Renee Penalver teaching an Introduction to Psychology course

Faculty


Mike Baker

Mike Baker

Professor of Psychology,
Neuroscience Coordinator

Education:

B.A., Coe College
M.S., Ph.D., Iowa State University

Research interests and academic interests:

My training and interests lie in behavioral psychopharmacology, including consequences of prenatal and postnatal exposure to drugs of abuse such as cocaine and amphetamine, mechanisms of reward and addiction, and sex differences in responses to drugs of abuse using the domestic chick model.

Classes taught at Coe:

I regularly teach Behavioral Neuroscience, Drugs & Behavior, and Learning & Behavior. I also rotate the rest of the psychology faculty for Advanced Experimental Psychology and Seminar in Psychology (topics have included Learning & Behavior Therapy, Addiction, Autism).  I occasionally teach Introduction to Biopsychology and in the past I regularly taught Statistical Methods & Data Analysis.


Ben Chihak

Ben Chihak

Assistant Professor of Psychology

Education:

B.A., Macalester College
Ph.D., University of Minnesota

Research interests:

The ability to safely navigate through the environment is critically important to the welfare of any organism. Our ability to maneuver relative to other agents in the world allows us to find food, avoid predators and woo potential mates. While navigating through the environment, we are constantly interacting with objects and surfaces, both static (e.g., trees, buildings, the ground plane) and motile (e.g., animals, vehicles, other people.) These objects and surfaces provide us with rich sources of information that we can use to guide our actions. My research has two fundamental goals: The first is to identify what perceptual information is available to guide locomotion in the environment. The second is to determine if and how individuals utilize these potential sources of information in controlling their actions. I have primarily investigated these questions within the context of transportation safety using both naturalistic and virtual environments.

Classes taught at Coe:

Research Methods; Introduction to Biopsychology.


Wendy Dunn

Wendy Dunn

James Y. Canfield Professor of Psychology

Education:

B.S., Iowa State University
M.S., Iowa State University
Ph.D., University of Iowa

Research and academic interests:

My research interests concern how people make decisions about others, especially in personnel selection situations. In particular, I am interested in how personality traits, such as conscientiousness and extraversion, are judged by others as being related to performance in jobs of different types. I also investigate how other characteristics, such as physical attractiveness and intelligence, are evaluated and how they figure into decision processes.
I am the author (with Dr. Grace Craig, University of Massachusetts at Amherst) of a lifespan development textbook, Understanding Human Development, now in its fourth edition, and two introductory psychology texts, as well as an array of student study guides and instructors manuals that accompany various texts in the field of psychology. I also serve as an ad hoc reviewer for a few journals in psychology, including Human Performance.

Classes taught at Coe:

Introductory Psychology, Applied Contemporary Psychology, Testing & Measurement; Seminar in Psychology (topics include Personnel Selection; Leadership); Advanced Experimental Psychology.


Sara Farrell

Sara Farrell

Associate Professor of Psychology,
Department Chair,
Organizational Science Coordinator

Education:

B.A., University of Iowa
M.A., Minnesota State University
Ph.D, Northern Illinois University

Research interests:

My research centers on pro-social behaviors, especially those exhibited in the workplace (called organizational citizenship behaviors). In the past, I have investigated co-worker reactions to employees who exhibit nonrequired, helpful behaviors in the workplace, as well as gendered expectations for such behaviors. More recently, my students and I have been investigating factors that increase the likelihood people will behave in pro-social ways. For example, projects have focused on whether mindfulness impacts pro-social tendencies and whether spending time in nature impacts prosocial behavior. Another recent line of research investigates how student PsyCap (psychological capital — hope, optimism, self-efficacy and resilience) impacts academic motivation, engagement and achievement. I enjoy working with students on research projects that have clear applications in everyday life. It is most satisfying when students are highly engaged and especially when they risk offering challenges to our hypotheses or research designs.

Classes taught at Coe:

Research Methods, Organizational Psychology, Industrial Psychology; Seminar in Psychology (Applied Positive Psychology); Advanced Experimental Psychology.


Scout Kelly

Scout Kelly

Assistant Professor of Psychology

Education:

B.A., University of Puget Sound
M.A., Ph.D., Kent State University

Research interests:

At the broadest level, my research asks why it is so difficult to do the things that we know are good for our health — things like exercising regularly, eating healthfully, flossing our teeth, wearing sunscreen and getting vaccinated. I’m particularly interested in health behaviors that require regular, continuous effort (e.g., physical activity, healthful eating) because they require we self-regulate our behavior — putting off immediate rewards (e.g., ice cream, watching one more episode on Netflix) for later, larger rewards (e.g., better health and well-being). Most recently, I’ve been intrigued by the roles of flexibility and rigidity in our pursuit of health goals. When is it beneficial to make a really specific plan and stick to it no matter what (e.g., I will go to the gym for 30 minutes at 5:30 p.m.), and when is it beneficial to be flexible and adapt our plans (e.g., if I don't have time to get to the gym, I will do a 30 minute workout video at home)?

Classes taught at Coe:

Statistical Methods and Data Analysis; Social Psychology; Health Psychology; Personality; Advanced Experimental Psychology.


Renee Penalver

Renee Penalver

Assistant Professor of Psychology

Education:

B.A., California State University, Bakersfield 
M.A.,  University of Texas El Paso
Ph.D., University of Texas El Paso

Research interests:

I am a cognitive psychologist interested in how the bilingual experience impacts different types of memory. In my current research, I investigate how word frequency and bilingual language proficiency impact source memory. Source memory is a type of explicit memory that is memory for context associated with an event (e.g., time, space, people, sounds, feelings). Similarly, I have investigated the effects of the bilingual experience on implicit memory. Implicit memory is memory that is automatic. I have also investigated other types of cognition (attention) and how it is impacted by bilingualism.

Classes taught at Coe:

Introductory Psychology; Abnormal Psychology; Statistical Methods and Data Analysis.


Kara Recker

Kara Recker

Assistant Professor of Psychology

Education:

B.S., Arizona State University
Ph.D., University of Iowa

Research interests:

My research focuses on two fundamental aspects of cognitive development. The first is how young children scale distance across spaces that differ in size. The aim of this work is to better understand the factors that affect how children and adults use relative distance to scale location. My second area of interest is the development of memory for location. Specifically, I am interested in how children and adults use spatial groups to remember the locations of objects. In both of these areas of interest, my goal is to examine the processes by which age differences in spatial thinking emerge. This kind of analysis requires understanding both what the child (or adult) brings to the task and what environmental structure is available. As such, my theoretical approach emphasizes the dynamic, emergent properties of spatial thinking.

Classes taught at Coe:

Introductory Psychology, Developmental Psychology, Seminar in Psychology (Infant Development), Abnormal Psychology.


Nukhet Yarbrough

Nükhet Yarbrough

Stead Family Professor of Psychology

Education:

B.A., Lindenwood College
M.A., Boğazici University, Istanbul, Turkey
Ph.D., University of Georgia

Research interests:

I came to graduate school in the United States to study with Dr. Paul Torrance, internationally known for his research and tests on creative thinking. My research at Coe focused primarily on the investigations of how creative thinking test scores relate to other psychological and practical human characteristics. Over the years I looked at short-term memory capacity and long-term memory access as measured on computer tasks to millisecond accuracy in high and low scorers on the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking. In addition, I developed an instrument to measure tolerance for ambiguity in high and low scorers of creative thinking. This line of research yielded a number of conference papers with our students. I even took one of our students to a World Conference on creativity in Istanbul, my native city. Currently I am engaged in an international norming study for the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking that I hope will interest some of my students who like to travel.

Classes taught at Coe:

Memory & Cognition, Memory & Cognition Laboratory, Counseling Psychology, Statistical Methods and Data Analysis, Seminar in Psychology (previous topics: Creativity; Cross-Cultural Psychology), Advanced Experimental Psychology. Occasional courses on Turkey.