Quick Facts

B.S., Animal Behavior, Minors in Math and Philosophy, Bucknell University, 2000

M.A., Psychology, Psychobiology focus, University of California Davis, 2002

Ph.D., Psychology, Developmental focus, Graduate Minor in Quantitative Psychology, UC Davis, 2006. -- Dissertation: Object Permanence: An Ecological Approach

Post-doc / Visiting Scholar / Part-time Lecturer, Clark University, 2005-2008

Assistant Professor of Psychology, Penn State, Altoona, 2008-2013

Research Lab Manager, CTRL, American University, Washington, DC, 2013-Present


Frequent attendee

American Psychological Association, esp. Division 1 activties

International Conference on Perception and Action

International Society for Ecological Psychology

International Society for Developmental Psychobiology

Cheiron: International Society for the History of the Social Sciences

Hobbies

Aikido

Italian and Spanish Rapier

General Geeky Stuff (anything short of attending a con in costume)



Brief Academic Bio

About to turn 14, I told my mother I wanted a snake for my birthday. No chance. But rather than simply saying that, she wisely replied "No, go work in a pet store." A few years later, at an otherwise unproductive college recruitment fair, we picked up a brochure off the ground and discovered Bucknell University had primates on campus, and a major in Animal Behavior. That sounded fun. With no concept of 'academia', I assumed I would go into some industry in which the prediction of human behavior was relevant. But I had some excellent mentors (including Doug Candland and Michael Pereira) and eventually headed off to Davis, California for a Ph.D. in Psychobiology, planning to work with Jeff Schank, studying rat pup huddling behavior and probabilistic modeling.

Alas, Candland had gifted me with Comparative Psychology, A Handbook, and in it was a chapter on Ecological Psychology written by Steve Flynn and Tom Stoffregen. The chapter went through David Lee's research on diving gulls and concluded that Animal Behavior people should pay more attention to this Gibson guy... it caught my attention. I didn't really understand what was going on, but I could tell there was something deeply important there, and so I started reading more. Davis was a great place to be a budding Ecological Psychologist. Gibson had a sabbatical at Davis, and many remembered him and were sympathetic to his approach, but there were no full converts... except me. Richard Coss and Don Owings pursued comparative psychology research from an ecological perspective; visual perception researchers Ted Parks and Robert Post several of Gibson's points; Robert Sommer, an environmental psychologist, had been Gibson's neighbor, and had a deep appreciation of everything except the theory; and Thomas Natsoulas wrote on Gibson's conception of consciousness. Somehow, I ended up in the Susan Rivera's developmental psychology lab, doing an experiment to test the ecological hypothesis that object permanence was about developing a sensitivity to the way objects left sight.

At a conference for the Animal Behavior Society, I met Nicholas Thompson, and eventually moved to Clark University to do a post-doc. At Clark, I made some headway into studying looking as a functional behavior. I also became exposed to the work of Holt, and to many other ideas through Jaan Valsiner's international "Kitchen-group" seminars. 

From there, it was off to Penn State, Altoona... which lacked the space for me to continue my work with infants. This led to my co-founding an undergraduate research lab with Nicholas Rowland, and we had an amazing time doing a variety of empirical investigations, mostly student-driven, while my main line of research came to focus on history and theory. In particular I focused on Edwin Bissell Holt, who's work sits at the intersection of my past interests: He was an early epigeneticist (in the Kuo, Schnerla, Lehrman vein), a proto-ecological psychologist (adviser to Gibson), a radical behaviorist (before Watson), and a man with faith that psychology can be unified. I am amassing an archival collection of Holt's correspondences and related documents and articles. Most of my work in the near future will flow in and out of insights derived from Holt.

From there I moved to American University. You can find out more about my activities there by reading about The Lab.

 

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