New Faculty Research Passions

We are thrilled to welcome two new faculty to our department this year. Drs. Valerie Carr and Susan Snycerski are profiled in this fall’s College newsletter, Together. Follow the link to learn about all of our College’s new faculty, as well as our new Dean, Dr. Walt Jacobs.


Dr. Valerie Carr 

Carr, who earned her Ph.D. at UCLA before spending seven years as a post-doctoral fellow and research associate at Stanford University before coming to San José State, has found that two sub-structures of the hippocampus deep within the brain play a role in determining how vivid a memory is.“When you study memory, you realize how imperfect and fallible it is,” says Carr, newly hired as an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology. She brings an interest in the use of neuroimaging methods like functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to get a better understanding of the brain structures involved in episodic memory—our recall of autobiographical events and emotions.

In more recent research she has found that age-related changes in these areas – the dentate gyrus and Region CA 3—may account for the difficulties older people have in accessing these episodic memories.

Now, Carr is exploring whether exercise-based interventions might help people at risk for mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease by spurring the growth of new neurons in the hippocampus. “What does that exercise regimen need to be?” Carr asks. “That’s my main interest.”

It can be challenging to work with older adults who have mild cognitive impairment, she says. “It’s very likely they’re going to develop Alzheimer’s disease. It can be depressing. A lot of my sense of self-worth comes from thinking that I’m fighting for those people. That gives me a sense of satisfaction in my job.”

380_susan snycersky_2


Dr. Susan Snycerski

She asks students to anonymously self-report their drug use while also testing for signs of neurocognitive impairment. Based on the small sample she has collected thus far, most San José State students don’t abuse hard drugs, but a fair number combine caffeine, tobacco, alcohol and marijuana in various ways., Snycerski says.These days, she’s looking at simultaneous poly-drug use, where someone takes two mind-altering substances at once. “There isn’t a lot of research in that area,” says Snycerski, who recently joined the Department of Psychology as tenure-track assistant professor after 10 years as a lecturer.

The Warren, Mich., native earned her master’s and Ph.D. from Western Michigan University, where she studied the effects of drugs in animal models. Later, she did a two-year postdoctoral fellowship at the National Institute on Drug Abuse researching gamma-hydroxybuterate—better known as the date rape drug GBH.

Snycerski and her husband, Sean Laraway (an associate professor in the department), moved to San José in 2004 without having jobs. He started teaching at San José State that year as a lecturer and joined the tenure track in 2008. Snycerski began teaching classes as a lecturer in 2005 and she has also served as a major advisor since 2008. “I really enjoy it,” she says. “It’s a great way to communicate with the students outside the classroom.”

Snycerski says she’s excited about having more time and resources for research. “It’s a nice change,” she says. “I’m looking forward to my new role.”

Reprinted from Together, the College of Social Sciences newsletter, Fall 2015.

Awarding Winning Presentations


Congratulations to Psychology majors Jessica Ballin and Rebecca Sandoval on their award winning presentations at the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS), in Seattle, WA this November 11-14.

ABRCMS is one of the largest, professional conferences for underrepresented minority students, military veterans, and persons with disabilities to pursue advanced training in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). ABRCMS attracts approximately 3,600 individuals, including 1,900 undergraduate and postbaccalaureate students, 400 graduate students and postdoctoral scientists and 1,300 faculty, program directors and administrators. Students come from over 350 U.S. colleges and universities.

A group of SJSU students and faculty attended this year’s conference to present the research they’ve been conducting here at SJSU.  The students are participants in the MARC, RISE, LSAMP and CoSRaTS programs housed in the College of Science.  Five students received an award for their presentations:  Jessica Ballin (Psychology, MARC), Rebecca Sandoval (Psychology, MARC), Fauna Yarza (Biological Sciences, RISE), Elivia Silva (Biological Sciences, RISE) and Adrian Riives (Chemistry, RISE).

Congratulations to all of our remarkable young researchers!

Essay Contest Winner Announced

2015 D’Arpino Essay Contest

Dr. Glenn Callaghan has won the 2015 D’Arpino Essay Contest. The contest asked participants, in one page or less, to answer the questions, “WHO and WHAT am I?”. Students and faculty in the Department of Psychology were eligible to submit essays and eight brave souls rose to the challenge. The anonymous essays were judged by Emilio “Chick” D’Arpino himself and, while all of the entries were excellent, Dr. Callaghan’s was judged best. Read the winning essay below.

Photo: Dr. Glenn Callaghan receiving award

Who and What Am I?

Essay Contest Response

Glenn Callaghan

I will offer a brief response and then elaborations to the two thought provoking questions.

Who am I? I am me.

What am I? A social being seeking to connect and find meaning.

Here are the elaborated answers.

Who am I?

I am me.  I am the sum of an ontogenic history, a sense of self that has evolved over time and place to become the context of my own experience of thought and feeling, a self that both responds to, and narrates, my existence. I am both unique at the idiographic level of existence and also part of a collective whole at the larger epistemic level of evolution. The “me” that exists is ephemeral; it is a sense that accidently (or by design) accompanies a body made to survive and to adapt.

What am I?

I am a social being seeking to connect and find meaning. I am if nothing else a social primate, raised to interact and connect with others. That is part of my evolution at a genetic level. While some of us seek more contact, and others less, we are all social animals. Connection can be understood as a deeper form of contact, one that sustains an existence beyond survival. Finding meaning is what makes us truly human. I seek meaning and understanding – I seek answers to questions and reasons for why we do what we do.

Who am I? I am me, this me. What am I? One who seeks connection and meaning.

2016 Winter Psychology Courses

Registration for the 2016 Winter session is now open. Visit for full information.

2016 Winter Session
Jan. 4 – Jan. 22, 2016; Monday – Friday
Course Title Times Location Instructor
PSYC 001 General Psychology 01:00PM-03:40PM CL205 Altovise Rogers
Sec 01
PSYC 102 Child Psychology 09:00AM-11:40AM CL205 Laura Jones
Sec 01
PSYC 110 Abnormal Psychology 09:00AM-11:40AM CL306 Roger Karlsson
Sec 01
PSYC 117 Psychological Tests and Measures 01:00PM-03:40PM CL306 Sandra Trafalis
Sec 01
PSYC 135 Cognition 09:00AM-11:40AM CL243 Mark Van Selst
Sec 01
PSYC 154 Social Psychology 01:00PM-03:40PM CL243 Clifton Oyamot
Sec 01
PSYC 160 Clinical Psychology 09:00AM-11:40AM CL316 Steven Del Chiaro
Sec 01
STAT 095 Elementary Statistics 09:00AM-11:40AM CL202 Laree Huntsman
Sec 01

Spring 2016 Capstone Topics (PSYC 190)

Instruction Section/Day/Time Topic
Torabian Sec 1, MW 9:00-10:15 Autism Spectrum Disorders and ADHD
Fanos Sec 2, M 4:30-7:15 Psychological Trauma in Childhood and Adolescence
Fanos Sec 3, W 4:30-7:15 Psychological Trauma in Childhood and Adolescence
Chancellor-Freeland Sec 4, TR 10:30-11:45

Epigenetics, Neuroplasticity and Other Neuroscience Topics

Caffrey Sec 5, TR 1:30-2:45 Current Issues in LGBTQ Research
Caffrey Sec 6, TR 3:00-4:15 Current Issues in LGBTQ Research
Duh Sec 7, MW 1:30-2:45 The Parent-Child Relationship
Klaw Sec 8, MW 3:00-4:15 Warriors at Home: Veterans and the Transition to College and the Civilian World
Van Selst – Psyc 195 Sec 1, MW 9:00 – 10:15


The Career Experience

The Career Experience

Tuesday, November 10

12-1 pm

Virtual Event

Connect and learn from SJSU alumni that have careers in the fields of Mental Health, Media, Creative & Performing Arts, Design, Nonprofit, Government, and Education.

This online speed-networking forum will pair you with professionals working in a variety of industry clusters for 8-minute text-based chats. Enhance your career exploration with this virtual experience.

You may visit more than one industry cluster during the event, including:

  • Creative & Performing Arts
  • Design
  • Education
  • Government
  • Media
  • Mental Health
  • Nonprofit


This virtual event is made possible in partnership with the Student Alumni Association.

Not sure how to network or what questions to ask?

Preparing for an informational interviewing beforehand is the best way to get the most out of it. To start off, you want to begin with a quick professional introduction with information such as your name, major, and interest in the field. Then you can dive into questions such as:

  • How did you get into this career?
  • What is a day in the life like?
  • What is the work environment like?
  • What are areas of need in this industry?
  • What advice would you give to someone entering this industry/job?

For more information and examples of questions to ask, check out our guide on how to prepare for an informational interview here!

LinkedIn to Your Career

LinkIn picture

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Attend the following events to rock your LinkedIn profile and learn how to maximize your networking and job search with strategic advice from SJSU alumni working at LinkedIn.

LinkedIn Photo Studio

10:30 am-4:00 pm

7th St. Plaza, in front of the Student Union

Take your LinkedIn profile from good to amazing. LinkedIn will be on campus to offer free headshots and profile advice! Anyone who has a LinkedIn account can attend. All you need is your smile and LinkedIn password to update your profile onsite.

LinkedIn Presentation: How to Rock Your Profile and Launch Your Career

4:30-6:00 pm

Student Union Ballroom A & B

  • Meet with SJSU alumni who work at LinkedIn for career tips and a review of your profile
  • Explore career paths with LinkedIn tools and resources
  • Learn about the power of networking to fast track your road to new opportunities

Event registration required for presentation and networking event.


If registration is closed, students are still welcome to walk in.

LinkedIn Day sponsored by SJSU Career Center and SJSU Student Alumni Association.


UC Davis School of Law – King Hall Outreach Program

UC Davis School of Law
announces the

King Hall Outreach Program
Winter Session 2016

Application materials are now available here.
Apply by Friday, January 8, 2016

The King Hall Outreach Program (KHOP) is a no-cost program consisting of four Saturday workshops to prepare college students and recent graduates from underrepresented communities to excel in the law school application process.

Over 41 percent of KHOP alumni have graduated from, or enrolled in, ABA accredited law schools including UC Davis, UC Berkeley, UCLA, UC Hastings, Northwestern University, Boston University, and many others. In 2014, the KHOP received the California State Bar Education Pipeline Award for its important role in diversifying the legal profession.