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Department of

Ethnic Studies

Sandra Sgoutas-Emch

Professor, Psychological Sciences
Director, Center for Educational Excellence

Sandra Sgoutas-Emch is a professor of psychology and director of the Center for Educational Excellence at the University of San Diego. She has been a professor at the university since 1992. During her tenure at USD, she has also been the director of the gender studies program. She teaches courses in health psychology and biopsychology. Dr. Sgoutas-Emch has research interests in the efficacy of alternative medicine, the impact of stress, and women’s health issues.

Dr. Sgoutas-Emch is also a CO_PI on the AFFIRM grant, a four year award funded through the NSF ADVANCE program has three primary goals. It will foster an environment that understands, embraces, and supports a diverse faculty, recruit women faculty (with a particular emphasis on women of color), and support the retention and advancement of female faculty.


Dr. Sgoutas-Emch earned her B.A. in psychology from Emory University. She completed her Masters and Ph.D. in biological psychology from the University of Georgia. She received a two-year postdoctoral NIH fellowship in psychoneuroimmunology at the Ohio State University medical school before coming to USD.

Scholarly and Creative Work

Dr. Sgoutas-Emch’s areas of research interest include the impact of stress, women’s health and the efficacy of alternative medicine. She has published in a variety of journals including Psychophysiology, the Journal of Instructional Psychology, and the Journal of Religion and Health. She is currently working on a project that examines the impact of stress on our campus particularly in underserved students. The results will be implemented in a strategic plan for the university to help students deal with the stress they are experiencing.  

Her work also includes examination of best pedagogies for teaching courses such as statistics and biopsychology. Other studies have examined the psychosocial factors that are related to women’s experiences with their menstrual cycles and the efficacy of alternative medicine to help relieve pain.

Teaching Interests

Dr. Sgoutas-Emch teaches courses in both biopsychology and health psychology areas. She has developed courses on stress and such specialty areas such as hormones and behavior and brain, behavior and immunology. She is affiliated with both the gender studies and Ethnic Studies programs and teaches courses that focus on diversity issues. She has a long history of incorporating community service learning in her classes. Dr. Sgoutas-Emch has been the recipient of the innovation in experiential education award at the university and in 2007 received a faculty fellowship from California Campus Compact and the Carnegie Foundation for incorporating political engagement in the classroom.