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Research in Psychology

Research is highly valued in the UHH Department of Psychology.  Our faculty are expected to write research grants, publish the results of their studies, and present their findings at national and international conferences.  We also emphasize involving students in faculty research as research assistants and co-authors.  Most faculty in the Department of Psychology have active research programs.  Here's what some of them say about their scholarship:

Dr. Susan Brown:
I enjoy research and the number and breadth of my research projects reflect this.  I am currently involved in three projects covering a variety of different species: unisexual and bisexual geckos, endemic Hawaiian land snails and female humans.  Currently, in my gecko research, my students and I are exploring the dominance responses of a unisexual gecko species to pheromones (odors) of a male bisexual gecko. This research is showing that a gecko does not actually have to be present to effect the behavior and reproduction of an entirely different species.  My students and I are also attaining data on the life histories of a species radiation involving a Hawaiian land snail. The life history data are being collected at a number of sites across the island of Hawaii and reveal how the various species have evolved to adjust to a variety of ecological niches.  Additionally, I just began, with my co-investigator, Lynn Morrison, a medical anthropologist, a study on how the females’ health, immune systems and well-being vary across their menstrual cycles.

Dr. Dawna Coutant:
I am working on several projects, based primarily on the topics of culture, conflict, and health. Specifically, I am beginning a new project, working with a student, which examines acculturation strategies of immigrants and the effect on health. On the conflict side, I have also been collaborating on a large international project with Stephen Worchel as Principal Investigator. The project examines the long-term impact of International Peace Camps on the individuals who participate in them.  This involves finding appropriate camps throughout the world, establishing what their goals and programs are, tracking down former participants and interviewing them.  Dr. Cheryl Ramos and I have designed a study of the long-term effects of the culturally sensitive treatment at the Lanakila Ka Pouhana At-risk Youth Center. Other projects I am currently working on with my students involve a study examining group identity and individual identity (big fish/small pond phenomenon) and a study of cross-cultural attitudes towards domestic violence.

Dr. Chris Frueh:
I am a mental health services investigator.  The focus of my work is improving mental health services for people, especially trauma survivors, in public-sector mental health agencies, including rural and racially/ethnically diverse populations.  This has included projects to study the following:  1) treatment outcome evaluation of using information technology (i.e., "telepsychiatry") to provide mental health services; 2) treatment outcome evaluation of cognitive-behavioral therapy for people with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and severe mental illness (e.g., schizophrenia) in public-sector practice settings (i.e., community mental health centers); 3) the prevalence and impact of traumatic and harmful experiences occurring within public-sector psychiatric settings; and 4) the prevalence and recognition of PTSD in public-sector primary care clinics.

Dr. Charmaine Higa-McMillan:
Broadly speaking, my program of research is in the area of evidence-based services for youth mental health.  The goals of this research are to (a) investigate the psychopathology of internalizing disorders in children and adolescents; (b) develop and evaluate empirically-supported approaches for the assessment of childhood problems; (c) investigate the efficacy and effectiveness of evidence-based interventions for youth; (d) examine the dissemination and implementation of these interventions in community- and school-based settings; and (e) conduct mental health services research in large child and adolescent public mental health populations.  For information on an ongoing study of the effects of deployment on families, please look up the Ohana Heroes Project page.

Dr. Bryan Kim:
My research program focuses on multicultural counseling process and outcome, measurement of cultural constructs, counselor education and supervision, and adaptation experiences of Asian Americans and their psychological implications. My current research examines the effects of culture-specific counseling interventions and client enculturation/acculturation (e.g., cultural values) on counseling process and outcome. My interest in multicultural counseling psychology largely stems from my experiences growing up in Hawai'i as a 1.5-generation Asian American.

Dr. Adam Pack:
I have been conducting research with marine mammals since 1983.  My research background is broad and includes scientific investigations of dolphin sensory perception, cognition, and communication, as well as long-term studies of the behavior and biology of humpback whales in Hawaiian waters.  Over the past several years, my colleagues at The Dolphin Institute (a Hawaii-based non-profit organization) and I have been working with National Geographic’s Remote Imaging Department to investigate the mating system of humpback whales through “crittercam,” an animal-borne video and data logging tool.  Aside from this collaboration, my research interests are in tracing the life histories of individual humpback whales, understanding their communication systems, studying the role that body size plays in humpback whale ecology, and describing the social behavior of humpback whales both at the surface and underwater.  My research also involves studies of the behavior, communication systems, and movement patterns of spinner dolphins and other toothed whales.

Dr. Vladimir Skorikov:
My research involves elements of developmental, vocational, personality, and cross-cultural psychology. I am particularly interested in the psychological aspects of work-related behavior, and the major foci of my research are the processes, mechanisms, and effects of lifespan career development. Additionally, I am deeply interested in  identity development and adjustment in adolescents and young adults, and for the past 10 years I have been conducting a large-scale, longitudinal study of the relationships among identity, career development, mental health, and problem behavior during the transition to adulthood. The main goals of the study include examining patterns of youth development in different domains, intra-domain change and continuity, and inter-domain relationships.  I am also exploring the mediating effects of ethnicity, culture, gender, socio-economic status, and life events.

Page updated: April 2014