Department of Psychological Sciences

Program Faculty and Professional Staff

Program faculty described below all hold the doctorate in psychology with a specialization in behavior analysis and teach one or more program courses.


John T. Rapp, Ph.D., BCBA-D, LBA (Ph.D. University of Florida, 2003; Professor). Dr. Rapp is the Director of the Applied Behavior Analysis program and a full Professor in the Department of Psychological Sciences at Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama. He is also the Project Director for the Alabama Psychiatric Medication Review Team with the Alabama Department of Human Resources. He received his doctoral degree in Behavior Analysis from The University of Florida in 2003. He currently serves on the editorial boards of the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, Behavioral Interventions, Behavior Modification, Education and Treatment of Children, and The European Journal of Behavior Analysis. To date, he has coauthored over 90 articles that are published in peer-reviewed journals. His research interests include the assessment and treatment of automatically reinforced behavior such as stereotypy, evaluating the sensitivity of discontinuous recording methods for detecting changes in behavioral events, and production of false positives with single-subject designs. Recently, he and his graduate students have begun to extend behavioral interventions to nontraditional populations such as foster care youth and detained adolescents.  


Christopher Newland, Ph.D., BCBA-D (Ph.D. Georgia Institute of Technology, 1982; Professor) Dr. Newland's research activity is focused on the application of basic research in behavior analysis to the examination of exposure to toxic substances or drugs that act on the nervous system. In particular he is examining experimental models of abnormal development. This includes the long-term effects of heavy metal exposure, including methylmercury, lead, and manganese, as well as behaviorally active drugs. He has worked with both human and animal models. At present his laboratory is examining the consequences of exposure, during gestation, to methylmercury, omega-3 fatty acids, and selenium (alone and in combination) on development and aging. These substances are thought to impair neural development by their presence (methylmercury) or absence (omega-3 fatty acids, selenium). Dr. Newland's group is reporting that these substances can also accelerate the course of aging, even if exposure occurs only during development.



Chris Podlesnik, Ph.D., BCBA-D (Ph.D., Utah State University, 2008) is an Associate Professor with research interests in understanding the role of fundamental learning processes in behavioral persistence and relapse, with an emphasis on translational research. His clinical research interests are in understanding the behavioral processes involved in the maintenance of treatments for severe problem behavior and learning complex discriminations. Chris received his BA in psychology from West Virginia University, his Master’s and PhD in psychology from Utah State University, and gained postdoctoral research experience in behavioral pharmacology at the University of Michigan. He was previously a faculty member at Florida Institute of Technology, as well as The University of Auckland in New Zealand — there he continues to hold the position of Honorary Academic. Chris served as Associate Editor for the Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, Guest Associate Editor for their Special Issue on Relapse, and Guest Editor for four Special Issues in Behavioural Processes. He also is President of the Society for the Quantitative Analyses of Behavior, board member of the Society for the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, and received both the 2011 B.F. Skinner Early Career Award from Division 25 of the American Psychological Association and the 2016 Federation of Associations in Behavior and Brain Sciences Early Career Impact Award for the Association for Behavior Analysis International.