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Psychologists work to make labs more inclusive

Professors at Arizona State University hope a new research program will lead more underrepresented students to the psychology field.

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Edwards-Ashman, J. (2020, February 5). Psychologists work to make labs more inclusive.

Professor Arthur Glenberg, PhD, was finishing up his 12th year as a faculty member at Arizona State University when he realized he could count on one hand the number of ethnic minorities he’d seen in ASU’s cognitive science psychology programs.

“We had a grad student who had applied to be in the cognitive science area, and he was a black student. I couldn’t remember another black student in the cognitive science area,” Glenberg says. 

That realization inspired him to create the Energize program, which seeks to encourage underrepresented students to apply for research work in ASU’s psychology labs. 

Through advertisements on campus and visits to ASU undergraduate classes, Glenberg says he hopes to recruit a more diverse pool of students to apply for work in psychology labs and then, ideally, those students will apply to study in psychology graduate programs. Eventually the program may offer scholarships to students who participate in the Energize program. 

“I thought we ought to try to create some sort of pipeline to encourage [underrepresented students] to participate more in scientific psychology and get them to apply as a way to try to address this issue, at least locally," Glenberg says. “The Energize program serves as a way of introducing these students to various labs and then asking the lab directors to be flexible in the students they admit into the labs.” 

Recruitment for Energize started last fall. By the end of 2019, 30 people had applied to participate.  

Thanks to the Energize program, ASU abnormal psychology professor Erin Lanphier, PhD, says her students are more aware of what’s offered in the psychology department and what they need to do to pursue a psychology career. “Most of the underrepresented students aren’t aware that you must have practicum experience, you have to have research experience, you have to have established relationships with professors. The prep for grad school starts as an undergrad,” says Lanphier. 

She is also eager to see how a more diverse pool of students could benefit ASU’s psychology labs and the profession. “When you bring in students of diverse backgrounds, they are going to have novel ideas and novel ways of seeing their research. This is going to energize the labs and hopefully inspire new ways of thinking … ultimately generating science to use in practice to support the populations that psychologists want to serve.” 

Visit the ENERGIZE Psychology Research Initiative website for more information.

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