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Department of Psychology
University of Mississippi

Faculty Research


University of Mississippi Research Laboratories

Kristin Austin, Ph.D. Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University – Clinical Assistant Professor and Director of the Psychological Services Center   

Dr. Austin’s research interests include executive functioning, neurodevelopmental disorders, comorbidity, and evidence-based assessment and treatment.

Jeffery Bednark, Ph.D. University of Otago (New Zealand)  – Instructional Assistant Professor

Dr. Bednark’s research interests include learning, agency and their associated brain processes, neuroimaging techniques, application of psychological principles for the promotion of ecological conservations, attitudes towards nature and the  environment.

Sarah A. Bilsky, Ph.D. University of Arkansas – Assistant Professor

Dr. Bilsky’s research interests include anxiety disorders, parent-adolescent relationships, cigarette and alcohol use among parents and adolescents, and health care utilization.

Lee M. Cohen, Ph.D. Oklahoma State University – Professor and Dean
Dr. Cohen’s primary research interest is in the field of health psychology with an emphasis on addictive behaviors. More specifically, his research program systematically explores behavioral, cognitive, and physiological mechanisms that may contribute to nicotine use and dependence. As part of his programmatic research effort, he is interested in identifying healthy alternative behaviors that may aid nicotine dependent individuals in their cessation efforts. Dr. Cohen, along with his students and colleagues, have also investigated relevant individual differences that may help to maintain tobacco use, including personality traits, emotional regulation, and affective states such as depression and anxiety.

Laura J. Dixon, Ph.D. University of Wyoming – Associate Professor
Dr. Dixon’s research interests focus on the development, maintenance, and treatment of anxiety disorders and related health conditions in children and adults. Research activities emphasize: (1) the use of experimental psychopathology approaches to study transdiagnostic mechanisms underlying anxiety pathology; (2) the systematic identification and evaluation of anxiety and emotional vulnerability factors (e.g., anxiety sensitivity) that may exacerbate health conditions, such as dermatological disorders, in children and adults; and (3) the development, evaluation, and dissemination of brief, targeted anxiety interventions to optimize treatment outcomes and increase access to care.

Andrew Hales, PhD Purdue University – Assistant Professor

Dr. Hales’ research examines the psychology of social ostracism. How does it feel to be left out? What can people do to feel better if they’ve been ostracized? What causes people to exclude others in the first place? Dr. Hales also researches social influence, as well as the general tendency to overlook the ways in which we can improve things through subtraction. All of this research is informed by a broad interest in statistics and research best-practices.

R. Reed Hunt, Ph.D. University of New Mexico – Adjunct Research Professor
Dr. Hunt’s general area of interest is cognitive processes with a special research focus on human memory. Much of his work is devoted to developing a theory of distinctive processing to account for memory accuracy, both in terms of enhancement of correct responding and reduction of false memory. He has collaborated on research on basic processes of prospective memory as well as explored the role of memory processes in clinical depression and specific reading disability.

Laura M. Johnson, Ph.D. University of Louisville – Professor
Dr. Johnson’s research interests include (a) cultural competence in clinical training and mental health programming, (b) psychosocial and cultural adjustment of refugees, immigrants and international students, and (c) program evaluation and outcome research, particularly of community-based, preventive interventions for youth.

Karen Kate Kellum, Ph.D. University of Nevada-Reno – Instructional Associate Professor, Director of Undergraduate Studies, and Assistant Chair
Dr. Kellum’s research focuses on complex human behavior from a behavior analytic perspective. This broad focus has recently included research about choice, verbal behavior, littering, and safe cycling. She is particularly interested in teaching and evaluation at the college level, including methods to facilitate student learning and engagement. Dr. Kellum is a member of the Mississippi Contextual Psychology Lab (

Aaron Lee, Ph.D. University of Wyoming – Assistant Professor

Dr. Lee conducts research in the areas of clinical health psychology and chronic disease self-management.

Mervin R. Matthew, Ph.D. Indiana University – Instructional Associate Professor, Coordinator for PSY 201 and PSY 205 
Dr. Matthew’s research interests combine cognitive, social and evolutionary psychology, focusing on how our social identities affect the process by which we make decisions.

Marilyn Mendolia, Ph.D. Dartmouth College – Associate Professor
Dr. Mendolia’s research is in the area of emotion, specifically the Verbal and facial expression of emotion and the self-regulation of emotion

Stephanie E. Miller, Ph.D. University of North Carolina-Greensboro – Associate Professor and Director of Experimental Training 
Dr. Miller’s research examines cognitive and social development from infancy to school age. More specifically, she examines the development of self-control and how control over behavior relates to multiple cognitive and social processes (e.g., memory, language development, friendships, and social understanding). Please see her lab website for more information.

Nicolaas Prins, Ph.D. University of Kansas – Associate Professor
Dr. Prins’ primary research focus concerns the development of state-of-the-art, highly efficient methods that are used to test the perceptual abilities of individuals. Dr. Prins currently collaborates with the United States Air Force in the development of a new experimental procedure that will be used to test and select future Air Force pilots. Dr. Prins also studies and models the mechanisms in the brain that underlie low-level visual processes, such as motion perception and the perception of visual texture

Matthew B. Reysen, Ph.D. Purdue University – Associate Professor
Dr. Reysen’s general research focus is on how the human memory system works. More specifically, he studies how false memories can be implanted and how social influences can affect memory performance.

Grace N. Rivera, Ph. D. Texas A&M UniversityAssistant Professor

Dr. Rivera is a social and personality psychologist whose research covers topics related to existential, cultural, and moral psychology. Her work is guided by an interest in how culturally-informed lay-theories (i.e., beliefs people hold about the way the world works) influence the way we approach life and the people around us. Specifically, she examines lay beliefs concerning true selves, American meritocracy, and about the heritability of human characteristics, and the impacts of such beliefs on various individual and interpersonal outcomes (e.g., psychological well-being, racial biases, parenting practices, social perceptions, and relationship satisfaction). Dr. Rivera takes an interdisciplinary approach to her three primary lines of research, please see her lab webpage for more information.

Stefan E. Schulenberg, Ph.D. University of South Dakota – Professor
Dr. Schulenberg’s research interests include clinical-disaster psychology, perceived meaning, purpose in life, positive psychology, and psychological assessment. He conducts workshops and provides training on disaster preparedness, psychological first aid, disaster response, meaning and purpose in life, resilience, and posttraumatic growth. He is also the Director of the University of Mississippi’s Clinical-Disaster Research Center (UM-CDRC), an integrated research, teaching, and training center with emphases in disaster mental health and positive psychology.

Carrie Veronica Smith, Ph.D. University of Houston – Associate Professor
Dr. Smith’s research falls into three main areas: (a) The role of the self and motivation in people’s close relationships, including friendships and romantic and sexual relationships, frequently through the lens of Self-Determination Theory, (b) Situational and individual/personality determinants of perceptions of daily experiences, including social interactions and sexual interactions, and (c) The influence of sex, gender, and sexism on social perception and interaction.

Rebekah E. Smith, Ph.D. University of North Carolina-Greensboro – Professor and Department Chair
Dr. Smith is a cognitive psychologist whose research focuses on memory in young and older adults with a primary emphasis on prospective memory, or remembering to perform an intention in the future. She also investigates false memory, memory improvement, and the influence of distinctive processing on retrospective memory performance.

Todd A. Smitherman, Ph.D. Auburn University – Associate Professor
Dr. Smitherman’s research focuses broadly on clinical health psychology within chronic health problems, with a specific focus on behavioral factors and treatments of migraine, chronic pain, insomnia, and obesity.

Kurt D. Streeter, Ph.D.  University of Mississippi – Instructional Assistant Professor

Dr. Streeter’s research interests include cross-cultural perceptions and risk literacy of environmental factors, perceptions of naturalness, consciousness.

Kenneth J. Sufka, Ph.D. Iowa State University – Professor
Dr. Sufka’s main research is in behavioral neuroscience and psychopharmacology working in the areas of stress-related disorders and chronic pain. In addition to his appointment in Psychology, Dr. Sufka is also a professor of Pharmacology and Philosophy and a Research Professor with the Research Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences.

Joseph D. Wellman, Ph.D. University of Maine – Assistant Professor

Dr. Wellman studies the impact of stigmatization on behaviors, well-being, and performance. He also studies prejudice and stereotyping, system legitimizing beliefs, group identification, and discrimination.

John Young, Ph.D. University of Hawai’i – Professor
Dr. Young’s research focuses broadly on evidence based services for children and adolescents. This includes interests in methods of dissemination, integrating scientific assessment strategies into applied environments, and evaluation of healthcare delivery systems

Emeritus Faculty

Michael T. Allen, Ph.D. University of Tennessee-Knoxville – Professor Emeritus
Dr. Allen’s research is in the area of cardiovascular psychophysiology. His current interests are whether certain personality traits, such as impulsivity and neuroticism, are related to the magnitude of autonomic nervous system response during stress as indicated by noninvasive cardiovascular measures such as heart rate and blood pressure response. He is also interested in whether these cardiovascular responses are risk factors for the later development of hypertension and coronary heart disease.

Alan M. Gross, Ph.D. Washington State University – Professor Emeritus
Dr. Gross’ research interests include sexual aggression and dating violence, externalizing disorders in children, self-management, and classroom management.

Karen E. Sabol, Ph.D. Emory University – Associate Professor Emeritus
Dr. Sabol’s research interests include the neural mechanisms of attention and the role of acetylcholine, norepinephrine, dopamine, and serotonin.

Kelly Wilson, Ph.D. University of Nevada, Reno—Professor Emeritus
Dr. Wilson has authored foundational work in Relational Frame Theory and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. He has broad interests in contemporary contextual behavioral science. He has maintained an active lab with investigations in human operant behavior, experimental psychopathology, and clinical applications.