Faculty and Staff

Psychology Department Faculty and Staff 2014


Name Rank Area Email Website
Jessica Stagner Bodily, Ph.D. Lecturer Comparative Learning & Cognition icon_email
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Jessica Stagner earned a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Ph.D. in Cognition, Learning and Performance from University of Kentucky. Her teaching interests include Research Methods, Animal Learning, Physiological Psychology, and Comparative Cognition. Her research focuses on judgement and decision making, and more specifically on sub-optimal behavioral strategies, with focus on cross-species comparisons.
Kent D. Bodily, Ph.D. Associate Professor Learning & Cognition icon_email profile
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Kent Bodily earned a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Utah State University, and received his Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology from Auburn University in 2008. His teaching interests include Research Methods, Sensation & Perception, Animal Learning, Behavior Modification, Physiological Psychology, and History & Systems. His research focuses on developing and employing desktop-computer virtual environments (VE) in which human participants can be tested on procedures that are analogous to those used for testing non-humans. The VE methodology has allowed him to make direct, systematic replications of non-human research, and test the generality of research findings across species. His primary areas of research include Problem Solving, Homing (a.k.a. Dead Reckoning or Path Integration), and Spatial Learning.
Ty W. Boyer, Ph.D. Associate Professor Developmental Psychology icon_email profile
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Ty Boyer earned a BS in Psychology from Arizona State University in 2000, and an MA and PhD in Developmental Psychology from the University of Maryland in 2002 and 2005. He then spent two years as a postdoctoral fellow in the University of Chicago Department of Psychology, followed by several years as a research associate in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Indiana University. His general areas of research are cognitive and perceptual development. His research asks, how do people gather information from their surrounding contexts? What roles do others’ presence and actions play in this process? How are these percepts compared and contrasted with preexisting representations? How do these perceptual and representational processes interact to form expectations that guide actions? What aspects of these processes might be attributable to inherent biases that emerge very early in life versus learning and development that require more prolonged experience? He has conducted studies on the development of action perception and understanding, numerical and probabilistic reasoning, and decision-making processes and risk-taking tendencies, with a broad developmental perspective that spans from infancy to adulthood. His teaching interests are primarily in research methods, child psychology, infancy, cognition, and developmental cognitive neuroscience.
Jessica Brooks, Ph.D. Assistant Professor Counseling Psychology icon_email
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Jessica Brooks received her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Minnesota Duluth, Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology from North Dakota State University, and doctorate in Counseling Psychology from the University of Georgia. Brooks has teaching and scholarly interests in multicultural psychology, health psychology, clinical supervision, psychological assessment, professional ethics, and systems of psychotherapy. She has clinical experiences in university counseling centers, psychiatric hospitals, private practices and community mental health clinics in rural and urban settings. Clinical interests include mood and anxiety-related disorders, LGBTQ issues, childhood trauma, substance use issues, and relational difficulties. Dr. Brooks’ research interests broadly focus on the intersections of diversity, mental and physical health disparities, and addiction. The AMP Health Lab conducts research dedicated to the inclusive study of biological (e.g., genetic vulnerability), psychological (e.g., mental health, emotion regulation, coping), and social (e.g., environment, group processes) contributions to the spectrum of alcohol use behaviors, including social drinking, binge use, dependence, and relapse. Another line of research Dr. Brooks conducts involves the effects of mindfulness on overall well-being. Innovative methods are emphasized in the AMP Health Lab, which currently includes measurement of implicit cognition and experimental designs using mindfulness techniques and ego-depletion tasks. Future research will include observation of alcohol-related behaviors in a naturalistic bar laboratory.
Dorthie Cross, Ph.D. Assistant Professor Clinical Psychology icon_email profile
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Dorthie Cross earned a BA in Psychology from the University of Arkansas in 2006 and a PhD in Clinical Psychology from Emory University in 2014. After two years as a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Emory University School of Medicine, Dr. Cross joined the Department of Psychology at Georgia Southern University as a tenure-track assistant professor. Her research interests include risk and resilience to posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) following traumatic experiences, primarily in the context of poverty; the impact of trauma and PTSD on families; and the relationships among cognitive abilities and PTSD symptoms. In addition to research, Dr. Cross is actively engaged in teaching and is particularly interested in teaching topics related to psychological assessment, evidence-based psychotherapy, and ethics. She also serves as a guest lecturer for other organizations, speaking on topics such as the impact of poverty and racism on mental health.
Amy A. Hackney, Ph.D. Professor Social Psychology icon_email
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Amy Hackney earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Indiana University and her Ph.D. in Social Psychology from Saint Louis University. She began her career at Georgia Southern University in the fall of 2003. Dr. Hackney’s primary research interests include stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination, and the implications of implicit social cognition for legal decision making. She is also interested in adult attachment and psychopathy. In general, she is interested in the intersection of social cognition with the legal system with the goal of experimentally identifying factors that lead to biased legal outcomes to inform interventions and public policy. Her recent research focuses on racial profiling, juror biases in sexual assault cases, and the relationships between attachment and psychopathy in criminal populations. She teaches both undergraduate and graduate students in courses such as research methods, social psychology, and psychology and law.
Nicholas S. Holtzman, Ph.D. Assistant Professor Social & Personality icon_email profile
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Nick Holtzman earned a B.A. in psychology from Loyola University New Orleans and earned a Ph.D. in social/personality psychology from Washington University in St. Louis. He joined the faculty of Georgia Southern University in Fall 2013. His research and teaching interests revolve around social and personality psychology; he is also interested in the development of novel methods (e.g., automated text analysis) and in the application of multivariate statistics. His research program aims to discover the etiological pathways and behavioral manifestations of socially aversive traits such as the Dark Triad of personality—Machiavellianism, narcissism, and psychopathy.
Shauna Joye, Ph.D. Adjunct Professor Clinical Psychology icon_email
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Shauna Joye earned a B.S. in Biology from Georgia Southern University and a Ph.D. in Psychology from Florida State University. Dr. Joye currently works full time at her private practice, where she specializes in working with children who have developmental and learning disabilities. She also works with combat veterans to examine the impact of therapeutic wilderness experiences on wellness. Dr. Joye is currently an adjunct professor for the PsyD program who teaches the graduate-level psychopharmacology course. Because she is not a full-time faculty member, she does not take students for research.
Jeffery J. Klibert, Ph.D. Associate Professor Clinical & Counseling Psychology icon_email
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Jeff Klibert earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Southern Mississippi, master’s degree in clinical psychology from the University of South Alabama, and a doctorate in counseling psychology from Oklahoma State University. His teaching interests include adolescent psychology, test and measures, personality assessment, professional development, diversity issues in psychology, and psychometric theory. His clinical interests include integrative approaches to therapy with adolescents/emerging adults, suicide prevention, strength-based assessment, personality assessment, and positive psychology. In terms of research, he is particularly interested in examining risk/protective factors to suicide, positive emotion regulation strategies (e.g., savoring), resilience building, and enhancing growth experiences in the face of daily hassles. Dr. Klibert’s contributions to the Psy.D. program and to the department were recognized by the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences with the 2013 Award for Distinction in Service.
Larry Locker, Ph.D. Associate Professor Cognitive Psychology icon_email
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Lawrence Locker, Jr. earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Fort Hays State University and a doctoral degree in cognitive psychology from the University of Kansas. He joined the faculty at Georgia Southern University in the Fall of 2005. His teaching interests include introductory psychology and undergraduate and graduate courses in cognitive psychology and statistical methods. His research training is in the area of written language language perception. More recent research interests have included memory and applied cognition. He enjoys writing music and studying music history in his spare time.
Amy Luna, Ph.D. Director, Psychology Clinic Clinical & Counseling Psychology icon_email
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Dr. Amy Luna earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Drury University, a master’s degree in community counseling from Oklahoma State University, and a Ph.D. in educational psychology, with an option in counseling psychology, from Oklahoma State University. She joined the Georgia Southern staff in the fall of 2010 as Director of the Psychology Clinic. Her clinical interests include Dialectical Behavior Therapy, behaviorism, geriatric psychology, and severe mental illness. Dr. Luna has worked with clinical populations in rural and urban areas, specifically working with adolescents and adults in a multitude of settings including a substance use clinic, an outpatient counseling clinic, an inpatient geriatric unit, a veterans hospital, and a state hospital. In her spare time, she enjoys reading and spending time with her family.
Karen Z. Naufel, Ph.D. Associate Professor Social, Cognitive & Health icon_email
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Karen Naufel received her Ph.D. from the University of Arkansas in May 2007 in Experimental Psychology. Her research interests span across health, social, motivational, and cognitive psychology. Mainly, she investigates motivational strategies to help people engage in healthy behaviors or follow healthcare providers’ advice. She also investigates how expectations for unpleasant events influence coping. She has additional interests in how people cope with and adapt to unpleasant events, medical decision making processes, goal-setting processes, emotional adaptation, and positive psychology. She teaches undergraduate and graduate research methods courses. She also has teaching interests in health psychology, motivation and emotion, and social psychology. Her accomplishments in teaching have been recognized at the university level, with the 2014-15 Award for Excellence in Instruction, and nationally, with the 2010 Jane S. Halonen Early Career Teaching Award from the Society for the Teaching of Psychology.
Michael E. Nielsen, Ph.D. Professor & Dept. Chair Social & Religion icon_email profile
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Michael Nielsen has taught at Georgia Southern University since 1993. He received a B.A. in music and psychology from Southern Utah University in 1986 and a Ph.D. in social-organizational psychology from Northern Illinois University in 1992. Most of Dr. Nielsen’s studies concern religious conflicts, but he has also studied altered states of consciousness, philosophical aspects of psychology, and peace psychology. His current research interests center on themes of how people construe group boundaries in religion, in a context of religiously-influenced polygamy, and in more general contexts. He regularly offers courses in Psychology of Religion, Social Psychology, History of Psychology, Statistics, and Research Methods. Dr. Nielsen is President-Elect of The Society for the Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, Division 36 of the American Psychological Association. He co-edits the Archive for the Psychology of Religion, the journal of the International Association for the Psychology of Religion. He also serves on the editorial boards of Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion and Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, and the advisory board of Pakistan Journal of Psychology. He is author of an award-winning website on the Psychology of Religion, has delivered invited lectures on that subject in Kyiv and Istanbul, and has received awards for service from the American Psychological Association and Georgia Southern University. When not at his desk, he enjoys being at home with his family, reading, kite flying, and volleyball. Dr. Nielsen’s CV: NielsenCV2014
James L. Pugh, Ph.D. Assistant Professor Clinical Psychology icon_email
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Dr. Pugh began working in mental health in 1970, and he has been involved in clinical psychology ever since. His first job, during his undergraduate years, was as a psychiatric technician at a state mental hospital. He left that job to obtain a Master’s degree in psychology, completed in 1977. After that Dr. Pugh returned briefly to full time clinical work, then he began work toward a doctoral degree in Counseling Psychology which he received in 1984. During the time that he was working on the Ph.D. he continued to work in a psychiatric hospital part time. His post-doctoral internship was completed at a comprehensive pain clinic in Atlanta. He also has worked in a university counseling center, a community mental health center, and an employee assistance program, as well as private practice. He has a total of 15 years of experience with full time teaching of both undergraduate and graduate courses. His primary research interest is stress coping practices.
Rebecca Ryan, Ph.D. Associate Professor Developmental Psychology icon_email
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Dr. Ryan received her B.A. in Psychology from Concord University and her M.S. and Ph.D. in Life-Span Developmental Psychology from West Virginia University. She began her tenure-track faculty position at Georgia Southern University in 2006 and was awarded tenure in 2011. During her time at Georgia Southern she has taught a range of undergraduate and graduate courses at both the introductory and senior level. Select undergraduate courses include Introduction to Psychology, Life-Span Developmental Psychology, Psychology of Aging, Research Methods, Senior Research, and Senior Seminar. Graduate courses include Geropsychology and Advanced Developmental Psychology. Her current research interests broadly include psychology and law and teaching. Her research on psychology and law has pertained to variables that impact the jury decision-making process. Her research on teaching and learning has pertained to both professor-student rapport and the use and effect of service-learning. Dr. Ryan has collaborated with Drs. Wilson and Pugh to create, validate, and support the use of the Professor-Student Rapport Scale. She often incorporates service-learning into her courses and is currently studying its effects on cognitive and social outcomes.
George W. Shaver, Psy.D. Director, RCLD Clinical Psychology icon_email
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George is a licensed clinical psychologist who works for the Regent’s Center for Learning Disorders at Georgia Southern University. He received his Doctor of Psychology degree from George Fox University. He completed a predoctoral clinical internship at Eastern Virginia Medical School, and he subsequently completed a postdoctoral fellowship in clinical neuropsychology at the University of Virginia School of Medicine. George also holds a Master of Divinity degree from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics from the University of Tennessee. His research interests include the effects of effort and motivation in cognitive testing. As an adjunct professor, George teaches courses related to clinical neuropsychology and supervises clinical psychology practicum students.
K. Bryant Smalley, Psy.D., Ph.D. Associate Professor Clinical Psychology icon_email
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Dr. K. Bryant Smalley received a Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in Psychology from Georgia Southern University before attending Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, where he earned a Master of Science in Clinical Psychology and a Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.). Dr. Smalley’s research interests include gender, multicultural psychology, and behavioral health. Specifically, he is interested in eating disordered behavior, objectification, adherence to gender role norms, and influence of gender roles on risk-taking behavior. Dr. Smalley has clinical experience in rural and urban community mental health centers as well as university counseling centers. His approach to therapy is grounded in humanistic principles, while integrating aspects of existential, cognitive-behavioral, and multicultural theories. For his accomplishments in scholarship, Dr. Smalley was awarded the 2013-14 Georgia Southern University Award for Excellence in Research/Creative Scholarly Activity.
Janice N. Steirn, Ph.D. Associate Professor Animal Learning & Cognition icon_email
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Janice Steirn received her BA in Psychology at West Virginia University (1979) and her MS and Ph.D. from The University of Georgia (1985). Dr. Steirn’s original field of study within Psychology was Animal Learning and Cognition. Dr. Steirn studies attitudes and responses toward food. An ongoing project focuses on thought processes toward food based on different types of stimuli in the immediate environment. An additional avenue of research focuses on imagery as a way to alter physical and emotional responses to stress.
Bradley R. Sturz, Ph.D. Associate Professor Learning, Memory & Cognition icon_email profile
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Bradley R. Sturz earned his B.A. (2002), M.S. (2004) ,and Ph.D. (2007) all from Auburn University. After receiving his Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology, he completed a Post-Doctoral teaching/research position at Villanova University and then spent four years in a tenure-track position at Armstrong Atlantic State University in Savannah, Georgia. He has been in a tenure-track position here at Georgia Southern University since 2011.His teaching interests include Introduction to Psychology, Research Methods, Statistics, and Evolutionary Psychology. His research interests are broad within the realm of learning, memory, and cognition, and his recent research focuses on spatial learning, memory, and cognition. Utilizing virtual-environment technology, he is interested in determining the basic mechanisms underlying orientation and navigation for the purposes of informing research and theory on how humans (and other mobile organisms) process, store, and utilize spatial information. Dr. Sturz received the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences Award for Distinction in Scholarship in 2013 and the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences Award of Excellence in Teaching, Research, and Service in 2014.
Daniel G. Webster, Ph.D. Associate Professor Physiological & Evolutionary Psychology icon_email profile
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Dan Webster completed his undergraduate education at the University of Wisconsin in Madison and obtained his Ph.D. at the University of Florida under Donald Dewsbury (Comparative Psychology), and worked extensively with Merle Meyer (Physiological Psychology). Dan spent a lot of time in graduate school watching various species of rodents mate; one of his publications provides the first description of mating behavior in the round-tailed muskrat. He also watched various species lie on their backs in a state of immobility commonly called “animal hypnosis.” His Masters thesis was on immobility in lizards, and his Doctoral Dissertation was on mate selection in mice. While in graduate school Dan taught comparative and introductory psychology and supervised undergraduate researchers. He then taught at Delta State University for eight years prior to coming to Georgia Southern. At Georgia Southern Dan continued to work on research with undergraduate and graduate students, training students to modify graphic images (e.g. photos, faces) to produce stimuli, to use the polygraph to monitor autonomic responses (e.g. for biofeedback or to monitor responses to stimuli). Although he retains an interest in animal behavior and psychophysiology, Dr. Webster’s research interests are in the areas of Evolutionary Psychology, human emotions, and personality assessment His current research focuses primarily on the study of mate value from a mating exchange perspective. He has developed a 3-D computer program (SOSA) for personality assessment, and is currently working on applications of SOSA to his areas of research interest. Although SOSA was designed as a tool for assessment of schemas, the flexibility of the program allows for a wide range of applications (e.g. investigation of cognitive processes such as decision making). Visit his website for more information on SOSA.
Janie H. Wilson, Ph.D. Professor & M.S. Coordinator Physiological & Teaching Psychology icon_email
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Janie Wilson received her Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology from the University of South Carolina in 1994. Since that time, she has been teaching and conducting research at Georgia Southern University. Dr. Wilson currently conducts research in two areas: teaching and ego depletion. Research on teaching and learning focuses on the importance of building rapport with students, including student perceptions of teachers based on early contacts with students,, and perceived teacher age. She conducts correlational and experimental studies on student evaluations of rapport as related to students’ attitudes, motivation, and even grades. Completed projects include building rapport through touch such as a handshake, electronic communication such as email, and first-day-of-class activities. Recently, she worked with Dr. Ryan and Dr. Pugh to develop and validate the Professor-Student Rapport Scale. In her ego-depletion research, Dr. Wilson examines various potential buffers for ego depletion, the idea that exerting self-control reduces a person’s ability to exhibit self-control on a later task. Recent projects include positive interpretations of a task as buffering and the role of personal perception of risk. An additional project tied to ego-depletion involves responding to an aggressive encounter to examine the role of social interactions in ego-depletion. Dr. Wilson is always interested in working with undergraduate and graduate students to conduct, present, and publish research. Her contribution to the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences was recognized with the 2013 Ruffin Cup. She is President-Elect of Division 2 of the American Psychological Association, The Society for the Teaching of Psychology, and will serve as President in 2016.
Thresa Yancey, Ph.D. Associate Professor & Director of Clinical Training Clinical Psychology icon_email
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Dr. C. Thresa Yancey received her Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from the University of Alabama and her Master of Art and Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Nebraska. Dr. Yancey’s research interests include outcomes following sexual abuse (including resiliency), and the effect of labels (i.e., stigma related to abuse history, gender/sexual orientation minority, substance use history, mental illness) on perceptions of the individual with that label. Her clinical interests include child maltreatment, behavioral interventions for childhood and pediatric problems, and child psychopathology. Dr. Yancey has worked with clinical populations in rural and urban areas, with families with a history of maltreatment, in medical settings, and in university populations. Her approach is generally cognitive behavioral and employs the use of empirically supported treatments when applicable.


Name Position Area Email
Doria Douglas Administrative Assistant Psychology Clinic icon_email
Melissa Gutierrez Administrative Assistant Psychology Department icon_email
Erin Masters Undergraduate Advisor Psychology Department icon_email
Janet Walker Undergraduate Advisor Psychology Department icon_email


Last updated: 9/27/2017

Department of Psychology • PO Box 8041• Statesboro, GA 30460 • (912) 478-5539