Department Head's Welcome

Greetings from the Psychology Department at the University of Illinois as we start the new academic year Fall 2018 and Spring 2019.

We start off the new semester with lots of good news and some exciting new projects. We were successful last year in hiring two new Assistant Professors, Jessica Montag psychology.illinois.edu/people/jmontag and Jon Willits psychology.illinois.edu/people/jwillits. They are getting off to a great start and will be playing an important role in shaping our new major, Brain and Cognitive Science (referred to as B-COG) by those near and dear to it. The proposal has been submitted to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (LAS) and to the Senate Educational Policy Committee for approval. This will be a flexible, interdisciplinary program for students who plan to pursue technical or professional careers in areas such as intelligent information processing, artificial intelligence, multimedia design, telecommunications or robotics. The new major allows students to combine the study of psychology, neuroscience, computer science, philosophy, linguistics, and related fields to gain novel but integrated perspectives on information and intelligence, both biological and artificial. The major will address student interest in educational domains that currently are relatively untapped or under-developed at the undergraduate level in LAS, such as neuroscience (including cognitive, behavioral, social and developmental neuroscience), computational approaches to behavioral data, and neurotechnology, including human-computer interaction. The Brain and Cognitive Science major will also be distinguished from another new and exciting initiative to create a formal undergraduate neuroscience major, which will have more of a molecular and cellular focus than a systems and computational focus.

In more good news, we have been approved to search for an Assistant Professor in Behavioral Neuroscience. The application deadline for this faculty position was November 12, and I look forward to announcing the name of the Assistant Professor soon. Growth in this area will be synergistic with the new Brain and Cognitive Science major, and with campus initiatives emphasizing the role of neuroscience such as a planned undergraduate major in Neuroscience and the new Center for Brain Plasticity brainplasticity.illinois.edu, directed by Psychology Faculty Aron Barbey  psychology. illinois.edu/people/barbey and co-directed by Neal Cohen psychology.illinois.edu/people/njc.

The department is providing more options for undergraduates to take online classes over the winter break and during summer sessions. Students will be able to register for Psych 100: Introduction to Psychology; Psych 201 Introduction to Social Psychology; Psych 204: Introduction to Brain & Cognition, and Psych 230: Perception & Sensory Processes. Future online classes will include Psych 238: Psychopathology & Problems in Living and Psych 245: Industrial/Organizational Psychology. For more information contact Christine Shenouda, Director of Online Education & Teaching Assistant Professor, cshenoud@illinois.edu.

Several faculty in the Psychology Department (Professors Brent Roberts, Wendy Heller, and Neal Cohen) have received funding for the creation of the Illinois Neuro/ Behavioral Assessment Laboratory (IN/BAL) to support cutting-edge science of the assessment of behavior. IN/BAL is one of fourteen projects selected by the campus as part of the Investment for Growth Program. blogs.illinois.edu/view/6231/673542

The department held a very successful conference for the 2018 spring semester entitled “Summit on Diversity in Psychology Science.” The meeting brought together nationally recognized as well as emergent psychological scientists whose work focused on issues relevant to the science of diversity, broadly defined.  The overarching aim of the Summit was to set a new agenda for research in psychological science that will transform the way we think about diversity and its context in the academy and in society more broadly. Thanks to the leadership of Psychology Faculty Professors Andrea Miller and Chadly Stern, and Professor Helen Neville in Education, the goals for the Summit will be furthered by publication of ten original articles stemming from the Illinois Summit on Diversity in Psychological Science expected to appear in the Journal of Social Issues special issue tentatively titled “Research on Race and Racism: Implications for Diversity Science.”

We said goodbye to Bob Wickesberg, former Associate Head and Director of Undergraduate Studies, who retired on August 31, 2018. We had a send-off that featured Bob handing off his ogre hat to our new Associate Head and Director of Undergraduate Studies, Mark Aber psychology.illinois.edu/people/maber

Are you interested in supporting the department? Consider joining our Psychology Student Leaders or the Alumni Advisory Board. If you would like to donate funds, graduate student fellowships, building enhancements, and faculty and research support helps to keep our department ranked in the top TEN in the nation. psychology.illinois.edu/giving/PartnershipforPsychology psychology.illinois.edu/giving/shape/

I am grateful to be a part of such a collegial, dynamic and pioneering department, and I am looking forward to another great year. 


Wendy Heller
Professor and Head