Franciscan Institute for Science and Health - Psychology | Franciscan University of Steubenville
  • Psychology - FISH

    Psychology research with Dr. Stephen Sammut

    Biopsychological research helps us better understand the mechanisms within the brain that are involved in both normal and pathological behaviors, allowing us to treat diseases and disorders more effectively. The biopsychological research facility will house multiple research projects from different sub-fields of biopsychology, providing our students with a broader foundation. Furthermore, we are giving them the opportunity to experience the integration of faith and reason through scientific investigation of issues relevant to the world around us.

    Read what students have to say about biopsychological research.

    The research facility will house multiple research projects from difference sub-fields of biopsychology. Some of these experiments will utilize animal models while others will involve human studies.

    Animal Models:

    Animal models can be beneficial because they enable us to investigate diseases, understand what causes them, and discover how to treat them for the benefit of both animals and humans. Such research allows us to better understand how the brain functions in general, how various brain regions interact with each other, and enables us to come to an understanding of the human person more completely. 

    Human Studies:

    The desire to observe and understand human behavior is universal. It is a necessary element of working with, living with, and helping people. Understanding human behavior also helps us discover the influence of elements within the environment that alter human behavior in a beneficial or detrimental way. Such research helps us understand why humans respond in specific ways to environmental events and stimuli. These experiments will be conducted using non-invasive methods e.g. Electroencephalography (EEG), surveys.

    Current Projects

    • The investigation of a potential animal model to study the physiological and subsequent behavioral consequences of abortion. Some aspects of this research will involve collaborations with other scientists (national and international) with interest in this field but with differing expertise allowing us to address the question in the most holistic way possible.
    • The effect of atonal versus tonal music upon the emotional state of the person. 
    • The investigation of motivation and reward in a rat model as a foundation for future studies in addictive behaviors.
    • Various research projects investigating topics pertinent to students at Franciscan University e.g. prayer, physical activity and well-being; Depression, Anxiety and Stress & potential causes etc. 

    The long term goals of the research is to provide an opportunity where students may explore questions, develop critical thinking, acquire research training and experience, and ultimately equip them with the skills necessary for their future career field.

    Dr. Stephen Sammut's research interests lie in the utilization of behavioral models and combined experimental techniques to investigate the interaction between the endocrine, immune and nervous systems and their role in CNS development, functioning and psychopathology. His scientific career experience has been broad and has included experience in a number of animal models of psychiatric disorders including depression, schizophrenia, Parkinson’s disease and psychostimulant-induced drug sensitization. Since coming to Franciscan, Dr. Sammut has worked consistently to provide students with the much-needed research experience through both human (survey & EEG research) and animal research. 

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