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funders, including the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health, place a high premium on interdisciplinary research—and the new department is, by definition, interdisciplinary.

Faculty members also emphasize the advances in knowledge that they can achieve through collaboration. "The merger means that we can have fresh eyes looking at problems in ways different from those in which we are trained," says T. J. McCallum, associate professor of psychology. "It's a case of combining my input of 'A-B-C' with their input of 'X-Y-Z' to develop a new level of basic knowledge and experience with which to address a given problem."

Mather Memorial (left), one of the college's landmark buildings, has long been home to the psychology department. Now, some of its faculty members have joined their new colleagues in communication sciences at Cleveland Hearing & Speech Center, a few blocks east of campus on Euclid Avenue.
Mather Memorial Photo Courtesy of Cervin Robinson
Cleveland Hearing & Speech Center Photo Courtesy of Cleveland Hearing & Speech Center

McCallum operates a lab called "The Brain Emporium," where he and his students research the efficacy of computerized cognitive-enhancement programs for older adults. While the psychology faculty has a strong reputation in areas related to children and youth, McCallum is helping propel its expansion into issues of aging and illness. Some of his research, for example, focuses on "cognitive slippage"—attention and memory loss associated with strokes or cancer therapy.

Recently, McCallum moved his lab to CHSC. Now, communication sciences students interested in aphasia can observe visitors to the Brain Emporium as part of their clinical experience. In addition, the lab is now available to participants in CHSC's "Speak Easy" program, a conversation group for stroke patients and other people with neurologically based communication disorders.

Alison Pavlik, a master's student in speech-language pathology, has provided language therapy to David Dellinger, age 7, during a field placement at Cleveland Hearing & Speech Center's South Euclid office this spring. Pavlik, who earned her bachelor's degree in psychology and communication sciences at CWRU, uses a board with train magnets as a reward at the end of each session and as a tool to help David form grammatically correct questions.
Photo: Mike Sands

Although brand-new, the Department of Psychological Sciences is already generating interest beyond Case Western Reserve.

"In the short time since the merger, we have attracted more applicants to our graduate programs and a stronger pool of applicants for faculty positions," says Lewis. "And the response from other universities with communication sciences programs has been extraordinarily positive, with several of my colleagues remarking that they would like to see something similar happen at their schools."

And what is the next step in the department's evolution?

"We are in the middle of a faculty search right now, looking for a person who can bridge both psychology and communication sciences in teaching and research," says Thompson. "We have had a huge number of applications, and many of the applicants said the same thing: 'I wasn't on the job market, but I want to be in this new department.' So I think it's safe to say that we're on the right track."

Mark Gottlieb is a freelance writer.