Dr. Peter McLaughlin, professor in the Psychology Department, recently was named Edinboro University’s 2020 Advisor of the Year. McLaughlin was recognized for his advising skills and prolific contributions to campus programs, events and committees.
McLaughlin, who has taught and researched in behavioral neuroscience at Edinboro since 2006, said that while students may express certain similarities, he aims to reach all students on their level – whether they have a clear path to their dream job or graduate programs, or those who are less certain of the next steps.
“I put the bulk of my efforts toward students on the margins, making sure to ask about their study habits, what they are confident about, what gives them fear and then extend the conversation to the whole person,” said McLaughlin, who was awarded Edinboro’s Scholar of the Year in 2011. “Without considering all aspects of a student, we may miss the crucial information that will keep them on the path toward a healthy life and career.”
Edinboro University student Nicholas Bryson explained that Psychology Department students are required to meet advisors prior to class scheduling. In his nomination letter, Bryson said that McLaughlin transcends this rigorous responsibility to facilitate the path of student success.
“Following my trip to Edinburgh, Scotland sophomore year, I decided that upon graduating from Edinboro, I would pursue a master’s degree abroad,” said Bryson, who graduates summa cum laude (3.8 to 4.0 GPA) in May. “When I told Dr. McLaughlin this, he did not laugh or attempt to change my mind — he simply said that to his knowledge, it had yet to be done.”
Two years after that meeting, Bryson has been conditionally accepted to continue studies at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh and is anticipating responses from University College London and the London School of Economics and Political Science.
McLaughlin earned his Ph.D. from Stony Brook University studying the role of hippocampal neuropeptides on memory and then completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Connecticut researching the biological basis of addiction and motivation.
His research group at Edinboro focuses on behavioral pharmacology. Lab projects utilize drug probes to better understand how the brain uses neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine and endocannabinoids to control attention, memory, impulsive behavior and motivation. Students from the lab have presented at conferences including the annual meetings of the Society for Neuroscience and the Association for Psychological Science.
McLaughlin teaches classes in drugs and behavior, experimental psychology, behavioral neuroscience, and critical thinking. The teaching and training of critical thinking has emerged as a secondary scholarly interest, along with public understanding of science.
As an official partner of Brain Awareness Week, McLaughlin coordinates events in which Edinboro undergraduates help teach the public about neuroscience and nervous system health.