The principal aim of graduate training in the comparative-neurobiology psychology track is to develop a strong theoretical understanding and research competence in the study of comparative psychology and/or neurobiology. Graduate students work in a close mentoring relationship with a faculty member in this track. The ultimate goal is to prepare students for productive academic careers.

Comparative description: Comparative psychology is the study of the similarities and differences in the behavior of organisms. Students of comparative psychology are natural scientists explicitly trained in the science of making comparisons and use such training to examine, for instance, phylogenetic, ontogenetic and cross-cultural aspects of behavior. Graduate students with an interest in comparative psychology learn to conduct experiments with a variety of vertebrates and invertebrates including pigeons, rattlesnakes, turtles, honey bees, flatworms, earthworms, and humans in a variety of pure and applied problems. These problems include timing in animals, aversive conditioning, the effect of agrochemicals on behavior, and the role of biogenic amines on learning and memory. In addition, students learn how to build and assess training devices for a variety of organisms and learn to use animals to demonstrate a variety of psychological principles. Students are encouraged to take courses with affiliated faculty in the Department of Zoology and Animal Science.

Neurobiology description: Neurobiology examines the physiological or biological bases for psychological processes. Graduate students with an interest in neurobiology learn to conduct studies using a variety of physiological indicators, including salivary analysis, dietary intake, electoencephalography and electocardiology. Current research by faculty members in the neurobiology track includes work in immune system reactivity, stress response, and nutritional influences on the developing brain. Students who have earned doctoral degrees from Oklahoma State University specializing in neurobiology have chosen academic careers in colleges and universities throughout the United States (e.g., University of California, San Francisco, University of Kansas), have arranged post-doctoral training, or have worked for the government or private industry as research consultants (e.g. Brown University Medical School).

Numerous students have earned doctoral degrees from our program.  These students have chosen academic careers in colleges and universities throughout the United States (e.g., Kansas State University, University of Central Arkansas), have arranged post-doctoral training (e.g., University of Maryland), or have worked for the government or private industry as research consultants.


Charles I. Abramson, Ph.D.
Charles I. Abramson, Ph.D.
Regents Professor
Lawrence L. Boger Professor of International Studies
Comparative psychology. Studies include mathematical models of the learning process, influence of agrochemicals and metals on learning, development of a social insect model of ethanol induced behavior, molecular mechanisms of learning, development of inquiry-based science activities, comparative analysis of behavior.  
Jennifer Byrd-Craven, Ph.D.
Jennifer Byrd-Craven, Ph.D.
University of Missouri
Psychobiology of the stress response including sex differences, developmental and life history factors, with a focus on female sociality as it relates to evolutionary psychology more broadly. Recent publications appear in Psychoneuroendocrinology, Physiology and Behavior, and Hormones & Behavior.
Juliana E. French, Ph.D.
Juliana E. French, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Florida State University
Biological and evolved mechanisms underlying romantic attraction, long-term relationship maintenance and dissolution, and intrasexual competition with a focus on modern environmental disruptions. Recent publications appear in Psychological Science and Evolution & Human Behavior. 

Affiliated Faculty:

John M. Chaney, Ph.D., Psychology Department, Clinical Program

Professor – Native American stereotypes and sports mascots, implicit racial bias

Christopher C. Cushing, Ph.D., Psychology Department, Clinical Program

Assistant Professor - Promotion and maintenance of behaviors that advance the physical and psychological health and well-being of children and adolescents

Stephen Damron, Ph.D., Animal Science Department

Professor – Animal Science, Animal Nutrition, Agricultural Animals

Stanley F. Fox, Ph.D., Zoology Department

Regents Professor – Behavioral Ecology, Evolutionary Ecology, Herpetology

DeMond M. Grant, Ph.D., Psychology Department, Clinical Program

Assistant Professor – Cognitive and psychophysiological correlates of anxiety and depression

Carmen Greenwood, Ph.D., Entomology and Plant Pathology Department

Assistant Professor – how disturbance impacts abundance and diversity of invertebrate

Jennifer Grindstaff, Ph.D., Zoology Department

Assistant Professor – Animal behavior, ecological immunology, maternal effects, maternal antibody transmission, avian biology, behavioral ecology.

Laura Hubbs-Tait, Ph.D., Human Sciences Department

Regents Professor – Parent-child relationships, Child cognitive and social competence, Child nutrition

Tay S. Kennedy, Ph.D., Department of Nutrition, Nutritional Sciences Program

Associate Professor – Maternal and child nutrition, Effects of micronutrients and heavy metals on child development

Carl D. Latino, Ph.D., Engineering Department

Associate Professor – Robotics, Micro-computing for experimentalists

Matthew B. Lovern, Ph.D., Zoology Department

Associate Professor – developmental, physiological, and social factors that influence animal behavior

Barney Luttbeg, Ph.D., Zoology Department

Assistant Professor – Behavioral & Theoretical Ecology, predator-prey interactions, mate choice

Doren Recker, Ph.D., Philosophy Department

Regents Professor – History, Philosophy of Biology, Philosophy of Science

Loren M. Smith, Ph.D., Zoology Department

Regents Professor – Wetland Ecology, Ecosystem Services, Biodiversity, Restoration Ecology

Shannon Spaulding, Ph.D., Philosophy Department

Assistant Professor – Philosophy of Mind, Philosophy of Psychology

Barbara Stoecker, Ph.D., Department of Nutrition, Nutritional Sciences Program

Regents Professor – Effect of zinc on cognition, International nutrition problems

Mary C Towner, Ph.D., Zoology Department

Assistant Professor – Human Behavioral Ecology, Biological Anthropology, Evolutionary Medicine

Tony Wells, Ph.D., Psychology Department, Clinical Program

Assistant Professor – Cognitive factors associated with depression, Genetic contributions to depression vulnerability

Required Courses:

PSYC 5813 – Lifespan Cognitive Development

PSYC 5913 – Lifespan Social Development

PSYC 6913 – Multilevel Modeling in Psychology

Recommended Track Courses

PSYC 6483 – Neurobiological Psychology

PSYC 6583 – Developmental Psychobiology

PSYC 6613 – Experimental Learning Theories

  • The cognitivecomparative-neurobiologydevelopmental and social-personality tracks are all housed under the general Experimental Psychology program. Our program adopts the perspective that psychology is a very broad and dynamic discipline. The central focus of psychology is on the understanding, prediction, and enhancement of individual behavior, from a variety of perspectives. These perspectives can range from cognitive neuroscience; to the biological and physiological bases of behavior; to behavior in social environments; to the assessment of individual differences in personality; to the developmental changes that impact behavior; to the quantitative modeling of individual performance. To accommodate this broad spectrum, our program examines the biological, cognitive, developmental, social, and personality factors that affect behavior.

  • When applying to the Experimental Psychology program, each potential graduate student applies directly to one of these four tracks, depending on their interests and career goals. In general, students will be “housed” in a particular track and within a particular laboratory, but it is also possible to collaborate with faculty and students in other tracks or laboratories, especially during the later years of graduate training.

  • To learn more about the Experimental Psychology Program and its associated tracks, please click here.

  • Please apply using the new graduate college online application:

  • For more information about the Experimental Psychology Program and its tracks, contact the program director Dr. Jennifer Byrd-Craven at