Beginning in August 2017, I took on the role of Interim Chair of the Department of Psychology, and this fall began as permanent Chair. It has been an ideal time to be the Chair of the Department with new hiring initiatives, increased funding for faculty salaries, expansion of our course offerings, development of a new undergraduate track (in Behavior Analysis) within the major, several new funding awards for research, and perhaps most importantly, generous new gifts from our alumni and supporters that foster graduate student research and professional development. And of course, last year was the year that the University of Florida was recognized as a Top 10 best public university by U.S. News and World Report.

Amidst the flurry of activity and new initiatives, here are a few highlights:
As part of the University-wide hiring initiative, we welcomed several new faculty members this semester.

 

  • Dr. Della Mosley joined our Counseling area as a tenure-track Assistant Professor. Her research considers several dimensions of identity (i.e.., intersectionality) including the role of Black Activism on health and well-being as well as studies of gender and sexuality.
  • Dr. Nicole Gravina joined our Behavior Analysis area as a tenure-track Assistant Professor. Her primary interest is in using behavior-based techniques to create positive change in organizations.
  • Dr. Christy Alligood joined our Behavior Analysis area as an instructional faculty member. She brings expertise in human and animal behavior as well as development and coordination of internship programs.
  • Dr. Ryan Mears, already a regular contributor to our Behavioral and Cognitive Neuroscience area, became a full-time instructional faculty member. He will continue to provide a key role in our advanced lab training and foundational courses for the BCN track for majors.
  • Dr. Feihong Wang joined our instructional faculty. She is a Developmental Psychologist by training with expertise in different instructional modalities (online, classroom based).
  • We are currently conducting five new tenure track searches and two lecturer searches for Fall 2019.

 

Our current faculty continue to make substantial and important contributions to our understanding of Psychological Science. They not only publish extensively and present on their work nationally and internationally, they use this science to inform the public in order to improve the well-being of children, families, and community members across our global UF community. It has been a spectacular year! High impact research findings have been picked up by national media outlets, our faculty accomplishments have been recognized by UF and national awards, our students have also been recognized by UF and national awards—if you have missed any of these, check out the department on Twitter and Facebook as well as our UF website (which has a new look).

As indicated, our alumni and supporters continue to play an integral role in our success.

 

  • Over the past few years, generous gifts from the Rubow family, the Chui family, and Phyllis Levitt have sponsored new and continuing student awards recognizing outstanding achievements in research and practice for graduate and undergraduate students. Continued gifts to these funds are increasing the longevity of these awards along with our endowed award funds.
  • Generous gifts from our faculty and Psychology community have also allowed us to sponsor and co-sponsor department and university-wide events—the Gierach Roundtable in the Wrongful Conviction Speaker series, the Goldman speaker series in Developmental Science, our graduate student organization, Diversity Awareness and Affirmation luncheon discussion, our annual Spring Awards Banquet honoring our graduate students, and many, many more.
  • In summer 2018, we launched the UF Sources of Strength program which is supported by a new gift from Dr. Kathy Fields. Under the direction of Dr. Dorothy Espelage, Psychology is leading an initiative to improve well-being for undergraduate students at UF.
  • In addition, Dr. Trish Ring continued her generous support of our graduate training program with a major gift to support graduate student research and professional development.
  • Moreover, Dr. Ring has made a $1 million gift to establish an endowed graduate fellowship. As I noted in the press release:
    “The Trish Calvert Ring Dissertation Fellowship is a life-changing opportunity for our most outstanding graduate students, affording recipients support to focus on research while completing their doctoral degrees. The impact of Dr. Ring’s gifts begins with doctoral student research and professional development but will be expressed throughout their subsequent careers in their future research, teaching, practice and outreach. Our program, as a whole, benefits immensely from having these prestigious awards, raising our profile in line with being a top psychology department.”

 

Thanks to all of you who have provided support to our department this past year and throughout! As I indicated, these awards, at all levels, are life-changing for our students and sustain the success of our department.
Our future development goals include maintaining the strong support of our students and increasing supports for our faculty via endowed professorships. If you are interested in being a part of these initiatives, please feel free to reach out to me at any time (jagraber@ufl.edu) or make a donation online.
It has been a pleasure and an honor to serve as the Chair of the Department of Psychology at the University of Florida. Go Greater!

Graduate Student Awards

A number of graduate students in the Department of Psychology were again recognized for their many accomplishments during the 2017-2018 academic schoolyear. Below is a list of student awards recognized this past Spring at the Departmental Student Awards Banquet.

Behavior Analysis Graduate Student Awards

Hypatia Bolivar – Graduate Teaching Award
Hypatia Bolivar – Pearson Education Outstanding Graduate Student Teaching Award
Daniel Conine – Graduate School Mentoring Award
Kissel Goldman – Society for the Advancement of behavior Analysis Thesis Grant
Meghan Deshais – Christopher Rubow Memorial Award
David Cox – Gerber Behavior Analysis Research Award
David Cox – Psychology Faculty Pioneer Award

Behavioral and Cognitive Neuroscience Graduate Student Awards

Christina Gobin – CLAS Dissertation Fellowship
Nina Thigpen – F31 (NIH National Service Research Award)
Lisa Curry-Pochy – APF/COGDOP Fellowship
Brad Wilkes – APA Scholarship
Christina Gobin – Gerber BCN Research Award
Lisa Curry-Pochy – Jacquelin Goldman Spring Scholarship

Counseling Graduate Student Awards

Jamie Williams – Graduate School Mentoring Award
Guillermo Wippold – APA CSES Award for Student Leadership
Richard Douglas – Outstanding Counseling Psychology Student Award
Sarah Conlin – Ted Landsman Award for Counseling Psychology
Sarah Conlin – Dereck Chiu Student Training and Research Scholarship
Richard Douglas – Dereck Chiu Student Training and Research Scholarship
Schuchang Kang – Dereck Chiu Student Training and Research Scholarship
Jaime Williams – Dereck Chiu Student Training and Research Scholarship
Guillermo Wippold – Dereck Chiu Student Training and Research Scholarship
Schuchang Kang – BCBS Chair/Robert I. Lufrano Scholarship in Health Psychology
Victoria Rodriguez – BCBS Chair/Robert I. Lufrano Scholarship in Health Psychology

Developmental Graduate Student Awards

Emily Mroz – Gerber Developmental Psychology Research Award
Arjun Iyer – Jacquelin Goldman Spring Scholarship
Samarth Bhatt – Jacquelin Goldman Developmental Research Award
Ian Frazier – Jacquelin Goldman Developmental Research Award
John Leri – Jacquelin Goldman Developmental Research Award
Emily Mroz – Jacquelin Goldman Developmental Research Award
Mioko Sudo – Jacquelin Goldman Developmental Research Award
Arjun Iyer – Jacquelin Goldman Developmental Research Award
ian Lin (postdoc) – UF Informatics Institute Post Doc Student Fellowship
Marilyn Horta – Jacquelin Goldman Recurring Scholarship
Emily Mroz – Jacquelin Goldman Recurring Scholarship
Jaxenne Daniels – Jacquelin Goldman Recurring Scholarship

Social Graduate Student Awards

Elizabeth Redford – CLAS Dissertation Fellowship
Morgan Conway – Gerber Social Psychology Research Award
Elizabeth Redford – Grant-in-Aid, Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues
Val Wongsomboon – Ambassador Award, Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality
AND
77 travel awards to 57 graduate students funded by the Jacquelin Goldman fund

Ph.D. Graduates:

Steven Snowden – Fall 2017
Morgan Conway – Spring 2018
Nathan Petro – Spring 2018
Brad Wilkes – Spring 2018
Kelsey Autin – Summer 2018 [EXPECTED]
Melissa Cervantez – Summer 2018 [EXPECTED]
David Cox – Summer 2018 [EXPECTED]
Meghan Deshais – Summer 2018 [EXPECTED]
Yao Guan – Summer 2018 [EXPECTED]
Andrea Guastello – Summer 2018 [EXPECTED]
Tara Morissette – Summer 2018 [EXPECTED]
Bethany Stennett – Summer 2018 [EXPECTED]
Natalie Weldon – Summer 2018 [EXPECTED]
Guillermo Wippold – Summer 2018 [EXPECTED]

Dr. Kathy Fields, University of Florida alumna, world-renowned Dermatologist, and co-creator of Proactiv, has given the UF Psychology Department a $50,000 gift to launch a pilot implementation of the Sources of Strength Program.


Dr. Sherri Jackson, who received her PhD in cognitive psychology has been appointed to the Academic Affairs office as Vice Provost at Jacksonvlle University.

Dr. Jackson will serve as advisor to the Provost, have oversight of Experiential learning activities, the Honors program, Undergraduate research, CTL, ADP strategic planning, manage grievances and appeals and other duties as assigned. Dr. Jackson is committed to fostering an inclusive, positive culture that sustains a diverse faculty and is committed to working with faculty and staff to sustain our University for a successful future. Well qualified for the position, Dr. Jackson has been a member of the Psychology Department at Jacksonville University for the past 30 years, joining the JU family in 1988. She received her M.S. and Ph.D. from the University of Florida. Dr. Jackson is a member of the Alpha Chi Honor Society, Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society, Psi Chi International Honor Society, and the Omicron Delta Kappa Honorary Leadership Society. During her tenure at JU, Dr. Jackson has won numerous faculty awards, including Professor of the Year (2004), University Woman of the Year (2005), University Award for Excellence in Scholarship and Professional Activity (2003), University Award for Excellence in University Service (2004) and (2016), University Award for Excellence in Teaching (2009), University Institutional Advancement Award (2008), and the Social Sciences Outstanding Service Award (2009). Dr. Jackson was also a finalist for a prestigious Jacksonville EVE award in 2013. Her service contributions to JU are numerous. Most significantly she has served as Chair of the Faculty, 2002-2005 and 2015-2017, Vice-Chair of the Faculty, 2007-2009, Interim Dean of the College of Fine Arts, 2014-2015, and Chair of the Division of Social Sciences, 2010-present.
She is the author of four textbooks that have been adopted at colleges and universities around the world including: Research Methods and Statistics: A Critical Thinking Approach, now in its fifth edition, Statistics: Plain and Simple now in its fourth edition, Research Methods: A Modular Approach now in its third edition, and the final textbook in her tetralogy, A Concise Guide to Statistical Analyses Using Excel, SPSS, and the Ti84 Calculator. She is presently co-authoring the upcoming sixth edition of the very successful introductory text, Psychology: A Concise Introduction. She has edited or authored four teaching resource books, 16 textbook supplements, and numerous peer-reviewed journal articles, including 19 in the Teaching of Psychology. Her current research interest is the teaching of psychology, especially the introductory, research methods, and statistics courses.

Media

Dr. Laurie Mintz published a paperback version of Becoming Cliterate. This led to an invited presentation at the Opened Women’s Conference, sponsored by the Amber Rose Foundation and the University of Southern California Dornsife Center for Feminist Research, Los Angeles, CA.

In collaboration with the Levin College of Law and with support from the Gierach Lectureship, Dr. Brian Cahill organized a 4-part speaker series on Wrongful Conviction that complemented his Legal Psychology course.

Dr. Dorothy Espelage participated in a Congressional Briefing on LGBT Issues in Education.

Awards

Dr. Dorothy Espelage was elected to the National Academy of Education.
Dr. Bonnie Moradi received the Best in Science Award from the APA Society of Counseling Psychology as well as the Outstanding Major Contribution from The Counseling Psychologist.
Dr. Marty Heesacker served as President/Past President American Psychological Association (APA), Div. 17 (Counseling)
Dr. Ryan Duffy received the APA, Div. 17 Early Career Award and Fellow status
Dr. Jesse Dallery was granted Fellow status in the Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI)
Dr. Greg Webster was granted Fellow status in the Society for Personality and Social Psychology
Dr. James Shepperd was a Fellow of the American International University in Aix-en-Provence for Spring 2018.
Dr. Lisa Scott was selected as a Fellow in the Jacobs Foundation Learning Sciences.
Dr. Greg Webster was selected by committee in his first year of eligibility to become a Fellow in the Society for Personality and Social Psychology.
Dr. Brian Cahill was nominated for the Teacher of the Year award and was an Anderson Scholar Faculty Honoree.
Grants
Drs. Lisa Scott & Andreas Keil were awarded a NSF grant for $513,000 for the study of “Reliable and Robust Infant Brain Responses During Face Learning.”
Drs. Susan Bluck & Carma Bylund have been awarded a Cancer Population Sciences Pilot Program grant from the UF Health Cancer Center. Their research will focus on elucidating the process and products of Dignity Therapy. This therapeutic technique aims to assist older persons with terminal cancer to maintain dignity in their dying days through telling their life story and creating a legacy document to share with family and loved ones.
Dr. Marek Schwendt recently received a grant from the McKnight Brain Institute to support his research and provide the foundation for an NIH application.

As in the Robert Frost poem, “The Road Not Taken,” Dorothy Espelage took the road less traveled—and it has made all the difference in her life and in the lives of countless others. Espelage did not let a rough start to life deter her. In fact, she turned bad into good, using portions of her early struggles to shape her life journey in helping others who are seen as negligible in society’s eyes. Her father went absent without leave (AWOL) from the Army and from his family; her mother put Espelage and her brother and sister in foster care for several years because she was unable to care for them herself. Her mother eventually remarried and the kids came back to live with their mother and stepfather, but as with many military families, challenges persisted, and Espelage learned early on that her parents were ill-equipped to foster positive growth and she would have to depend on extended family, teachers, coaches, librarians, and other community members to find her own way in life. These experiences are at the core of her determination to advocate for youth and families by using her scholarship to close the science–practice–policy gap.

Although academically strong and actively engaged in athletics and school clubs, Espelage found herself largely unsupervised most of her life. Through late childhood and adolescence she witnessed firsthand the powerful influence of peers on attitudes and behaviors, especially combined with low parental supervision, and these experiences sparked her interest in the homophily hypothesis—birds of feather flock together—and she has used innovative methodologies to examine this phenomenon as it relates to aggression (Espelage, Holt, & Henkel, 2003; Espelage, Green, & Wasserman, 2007). Espelage encountered many mentors along her path from middle school to high school. For example, her cross-country coach in middle and high school, Joe Curcio, saw the good in her, prodded and challenged her, and helped her see the good in herself. Curcio told her that where a kid comes from does not determine where she winds up.

College had never been a topic of conversation in her home, even though she was in advanced placement classes in high school, competed in math competitions, and won science awards for her work with fruit flies (she designed experiments where she randomly assigned fruit flies to different levels of monosodium glutamate and phosphates—her first randomized clinical trial, if you will). She knew she was on her own in looking into, applying for, and paying for college. She stumbled upon an informational meeting for Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), applied, and was shocked when she received an acceptance letter. Again, seemingly by happenstance, Espelage chose her major, psychology, because her favorite movie of all time, The Big Chill, intrigued her—particularly William Hurt’s character, who was trying to make sense of the chaotic world he was in, something Espelage could relate to.

At VCU she worked in a rat lab on clinical trials for psychotropics (and took calculus for “fun”). Later in her undergraduate work she was introduced to developmental psychology and school-based research under Dr. Shari Ellis. Espelage continued her studies at Indiana University, where she would earn a PhD in counseling psychology in 1997. Her acceptance there was not so happenstance: She drove 6 hours through a blizzard to make her interview—which only a few of the faculty members and no other interviewees attended because of the inclement weather. At Indiana University, Espelage encountered many mentors who helped her along her path: Dr. Charles Ridley, who encouraged her to keep writing and keep her head up; Dr. Alexandra Quittner, who introduced her to federal funding, research methods, and grant writing; Dr. Thomas Froehle and Dr. Rex Stockton, who both modeled a relentless work ethic; and Dr. Kris Bosworth, who introduced her to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) as a funding source and who mentored her in her earliest media exposures and in publishing.

Since receiving her PhD from Indiana University in 1997, Espelage was granted tenure in 2004 and achieved full professor status in 2007 in the Department of Educational Psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she was named the Edward William Gutgsell & Jane Marr Gutgsell Endowed Professor and Hardie Scholar of Education in the Department of Educational Psychology. Espelage has conducted over 40 school-based survey studies to identify risk and protective factors of bullying, peer victimization, sexual harassment, homophobic teasing, and dating violence (Espelage, 2015 for a review). Currently, she is currently evaluating a suicide prevention program in 24 high schools in Colorado (CDC-funded), creating online training for police officers in Miami-Dade schools (NIJ-funded), conducting two large meta-analyses on cyberbullying interventions and school violence outcomes (NIJ-funded), and creating a robot to respond to mean and cruel online behaviors (NSF-funded), to name a few projects.

A handful of her major contributions include: (1) Introducing to the field the notion that school-based bullying is best understood from a social-ecological perspective, in which bullying is viewed as behavior that emerges and is maintained through complex interactions between multiple socialization agents (Espelage, 2014 for review); (2) Identifying bullying during early adolescence as a group phenomenon, where cliques of students seek out victims (Espelage et al., 2003); (3) Finding that bullying is causally linked to the use of homophobic language and perpetration of sexual harassment, as early as sixth grade (Espelage, Basile et al., 2012; 2014, 2018); (4) Determining that certain youth are at heightened risk for bully victimization and gender-based aggression, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, and questioning youth (Espelage, Aragon, Birkett, & Koenig, 2008; http://www.stopbullying.gov/at-risk/groups/lgbt/white_house_conference_materials.pdf), and successfully advocated for legislation to protect these youth; (5) Working tirelessly over the past two decades to call attention to bullying as a public health concern and a risk factor for youth suicide (Espelage et al., 2008; Espelage & Holt, 2013) and advocating for funding to develop and evaluate prevention programs for U.S. youth (Espelage, 2013); (6) Chairing the APA task force to expose the prevalence of violence against teachers (Espelage et al., 2013) and continuing to advocate for safer schools for all.

Espelage has published over 170 peer-reviewed articles, 70 chapters, edited five books, and has secured over 10 million dollars in external funding. Along the way she has taken over 40 doctoral students under her wing—many of whom, like herself, are first-generation college students. The kid who grew up with all kinds of obstacles in her way has somehow managed to appear on The Oprah Winfrey Show four times to share her research. She visits Congress and Senate offices regularly to shape legislation to protect all youth from bullying, sexual harassment, and interpersonal violence. She has been invited to attend several White House conferences. She has traveled the world to advise other countries’ departments of education. She has won numerous awards for her research and impact, including a Lifetime Achievement Award in Prevention from Division 17 (Society of Counseling Psychology) and the Award for Distinguished Contributions to Psychology in the Public Interest from the American Psychological Association. She was also recently elected to the National Academy of Education.

But all of that does not top her most crowning achievement. And that is the impact she has had on young people’s lives—those who have been bullied, those who have been sexually harassed and otherwise victimized. Life may not be fair, but your future is not determined by your past. After joining the faculty in the psychology department at the University of Florida in 2016, Dorothy Espelage encountered faced another round of life challenges. Once again, with the help of her partner (Ray Musleh) and friends, she came out stronger than ever. Ray and Dorothy look forward to many more years as active participants in the Gator Nation. Because, if Espelage has learned anything in this life, it is this: Resiliency is required. It is determined by drawing from your external supports in your schools and communities, tackling challenges directly, pushing yourself to do things that are not easy, and being persistent and persevering.