Faculty Research Interests



Amanda Clark (Ph.D., University of Waterloo)

Dr. Clark is interested in studying attention-related errors of everyday living and her work focuses on the development of assessments that are ecologically valid and clinically relevant. In her research, she continues to study healthy younger and older adults as well as individuals who experience executive dysfunction due to a traumatic brain injury or stroke. Dr. Clark integrates her research in the courses she teaches, primarily Psychology of Aging, Biological Psychology, and Advanced Seminar in Psychological Processes.


Christopher J. L. Cunningham (Ph.D., Bowling Green State University)

Dr. Cunningham teaches organizational psychology, organizational development and change, and quantitative/qualitative research methods to graduate students in the M.S. program in industrial-organizational (I-O) psychology.  He also teaches select undergraduate core courses in psychological research methods, statistics, assessment development, and professional ethics and career planning.  His current research addresses multiple OHP topics, including need for resource recovery and recovery from occupational stress, the influence of individual differences in personality and fitness on the stress process, and issues regarding work-nonwork role integrations.  He is also involved as an adjunct clinical research professor at the UT College of Medicine/Erlanger Hospital campus, where he is involved with projects that seek to improve healthcare provider health and well-being at work, as well as efficiency on the job. Dr. Cunningham also serves as the Graduate Program Director for UTC's M.S. degree program in I-O Psychology.


David Ferrier (Ph.D., George Mason University)

Dr. Ferrier’s research centers around the social, emotional, and cognitive development in children, particularly early childhood. His applied work focuses on how parents, peers, and particularly teachers can act as important socializers of these social, emotional, and cognitive skills which are strongly related to both concurrent and enduring social and academic success. Dr. Ferrier’s background in both developmental and school psychology allows for real-world experiences and advice to permeate the developmental courses he teaches in child and adolescent development. Dr. Ferrier will be expanding his research into local and surrounding preschool and childcare venues, working with teachers and administrators to help ensure that children get a high-quality education and are ready for the larger tasks of more formal schooling.


Preston Foerder (Ph.D., The Graduate Center of the City University of New York)

Dr. Foerder’s research is in the field of comparative psychology, the study of behavior across species. Over the years, Dr. Foerder has trained fish and lizards, studied a captive walrus birth and penguin social systems. His current interests lie mainly in comparative cognition. In research published in the journal PLOS ONE, Dr. Foerder found the first evidence for insightful problem solving in Asian elephants. Dr. Foerder is now taking advantage of the many opportunities for research in the Chattanooga area. He is studying wolf and sandhill crane behavior at the Chattanooga Nature Center and visual and chemosensory discrimination in the giant Pacific octopus at the Tennessee Aquarium. Dr. Foerder will be expanding his research on problem solving to African elephants in the zoos surrounding southeast Tennessee.


Ralph Hood (Ph.D., University of Nevada)

Dr. Hood is a social psychologist whose major interests are in philosophical psychology and the psychology of religion. He holds appointments as Professor of Psychology and Leroy Martin Professor of Religious Studies. Dr. Hood is co-founder of the International Journal of the Psychology of Religion and a past editor of the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion.  He is past president of APA's Division 36 and a recipient of its William James award for excellence in research, as well as its Mentor and Distinguished Service awards.  His major research interests are reflected in his publications.  He is co-author of The Psychology of Religion: An Empirical Approach, editor of The Handbook of Religious Experience and co-editor of Measures of Religiosity.  Other books include Dimensions of Mystical Experiences: Empirical Studies and Psychological Links; The Psychology of Religious Fundamentalism, Blood & Fire, Them That Believe; The Power and Meaning of the Christian Serpent Handling Tradition; The Semantics and Psychology of Spirituality: A Cross-Cultural Analysis; and Psychological and Spiritual Transformation in a Substance Abuse Program: The Lazarus Project.


Ashley Howell (Ph.D., Ohio University)

Dr. Howell's research broadly focuses on cognitive and sociocultural mechanisms of anxiety and traumatic stress disorders. Specific mechanisms of interest are individual differences in how threat is learned and generalized, as well as how safety cues are differentiated from threat cues. She is particularly interested in maladaptive social fears and their causes and consequences, such as social anxiety disorder, posttraumatic stress following interpersonal violence or maltreatment, and systemic discrimination and stereotype threat. Dr. Howell's research has predominantly focused on adult populations, but she is also interested in working with children/adolescents. Her current and future endeavors include prospective research, with aims of pinpointing markers of risk for fear pathology across the lifespan, as well as improving access to evidence-based mental health treatment for Chattanooga-area residents.


Brian O'Leary (Ph.D., Tulane University)

Dr. O'Leary's research interests focus on the effects of organizational justice on individual, group, and organizational performance.  This is an outgrowth of his interest in the area of racial diversity in the workplace and employment discrimination law, as the ultimate goal of the civil rights movement was to create a just society and a correspondingly fair workplace.  He is also interested in examining worker perceptions of organizational support from a multi-directional perspective rather than the top-down viewpoint currently dominating the literature.


Nicky Ozbek (Ph.D., University of Georgia)

Interest in measuring depression in the medically ill, several years ago, led Dr. Nicky Ozbek to examine the relationship between loss of olfactory sensitivity with depression, illness, and injury. This research led to further inquiry as to the underlying processes that occur when olfactory sensitivity is compromised. The scientific journey that started with measurement has led Nicky Ozbek to collaborative projects with colleagues in Chemistry, Physics, Biology and the Medical community. Current research is focused on olfactory sensitivity and depression when kidney disease is present and examination of the relationship between resiliency, stress, and olfactory sensitivity in the general population.

David F. Ross (Ph.D., Cornell University)

Dr. Ross is interested in developmental and social psychology.  He conducts research on children's and adults' eyewitness memory and on adults' views of children's believability as witnesses.  He has edited several books on the topics of children's and adults' eyewitness testimony, and consulted with judges and attorneys on children's and adults' eyewitness issues.  Dr. Ross teaches courses in Social Psychology, Psychology and Law, and Developmental Psychology.


Jill Talley Shelton (Ph.D., Louisiana State University)

Dr. Shelton is the director of the Cognitive Aging, Learning, and Memory (CALM) lab, and her research explores how attention and memory interact with environmental factors to support planning behavior in college students, healthy older adults and in those with dementia . Her research connects laboratory findings to real-world settings, such as the classroom, using both behavioral and eye-tracking techniques. Dr. Shelton and students from the CALM lab are currently investigating, 1) how contextual factors in the environment (e.g., images, sounds) and memory strategies influence prospective memory success in younger and older adults, 2) the detrimental effects of interruptions and phone conversations on classroom performance and consumer decision-making practices, and 3) how motivational factors (e.g., pro-social and self-interested motives) affect prospective and working memory. Dr. Shelton teaches both undergraduate and graduate courses in cognitive psychology, aging, and experimental psychology.


Amye R. Warren (Ph.D., Georgia Institute of Technology)

Dr. Warren is a developmental psychologist with research interests in the development of memory and language skills in preschool and school-aged children. Her current research applications include children's testimony in legal cases, training programs to improve the skills of those who interview child witnesses, perceptions of child abuse allegations, and juvenile interrogations and confessions. Additionally, Dr. Warren’s work examines professional development for educators to facilitate language and literacy development in first and second language learners from early childhood onward. She serves as program evaluator for a U.S. Department of Education grant project designed to increase the number and quality of teachers who work with English language learners. Dr. Warren regularly teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in developmental psychology (child development and applied developmental) as well as graduate courses in teaching psychology and research methods.


Alexandra Zelin (Ph.D., University of Akron)

Dr. Zelin’s research is focused around gender and sexism and their effects in the workplace, specifically within the selection and performance appraisal constructs. She is interested in both the “I” and the “O” of I-O Psychology and has completed numerous consulting projects, mostly within the field of selection. Unrelated to I-O, she also conducts research and works within the field of sexual assault prevention. Future research plans include bridging that gap by incorporating bystander behavior into the workplace, especially with regard to sexual harassment. Currently teaching an undergraduate research methods course and a graduate level personnel selection course, she is excited to introduce more people to the theory of research and practical application of knowledge.