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 clinical science initiatives.
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 to gather pilot data for extramural grant applications. 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 full-time computer programmers/data managers to assist faculty with computer hardware, software, and data collection needs. The department also provides a pool of full-time administrative assistants 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 30,000 twins. 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 the MSU Psychological Clinic to facilitate faculty and student research.
The Psychology Department and university also support faculty research through various colloquia series. The Human Development Initiative colloquium 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 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; Dr. Jill Hooley, Harvard University). 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 clinical science activities 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 been extremely successful in securing these fellowships.
In terms of other support for scholarship activities, our graduate students have free access to the departmental computer support, administrative assistant 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). In addition, once during your graduate career at MSU, you may apply for a travel grant from the MSU Graduate School (up to $600.00).
Our program, department, and university also provide monetary support for graduate student research and activities. Each year, the Clinical Science Program awards the John and Margo Reisman Award for Exceptional Promise in Clinical Psychology and the Clinical Psychology Training Fellowship to exceptional applicants who have been offered admission to our program. The Clinical Psychology Training Fellowship is specifically awarded to students from historically under-represented backgrounds. Both sets of awards provide funds support the student and their 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 research support to the graduate student with the highest rated dissertation proposal. Finally, the Clinical Science Program awards the Jacqueline J. Oatman Graduate Fellowship in Clinical Psychology to advanced graduate students in recognition of their exceptional clinical work during graduate school. These awards provide monetary support to the students in support of their clinical science activities.
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. In addition, 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.