A new position in the Psychology Department should open up many opportunities for students to learn about the growing field of health psychology.
The department is in the final stages of hiring a new professor, who will teach both introductory and upper-level courses as well as develop courses related to his or her specialty. They have interviewed candidates and are in the process of making a decision, according to Professor of Psychology Frank McAndrew.
Although the Psychology Department was declared in need of a new professor a couple of years ago due to over-enrollment in many courses, the position has only been officially approved this year.
The decision for the new position to have a specialty in health psychology was a result of changes to the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), increasing the amount of psychology on the exam, which will cause more premed students to need to take psychology courses.
“When these changes took place,” McAndrew said, “it became clear that this was going to be an area of demand in our department.”
The new position will allow the department to cover more aspects of the subject and “bring new things to the department that we haven’t had before,” McAndrew said.
Senior Psychology and Neuroscience double major Rachel Clark thinks the new position will be very good for the department, and “will open up new avenues of research for students,” although she is disappointed that the professor will arrive just as she leaves.
According to Clark, the new professor will be filling a gap created when cognitive psychology professor Alex Varakin left a couple of years ago and will expose students to an area that is “really booming right now.”
Clark would like to see courses that focus on exercise cognition and brain health, neuropsychology and neurological diseases.
“I hope that whoever comes will be able to continue their research here,” Clark said. “Both [candidates] have really interesting research.”