Instructor in classroom

We offer a sequence of courses in the area of “Biology, Psychology, and Politics”. Several undergraduates have requested to work in the lab (some even from as far away as universities in California) and many Nebraska students have participated in the university’s UCARE program in which undergraduates conduct research with faculty members.

  • POLS 150 (“Introduction to Biology, Psychology, and Politics”) is offered at least once a year.
  • POLS 250 (“Genes, Behavior, and Politics”) is offered once per year by directors of the lab and covers genetics, neuroanatomy, physiology, twin studies, and cognitive psychology, all applied to politics, in a manner that is not typical of undergraduate courses in political science.
  • POLS 350 (“Issues in Biology, Psychology, and Politics”) is an opportunity for various professors to expose students to a particular topic of interest within the broad category of biology, psychology, and politics.
  • POLS 450 (“Capstone Seminar in Biology, Psychology, and Politics”) is a small, seminar-based opportunity for students interested in this area to dissect central themes at greater length and to prepare a major research paper, probably with data generated in the lab. 


The graduate sequence revolves around two central courses:

  • POLS 850, “Core Seminar in Biology, Psychology, and Politics,” taught every other year by lab co-director John Hibbing
  • POLS 950, “Research Seminar in Biology, Psychology, and Politics,” taught in the alternating years by lab co-director Kevin Smith

In addition, other political psychology courses are offered in the department and additional courses are available in cognate disciplines, primarily psychology. The ability to work individually with the physiology lab and the various other labs on campus means that hands-on experience with laboratory procedures, data, and analyses become an integral part of the graduate educational experience.

In light of all this, we believe graduate students are able to receive a background in biology, psychology, and politics here that is better than in any other department of political science in the country. Opportunities for cross-disciplinary itneraction exist to a far greater degree than in other graduate programs.

Previous graduate students have developed specializations in evolutionary psychology, behavioral genetics, molecular genetics, physiology (including the software necessary to produce usable data from the raw physiological signals), EEG brain imaging, and various techniques popular in cognitive psychology including eyetracking.

Recent PhDs associated with the PPL have received prestigious National Science Foundation Dissertation Improvement Grants, have had postdocs at Texas A&M and the University of Sydney, and have taken jobs at the Central European University, the University of Northern Iowa, Penn State, the University of Northern Illinois, and the University of Iowa. Members of the lab have good international contacts, particularly in Denmark and Australia, so opportunities exist for foreign travel and collaboration.