Psychology Department Research Labs and Groups


Community Research Groups          Clinical Research Groups          Human Factors Labs


Community Research Groups


Behavioral Community Research & Action Team

Director: Dr. Rhonda Lewis

The Behavioral Community Research and Action Team is focused on conducting community-based research that promotes the health of adolescents and reducing health disparities among Racial and Ethnic groups. The Behavioral Community Research and Action Team currently is focused examining the health behaviors of college students, educational aspirations and expectations of youth in foster care and role racial identity plays on the health behaviors of emerging adults. The research team also has a partnership with Gordon Parks Academy, Mental Health Association of South Central Kansas, Grant Chapel AME Church, Center for Health and Wellness and the Boys and Girls Clubs of South Central Kansas to implement a program to encourage physical activity, increase academic performance, and promote careers among elementary and middle school students.

Community Psychology Research & Practice Collaborative

Director: Dr. Greg Meissen

Our collaborative is dedicated to applying psychological knowledge and research toward improving the well being of individuals, communities, and organizations. As applied researchers, the majority of our work is community-based. Although each member of our collaborative has different specialty areas, we are bound together by our beliefs that projects should be community-driven, participatory, and initiated at the grassroots level.

Community Research, Assessment, and Methodology Group

Director: Dr. Charles Burdsal

The Community Research, Assessment, and Methodology Group was initiated in the Fall of 1994 under the direction of Dr. Burdsal who has over 40 years of experience regarding teaching evaluation issues, advances in multivariate design, and program evaluation. Currently, with seven graduate student members, research consists of a diverse set of eclectic interests. Each researcher has a unique educational background including Master’s degrees in Biology, Criminal Justice, Public Administration, and Sociology as well as undergraduate degrees in psychology. Several researchers pursued their advanced degrees directly after earning their undergraduate degree while others made major career changes and bring corporate and academic experiences to the group.

Social Relationships Research Work Group

Director: Dr. Louis Medvene

JPEGImageOur work group is interested in better understanding and developing interventions to enhance the quality of human relationships. We are especially interested in relationships as people age. One focus of our current work is on promoting the science of person-centered caregiving within nursing home settings. We are developing ways of operationalizing the philosophy of person-centered caregiving, creating interventions, and carrying out research to test the effectiveness of these interventions. A second area of interest is in understanding the social support networks of elderly persons living in community settings and in exploring ways in which technology can be used to enable them to enrich their networks. We are currently investigating the interests of the elderly in using computers to communicate with family and friends.



Clinical Research Groups


Behavioral Economics and Cooperation Team

Director: Dr. C. Brendan Clark

The Behavioral Economics and Cooperation Team is focused on understanding the development of trust, fairness, reciprocity, and other dimensions of human cooperation. This group is particularly interested in understanding how these behaviors differ in individuals affected by mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety disorders, and personality disorders. In addition to more traditional questionnaire methods of assessment, Behavioral Economic games (e.g., the Prisoners Dilemma) are often used by this team to assess different aspects of cooperation. The goals for this group include understanding the development of different cooperative strategies used by people, determining the optimal strategies for interacting in different groups, and developing assessment and intervention tools to help individuals with cooperative deficits become more functional in social groups.

Contextual Behavioral Science Lab

Director: Dr. Robert Zettle

The Contextual Behavioral Science (CBS) lab is concerned with both basic and applied clinically-relevant research as well as their interrelationship from a functional contextualistic approach to behavioral science. At a more basic level, we have conducted a series of analogue and experimental psychopathological studies examining how processes such as experiential avoidance and fusion contribute to psychological rigidity, more generally, and to particular forms of human suffering, such as anxiety and depression, more specifically. Another basic focus of the lab has been the development of both behavioral and self-report measures of some of these same processes such as experiential avoidance and self-as-context/perspective taking. At a more applied level, we have investigated conceptually-specific processes and related mechanisms of change that distinguish acceptance and commitment therapy from other cognitive-behavioral interventions in the treatment of anxiety and mood disorders.

WSU-KU Research Collaborative on Personality and Psychopathology

Director: Dr. Darwin Dorr

The WSU-KU Research Collaborative on Personality and Psychopathology focuses primarily on psychiatric adolescent and adult inpatients. This group has been in operation for about 18 years. The greatest share of our data consists of psychological assessments of patients including the MMPI-2-RC and its recent revision the MMPI-2-RF, and the MCMI-III in adults and the MMPI-A and MACI in adolescents. The majority of our work consists of psychometric studies of our instruments to better understand their reliability and validity and to explore the dimensions of psychopathology they assess. The actual content of our studies ranges widely. Recent studies consisted of completing the first psychometrically correct analysis of the dimensionality of the MACI. Other studies consist of concurrent validity studies of the MMPI-2-RF which introduces a hierarchical model to the assessment of personality and psychopathology.The group is lead by Dr. Dorr and his research partner, Dr. C. Don Morgan of the KU School of Medicine-Wichita. At present there are nine graduate students active in the group.



Human Factors Labs


Applied Cognition & Expertise Lab

Director: Dr. Joel Suss

The Applied Cognition & Expertise (ACE) lab investigates human performance and cognition in complex, dynamic, and often stressful operational settings. ACE seeks to Identify and define expertise in operational settings, understand the perceptual-cognitive basis for expertise and skilled performance, and design and validate solutions to mitigate error, accelerate learning, and improve resilience. Some topics of current interest to the lab are human factors of firearms and forensic science, police decision making and use of force under stress, CCTV security surveillance monitoring, mixed martial arts (MMA) judging, and emergency medical service (EMS) decision making. 

Aging, Perception & Performance Lab

Director: Dr. Alex Chaparro

PNG ImageThe Aging, Perception & Performance Lab (APPL) is interested in aging, perception, and the performance of complex everyday tasks like driving. In collaboration with other researchers we have investigated how age-related changes in vision affect both driving performance and driver detection of pedestrians. Also, our research has investigated how the effects of simulated visual impairment like cataracts affect the ability of listeners to understand spoken speech in noisy environments. Our team also investigates how driver distraction caused by talking or texting on a cellular phone affects vehicle control and driver ability to detect hazards.

Aviation Psychology and Human Factors Lab

Director: Dr. Alex Chaparro and Dr. Traci Hart

The primary focus of the Aviation Psychology and Human Factors lab concerns human factors and ergonomic design and evaluation of UAV Pilot and Sensor workstations and the development of design guidelines for UAV control interfaces. This lab is staffed by two PhD research scientists and one graduate student. It has Virtual research V8 HMD (head-mounted display), 2-sensor flock of birds motion tracker, CATIA V5 with Human Builder & Kinematics, and a flight simulator. This lab is affiliated with the National Institute of Aviation Research (NIAR, see below).

Human Automation Interaction Laboratory

Director: Dr. Jibo He

The Human Automation Interaction Laboratory (HAIL) studies human performance under different states (for example, when drivers are drowsy, distracted, or mind-wandering), and how automation and technologies change human performance. Current research topics include driving performance with advanced vehicle control system, lane-keeping and speed control performance under cognitive distraction, behavioural, eye movement and EEG indicators of driver fatigue. We also apply our knowledge of psychological theory to guide the development of technologies, in a hope to improve user experience and reduce human errors.

Human Performance and Design Lab

Director: Dr. Michael Jorgensen

The Human Performance and Design Lab, which is affiliated with the Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering Department, is involved in physical ergonomics and safety research and course related laboratory activities. The major objectives of this lab are to investigate physical exposures to humans that may place them at higher risk for occupational injuries, educate students on exposure and risk assessment methods for occupational injuries, and to develop and evaluate interventions to reduce biomechanical exposures to reduce occupational injury risk. Students involved in this lab, through research and course laboratory exercises, utilize anthropometric measurement equipment, electro goniometers to measure joint angles of the upper limb and torso, use various dynamometers to measure grip strength and electromyography to measure muscle activity. Other equipment in this lab includes accelerometers to measure segmental and whole body vibration exposure, and various equipment and software to use for risk and exposure assessments.

National Institute for Aviation Research (NIAR)

Coordinators: Dr. Alex Chaparro

The National Institute of Aviation Research provides practical psychology to the needs of defense industries, government authorities like the FAA, the U.S. Military and a variety of other institutions. Our applied and theoretical research projects are designed to meet the immediate needs of our clients in regard of Human Information Processing, Human Computer Interaction, Automation, and Human Ergonomics.

Software Usability Research Lab

Director: Dr. Barbara Chaparro

GIFImageThe Software Usability Research Laboratory (SURL) is an applied research laboratory that conducts research related to human-computer interaction (HCI). In addition to research, the lab provides usability evaluation services and interface design services to the software development community and to train students on HCI with real-world projects. SURL has worked on a contract basis for many Fortune 500/1000 companies related to usability and HCI issues including, Microsoft, Dell, Motorola, Textron, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Coleman, Benchmark Brands, etc. The current focus is website design and usability, mobile device usability and methods of text input, eye tracking of websites and mobile applications, and voice recognition on mobile devices.

Visual Perception & Cognition Lab

Director: Dr. Rui Ni

PNG ImageThe Visual Perception & Cognition (VPC) lab is directed by Dr. Ni, with four graduate students. Their research involves multiple projects concerned with the visual perception of depth and shape in stereopsis, distance perception of 3-D object in the real world, driving performance and visual information processing, and age-related differences in perception and cognition. They are particularly interested in improving older individuals’ visual performance through training (e.g. perceptual learning). The goal of the research is to understand the mechanisms underlying visual perception and cognition and to extend this research into applied areas such as driving, especially for the aged population.


Community Research Groups          Clinical Research Groups          Human Factors Labs