By Nick Wort
At any university, students are bound to find professors that are both very interesting and very boring. Matthew Costello, a professor at IUSB, is not one of the boring ones.
Costello teaches psychology and does research on the effects of aging on memory, seeing and thinking. He focuses on developmental psychology with older adults.
“I think what keeps me going with psychology is my research,” said Costello “And I’ve had some good success running the lab here.”
Costello is currently involved with two major research projects. One project focuses on the effect of aging on thinking and seeing, and has already been presented at a conference for the Gerontological Society of America. Costello’s other research project, which focuses on aging and distance perception, will be presented at a Vision Sciences Society conference in May.
“That’s sort of one of the fun elements of being a professor,” said Costello. “You get to pursue research. And with research you’re just asking questions that interest you, and then you just pursue them.”
Costello has had many research assistants so far, and has enjoyed the process. Two of his assistants have already gone on to grad school for psychology.
“That’s another positive to the job,” said Costello “I really enjoy the mentoring work, and it’s a wonderful moment when they get into grad school. From a mentors perspective it’s very satisfying.”
Although psychology is Costello’s main interest now, it wasn’t his first academic choice. He got his undergraduate degree in English, and has a background in both philosophy and art history. These interests show in his approach to psychology and teaching.
“I have a healthy respect for the other disciplines; psychology is just one major within the school of liberal arts,” said Costello. “I think my orientation is just the college of liberal arts and sciences.”
Although he was not a particularly great student in high school, Costello managed to get into college. It was after college that he first developed his major interests in psychology, philosophy and the liberal arts as a whole.
Costello is a strong supporter of the study of liberal arts, and has developed a deep appreciation for its goals over the years. This appreciation has had an impact on both what he teaches, and how he teaches.
“Students should be leading the discussions, not the teachers,” said Costello. “And the teachers should be there to help guide the discussion. But it’s really something that has to come from the heart of the students.”
Costello encourages students to utilize as many resources at IUSB as possible. Particularly psychology students who want to work on research.
“If psychology students are interested in getting research exposure, if they’re interested in improving their CV,” said Costello, “I would encourage them to take advantage of everything the department has to offer, particularly in terms of joining up with labs.”
When not working at IUSB, Costello enjoys spending time with his wife and newborn son. He also enjoys playing chess, soccer and pool.
Costello can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and in his office located in on the second floor of Wiekamp, room number 2167.