Research and Opportunities

The Psychology Department offers a number of opportunities for both its undergraduate and graduate students. Current and past students have been involved in faculty directed and independent research projects, internships, and a host of other programs.


Psychology students have been involved in the college's Summer Science Research Institute, the HNGR program, and participated in a number of programs at HoneyRock (Northwoods Campus of Wheaton College). Students also have opportunities through faculty member involvement in the Center for Rural Psychology, and the Urban Partnership Initiative (Big Idea Foundation). The department maintains close ties with the college's Counseling Center to help meet the needs of the campus.  The department also maintains a Latin American Interest Group was developed to sculpt a shared vision for the establishment of an ongoing dialogue with Christian mental health professionals in Central and South America.

Research laboratories are maintained in the department and practicum, internship, and counseling opportunities are coordinated through the undergraduate and graduate programs.

Robert G. Vautin Memorial Laboratory

Dr. Robert (Bob) Vautin (June 11, 1936 - March 16, 2000) was a faculty member of the Psychology Department at Wheaton College from 1986-2001.  A New Jersey native he served in the Navy from 1954-1958 and received his doctorate in Psychology from Florida State University.  Prior to coming to Wheaton he worked as a researcher at the State University of New York at Buffalo where he was involved in single-cell recording in the macaque monkey visual cortex. During his time at Wheaton, Dr. Vautin served the campus by teaching courses in introductory psychology, sensation and perception, the history of psychology, and experimental psychology, and by serving as faculty advisor to the Psychology Department's chapter of Psi Chi.  It was his commitment to the ethical treatment of animals in research that led to his chairing of the college's Animal Care and Use Committee and maintaining the animal learning laboratory in the Psychology Department.  In addition to his scholarly activities as a researcher in the area of color vision, Dr. Vautin modeled a spirit of humility and faith to his students and colleagues.  Diagnosed with a rare and aggressive brain tumor during the fall of 2000, he passed away nearly 6 months after the diagnosis of his cancer.  In the wake of his passing, the Psychology Department renamed the laboratory in which he spent a significant portion of his time in his honor during the fall of 2002.

The laboratory houses a variety of experimental equipment for analysis of animal behavior, neuroscience research, and human experimentation and observation.  Some examples of the equipment housed in the Vautin Memorial Laboratory include: rodent modular and 8-arm radial mazes, fluorescent microscope*, digital microscopy imaging system*, animal housing facilities for over 100 rats, operant chambers, SMART behavioral tracking software*, cryostat* for sectioning frozen tissue speciments, stereotaxic surgical apparatus*, computer simulation/human experimentation, observation rooms, Munsell color judging system, EEG, and a SuperLab computer testing station*. (*denotes recent resources)

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