Dr. Rebecca McHugh

Rebecca McHugh
Dr. Rebecca McHugh
Assistant Professor of Psychology

Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences

Contact Information:
Phone: 814-362-5102
Location: 235A Swarts Hall

Degrees and Credentials

Ph.D. Applied Developmental Psychology, University of Pittsburgh
M.S. Applied Developmental Psychology, University of Pittsburgh
B.A. Edinboro University

Short Bio

Dr. McHugh (or Dr. M) is a native of Pennsylvania. Having grown up surrounded by farmlands and forest, she chose to continue her education at a small undergraduate campus before moving to Pittsburgh for work and graduate school. As an undergraduate student, she won a scholarship to study abroad for a few weeks in Edinburgh, Scotland, and got to confirm for herself that Loch Ness really is just a very pretty lake nestled in gorgeous highlands. As a big fan of trees, nature, and wildlife, when she’s not working, she’s often found spending time with her family, gardening, fighting off an aggressively friendly family housecat, or curled up with a book or movie. 

Academic Focus

Dr. M teaches classes ranging from Introduction to Psychology to upper level courses focusing on developmental processes across the lifespan. She began teaching as a graduate student with multiple Teaching Fellowships, and has worked as an adjunct and a full-time professor in two different states and with both undergraduate and graduate students. Her annual GE courses include Child Development and Lifespan Development. Her upper level courses include Socioemotional Development, Cognitive Development, and Social Influences on Human Development; Children’s Media and Socialization, and Media Portrayals of Psychology; Psychology of Gender and Sexuality; and Parenting and the Family. She also oversees multiple collaborative and student-lead research studies as Directed Research projects, SURP Grants (Summer Undergraduate Research Project), and Capstone Projects. 

Research, Accomplishments, and Publications

Since 2001, Dr. M has worked on a diverse array of research projects ranging from surveys to observational studies, programmatic evaluations, clinical treatment studies, longitudinal sample maintenance, neurodevelopmental studies, meta-analyses and instrument development, and interview studies. Her specialty is in qualitative and mixed methods research. Her research primarily focuses on the pressures and coping mechanisms of members of microcommunities through a process called Visibility Management, a coping mechanism for dealing with stigma and interpersonal relationships. By exploring this process in a number of different communities, she has the opportunity to meet and work with people in many different walks of life, and to explore many different cultures and experiences. 

She is passionate about student engagement in research, and works collaboratively on projects of mutual interest. Some of these align with her work on microcommunities (e.g., Visibility Management studies with Furries and Asexual individuals); some overlap with her developmental training (e.g., analyzing facial characteristics for gender markers in children’s cartoon characters); some focus on the campus community (e.g., exploring the need and desire for an on-campus daycare facility); and some are based on student interests and experiences (e.g., examining communication among long-term care facility personnel). A full list of relevant presentations and publications is available upon request.

Watch her talk about the research she’s conducted with students on visibility management at Carnegie Mellon University’s TedX conference.