Associate Professor of PsychologyJoined USJ: 2013
A Dream Come True
Long before there was an opening for a position in the Psychology department, Kristin Henkel Cistulli, Ph.D., envisioned her dream job as a faculty member teaching Social Psychology at the University of Saint Joseph. Having attended an all-girls high school and a Catholic university, she felt that USJ combined all the good things of her own education into one place. She is entrenched in the aspect of a women’s college and appreciates the small class sizes, allowing her to get to know her students well, give them individualized attention, and empower them to pursue their goals.
Cistulli did not plan to study Psychology in college, but while enrolled in a Social Psychology class, she became intrigued with the coursework and knew she wanted to continue her studies in the field. It was while teaching her own Social Psychology class in graduate school, that she chose the path of academia with a focus on teaching. Cistulli explained that while “Psychology is the study of how we think, feel, and behave, Social Psychology takes it a step further in one direction — social situations and relationships.” Her area of expertise is intergroup relations and her research interests are prejudice and discrimination, Social Dominance Theory, and health-related stigma.
Learning in Action
Cistulli brings innovation to her Research Methods Class by having each of her students conduct a research project from beginning to end – a new approach that she hopes will reinforce data analysis and critical thinking skills that will be useful to her students. She works one-on-one or in small groups, evaluating ideas, planning the process, and being the “voice of reason” as to what can realistically be done in a semester. The students go out in the field, collect the data, (which Cistulli helps them analyze), and finalize the project with a research paper.
Melding Teaching and Research
It is hard for Cistulli to separate teaching from research as she has been collaborating with students on specific projects since she began her tenure at USJ. She notes that her students have taken on prevalent issues in society such as: eating disorders, self-esteem issues, relationships, relationship violence, and social media. Cistulli’s partnership with students takes the research a step further by focusing on how stigma, health, prejudice, and discrimination impact people. For some students, these research projects bring opportunities to publish or present posters at various conferences. Cistulli knows that these experiences could be a vital component in helping students gain acceptance into graduate programs. Cistulli says “the mentorship that I give to students is one of the best aspects of my job,” and she looks forward to continued collaboration.
Ph.D., M.A., University of Connecticut
B.A., University of Notre Dame