Here at the Florida Tech School of Psychology, the undergraduate psychology faculty members have very active research programs, spanning a wide variety of interests. From chidren's memory to autism treatment to cross cultural psychology to studying criminal recifivism, getting involved in a faculty member’s lab allows students to have a hands-on experience in cutting-edge research. Below is a small snapshot of what our faculty areas of interest include – please click on each faculty member’s profile page for a more in-depth look at what they are doing.
Dr. Conradt earned his Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology with a concentration in Developmental Psychology from the University of Toledo under the mentorship of Dr. Kamala London-Newton. Dr. Conradt’s research interests are in the area of forensic developmental psychology and focus on children’s eyewitness memory and testimony, forensic interviewing procedures with children, and disclosure of child abuse. Current research pursuits include: (1) the effect of the emotional context on children’s memory and vulnerability to an interviewer’s misleading suggestions and (2) memory and cognitive development in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and the overall eyewitness capabilities of this developmental population.
Dr. (Gross) Costopoulos' career has been in the area of forensic psychology. She comes to Florida Tech after serving as the senior forensic psychologist for the Sexually Violent Predator Program of Florida (also known as the Jimmy Ryce Act). Previously she served at a forensic psychiatric inpatient unit at Florida State Hospital where she conducted therapy and assessments, and testified to the court on issues of residents' competency to stand trial, commitment for hospitalization and other forensic matters. While there, she received a number of awards for her outstanding work and contributions.
Dr. Costopoulos is coordinating a number of studies examining the efficacy of programs in the community managing mentally ill offenders. Current research includes evaluating aggression in an inpatient forensic settings and examination of theoretical concepts of psychoanalytic conceptualization of violent criminal behavior.
Vanessa A. Edkins, Ph.D.
| Head of School of Psychology, Associate Professor
Dr. Edkins earned her Ph.D. in Social Psychology from the University of Kansas. Dr. Edkins' primary research interest is the intersection of psychology and the legal system, especially as it pertains to decision making. She has assessed juror decision making models and constructed a juror attitude questionnaire to predict how jurors will react to various aspects of a trial. Her research program also focuses on the topic of plea bargaining. Specifically, what role does race play in the plea bargains that defense attorneys secure for their clients, and can plea deals be enticing enough to induce innocent people to plead guilty?
Dr. Edkins also assists The FBI's Behavioral Sciences Unit and The Academy Group with various research projects including the analysis of hostage-taker motivations and the relationships that convicted child molesters had with their respective wives/girlfriends.
Dr. Demara (Mari) B. Bennett earned her Doctorate in Psychology, Clinical Specialization, from the Florida Institute of Technology. She joined the faculty at Florida Tech following extensive clinical experience providing psychological evaluation, treatment, and clinical supervision within community mental health, inpatient, outpatient, and private practice settings. Professional interests include child and family psychology with specialization in differential diagnosis of pediatric mental health concerns, including neurodevelopmental disorders such as Autism Spectrum Disorder, trauma disorders, and child maltreatment.
Dr. Bennett serves as Director of the Family Learning Program (FLP), one of only 14 DOH-sponsored sexual abuse treatment programs in Florida, providing treatment for children, siblings, and nonoffending caregivers, and clinical training for Clinical Psy.D. students in trauma assessment and evidence-based sexual abuse and trauma treatment. Dr. Bennett also teaches Introduction to Child Advocacy and Critical Issues in Child Advocacy, two of the three required courses for completion of the Child Advocacy Studies Certificate.
Dr. Gabrenya received his degree in Social Psychology from the University of Missouri-Columbia. His research interests include several areas of cross-cultural social and industrial/organizational psychology, including cultural competence, overseas work, social class, modernity, Chinese behavior, and cultural differences in sexuality. He is the director of the Psychology Honor Program and teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in cross-cultural psychology, social psychology, and research methods..
Mark T. Harvey, Ph.D.
| Undergraduate Program Chair, Associate Professor
Applied Behavior Analysis Undergraduate Program Coordinator
Dr. Harvey earned his B.A. in Psychology from West Virginia University with an emphasis in Applied Behavior Analysis. Dr. Harvey earned his M.A. and Ph.D. in special education from the University of Oregon under the mentorship of Dr. Robert Horner, developing school-based behavioral supports. Dr. Harvey completed a NIH sponsored post-doctoral training at Vanderbilt University under the direction of Dr. Craig Kennedy. Dr. Harvey has worked in a variety of animal laboratories, school systems, and with individuals with developmental disabilities and/or autism (children, adolescents, and adults) for over 25 years.
Dr. Harvey’s research interests are centered around the Physiological and behavioral indices associated with developmental disabilities, the use of technology and behavior analysis in educational settings, behavioral skills training (BST), and the identification and implementation of evidence-based practice. Dr. Harvey teaches both undergraduate and graduate level courses in behavior analysis.
Mr. Jones is a retired law enforcement supervisor and currently serves as coordinator of the undergraduate forensic psychology program. His research interests are law enforcement leadership & management, recruiting & retention, and violent crime. Mr. Jones consults with law enforcement in promotional processes, leadership, and applied research. He is a guest lecturer at the FBI National Academy, a member of the Futures Working Group. Current research efforts are focused on applied research in collaboration with the FBI on perpetrator motivation and violent crime.
Maria Lavooy earned an undergraduate degree in Biology, with Biopsychology as her main area of interest and study. It was this interest that led her to the Behavior Genetics Mouse Lab at Miami University, Ohio, where she earned an M.A. and Ph.D. in Psychology. She brings more than 25 years of teaching experience, half of them in online instruction, to Florida Tech. She has been an active member of Psi Chi, The International Honor Society in Psychology, since her undergraduate years and is currently serving on their Board of Directors and Executive Committee in the capacity of President-Elect. Her recent research interests, in addition to online teaching and learning, include confronting behavior and diversity, with a primary focus on gender issues.
Humans sometimes make economic decisions that go against their own self interests. Why, for example, do people gamble when everyone knows they are going to lose money? In my research, I look for the evolutionary origins of these decision-making biases. It may be that these patterns of behavior were useful in our evolutionary past. In order to explore these types of issues, I research decision-making in nonhuman primates. I am particularly interested in how decision-making processes are influenced by the social dynamics within groups.
Currently, I am researching a number of topics within behavioral economics with the animals housed at the Brevard Zoo. At the zoo, my work is conducted with spider monkeys and ring-tailed lemurs.
I teach courses in the animal behavior concentration for psychology undergraduates.
Frank Webbe earned his Ph.D. in psychology at the University of Florida and was on the faculty of the University of Mississippi before joining the Florida Institute of Technology, where he is professor of psychology. The Research Director at the East Central Florida Memory Disorder Clinic, Dr. Webbe has studied standard and computerized methods of early assessment of Alzheimer's disease, and also Applied Behavior Analysis interventions with family caregivers and Alzheimer patients. Through the Florida Tech Sport-Related Concussion Project he has studied the risk factors for concussion in sport, as well best practices for assessing and managing concussion. Dr. Webbe teaches courses in Physiological Psychology, Learning and Motivation, and Cognitive-Affective Bases of Behavior.
He is a fellow of the American Psychological Association and the National Academy of Neuropsychology, chairman of the State of Florida's Alzheimer's Disease Advisory Committee, and chair-elect of the Technology Professional Interest Area of the International Society to Advance Alzheimer Research and Treatment. He is a former president of the Division of Sport and Exercise Psychology of the American Psychological Association. Dr. Webbe is the NCAA Faculty Athletics Representative at Florida Tech, and is the president-elect of the national Faculty Athletics Representatives Association.