and feeding behavior.  My research takes advantage of animal models to ask questions related to how oral signals (e.g. taste, smell, texture) send information to the brain to control feeding and drinking behavior.  My approach is to use physiological procedures (e.g. pharmacology, electrophysiology, genetic manipulations) combined with behavioral measures (e.g. meal patterns, detection thresholds, preference).  This allows us to begin to tease apart the relative contributions of oral stimulation, post-ingestive cues and reward-related mechanisms to eating behavior.  Such studies contribute to efforts to reveal how the system is organized and in turn may also identify potential targets for therapeutic interventions for eating disorders and obesity-related complications.

Guido Urizar (Guido.Urizar@csulb.edu) – accepting students for 2023-24

My research in the area of Health Psychology has focused on how chronic stressors (e.g., discrimination, poverty, family instability, immigration stress) can lead to the intergenerational transmission of adverse health outcomes during critical periods of development, such as pregnancy. As such, my area of expertise is in behavioral medicine, with specializations in maternal and infant health, psychoneuroendocrinology, and disease prevention in underserved populations. Specifically, my research has examined how chronic stress and its biomarkers (e.g., cortisol, genetic markers) impact the health of low-income, ethnic minority parents and their infants. The central goal of this research is to reduce health disparities by identifying groups at risk for stress-related disorders and designing, testing, and disseminating effective health promotion interventions (e.g., stress management, exercise) aimed at regulating biological markers of stress in these underserved communities. Students in my PRO-Health research group are trained in salivary bioscience, developmental psychoneuroendocrinology, health disparities, and health behavior interventions as they continue on to doctoral programs and research careers. For more information about my PRO-Health research group, please refer to the following web site: https://csulb-gurizar-prohealth.com/   

Kim-Phuong Vu (Kim.Vu@csulb.edu) – accepting PSY 499 students for Spring 2024
Cognition, Human Performance, Human Factors, and Human-Computer Interaction: My first area of research focuses on the topic of action selection. Action selection refers to how a speeded decision is made regarding which action to take in response to perceptual events. One of the major factors affecting efficiency of action selection is stimulus-response compatibility (SRC), or the mapping of stimulus (or display) elements to responses (or controls). Studies of SRC effects have been a valuable tool to study automatic and intentional processes associated with the response selection that intervene between perception and action. In addition, research in the area of action selection has implications for how displays and controls should be organized and mapped in order to achieve efficient performance, with minimal errors. My second area of research focuses on more directly on human factors (designing products for human use) and human-computer interaction. My work in this area includes human factors issues in Web design, computer security, and Web privacy and accessibility. Finally, a third area of my research is on aviation Human Factors.  This line of research focuses on the  development of metrics for measuring human performance in complex systems such as Unmanned or Autonomous systems.

Photo of Christopher WarrenChristopher Warren (C.Warren@csulb.edu)  – accepting students for Spring 2024
The research I conduct is primarily under the umbrella of I/O Psychology and the dark side of organizations, including sexism, other deleterious work behaviors, and ways to best measure these concepts. My applied work involves the delivery of team-building and assessment of educational programs.


Amy Wax (Amy.Wax@csulb.edu) – accepting students for 2023-24
My research interests broadly include diversity in the workplace, teamwork, and social network analysis. Currently, my stream of research investigates women’s issues and LGBTQ issues at work.   
Amy Wax CV

David WhitneyDavid J. Whitney (Dave.Whitney@csulb.edu)
Primary research domain is the application of Industrial-Organizational psychology to improving employment outcomes for individuals with developmental disabilities, particularly Autism Spectrum Disorders. Areas of interest include work expectations, the investigation of obstacles and facilitators of employment for individuals with ASD, co-worker attitudes, and interview coaching.


Arturo R. Zavala (Arturo.Zavala@csulb.edu) – accepting students for 2023-24
Areas of interest include animal models of drug addiction and developmental neuropsychopharmacology. Specifically, my research investigates the short- and long-term neurochemical and behavioral effects of exposure to psychostimulant drugs across development (neonatal, adolescence, and adulthood), the impact that early exposure to drugs may have on the susceptibility to abuse drugs later in life, and on the role of serotonin in modulating the effects of drugs of abuse.  My laboratory combines neurochemical, molecular, and pharmacological approaches with animal behavioral models to understand the neural basis of addiction.