PhD Program at UC Riverside

The following labs at the University of California, Riverside are recruiting graduate students interested in pursuing a PhD in Psychology: the Kids Interaction and Neuro Development Lab (Dr. Kalina Michalska), the CALLA Lab (Dr. Rachel Wu), the Perception, Action, and Development Lab (Dr. John Franchak), the Culture and Child Development Lab (Dr. Cecilia Cheung), the Emotion Regulation Lab (Dr. Elizabeth Davis), the Adversity and Adaptation Lab (Dr. Tuppett Yates), the Childhood Cognition Lab (Dr. Rebekah Richert), the Cognitive Development Lab (Dr. Mary Gauvain), and the Biobehavioral Research Lab (Dr. Chandra Reynolds). The UCR Department of Psychology offers specializations in Developmental, Cognitive, Social/Personality Psychology, and in Systems Neuroscience. The Developmental program at UCR is regarded for its strengths in contextual and cultural influences on child socialization (Cheung, Davis, Gauvain, Michalska, Natsuaki, Richert, Yates), cognitive and perceptual development across the lifespan (Franchak, Gauvain, Reynolds, Richert, Wu), and biological substrates of adjustment (Davis, Michalska, Natsuaki, Reynolds, Yates).
The diversity of the UCR campus and of the surrounding community make UCR an ideal campus for graduate students interested in studying the ways in which developmental processes are influenced by and interact with variations in environment, especially cultural practices and socioeconomic status. The program of study requires approximately four or five years to complete. Typically, graduate students receive financial support for up to five years. Interested applicants are encouraged to visit the department admissions page for more information: More information about each of the recruiting labs is provided below:
The Kids Interaction and Neuro Development Lab (KIND Lab), directed by Dr. Kalina Michalska, conducts research on individual differences in the development of empathy and social competence. Particular emphasis is placed on characterizing how dispositional traits interact with social learning to modulate basic mechanisms of emotional responsiveness and emotional memory. We employ complementary methodologies including functional and structural brain imaging, autonomic responses and behavior observations in typically developing children, as well as in youth with disruptive behavior problems and those with social anxiety.
The CALLA Lab (, directed by Dr. Rachel Wu) conducts research on cognitive development across the lifespan, from infancy to older adulthood. We use neural (EEG) and behavioral (eye-tracking, accuracy/reaction time) responses to investigate how previously acquired knowledge helps and hinders new learning, and how to induce cognitive development in older adults. The lab is particularly interested in recruiting a graduate student for EEG studies.
The Perception, Action, and Development Lab ( investigates how people use visual information to guide actions and engage in social interactions. Through our research, we hope to understand 1) how perceptual-motor systems adapt to changes in the body and environment, 2) developmental changes in infants’ everyday visual experiences, and 3) factors that influence infants’ looking behavior. We employ mobile eye tracking and naturalistic observation to examine the natural visual experiences of infants, children, and adults in everyday tasks.
Research in the Culture and Child Development Lab ( focuses on how the environment influences children’s motivation and achievement across cultural contexts. The lab is seeking Ph.D. students who have strong interest in the role of parents, teachers, and peers in children’s school adjustment. We employ diverse methodologies in our research, including naturalistic and controlled observations, surveys, and measures of physiological reactivity. Recent lines of work involves: (1) an investigation on the role of teacher-student relationships in children’s achievement in 50+ countries; (2) a longitudinal study on parenting and children’s creativity; and (3) a study on the effects of parents’ expectations and children’s performance in the academic arena.
Research in the Emotion Regulation Lab (directed by Dr. Elizabeth Davis) focuses on understanding how developing emotion and emotion regulation processes relate to adaptive and maladaptive outcomes in childhood. We use a multi-method biopsychosocial approach to characterizing affective processes across levels of analysis (e.g., psychophysiology, cognitive, social, and emotional behavior). The goals of the research in our lab are to identify regulatory strategies that children can use to effectively alleviate negative emotion, and to identify individual differences in children’s biology and social experiences that determine whether and when they can regulate emotion effectively. We also identify mechanisms responsible for effective emotion regulation (e.g., attentional focus) to explain why certain emotion regulation strategies attenuate negative emotion and distress better than others.
The Adversity and Adaptation Lab (, directed by Dr. Tuppett Yates, is committed to the study of how children are affected by, and in many cases successfully negotiate, adverse life experiences, such as poverty, community and family violence, loss and illness. We endeavor to understand how and why the development of some children is undermined by negative life experience, whereas others are relatively less affected (i.e., resilience). Our research employs multiple methods, including direct observation, physiological recordings, quantitative measures, and qualitative interviews, to examine key relationships that influence the effects of adverse experience on development, including those within the family and community, as well as those among physical, emotional, and behavioral response systems of children and adolescents. Dr. Yates oversees two ongoing longitudinal investigations of high-risk children and youth to clarify processes underlying risk and resilience in an effort to inform the development and implementation of effective prevention, intervention, and policy efforts to help children, their families, and the communities in which they live.
The research in the Childhood Cognition Lab ( explores the influence of religion, fantastical thinking, and media exposure on cognitive development. Current funding in the lab supports a longitudinal study of children’s developing religious concepts (funded by the John Templeton Foundation) and a series of studies examining how children’s social cognition influences STEM learning from different media platforms (funded by NSF REESE).
The Biobehavioral Research Lab led by Dr Chandra Reynolds investigates how and why individuals differ from one another in cognition and health across the lifespan (  Lab projects address the following general questions: Why do some individuals show rapid decline in cognitive functioning with age while others remain stable or decline relatively less?  What early life and life-course factors are important to cognitive aging and health?  And,  How do environmental features and environmental selection shape cognitive functioning and health? With emphases in lifespan development and behavioral genetics, we apply longitudinal and quantitative genetic models to understand variations in cognitive aging, health and longevity.