The Developmental Psychology track stems from the strong developmental interests of many of the faculty in the Department of Psychology and affiliated areas. It consists of six core faculty, who themselves have been trained in developmental programs with national and international reputations, and a number of affiliated faculty. The major goal of our program is research training in the broad area of lifespan developmental psychology and to prepare students for careers in research and teaching. Graduate students in this track engage in research with their primary advisor beginning their first semester and take supporting coursework. They gain a strong background in research design and statistics in addition to coursework in lifespan social and cognitive development. Current research by faculty members in the developmental psychology track includes work in nutritional influences on the developing brain, immune system reactivity and stress response, development of math and science interests in young children, retirement planning, psycholinguistics, and age differences in prospective memory.

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.



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.
Shelia M. Kennison, Ph.D.
Shelia M. Kennison, Ph.D.
University of Massachusetts, Amherst
Cognitive science with a broad focus including topics in cognition related the communication and social processes, especially those involving bilingualism and trilingualism.  New research focuses on biological basis of behavior, especially involved in risk-taking in children and adults.
Sarah C. Kucker, Ph.D.
Sarah C. Kucker, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
University of Iowa
Cognitive & Developmental Tracks. The developmental mechanisms and trajectories of early word learning and categorization, with a focus on how cognitive and linguistics components interact and change over time. 
Celinda Reese-Melancon, Ph.D.
Celinda Reese-Melancon, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Director of Undergraduate Studies
Louisiana State University
Memory and memory aging, especially factors that influence prospective memory performance, metamemory, and collaborative cognition.

Jennifer Byrd-Craven, Ph.D., University of Missouri, Columbia (2007),

Assistant Professor – Same-sex peer interactions on stress and immune system reactivity,  sex differences in social cognition and stress response, resilience to early adversity, evolutionary theory

Psychobiology Laboratory

Douglas A. Hershey, Ph.D., University of Southern California (1990),

Professor – Adult cognitive development, decision making processes that underlie retirement planning

Retirement Planning Research Laboratory

Shelia M. Kennison, Ph.D., University of Massachusetts, Amherst (1995),

Professor – Psycholinguistics, hemispheric differences in language processing, bilingualism

Cognitive Science Laboratory

Cindy Reese-Melancon, Ph.D., Louisiana State University (2000),

Associate Professor – Adult cognitive development, especially age differences in prospective memory performance and the relationship between memory beliefs and memory performance

Memory and Cognitive Aging Lab

David G. Thomas, Ph.D., University of Denver (1981),

Professor – Early experiences on the infant brain (particularly nutritional influences), neural mechanisms underlying cognitive development throughout the lifespan, brain/ behavior relationships

Developmental & Psychophysiology Research Laboratory


Affiliated Faculty:

Alex J. Bishop, Ph.D., Human Sciences Department

Professor – Health and Aging, Subjective Well-Being, Stress and Coping, & Spirituality

Whitney Brosi, Ph.D., Human Sciences Department

Professor – Family Gerontology – Empowerment of Older Adults, Family Caregiving, Grandparents Raising Grandchildren

Michael M. Criss, Ph.D., Human Sciences Department

Professor – Child and adolescent development, parenting, peer relationships, antisocial behavior

Amanda W. Harrist, Ph.D., Human Sciences Department

Professor – Parenting, Dyadic Synchrony, Child Social Competence, Social Information Processing, Child Peer Relations, Childhood Obesity

Robert E. Larzelere, Ph.D., Human Sciences Department

Professor – Research methods, advanced statistics, parental discipline

Amanda Sheffield Morris, Ph.D., Human Sciences Department

Professor – Child and Adolescent Socio-emotional Development, Emotion Regulation & Parenting

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

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


Required Courses:

PSYC 5813 – Lifespan Cognitive Development

PSYC 5913 – Lifespan Social Development

PSYC 6913 – Multilevel Modeling in Psychology


Recommended Track Courses:

PSYC 6583 – Developmental Psychobiology

PSYC 6393 – Language Development

HDFS 5143 – Parent-Child Relations

HDFS 5293 – Developmental Contexts of Normative Behavior Problems

HDFS 5253 – Theory and Research in Social and Emotional Development

HDFS 5243 – Infant Behavior and Development

HDFS 5573 – Adolescent in Family Context

HDFS 5423 – Research Perspectives in Gerontology

HDFS 5443 – Attachment in Later Life

HDFS 5433 – Theories of Aging

HDFS 5453 – Aging in the Medical Context

HDFS 6553 – Marital and Couple Relations


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