Director: Eric R. Dahlen, Ph.D.
My approach is collaborative in that I believe that the research process is most effective when a lab model is utilized. Graduate students receive support around their thesis and dissertation research while also providing support and assistance to others in the lab. Students who are making progress on their thesis/dissertation work often have the opportunity to participate in collaborative team projects.
My mentoring approach is developmental in that I recognize that every graduate student enters the program with a unique background, comfort level, and skill set around research. Some have already had considerable research experience working in a variety of faculty labs; others have not. Thus, it is important that research training goals take students' previous research experiences into account and build on student strengths.
Finally, my approach is individualized around students' career goals. For example, a doctoral student hoping to pursue an academic career will need a different set of experiences than a master's student aiming to pursue licensure as a professional counselor. Thus, an important part of mentoring involves recognizing that each student will have somewhat different needs.
At the Anger and Traffic Psychology Lab, we utilize a lab model where I meet regularly with all students throughout the Fall and Spring academic semesters. These lab meetings allow students to be involved in idea development, strategizing research design, planning statistical analyses, troubleshooting problems, and dissemination. Senior graduate students are expected to take on a peer mentoring role to assist more junior graduate students, and some graduate students (especially those seeking academic careers) will be encouraged to train and mentor undergraduate research assistants.
Student success is a top priority and is critical to lab productivity. I strive to set clear expectations and challenge students to develop their research competencies and critical thinking skills. Similarly, I challenge myself to provide meaningful support and timely feedback. The guiding principle is that we work better when we work together and support one another.
We are interested in learning about how your interests fit with ours and the sort of research you’d like to pursue during your graduate training. While providing a brief summary your prior research experience can be helpful, most of this information is likely to be reflected in your CV and letters of recommendation. Thus, we encourage you to use your answer to this question to demonstrate your fit with the lab.
Due to the competitive nature of the admissions process, the Counseling Psychology Doctoral Program asks applicants to identify more than one faculty member they would be interested in working with. This is what the part of the question asking about one’s flexibility with one’s 2nd choice faculty member refers to. Applicants who clearly demonstrate fit with their 2nd choice faculty member are likely to be evaluated more positively by that faculty member. In some cases, this can increase the chances of that applicant being interviewed and ultimately receiving an offer of admission.
To sum up, applicants interested in being considered by our lab are encouraged to describe how their research interests fit with ours. Those with diverse interests who would be open to working in another lab are also encouraged to address how their interests may fit with another faculty member.
We are interested in admitting a Counseling Psychology doctoral student for the Fall 2018 term. If you are planning to apply to doctoral programs in Counseling Psychology and you have research interests that overlap with ours, we hope you will consider submitting an application to the Counseling Psychology Doctoral Program at the University of Southern Mississippi.
Students interested in applying should see our page on joining the lab and consult the information available on the Counseling Psychology Doctoral Program website (see Admissions Information). The application deadline is December 1, and now is the time when most applicants are thinking about where they plan to apply and working on their applications.
As is the case with most doctoral programs, the application process is highly competitive. Faculty start with an extensive review of the written application materials and work to identify a select group of the top applicants. Those selected are then invited to visit the Hattiesburg campus for in-person interviews. Interviewees have the opportunity to meet the program faculty, learn more about the lab, discuss research ideas with Dr. Dahlen, and interact with many current graduate students.
Believe it or not, working as an RA in a Psychology research lab can be valuable for a number of other reasons too. Here are just a few examples that come to mind:
- Some students do not discover their passion for research until they have the opportunity to be part of a research lab.
- Obtaining research experience allows students to develop the sort of portfolio of skills many employers are seeking (e.g., knowledge of the research process, interpersonal awareness, the ability to contribute to a team, effective problem solving, organization and time management).
- By working as an RA, a student provides a faculty member with the opportunity to get to know him or her in a meaningful way, and this often results in a more relevant letter of recommendation (i.e., the professor is able to address the student’s potential to succeed in the research-related aspects of graduate training and/or address many of the job-relevant skills noted above).
- Being part of a research lab often gives students a clearer understanding of the research process, and this can translate into improved performance in Psychology courses.
- Working as an RA in a lab that includes graduate students provides undergraduates with an accurate idea of what it is like to be a graduate student, what to expect from graduate training, and additional opportunities for mentoring.
- Students can sometimes opt to earn elective course credit by working as an RA in a lab.
Undergraduate students enrolled at the University of Southern Mississippi’s Hattiesburg campus can learn more about joining the Anger and Traffic Psychology Lab and explore other opportunities for gaining research experience in the department.
Congratulations to Morgan on her admission to the master’s program! We are looking forward to working with you.
So while these opportunities are available, how many of our students actually take advantage of them? Not surprisingly, this depends on each student and his or her professional goals. Most of our doctoral students present work based on their master’s thesis and/or dissertation at professional conferences. Some go beyond this and present the results of collaborative research projects, literature reviews, or more clinically focused work as well. With more available conferences than any of us have the time or money to attend, these opportunities are plentiful. Similarly, most of our doctoral students will submit manuscripts based on their master’s thesis and dissertation for publication in peer-reviewed journals. Students seeking academic or other research-oriented careers will typically be involved in additional research projects that aim to produce publishable manuscripts.
Similar opportunities exist for master’s students; however, their condensed time frame is often a limiting factor. Because master’s students have a shorter program of study and do not have the same research requirements as doctoral students, it is less likely that they will complete independent research projects comparable to a thesis. For most master’s students, getting involved in collaborative research projects makes more sense and can still result in presentation and/or publication opportunities. For especially talented master’s students aiming to apply to doctoral programs, independent research projects can sometimes be arranged based on fit and available resources.
Congratulations to Taylor on the admission!
Following the interviews, 1-2 applicants who are selected for the doctoral program typically receive an offer of admission to the program and the lab. Some applicants who are not selected for the doctoral program may be encouraged to apply to the master's program, as this provides applicants with another opportunity to join the Anger and Traffic Psychology Lab and gain the sort of research experience that can strengthen their application to the Counseling Psychology doctoral program at Southern Miss, as well as other doctoral programs.
We recognize that this type of information is not always easy to find, so we aim to provide more of it for prospective students considering the doctoral or master's programs in Counseling Psychology at the University of Southern Mississippi who are interested in the Anger and Traffic Psychology Lab. Specifically, we plan to begin sharing some additional information about the students working in the lab in the form of brief student bios we will make available here. This should be helpful to prospective applicants by giving them a sense of where our current students came from, what they were doing before joining us, what they are working on here, and what they hope to do after they complete their graduate training.
Our first student bio should be ready soon and will be posted here as soon as it is available.
We have several ideas for research projects in this area and are hoping to attract qualified applicants with compatible interests.
Congratulations to Adijah on her admission to the master's program! We are looking forward to your arrival next month.
Savannah Merold will be graduating this spring with a B.S. in Psychology from the University of Southern Mississippi. At Southern Miss, Savannah worked as a research assistant in Dr. Sacco's Social Psychology Lab. She completed an independent project focusing on how social and emotional intelligence moderated the relationship between psychopathic personality traits and social perception.
Philip Stoner will be graduating this spring with a B.A. in Psychology and English from Mississippi University for Women. During his undergraduate career, Philip worked as a research assistant in the Clinical Studies Lab at Mississippi State University, where he obtained research experience in areas such as aggression, alcohol use, narcissism, and sleep.
Congratulations to Savannah and Philip on their admission to the doctoral program! We are looking forward to working with you both.
We are looking forward to meeting the applicants who will be interviewing, hearing about their research ideas, and discussing plans for future research.
As explained on our page for students interested in joining the Anger and Traffic Psychology Lab, students who apply to work with Dr. Dahlen and receive an offer of admission to the Counseling Psychology Doctoral Program are accepted to work in the lab.
Congratulations to Taylor and Michael on their admission to the master's program! We are looking forward to their arrival in Hattiesburg.
Skylar completed her bachelor's degree in psychology at the University of New Orleans, where she worked in Dr. Monica Marsee's Youth Social and Emotional Development Lab. She has been working as a research associate in the Department of Psychiatry at the LSU Health Sciences Center. Her interest and experience in overt and relational aggression make her an excellent fit for the lab.
Congratulations to Skylar on her admission! We are looking forward to working with you in Hattiesburg.
We plan to delay decisions until early to mid June to make sure that we are able to consider all interested master's students before making decisions.
Ashley is completing her bachelor's degree in psychology at Indiana University Southeast in New Albany, Indiana. Her interests in relational aggression and anger make her a good fit for the lab.
Congratulations, Ashley! We are looking forward to working with you.
Congratulations to Mallory on her admission to the master's program. We look forward to working with her.
Caitlin Clark is a master's student currently working in the lab who joined us in 2011 from Georgia College & State University. She plans to continue her research on aggression and hopes to broaden her focus beyond parenting-related variables. Niki Knight is completing her bachelor's degree at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. Her interests make her a good fit for the lab.
Congratulations to Caitlin and Niki! We look forward to working with you.
Projects likely to begin in the Fall include:
- Help seeking for anger problems among college students
- Anger and alcohol abuse
- Developing a brief screening and early intervention program for college students at risk of developing anger-related problems
- Cultural factors in relational aggression
- Developing improved measures of aggressive driving