Department Profile

University of Kentucky

The University of Kentucky was founded in 1865 as the Agricultural and Mechanical College and was renamed the University of Kentucky in 1916. The university has 1,813 full time faculty members, 16,847 undergraduates, and 4,822 graduate students. UK is a Carnegie Class I research university, one of only 59 public universities so ranked. UK is also ranked 32nd among public research universities in terms of research and development expenditures according to the most recent National Science Foundation survey. UK received $155.2 million in research contracts, grants and gifts from sources outside the university in fiscal 2000, a 17.4 percent increase over the previous year.

The Department of Psychology has 30 full-time faculty members and about 70 doctoral students. There are also at least 20 joint and adjunct appointments of faculty from related disciplines. In 1997, the state of Kentucky established a $16 million Research Challenge Trust Fund to be awarded on a competitive basis to the target of opportunity programs. Psychology was one of only 11 programs to be awarded RCTF money, with the funds dedicated to the study of the psychology of substance use and prevention. Under the RCTF, two new faculty lines and three new graduate R.A. lines were created.

The University of Kentucky is located in the heart of Bluegrass Country in Lexington, Kentucky, a city of rolling hills surrounded on all sides by beautiful horse farms. The state of Kentucky boasts some of the greatest biological diversity in the country, and several beautiful state parks are located within a two-hour drive, affording hiking, rock-climbing, and camping at its finest. As a college city with a population of about 250,000, Lexington offers both a “small- town” atmosphere that makes it an attractive place to live and raise a family and a thriving cultural and performing arts scene. The Opera House is recognized nationally as the most intimate theater in the country to host Broadway touring companies, and Rupp Arena routinely attracts top popular performing acts. And, of course, no description of Lexington and UK would be complete without mentioning the successful Wildcat basketball team, winner of seven NCAA championships.

Undergraduate Program
As the flagship university of Kentucky, UK attracts the brightest undergraduates in the state as well as students from all around the country and the world. In the Fall 2000 freshman class, there were 59 National Merit Scholars and 89 high school valedictorians. Psychology is the second largest major at the University of Kentucky, with an average of approximately 650 majors in any given year. Undergraduates in psychology undertake a rigorous curriculum consisting of methods, statistics, core courses in learning & cognition, brain & behavior, personality & development, and social psychology & cultural processes, advanced lecture/labs, a senior-year capstone experience, and a senior comprehensive exam. Undergraduates are heavily involved in the research efforts of faculty, earning class credit by serving as research assistants. Approximately 12 majors each year conduct a senior honors thesis project, whereby they design, conduct, write up, and present an original research study, many of which are subsequently published.

Graduate Program
A major mission of the Department is to train doctoral students for academic, clinical, and applied careers. The department offers graduate training in one of several Research and Training Clusters:

Faculty in this cluster study Pavlovian and instrumental learning, cognitive processes in animals, and social learning in animals. In the area of Pavlovian and instrumental learning, phenomena such as contextual cue learning, occasion- setting, blocking and extinction are studied. The study of cognitive processes includes animals’ use of memory strategies, timing processes, concept learning, and other analogs to human information processing. Social learning studies involve various kinds of imitative learning including the imitation of operant behavior, mate choice, and the stimulus control of mating.

This area, affiliated strongly with the RCTF initiative on the psychology of substance abuse and prevention, focuses on the general theoretical principles and technical approaches used to investigate the neurobehavioral mechanisms of alcohol and drug abuse. Psychopharmacological approaches to understanding basic principles of learning are also emphasized.

The clinical program is an APA-accredited program following the Boulder model and a member of the Academy of Psychological Clinical Science. Optional specializations include a Health Psychology and Neuropsychology concentration. Examples of specific research interests of program faculty include adult and child psychopathology, especially antisocial behavior, personality disorders, and ADHD; the interface between emotional processes and physical health; the validity of psychological assessments; minority utilization of clinical services and college attrition; brain-behavior relationships; alcohol use and aggression; and childhood behavior problems.

The core faculty in this area include individuals with research interests in theories of adult cognition, cognitive development, and the typical and atypical development in human infancy, childhood, and the elderly. Specific lines of research include comprehension and memory for complex information such as discourse, television, and graphical displays; the development of attention; attention to visual displays; visual attention and aging; eyewitness testimony; television viewing; ADHD; and drug abuse prevention in children and adolescents.

This area provides graduate training in basic and applied research on social processes relevant to human thought, emotion, and behavior. Specific examples of ongoing research in this area include work in self-concept, self-regulation, social comparison processes, social emotions, prejudice and stereotyping, interpersonal expectancy effects, and teasing.

Graduate students receive both breadth and depth in their education through a curriculum emphasizing both comprehensive proseminars across the field of psychology and advanced topical seminars within a student’s research and training cluster. Students are provided a solid grounding in statistics and methodology, and courses in advanced statistical techniques such as structural equation modeling and meta-analysis are available. Students are also expected to obtain breadth through selection of an allied area that encompasses either course-work or research experience in a discipline outside of their specific research and training cluster. The department has been successful in fully funding all graduate students in good standing, through a variety of mechanisms: teaching assistantships, instructorships, research assistantships, fellowships, and clinical placements.


Rick Hoyle, Chair
Chana Akins
Ruth Baer
Michael Bardo
Susan Barron
David Berry
Ramesh Bhatt
Tamara Brown
Charles Carlson
C. Melody Carswell
Mark Fillmore
Peter Giancola
Jonathan Golding
Lawrence Gottlob
Monica Harris
Sung Hee Kim
Philipp Kraemer
Elizabeth Lorch
Robert Lorch
Donald Lynam
Richard Milich
Margo Monteith
Michael Nietzel
Mark Prendergast
Suzanne Segerstrom
Gregory Smith
Richard Smith
Ronald Taylor
Thomas Widiger
Thomas Zentall

Contact Information
Dr. Rick Hoyle, Chair
Department of Psychology
University of Kentucky
Lexington, KY, 40506-0044

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