Alumni Spotlight: Tony Ye, class of 2013

Tony Ye is a recent graduate of our Psychology M.A. program. He also obtained his undergraduate degree here at CSULA in Television, Filmtony ye picture & Media Studies in 2010. Under the mentorship of Dr. Alicia Izquierdo, Tony’s research investigated the long-term neurocognitive effects of Methamphetamine on adolescent rats. His work has led him to achieve many awards and recognitions. Most notably, he represented CSULA at the 27th Annual CSU Student Research Competition and won 1st Place in the Behavioral and Social Sciences. Tony is currently finishing his first year of a Psychology Ph.D. program in the area of Cognition & Neural Systems at the University of Arizona. His research interest focuses on the neurophysiology of frontostriatal systems that underlie effortful decision making with the rodent model. After graduating with his doctorate, Tony plans to pursue a post-doctoral fellowship for several additional years of research and hopes to secure a professorship here in our psychology department. We asked Tony a few questions about Arizona and his experience here at Cal State L.A.:

Psych Dept: What are some things to do in Arizona?
Tony: Besides involuntarily baking yourself in the sun, there are plenty of outdoor activities. Tucson is a very bike-friendly community to begin with, we are also surrounded by various mountains that are quite suitable for hikes, mountain biking and climbing, camping, and occasionally snowboarding – believe it or not. There’s also plenty of campus life here at U of A, especially when football and basketball season comes around. Contrary to popular belief, the heat isn’t as bad as it sounds. Overall, Tucson is a substantial yet welcoming change of pace from Los Angeles.

Psych Dept: Any advice for current CSULA students about graduate school & the importance of research experience?
Tony: My time here in the Psychology M.A. program was a great learning experience, and it played a major role in launching my academic career. Coming from a Bachelor’s in Film, the support that I’ve received from various faculty members fostered my growth in psychology. The prolific collaboration with my mentor escalated my curiosity and research skills in neuroscience. My admittance into a Ph.D. program is largely due to my experience here at CSULA.

Everyone that has decided to major in psychology should definitely have graduate school in mind. Although it may seem like a daunting and frightful challenge, graduate school should be an enjoyable and very rewarding learning experience that transcends what you’ve already accumulated as an undergraduate. The defining factor that makes graduate school an inspiring adventure has a lot to do with your affinity to your research interest and to your mentor (i.e., the faculty member you are collaborating with). You and your mentor should share a mutually beneficial collaboration. Not only are you helping to advance the work of their lab, but that work will also propel your research experience to be a competent candidate for Ph.D. programs. The idea here is that graduate school is as fun as you make it.

Needless to say, research experience is vital for graduate school. The first step you should take in this whole process is deciding on a topic in psychology that sparks your interest. With all the courses that you’ll have to take in the curriculum, something is bound to capture your interest. Then, find a faculty member that focuses on similar research and inquire about joining their lab. This process may be time consuming, so don’t worry if you feel like you’re getting stuck!