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Summer Training Academy for Research Success (STARS) Program

The UC San Diego Department of Psychology is excited to partner with Spelman College Psychology and Neuroscience students to participate in an eight-week in-person mentored summer research program.

This mid-summer training program is designed to increase your preparedness for doctoral study in the University of California System. The dates for the Summer 2024 program are June 23rd through August 16th.

Students will:

  • Gain research experience with a UC San Diego faculty member
  • Attend a GRE preparation course
  • Attend graduate school preparation work-shops
  • Present at the annual UC San Diego Summer Research Conference
  • Receive a stipend of $4,000

Application Information


  • Applicants must be 18 years of age
  • Applicants must be U.S. Citizens or Permanent Residents. AB 540 or DACA students are eligible

Application Process

1. Please pick 1-2 Psychology Faculty of interest for potential summer mentorship
2. Please include a resume/CV
3. Please provide a 1 page maximum summary of research interests and relevant classes/research experience thus far.
Please send applications to with subject lines Spelman STARS program 

Participating Faculty Mentors

Nadia Brashier, Ph.D.
Professor of Psychology

Why do people believe that coronavirus is a bioweapon or that Biden stole the 2020 election? We study the memory failures and cognitive ‘shortcuts’ that leave people vulnerable to misinformation. Our lab at UC San Diego uses both behavioral and neuroimaging tools to investigate why young and older adults fall for fake news.

Leslie Carver, Ph.D.
Professor of Psychology

The Developmental and Social Neuroscience Lab (DNLab) investigates early social and cognitive development in typically developing infants, and those with a family history of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). In our current studies, we are primarily focusing on how infants form expectations in their social interactions, and how they learn from those expectations and from contingent interactions with their caregivers.  Our studies use brain activity (EEG), behavior, and eye tracking to address these questions.

Christina Gremel, Ph.D.
Professor of Psychology

We want to understand how the brain does decision-making. This requires an understanding of both the behavioral and neural mechanisms involved. We take an integrative approach using mice, in which we can combine both simple and sophisticated quantitative behavioral measurements, with powerful molecular and genetic tools and monitoring techniques to delineate molecular mechanisms within specific cell-types in identified circuits that control decision-making processes.

John Serences, Ph.D.
Professor of Psychology

Our research focuses on understanding how behavioral goals influence perception, decision making, and memory. To investigate these questions, we employ a combination of psychophysics, modeling, and neuroimaging techniques (fMRI and EEG) in human subjects. 

Caren Walker, Ph.D.
Professor of Psychology

The Early Learning and Cognition Lab, investigates basic questions about the mechanisms underlying learning, and in particular, how children come to acquire abstract concepts and theories about the world. We approach this through the lens of scientific thinking—studying children’s reasoning about cause and effect under conditions of uncertainty. Most recently, we have been exploring how features of the learning context impose specific constraints on children’s causal inferences.