Retinal sensitivity and circadian misalignment in sleep and mood disorders

I’m very interested in learning more about the body’s circadian clock (which is part of my current topic). I have enjoyed working on SPSS and learning how to navigate it more efficiently. "

Supervising Faculty: Kathryn A. Roecklein, PhD

Contact: Kathryn A. Roecklein, PhD, (412) 624-4553,

Area of Research: Clinical and Health Psychology, Biological and Health Program; Mood Disorders; Seasonal Affective Disorder; Behavioral & Molecular Genetics

Description of Research: We are looking for undergraduate psychology, neuroscience, or human genetics students who are interested in gaining research experience. Students will have the opportunity to learn about and work on projects investigating individual differences in biology and behavior.  Research involves work to (1) recruit, screen, and interview participants for a new study on potential mechanisms of Light Therapy, (2) collect biomarker as well as physiological and behavioral data, and/or (3) clean biomarker data measuring photosensitivity to light for circadian entrainment

Duties of Students: Duties are flexible, depending on interests and current needs, but students willing to commit to at least two semesters are required. The first opportunity is to assist with the recruitment and intake of participants for a new study on Light Therapy, a leading treatment for circadian rhythm disorders. The latter opportunities will involve data collection in a few areas, including biomarker data in the form of pupillometry data. This pupillometry project requires collecting and cleaning raw pupil diameter traces which measure melanopsin-driven retinal responses to environmental light stimuli. We also keep all of our students up to date on current literature in the field and give them the opportunity to practice important presentation skills through monthly journal clubs. Total number of hours of participation per week will be approximately 8 hours for 3 credits. 


  • Overall GPA of 3.0 or higher
  • 12 credits of Psychology (including current term)
  • STAT 0200/1000/1100 Statistics
  • PSY 0036 Research Methods Lecture
  • PSY 0037 Research Methods Lab
  • 2-3 semester registration for Directed Research credits
  • Psychology, Neuroscience, or Genetics majors are preferable
  • Computer experience is desirable
  • Only highly motivated students should inquire

Terms offered: fall, spring and summer

Number of Students: 2-3