Community Research Groups

Behavioral Community Research & Action Team

Director: Dr. Rhonda Lewis

The Behavioral Community Research and Action Team is focused on conducting community-based research that promotes the health of adolescents and reducing health disparities among Racial and Ethnic groups. The Behavioral Community Research and Action Team currently is focused examining the health behaviors of college students, educational aspirations and expectations of youth in foster care and role racial identity plays on the health behaviors of emerging adults. The research team also has a partnership with Gordon Parks Academy, Mental Health Association of South Central Kansas, Grant Chapel AME Church, Center for Health and Wellness and the Boys and Girls Clubs of South Central Kansas to implement a program to encourage physical activity, increase academic performance, and promote careers among elementary and middle school students.

Community Responses to Sexual Assault (CRSA) Research Group

Director: Dr. Rachael Goodman-Williams

The Community Responses to Sexual Assault Research Group focuses on understanding and improving how communities respond to sexual assault and other forms of gender-based violence. Our partners include rape crisis centers, sexual assault nurse examiners (SANEs), and law enforcement agencies. We work to understand the interactions between survivors and the systems that respond to them, and to provide research that can inform policy development and systems change. Additional areas of research include posttraumatic stress, informal social support, trauma-informed research methods, mandatory reporting policies, and organizations' decision-making related to the implementation of violence prevention programs.

Clinical Research Groups

Behavioral Economics and Cooperation Team

Director: Dr. C. Brendan Clark

The Behavioral Economics and Cooperation Team is focused on understanding the development of trust, fairness, reciprocity, and other dimensions of human cooperation. This group is particularly interested in understanding how these behaviors differ in individuals affected by mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety disorders, and personality disorders. In addition to more traditional questionnaire methods of assessment, Behavioral Economic games (e.g., the Prisoners Dilemma) are often used by this team to assess different aspects of cooperation. The goals for this group include understanding the development of different cooperative strategies used by people, determining the optimal strategies for interacting in different groups, and developing assessment and intervention tools to help individuals with cooperative deficits become more functional in social groups.

Contextual Behavioral Science (CBS) Lab

Director: Dr. Robert Zettle

The Contextual Behavioral Science (CBS) lab is concerned with both basic and applied clinically-relevant research as well as their interrelationship from a functional contextualistic approach to behavioral science. At a more basic level, we have conducted a series of analogue and experimental psychopathological studies examining how processes such as experiential avoidance and fusion contribute to psychological rigidity, more generally, and to particular forms of human suffering, such as anxiety and depression, more specifically. Another basic focus of the lab has been the development of both behavioral and self-report measures of some of these same processes such as experiential avoidance and self-as-context/perspective taking. At a more applied level, we have investigated conceptually-specific processes and related mechanisms of change that distinguish acceptance and commitment therapy from other cognitive-behavioral interventions in the treatment of anxiety and mood disorders.

Initiatives Supporting Positive Youth Relationships (INSPYRE)

Director: Dr. Samantha Gregus

The Initiatives Supporting Positive Youth Relationships (INSPYRE) lab is concerned with preventing violence in youth and promoting healthy youth development. Specifically, we are interested in developing interventions that focus on building healthy relationships in childhood and adolescence. This work is conducted in community and school-settings to increase access for underserved and vulnerable populations. At the present time, our current projects relate to the development and evaluation of measures to assess teachers' competency, self-efficacy, and relationships relate to school bullying.

Human Factors Labs

Applied Cognition & Expertise (ACE) Lab 

Director: Dr. Joel Suss

The Applied Cognition & Expertise (ACE) lab investigates human performance and cognition in complex, dynamic, and often stressful operational settings. ACE seeks to Identify and define expertise in operational settings, understand the perceptual-cognitive basis for expertise and skilled performance, and design and validate solutions to mitigate error, accelerate learning, and improve resilience. Some topics of current interest to the lab are human factors of firearms and forensic science, police decision making and use of force under stress, CCTV security surveillance monitoring, mixed martial arts (MMA) judging, and emergency medical service (EMS) decision making.

Human Performance and Design Lab

Director: Dr. Michael Jorgensen

The Human Performance and Design Lab, which is affiliated with the Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering Department, is involved in physical ergonomics and safety research and course related laboratory activities. The major objectives of this lab are to investigate physical exposures to humans that may place them at higher risk for occupational injuries, educate students on exposure and risk assessment methods for occupational injuries, and to develop and evaluate interventions to reduce biomechanical exposures to reduce occupational injury risk. Students involved in this lab, through research and course laboratory exercises, utilize anthropometric measurement equipment, electro goniometers to measure joint angles of the upper limb and torso, use various dynamometers to measure grip strength and electromyography to measure muscle activity. Other equipment in this lab includes accelerometers to measure segmental and whole body vibration exposure, and various equipment and software to use for risk and exposure assessments.

Vision and Accessibility (VISA) Lab

Director: Dr. Quan Lei 

Research in the VISA lab investigates both basic and applied aspects of visual processing. On the basic side, we are broadly interested in how people pay attention to visual stimuli/events, perceive space and form, and store visual information in memory. We are also interested in understanding how these visual processes are disrupted in a variety of visual disorders.  

On the applied side, we are interested in applying the fundamental principles of visual processing to the design of everyday environment and products. One emphasis of our applied research is on visually accessible design, aimed to address the accessibility issues experienced by people with visual impairment. We also conduct research to investigate the kind of visual factors involved in safe driving and their implications for the design of safety features in vehicles, particularly with an eye to the coming era of autonomous driving.  

Visual Perception & Cognition (VPC) Lab

Director: Dr. Rui Ni

The Visual Perception & Cognition (VPC) lab is directed by Dr. Ni, with four graduate students. Their research involves multiple projects concerned with the visual perception of depth and shape in stereopsis, distance perception of 3-D object in the real world, driving performance and visual information processing, and age-related differences in perception and cognition. They are particularly interested in improving older individuals’ visual performance through training (e.g. perceptual learning). The goal of the research is to understand the mechanisms underlying visual perception and cognition and to extend this research into applied areas such as driving, especially for the aged population.

Wichita Auditory Research Group (WARG)

Director: Dr. Carryl Baldwin

First it should be noted that the A in WARG stands for not only auditory research but also aging, attention, aviation, alarms and automation.  These are all active research interests for members of our lab.  
Our lab has on-going externally funded research involving human interaction with automation, particularly related to attention in partially automated vehicles.  Much of our work intersects with neuroergonomics – using physiological metrics of brain based activity to design and evaluate complex interfaces and systems. Much of our work has been funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.  Additional externally funded projects have successfully been completed for NIH-NIA, NASA Ames, NASA Langley, Wright Patterson Airforce Base, AFOSR, as well as private companies such as Toyota, Northrup Grumman and Lockheed Martin.  We have completed and published work involving auditory and multimodal alarms, an driver and pilot attention, mind wandering, workload, and communication