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Ian Williamson, Department Chair
Lora Magnum Shields Science Building, Room 250

Mission of the Department of Psychology

The NMHU Department of Psychology  has the primary goal of educating students in the science of psychology. The program’s objectives include: instructing students on applying the scientific method to investigating psychological phenomena, exposing students to diverse sub-disciplines and perspectives within psychology, applying critical thinking skills to psychological theories and research, applying psychological knowledge to understanding of—and problem-solving within—everyday life, generating new knowledge in psychology through research and theory development, and disseminating psychological knowledge. These objectives align with the broader mission of NMHU through a strong focus on critical thinking, research, and appreciation of diversity.



group photo

NMHU Psychology Faculty (left to right): Gerald Russell, Ian Williamson, Sarah Tracy, Lara Heflin, David Pan, Nariman Arfai, Julia Jarvis, Linda LaGrange

Tenure/Tenure-track Faculty*:

♦  Lara Heflin, PhD (Clinical Psychology), Assistant Professor of Psychology, University of Southern California

Main Campus – Las Vegas | CV

Research interests: Neuropsychology, health psychology, stress and coping, cancer, brain and head injury

♦  Linda LaGrange, PhD (Experimental Psychology), Professor of Psychology, University of Alberta

Main Campus – Las Vegas | CV

Research interests: Hepatoprotective and fetoprotective properties of flavonoids in treatment of alcohol abuse, Identification of biological markers of excessive alcohol consumption, biochemical correlates of personality traits/pathology

♦  David Pan, PhD (Clinical Psychology), Assistant Professor of Psychology, University of Southern California

Main Campus – Las Vegas | CV

Research interests: Treatment outcomes, anxiety and mood disorders, behavioral interventions, cultural identity, cultural adaptations

♦  Ian Williamson, PhD (Social Psychology), Professor of Psychology, University of Minnesota

Main Campus – Las Vegas | CV

Research interests: Forgiveness, positive psychology, substance abuse prevention

*Only tenure/tenure-track faculty members can serve as research advisors for Masters students


Contingent/Visiting Faculty

♦  Gerald Russell, PhD (Clinical Psychology), xxx Professor of Psychology, University of Califonia, Los Angeles

Main Campus – Las Vegas | CV

♦  Leon Bustos, MS (Clinical Psychology/Counseling), Lecturer, New Mexico Highlands University

Main Campus – Las Vegas | CV


♦  Sarah Tracy, PhD (Counseling Psychology), New Mexico State University

Farmington Center | CV


♦  Nariman Arfai, PhD (Experimental Psychology), University of New Mexico

Rio Rancho Center  | CV


Faculty Emeritus:

Jean Hill, PhD

Main Campus – Las Vegas | CV


Department of Psychology Programs


Undergraduate Coordinator: Lara Heflin, PhD;; (505) 454-3547


Graduate Coordinator: David Pan, PhD;; (505) 454-3375


Psychology, the study of human behavior and mental processes, includes such topics as learning and memory, cognition, motivation and emotion, sensation and perception, personality, development, attitudes, social interactions, brain-behavior relationships, human sexuality, psychopathology, and mental health interventions.

The special focus in this field is the individual rather than human societies or cultures. Although the study of psychology contributes to the understanding of abnormal human behavior, knowledge of psychology also enhances the understanding of normal human behavior.

Psychological research is conducted exclusively with the scientific method in applications that range from multifactorial laboratory experiments to single case studies. At Highlands, students experience the diversity within the field through a broad selection of courses. There is a cognitive-behavioral emphasis offered in the study of mental disorders, while research psychology is represented by cognitive, biological, social, and personality approaches.

Career goals of psychologists include teaching, research, and service. Psychologists, counselors, and psychometricians work at such sites as schools, mental health centers and hospitals, geriatric facilities, and correctional institutions. The psychological profession also includes school psychologists and human relations or organizational behavior psychologists for industry or government.


Resources and Facilities

The human riches of Northern New Mexico provide an outstanding context for psychological, social, and cultural studies at New Mexico Highlands University. Students may engage in field archaeological digs, ethnographic, psychobiological research, and clinical practicum. Additionally, students have the opportunity to conduct research in our psychobiology and anthropology labs. Studies of human behavior emphasize field data and computer applications for analysis and interpretation.

The department provides a computer laboratory for student use. Students have access to word processing, spreadsheets, and statistical packages, as well as the Internet.

Student professional societies and organizations, such as Psi Chi, and the Sociology and Anthropology Club, provide opportunities for student participation and program enrichment beyond the classroom.


This department is under the College of Arts and Sciences