Extreme Makeover: UT Behavioral Science Lab Edition

Jeremy Thomas

Newly renovated state-of-the-art experimental and laboratory rooms now fill the first floor of Communication Building B of the Jesse H. Jones Communication Center. 

The Behavioral Science Laboratory opened April 1 for College of Communication faculty and student research within the communication realm. Since the opening, two researchers are currently conducting experiments.

According to Nick Hundley, the College of Communication director of communications, the renovation created five experimental rooms for conducting research, a control room to monitor the research being conducted, a survey stimulus room, focus group suite, a natural viewing room and a waiting room for participants. Every research room is equipped with audio and video monitoring capability.

Hundley said College of Communication graduate and undergraduate students working with a faculty advisor may use the lab to conduct research.

“The lab enables the scientific study of human behavior and will be used for the study of human interaction, person-to-person conversation and group interaction,” Hundley said. “Researchers are able to capture digital feeds from cameras and microphones to later code and analyze.”

The laboratory is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Reservations for spaces in the lab can be made as early as 60 days in advance but no less than 14 days before the the research begins. Researchers must reserve online and are only allowed to schedule a maximum of 24 hours a week.

Veronica Inchauste, program coordinator of the Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Life, led a tour of the Behavioral Science Lab on Thursday. During the tour she said groups trying to use the space must provide their Institutional Review Board number and researchers must attend a mandatory orientation to learn about laboratory usage. She said these policies will allow for maximum efficiency.

“Before we created any of the policies, I did a lot of research on the use of research labs around the country so that we would make sure there is an efficient use of the space,” Inchauste said. “We want to make sure it is being used efficiently and not used sitting there without anyone using it. This laboratory allows for flexibility for any kind of research.”

Communication Studies professor Brenda Berkelaar said she is hopeful that in the next couple of years she will conduct research in the laboratory.

“I am excited that we have space available that’s flexible that can account for a lot of different research questions and opportunities that the faculty and students here have,” Berkelaar said. “I believe the lab will give students an opportunity to have a richer understanding of some of the research process and how what we do can actually have impact.”