We have sufficient resources in our program to meet the needs of both faculty and students. We have a relatively low student to faculty ratio (2.5:1) that ensures highly attentive and individualized training. We also have adequate institutional support for faculty and student research.
Start-up packages for new faculty in our department tend to be very competitive. In addition to these start-up funds, our department also provides seed money each year for interdisciplinary research teams to gather pilot data for extramural grant applications (award range ~ $2,000-$10,000). At the college and university level, there are six additional grant programs (i.e., Strategic Partnership Grants, Competitive Discretionary Funds Program, Seed Grants for Clinical and/or Translational Research, Creating Inclusive Excellence Grant, Families and Communities Together Coalition Grant, and the College of Social Science Faculty Initiatives Fund) that range in grant awards from ~$2,000 - $400,000. In the last five years, our faculty members have been very successful in securing these grants, as seven core clinical science faculty members have received at least one internal grant.
Our department also provides critical infrastructure for faculty research. The department employs two full-time and one half-time computer programmer/data manager to assist faculty with computer hardware, software, and data collection needs. These programmers have developed on-line data collection systems that are offered for free for faculty research (and student research – see below). The department also provides a secretarial pool of three full-time secretaries to assist faculty with research- and course-related activities including photocopying, arranging travel, etc. The department employs a full-time grants management specialist who works directly with faculty on all grant submissions. This specialist prepares grant budgets, manages college/university application approvals, and assists faculty with all aspects of the grant submission process from completion of grant forms to grant submission.
The department funds a volunteer research subject pool comprised of undergraduate students in psychology courses. Participation in the pool is required of all students in the Introductory Psychology courses (although they can opt out and complete a term paper instead), and is frequently offered as an extra credit option in other undergraduate courses as well. Over 6,000 students are typically enrolled in the subject pool each academic year. All faculty members are able to recruit research participants through this pool, free of charge.
In addition to the volunteer research pool, faculty members have access to other relevant populations for their research. The Psychology Department houses the Michigan State University Twin Registry (MSUTR) that includes over 22,000 twins and their parents. Several core clinical faculty make use of this resource for recruiting participants for studies examining a range of psychological problems including eating disorders, conduct disorder, anxiety disorders, intimate partner violence, and personality disorders. Core faculty members also have developed collaborations with community agencies (e.g., schools, shelters for battered women), physician offices, and campus groups (e.g., MSU Counseling Center) to recruit special populations such as individuals with autism, children/adults with behavioral difficulties, pregnant mothers, and victims of domestic violence. Finally, we include standard intake and follow-up assessments of psychopathology, personality characteristics, and treatment outcome in our Psychological Clinic to facilitate faculty and student research.
The Psychology Department and university also support faculty research through various colloquia series. The College of Social Science sponsors the monthly Human Development Initiative colloquium series that is housed in our department. This speaker series is managed by a core clinical science faculty member (Bogat) and includes topics that are particularly relevant to our program’s clinical science and developmental orientation (e.g., the influence of prenatal stress on the development of offspring depression). The Psychology Department also sponsors a yearly speaker series that features internal and external speakers presenting on topics related to clinical science (e.g., the role of gonadal hormones in shaping the adolescent brain and behavior). Several of the graduate programs within the department (i.e., Social/Personality, Cognition & Cognitive Neuroscience, Organizational) also host a weekly brown bag featuring research talks within that topic area. As noted earlier, our Clinical Science Program hosts the Clinical Science Forum that features our own faculty and student research as well as outside speakers from within the broader clinical science field (e.g., Dr. David Barlow, Boston University; Dr. Shinobu Kitamaya, University of Michigan; Dr. Nathan Fox, University of Maryland; Dr. Thomas Widiger, University of Kentucky). Finally, several of our faculty and students attend weekly colloquia and grand rounds presentations in other MSU departments (e.g., Epidemiology, College of Human Medicine).
There is institutional support for students and their research as well. Upon admission, each student is guaranteed four years of funding (i.e., a stipend, tuition reimbursement, and insurance coverage) from the department via teaching assistantships (TA) and research assistantships (RA). Although summer funding and funding after the 4th year are not guaranteed, in the past 5+ years, all of our students have been supported in the summer and beyond their 4th year. In addition, some of our students have been funded via the Academic Achievement Graduate Assistantships (AAGA) or University Fellowships (UF). These competitive, university-wide fellowships provide incoming students with 1 year (AAGA) or 2 years (UF) of full support to engage in their own independent research rather than serve as a TA or RA. As noted earlier, our program has had great success in securing these fellowships, as 100% of our nominated students received an AAGA or UF.
In terms of other support for scholarship activities, our graduate students have free access to the departmental computer support, secretarial support, grant support, volunteer subject pool, and research databases/recruitment pools described above. Students are required to present their research during the Clinical Science Forum each year and are encouraged to attend other colloquia and national and international scientific conferences to present their research, network with colleagues in the field, and learn about the state-of-the-science in their areas. The Department of Psychology and College of Social Science provide funding for these conferences. The Department provides each graduate student up to $600 per year for conference travel, while the College awards an additional $200 for international travel to a conference. Graduate students also can apply for a $300 conference travel grant from the MSU Council on Graduate Students (COGS).
Our program, department, and university also provide monetary support for graduate student research. Each year, the Clinical Science Program awards the John and Margo Reisman Award for Exceptional Promise in Clinical Psychology to the applicant who has been offered admission to our program and was the highest rated applicant in the pool. This award provides up to $2,500 to support the student and his/her research and training program. The Clinical Science program also awards the John Hurley Endowed Fellowship to a clinical science graduate student each fall. This award provides up to $3,200 in research support to the graduate student with the highest rated dissertation proposal.
Our department and university offer up to $2000 in additional research support through the department’s graduate research fund and the university’s Graduate Student Research Enhancement Award. The department also houses a National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) predoctoral training grant that focuses on the neurobiology of social behavior (Marc Breedlove, PI). Although this training grant is housed in the behavioral neuroscience program, several of our clinical science graduate students have earned predoctoral training slots. In addition, in the past 5 years, several of our graduate students have successfully secured multi-year, individual training grants from the NIMH, National Science Foundation, Autism Speaks, and the Canadian Health Institute for Research. Finally, our students have been highly successful at obtaining other external grant support through Blue Cross/Blue Shield, the American Psychological Association (APA), the Association for Psychological Science (APS), the American Psychological Foundation (APF), and other non-profit organizations.