by Robert Scalia
When some of Psychologys pilgrims set up base on the
Loyola Campus in 1992 to join a section of the department already there,
they were assured that their fellow researchers still downtown would join
them in two years tops in a newly renovated Drummond Science
Following a decade-long bout with split personality, the department will
finally be reunited on the Loyola Campus, much of it in the new Science
Its been a very bad split for us, said department chair
June Chaikelson during a roundtable discussion with Professors Barbara
Woodside and Michael von Grünau. Its going to be nice
to be able to see everyone without putting on coats and boots.
Instead, custom-designed animal housing facilities, neurobiology, cognitive
science and other psychology research labs will be stacked in the Psychology
Tower that will connect to the Psychology Building (PY) next door.
Labs have already been designed to meet individual research needs, Chaikelson
explained. A professor studying obsessive-compulsive behaviour, for example,
needed a kitchen built in order to monitor a compulsive checkers
Of course, equipment and space requirements vary, von Grünau added.
Cognitive scientists like himself rely heavily on computers, screens and
specialized equipment like eye-tracking devices to carry out their various
visual, memory and language tests.
Researchers in the Centre for Studies in Behavioural Neurobiology (CSBN)
will have a brand new Molecular and Cellular Neurobiology lab at their
disposal. Woodside said that some of the new equipment will allow CSBN
researchers, who have already begun to use molecular biological techniques,
to do electrophoresis and immunoblotting, and then visualize the results.
Its a far cry from the days of old, when new faculty member Jane
Stewart had to convince engineers designing the Hall Building that Psychology
might need a sink.
Today, research in the department ranges from evaluation of therapy to
cell analysis. The end goal is to understand behaviour on all levels,
Chaikelson said, so that faculty studying fear and arousal in children
are working with faculty in CSBN to study how cortisol levels are affected
in those children.
You have to think of us as an octopus with more than eight arms,
Chaikelson said. Shes alluding to the internal and external collaborations
that continue to make her department the universitys richest in
grant money, with about $2.5 million in external funding a year.
Woodside points to the budding field of behavioural genomics trying
to discover the genes that underlie behaviour as evidence of the
new collaborative initiatives within Psychology. With the Genomics Centre
also in the new complex, she is hoping to get her hands on their Gene
Micro-Array equipment, which can display 12,000 genes at the same time.
Both Woodside and Chaikelson agree that more students are leaning toward
behavioural neuroscience, but Chaikelson points out that there is increasing
interest in collaborations with other social scientists as well. She hopes
that students interested in history, sociology and education wont
have to travel downtown for their electives.
Chaikelson also hopes to be able to offer psychology, biology and human
physiology courses as part of a pre-graduate health degree. Many
psychologists want to go on in medicine, and we feel you cant study
behaviour without knowing something about how the body works.
With 1,200 undergraduates and more than 100 graduate students under her
umbrella, Chaikelson has to think better, not bigger, she said. Were
not looking at [the department] as growing, but as stabilizing and improving.
We want to consolidate what we do well.