One Friday afternoon, a group of Psychology students gathered around a lab bench.  They were fully geared with protective goggles, gloves, and white lab coats.


These students were getting ready to dissect some crayfish with their mentor, Dr. Angela Setzer. Their goal was to extract the sesame-sized brain of the crayfish and store it for microscopy. Michelle Dennis, who is a senior in Psychology and experienced in brain dissection, was assisting Dr. Setzer and her fellow labmates.

“You see the two tiny white tubes?” asked Dr. Setzer. “Those are the two nerves of the crayfish. If you follow these two nerves up you should be able to find the brain.”

Setzer and students

As an experimental psychologist with a strong research background in neuroscience and biopsychology, Dr. Setzer leads a team of students on the study of crayfish. Formally entitled “The Crustacean Lab” (aka “The Crayfish Lab” for most students), they have three ongoing projects to study (1) the effect of ethanol on crayfish’s spatial memory (her students have created a maze for the crayfish and tested their ability to locate food under various concentrations of ethanol), (2) the effect of toxins on crayfish’s heart (led by student Caitlin Kennedy), and (3) crayfish behavior in relation to light and ethanol exposure (led by students Isadora Fink, Tyteyona Berry, and Esha Kashmiri).


I love working with students,” said Dr. Setzer. “Their ideas are fresh and they aren’t afraid to try out new ideas. What I’d like students to learn is that there are endless possibilities in the area of psychological research. It’s already obvious that they are enthusiastic about conducting research in the crayfish lab. Hopefully, they will gain a better understanding to formulate and pursue their own avenues of research and career goals.”

When asked about her experience working in Dr. Setzer’s lab, student Isadora Fink explained: “Dr. Setzer is very open to new ideas and is willing to work with everyone. She really cares about all of us. I enjoy collaborating with other students in data collection and crayfish care. This experience is so important for me… I want to be a research psychologist and I hope this experience will help me gain a better understanding of the areas that I am interested in pursuing. I am extremely excited for this experience!


Interested in learning more about Dr. Setzer’s work? Email her at