Faculty Research

Homelessness, Race and Pedagogy
Carolyn Weisz, Social Psychologist


Following the passing of House Bill 2163 in 2006, which sought to reduce homelessness in Washington by 50 percent over the next 10 years, the University of Puget Sound, through its Civic Scholarship Project, entered collaborations with Tacoma/Pierce County Coalition to End Homelessness, the Road Home Leadership Team, Pierce County Community Connections, City of Tacoma, and others to engage in research aimed at informing plans to end homelessness in Pierce County.  This ongoing work examines issues including stigma, race, trauma, smoking cessation, organizational dynamics, innovative programs, and experiences of service providers.  Each year, in October, student assistants serve as interviewers in the data collection process at Project Homeless Connect, a one-day service fair at the Tacoma Dome.  Students have also been involved in data entry, data coding, reviewing literature, and independent research projects related to homelessness. 

Race and Pedagogy:

The Race and Pedagogy Initiative is a collaboration of the University of Puget Sound and the South Sound community, which educates students and teachers at all levels to think critically about race and to act to eliminate racism.  The Initiative engages campus and community in a sustained and committed effort to mitigate the effects of discrimination and structural racism, and thereby, improve education for all students.  We build alliances and collaborate with individuals, groups, and organizations to research, develop, promote, celebrate, and support programs that aim to reduce inequities in education. 

1)       The Race and Pedagogy Initiative, in partnership with REACH  and Tacoma 360, is proud to announce the 2nd All-City Race and Pedagogy Youth Summit this upcoming spring 2012 (~May 5).  The Summit mobilizes high school students through a day of workshops examining equity, civic engagement, and community wellness.  Puget Sound students interested in serving as volunteers, facilitators, or organizers can contact Professor Weisz or  Students are also needed to conduct research evaluating the impact of the event.    

2)      A planning committee has formed to organize a one-day conference in Fall, 2012, on Race, Criminal Justice, and Education.  Students interested in serving on the planning committee should contact Professor Weisz.


Ongoing Projects in Visual Object Recognition
David Andresen, Associate Professor, Psychology

I am interested in how visual objects are recognized given the infinite variability of the information we use to perform recognition. Objects vary with viewpoint, coloration, lighting, shadows, and size, yet we can recognize an object given virtually any variation in less than a fifth of a second. How we are able to accomplish this feat is not well-understood. Current projects focus on behavioral studies of changes in viewpoint including how cues to these changes are used by the visual system to update object representations and lead to faster recognition. Future studies will include EEG measures to examine brain activity related to object perception.


Features and Outcomes of Social Interactions in a Variety of Social Species
Erin Colbert-White, Assistant Professor, Psychology

My research concerns features and outcomes of social interactions in a variety of social species.  In my work with parrots, I study parrot–human social relationships at the individual and group level.  This includes in depth qualitative and quantitative measures of interactions between one parrot and its owner, as well as work on nonverbal behavior and cue use across multiple individuals.  The overarching purpose is to investigate the extent to which parrots adopt human-like social and verbal behavior. 

 With other species, my interests are also concerned with social cognition.  This includes intra-species social behavior such as assessing empathy or altruism as well as inter-species social behavior such as social referencing cue use by dogs.  Currently, students working with me are assessing the extent to which temperament (i.e., personality) traits predict social behavior in Norway rats.  Details about my research are located on my personal website,