Justin Dainer-Best, Assistant Professor in Psychology
Professor Dainer-Best is interested in how positive and negative emotions change the way people think about themselves and the world around them. More broadly, he is interested in the genesis and maintenance of depressed mood. His work focuses on identifying the best methods for understanding how people who are depressed think. Professor Dainer-Best’s research continues to ask questions about how people who are depressed describe themselves—and how to increase positive self-description. For instance, past work showed that adults with low mood will learn to describe themselves more positively after imagining future positive social situations. This work continues at Bard. The Affective Science Lab uses clinical research methods to identify the factors underlying mood disorders. Work in the lab uses samples of adults, online and in person, across the range of depressive symptoms.
Sarah Dunphy-Lelii, Associate Professor in Psychology
Professor Dunphy-Lelii’s undergraduate education focused on child cognitive development, after which she became project coordinator for the Cognitive Evolution Group at the University of Louisiana, Lafayette, studying cognition in chimpanzees. Professor Dunphy-Lelii then pursued graduate work with human preschoolers on very similar theoretical topics—for example, the ways that young individuals think about the minds of others, and how they reason about unseeable behaviors such as thoughts, beliefs, and desires. She became intrigued by how the specific case of autism might shed some light on these same topics—in particular, how different children learn to distinguish self from other in terms of perspective-taking, memory, and imitation. Professor Dunphy-Lelii spent a recent sabbatical in Kibale National Park, Uganda, following wild chimpanzees; at Bard, her interests in young children’s social cognition, children with autism, and nonhuman primates influence her ongoing research and teaching.
Principal Investigator of the Child Development Project.
Tom Hutcheon, Assistant Professor in Psychology
Professor Hutcheon’s research focuses on cognitive control, which is defined as the ability to select relevant sources of information in the face of distracting or competing sources of information. As everyone has experienced, the efficiency of cognitive control varies. At times we find it easy to sit down at our computers and work on a paper. At other times we end up checking our email every three minutes. What causes this variability in performance? Professor Hutcheon’s research seeks to understand the mechanisms that support cognitive control, the factors that influence the efficiency of cognitive control, and how these are influenced by healthy aging. To address these issues, Professor Hutcheon uses a variety of behavioral and statistical techniques including computational modeling and response time distribution analyses.
Principal Investigator of the Attention and Performance Lab.
Justin Hulbert, Program Director and Associate Professor in Psychology
For nearly two decades, he has been investigating core memory processes—from encoding to forgetting—using the tools of cognitive neuroscience. Justin received his B.A. in psychology from the University of Pennsylvania, where he was supported by a full-tuition scholarship from the Walt Disney Company Foundation. From there, he went on to pursue his Ph.D. under the supervision of Michael C. Anderson with the support of a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, a studentship from the Scottish Imaging Network (SINAPSE), and a Tom Slick Research Award in Consciousness from the Mind Science Foundation. After receiving his Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge, Justin completed a postdoctoral fellowship in Ken Norman’s Computational Memory Lab at Princeton University. In 2015, Justin joined the Psychology Program at Bard College and established the Memory Dynamics Lab. Justin and his team of enthusiastic undergraduate researchers aim to harness and test strategies to support conscious control, allowing us to better remember what we wish to remember and forget what we wish to forget—even while we sleep.
Principal Investigator of the Memory Dynamics Lab.
Elena Kim, Visiting Associate Professor in Psychology
Elena Kim is interested in the interface between psychology and gender studies with a focus on violence against women and crisis intervention for survivors of aggression. Topics such as child marriage and bride kidnapping practices in Kyrgyzstan, social norms underpinning violence against women, institutional organization of psychological service and sexual abuse have been at the center of Elena’s research and teaching. She has led funded projects investigating campus sexual harassment, intersections between gender violence and higher education, sexual and reproductive health, and perception of gender. Elena joins the Bard Psychology Program from American University of Central Asia (AUCA), where she has served as chair of the Department of Psychology; cochair and cofounder of the Center for Critical Gender Studies; and head of the Division of Social Sciences.
Kristin Lane, Associate Professor in Psychology
Professor Lane is interested in how social thought, feeling, and behavior operate in a social context. With robust empirical evidence from the last few decades demonstrating how much of mental life takes place outside our conscious awareness has come the realization that people may hold two sets of attitudes toward a given object. Professor Lane is interested in implicit attitudes and beliefs (those that exist outside the bounds of conscious awareness and cannot be verbally reported evidence). In particular, her research focuses on implicit attitudes toward and beliefs about members of different social groups (race, class, gender, etc.). She investigates the fundamental ways in which such attitudes, identities, and beliefs operate: How do they form, and how are they connected? At the same time, Professor Lane is interested in ways in which such cognitions operate in the real world, and how an understanding of them can be applied to domains outside of the lab. Recent research explores the role of implicit attitudes and stereotypes in the gender gap in science participation.
Principal Investigator of the Social Psychology Lab.
Joshua D. Nelson, Visiting Assistant Professor in Psychology
Professor Nelson is interested in personality and personality pathology, large-group dynamics and behavior, and the conscious and unconscious connections between certain foundational American myths and fantasies and their modern-day manifestations. More specifically, his research utilizes a psychodynamic lens to try to better understand the links between political extremism and certain destructive group processes including petro-masculinity, climate-change denial, and various forms of vengeance and cruelty. His past research interests included Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder, and Dialectical Behavior Therapy. He received his BA from Middlebury College, with a double major in American Literature and Psychology, a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Fordham University, and a Certificate in Psychoanalysis and Psychodynamic Psychotherapy from New York University. In addition to teaching at Bard, he teaches at Middlebury College and in the Masters Programs in Forensic Psychology at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice (CUNY). In additional, he maintains a part-time private practice.
Frank Scalzo, Associate Professor in Psychology
The Bard Behavioral Neuroscience Laboratory provides research opportunities in several areas of neuroscience. These include invertebrate behavior, immunohistochemistry, behavioral pharmacology, neurobehavioral teratology, and neuroanatomy. Laboratory research integrates the research interests of students and faculty and is focused on understanding the behavioral and neurobiological effects of exposure to environmental and other chemical substances whose primary mechanism of action is through the nervous system. Research is conducted using developing zebrafish (Danio rerio) as an animal model. Zebrafish provide an excellent model system for investigating a variety of environmental and pharmacological manipulations on neurobehavioral development in part due to their rapid growth and transparency during the larval stage that allows for the visualization of neuronal and other structures. Current research is focused on understanding the functional role of n-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) receptor systems in zebrafish and how these systems can be perturbed by environmental and chemical insults. Behavioral, anatomical, psychopharmacological and artificial intelligence techniques are used in these investigations.
Additional Faculty of Note
Sayed Jafar Ahmadi, Research Scholar in Psychology
Bard College welcomed Dr. Sayed Jafar Ahmadi as a Research Scholar in the spring of 2022. For about two decades, he lectured at Kabul Education University and worked on the development of psychology in Afghanistan. His career has included collaborations with Hunter College, Monash University in Australia, and Bedfordshire University in England. He has also led several research projects in Afghanistan. His research focuses on psychological interventions for children and adolescents who have experienced trauma or migration. He tries to find effective techniques to deal with the damages caused by conflict and migration. Aside from trauma treatment, he also works on understanding the impact of trauma on personal growth and how to make it a positive experience. It is Dr. Ahmadi’s interest to develop effective interventions for autistic children. Additionally, he has been measuring psychological indices and the development and improvement of psychometric tools.
Richard Gordon, Professor Emeritus and Research Professor in Psychology
Professor Gordon taught at Bard College for nearly forty years until his retirement in 2008. He remains interested the field of psychopathology and the treatment of human problems, and continues his work as a clinical psychologist in private practice. He has a special interest in the field of eating disorders, and has published major books in the field, including Eating Disorders: Anatomy of a Social Epidemic (Second Edition), Wiley-Blackwell, 2000. He has also written on the spectrum of psychiatric treatments, including medication and psychotherapy. Recent publications in these areas have included “Drugs Don’t Talk: Do Antidepressant Medications Contribute to Silencing the Self?” in the award-winning book by Dana Jack and Alisha Ali, Silencing the Self Across Cultures: Gender and Depression in the Social World (Oxford University Press, 2010).
Stuart Levine, Professor in Psychology
Professor Levine’s research interests included obedience to authority, conformity, attitude measurement, and change; small-group dynamics; moral development; statistics; and experimental design. He passed away in 2020 after 56 years of service to Bard College. He taught in the Psychology Program beginning in 1964, was Dean of the College from 1980 to 2001, Dean of Studies at Bard High School Early College Manhattan from 2003 to 2009, and taught courses in social psychology and the history of psychology at both Bard and Simon’s Rock. Professor Levine expressed joy and satisfaction in his work with the “sustained presence and animation” of Bard students throughout these years. He will be missed.