University Series 024 | The University of Kansas

Join Operant Innovations as we talk to Dr. Florence DiGennaro Reed about the history behind and the current programs at The University of Kansas and the plethora of opportunities in this midwest state (the midwest may not be what you expect)!

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Shauna Costello (00:01):

You're listening to operant innovations, a podcast brought to you by ABA technologies this week on the university series, we're speaking with the university of Kansas and Dr. Florence DiGennaro Reed, Dr. DiGennaro Reed, a board certified behavior analyst received a doctorate in school, psychology from Syracuse university. She also completed a clinical postdoctoral fellowship at the Institute for child development and a pre doctoral internship in clinical psychology at the may center for education and neuro rehabilitation and the may center for child development. Presently Florence is an associate professor and chairperson of the department of applied behavioral science at the university of Kansas where she directs the performance management laboratory. Her research examines effective and efficient staff training and performance improvement practices. She also conducted translational research and on-campus laboratory facilities. Florence has published articles and book chapters on a variety of topics, including training, performance management, assessment, and intervention. She has served on the editorial boards of the journal of applied behavior analysis, journal of behavioral education, behavioral analysis, and practice the psychological record and school psychology review, and is an associate editor for the journal of behavioral education and behavior analysis and practice. Florence is co editor of two books titled handbook of crisis intervention for individuals with developmental disabilities and bridging the gap between science and the practice in autism service delivery. So without further ado, Dr. Florence DiGennaro Reed, we are talking with Dr. Florence DiGennaro Reed from the university of Kansas, and I'm going to pass it over to her to start with an overview of their program.

Dr. Florence DiGennaro Reed (01:51):

Hi Shauna, thanks so much for asking me to join the podcast today. Um, as you said, I am faculty at the university of Kansas or KU for short. What's really neat, I think, um, and a lot of the faculty think about our department is that we are the department of applied behavioral science. We are a standalone department with our own undergraduate major, our own graduate programs. We are not part of psychology. We are not part of education. So everyone who is in our department is a behavior analyst or at least be behaviorally oriented. Um, we're part of the college of liberal arts and sciences at the institution. And we're located in this really quirky, fun town. Uh, this college town called Lawrence, Kansas, and we're located about 45 minutes from Kansas city in the Northeast part of the state.

Dr. Florence DiGennaro Reed (02:40):

When I first came here, I, um, when I was interviewing for the job, I realized in that experience that I was a little biased against, uh, the Midwest and had some preconceived notions about what the area would look like and the opportunities available. And I remember being nervous as we were driving from the airport to the, to the city because there was nothing it's just a bunch of fields and you don't really see much. And I was panicking. I was living in Boston at the time, a little nervous, and then we pulled into the city and I just was like, this is just the best little college town. It is so quaint and fun and, um, has a lot going on. Um, and we can get into more about that later. Um, but it's located in Lawrence, Kansas. We have, as I mentioned, an undergraduate major with, uh, specialty areas.

Dr. Florence DiGennaro Reed (03:30):

So each undergraduate student picks an area that they want to specialize in and the curriculum requires, uh, exposure to behavior analysis more generally, but then a deeper dive into a particular specialization with a two semester service learning practicum, where folks are doing the very things that they're studying in their classes. We also have a master's and doctoral programs that are accredited by the association for behavior analysis international. Those are located at our Lawrence campus. And then we recently launched an online master's degree. Those requirements align identically to the campus program. There is no difference in those. And we also have an online verified course sequence for folks who don't need another master's degree, but want to take coursework to prepare for the BCBA.

Shauna Costello (04:20):

And that's exciting because I know when, when you're in the field and this might be new to people who might be, you know, coming to the field. But, um, I know in my undergrad program, when I was looking at grad schools, everyone's like Kansas, Kansas, Kansas, Kansas. So some people might be somewhat familiar with the program, but like, I, I like to say this, but you can only learn so much from a website and all the different intricacies that you even just listed with the program are really exciting. And so, I mean, where do you want to start with explaining it? I know you somewhat explained the undergrad and, you know, mentioned all the other ones, but where would you like to start with explaining the program?

Dr. Florence DiGennaro Reed (05:08):

Well, how about we start with our history because we've been around so long and we're really proud of our history as, as Jayhawks. Um, and as, um, the department, um, I am regularly struck by, oh my goodness, really important people who change the field, walk to these halls and how am I here? You know, like I still sort of been here a decade and I still have those moments. At various times, we started in 1964 as the department of family life. And later that was renamed to the department of human development and family life. Our early faculty included people that listeners will recognize, uh, doctors, Don Baer, Todd Risley, Montrose Wolf, Jim Sherman, and other notable researchers and teachers, seminal papers, Baer, Wolf, and Risley's paper in the first issue of JABA, um, came from our department, social validity, uh, Mon Mon Wolf's paper came from our department.

Dr. Florence DiGennaro Reed (06:13):

In fact, JABA started in our department, the, um, printing press to the printer, the company that, um, published that is still an operation in town. You can go and check it out. It's really, it's really cool. Um, in 2004, we renamed the department and now call it applied behavioral science. And we wanted, uh, to reflect our commitment to behavioral science, namely behavioral analysis, and adopting that approach to addressing problems of societal importance. And even though the early scientists are gone, although I'll note that Jim Sherman just retired a couple of years ago, he was there over 50 years, which is really just a huge accomplishment. Um, really cool. Um, the tradition of quality research quality teaching and this commitment to discovery is still a very, very much a part of what our faculty and our students do. It's a really cool place to be. And there's lots of interesting cutting edge research and application that's being done in the department and in the broader community.

Shauna Costello (07:17):

Yeah. And that's, I mean, to me, that's just, it's just phenomenal, especially when I know that I know I mentioned this to you before we started this, that, you know, I'm pretty biased towards Western because that is where I spent my time and I kind of got those same feelings, but to even be at a university like Kansas, with the history, um, just the type of steps that, and the progression that the department has probably had to go through over the years to even get to where they are now. And the type of evolution of the field that has been seen come from this department is, is really exciting. And I know that you said specifically for the undergrads, the types of specializations that are within the program and, you know, they might translate of course from undergrad to graduate, but what are some of these specializations that students who are potentially interested in the program can, what can they expect from those?

Dr. Florence DiGennaro Reed (08:21):

I love talking about this and I'm going to borrow a description that Carol Pilgrim actually made of our department. She came out, oh, it's probably at KU maybe two years to do a review of the program, not for accreditation or anything. It's an internal requirement that we need to have people come in, um, professionals come and do a review of our program and give us feedback, which I like from a quality standpoint. And she described it as it's a wheel. If you think about the hub that's behavior analysis, and then all the spokes coming off of the wheel, those are the different applications. And I think we are strong in part because we have so many varied different applications. We have the ones you would expect that are popular, and the reason why many people go into the field. So autism, developmental disabilities, and independent living, and that would be across the lifespan.

Dr. Florence DiGennaro Reed (09:14):

So children and adults, assessment and treatment of problem behavior, early childhood education. Uh, we have, um, a child development center on campus that our faculty run and undergraduate students and graduate students are employed there. We have a faculty member who studies healthcare policy and employment for people with disabilities or people with chronic illnesses. We have a couple of faculty who specialize in the experimental analysis of behavior, and we have, um, nonhuman animal laboratories, faculty who study behavioral economics, substance use, and addiction, organizational behavior management, uh, research team and research center. That's federally funded. That study is community health and development, juvenile justice and interventions. So looking at truancy foster care system, um, those sorts of applications, history, and philosophy of behavior analysis, and then some faculty and students have dabbled in applied animal behavior as chairperson of the department. I'd love to see us go in that direction where we actually have a faculty member who that's their specialization and area of expertise.

Dr. Florence DiGennaro Reed (10:24):

That's probably a few years down the road given that COVID has kind of stopped, the globe has stopped turning, but that's, you know, that's my wishes chairperson. And obviously the faculty have to support it. We've done a little bit of research in that in part, because we had a graduate student who had a dog training business, and many of us have dogs. Then we take them to this one particular company with applied animal behaviorists who own the company. And so they've done some teaching and we've done some practica, um, that we've offered to undergraduate and graduate students. Um, so those are generally the applications. And then within it, you're a faculty member or graduate student could be studying a whole host of different topics, you know, saying autism doesn't really tell you what the, uh, you know, the, the, the research area is. So really cool stuff happening in the department, I'd say.

Shauna Costello (11:14):

So who are some of those faculty members that are, that are at Kansas right now?

Dr. Florence DiGennaro Reed (11:20):

We have 22. Um, and, um, which is really fantastic. We've been able to continue to grow, um, and, um, across our campus and online program. And then this, um, this program called clinical child psychology, um, um, they are behaviorists, they're not necessarily board certified behavior analyst. They might study trauma. Um, the impact of disasters on, um, on behavior, obesity, um, weight loss, things like that, physical activity. Um, they're doing really great work, but because this is, um, through ABA technologies, I'm going to focus on folks who are board certified or teaching in our accredited program. Um, faculty include doctors, Claudia Dozier, Pam Neidert, Jan Sheldon, Edward Morris, um, Derek Reed, David Jarmolowicz, Jamella Watson-Thompson, Vincent Francisco, myself. Um, Jean Hall, our online program includes, um, Tom Zane, Jessica Juanico, Robin Kuhn. We also have a professor of practice Kelly Harrison. We have a new faculty member starting in August, Michael Amlung, uh, Brian Boyd who runs Juniper gardens children's center. Um, so open up any addition of JABA, JAIA, Behavior analysis and practice journal of organizational behavior management, education and treatment of children, you're going to see these names being published.

Shauna Costello (13:00):

Yeah. And thinking about, you know, opening up JABA or any of the other journals that we have as well. Um, what are some of the research projects going on? I know there's probably a ton and I could never expect you to talk about all of them, but what are some of the, just, you know, to kind of give a kind of a spectrum of what some of the research projects are.

Dr. Florence DiGennaro Reed (13:29):

So I'm going to share those that are pre COVID. Um, because research has come to in many cases, a screeching halt, um, and I'm just gonna jump around from research area to research area. Um, um, Pam Neidert's doing some really interesting stuff on essential routines. So dentists, haircuts, and addressing problem behavior of children with autism during those really important routines. Um, also doing work in the area of feeding, um, Claudia Dozier does some really interesting work in, um, attention as a reinforcer also, um, a series of studies on the good behavior game, um, teaching children to wash their hands. Um, and this was pre-COVID some really interesting work related to that. And she also has a clinical laboratory at an agency that provides services to adults with developmental disabilities. So she's doing work in, um, the assessment and treatment of problem behavior in children and adults, but looking at healthy behavioral practices that the community residents should be adopting to minimize the probability of problem behavior even happening to begin with. Um, so it's a really big project related to that. We have faculty who are studying self stimulatory behavior using technology during treatment.

Dr. Florence DiGennaro Reed (15:00):

Um, my team is working with a local service provider studying tele-health in the context of providing services. They, they happen to have smart homes where there is coaching that's happening in this telehealth model, 24/7, 365 days a year. And that's great, but they're not doing as much regarding teaching in that model as they'd like. So we just got a paper accepted in JABA that showed that adults with disabilities can learn and benefit from instruction done in a tele-health model. Now we're doing an extension to that that looks at whether we can train the coaches to teach that way, because you're restricted in the type of teaching procedures you can use in that model. We have faculty who are doing really cool work on, um, um, obesity, um, chemo brain, um, sort of more neuroscientific type stuff. Faculty who were studying the impact of a tornado that happened a year ago. Um, on want people are doing, um, smoking cessation. Um, we just in the partnership with, um, the coffin Logan center for addiction that is, um, in our building, we have faculty who are affiliated with it. We just developed a, a bar lab. So we can actually offer alcohol to students who are 21 or over in a research study and look at behavioral economic, um, um, parameters that might be related to whether or not they drink or don't drink or how much they drink, um, community health and development area they're, looking at all sorts of, um, um, topics.

Dr. Florence DiGennaro Reed (16:49):

I worked with them a couple of years ago when a Ebola was spreading, um, to try to track efforts at the community level. Um, and this was really spearheaded by them and their partners and, um, who, um, in Africa, the world health organization, Africa, they asked me to assist in one small part. So I didn't have a, I didn't have a big part. I don't want to make it seem as though I did, but really cool things related to that. Now they're doing that similar work with COVID. Um, they study violence prevention, substance use, um, um, use of guns in communities, and, um, working with police departments, Jan Sheldon, um, studies, truancy, and, um, that is associated with a whole host of other factors, high levels of poverty, substance use abuse and neglect. So studying truancy means you're studying all sorts of, um, things. She has had a program in place for decades, and is now

Shauna Costello (17:50):

Evaluating the effectiveness of that program, doing a huge aggregate analysis of data she's had for, for decades. Um, and Morris is, he does a lot of archival work in studying history and philosophy; recently established the, uh, center for the history of behavior analysis and has had several international scholars come and visit over recent years to archive some of Skinner's work and study, um, Skinner and Watson. Um, and then, um, other folks are looking at healthcare policy and how those changes in healthcare policy impact access to services, employment, and things like that. So a whole host of, um, interesting topics. And I've just that this is just the tip of the iceberg. I haven't even done a deep dive, um, in terms of what people are doing. Um, and then organizational behavior management. I can't overlook that cause that's my area we have on campus, human operant laboratories, where we do translational research. So we can tinker with different interventions before we ask a company to adopt them. And then we do consultation with, um, a human service agency putting in place different systems and staff training programs and evaluate the effects of those.

Shauna Costello (19:07):

I mean, that's all just really exciting too, because not only what's happening right now and all the research that you just listed. I mean, like you said, that's just the tip of the iceberg. Um, but also thinking about like the history of, cause I know, you know, you brought up the history of Kansas as well, and education has always been a real big part of it too with like project follow through and things like that. So, and some of the research that you've listed is the demand for it is significantly increasing right now as well. And I know you said we're talking more about pre COVID stuff, but I mean, that's, these are topics that are going to be so important coming up here as well.

Shauna Costello (19:56):

So that's really exciting to hear about, and I know with everything going on, not just with COVID, but with, with the, with the faculty's work with gun safety and violence and the police force and public policy, that is all, these are all areas that I think a lot of newer members of our field might not know that they can actually study. And I see those questions a lot on social media. I'm not very active in the groups that I'm in on social media, but I read a lot and.

Dr. Florence DiGennaro Reed (20:37):

You're a lurker.

Shauna Costello (20:38):

I am a lurker. I am definitely a lurker, but I get it's more for self serving reasons because then I start, I do help when people ask, you know, what else can behavior analysts do? That's probably the one question I almost always answer if I see it because that's a big part. And to know that Kansas has their hand in this dissemination of behavior analysis is really exciting because with everything going on in the world right now, it's, it's like behavior analysts, behavior analysts, like call on us, call on us. We're sitting here with our hands up.

Dr. Florence DiGennaro Reed (21:18):

Yeah. We could, we could make a huge impact. We need to, we need to be part of the conversation and have a seat at the table.

Shauna Costello (21:26):

The dissemination piece of what Kansas is doing. And I know dissemination is kind of an umbrella term to kind of try to fit in all of those different research topics that you brought up because they are so important. Um, and that brings up too. You mentioned, you know, some of the research and how your students are getting involved that way, but also how are your students getting these types of experiences with their like their practicum opportunities?

Dr. Florence DiGennaro Reed (21:56):

So I'll, I'll tackle this from both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Um, cause they're a little bit different. Our undergraduate major, as I mentioned, requires a two semester service learning practicum. For example, if someone is specializing in early childhood education, they, their senior year, they're taking, um, two semesters in our child development center working in our toddler classrooms, our preschool classrooms, um, or if they want to specialize in autism, it might be in our autism program. Um, so that's really unique. I think there's only a handful of universities that offer that sort of experience in, um, um, in a, in a formal way, there are also research practicum, um, courses that undergraduate students can take. So if they have an interest in going on to graduate school, they can serve as research assistants. And, um, there is an a research experience program at the university.

Dr. Florence DiGennaro Reed (22:53):

So, uh, an undergraduate students different than a senior honors thesis. Um, they can get involved in research and spearhead a project under the supervision of a faculty member or in partnership with a graduate student, um, which is a really cool experience. And then they leave with a certificate that is listed on their transcripts and they can put on their CV. Um, it requires some coursework and research and then this culminate, this really cool experience at the end, they have to present at a conference. And so at the undergraduate level, we have practica that way. And each specialty area aligns with the different research areas. Generally that I talked about, they're kind of clumped together. There's not quite as many, but you can get a sense of the types of practicum courses that students could take, based on those research areas. At the graduate level, our curriculum has baked into it at the master's and doctoral level intervention practica, or research practica that students have to take.

Dr. Florence DiGennaro Reed (23:52):

So there's a minimum number of experiences they have to have. And if someone is there for their PhD, that's a research degree. They're doing research every semester. It may be that they don't publish it right away, you know, um, depending on what's going on and research is an evolving process, but there is clearly a lot of research that the doctoral students are doing without a doubt. And that's across all labs and then intervention practica. We do not have an ABAI approved practicum opportunity where, um, the supervision experiences are part of the course, but we do provide that supervision. Some faculty do, not all faculty do, depending on the experiences they offer. Um, and that's an arrangement that's made between a student and a faculty member and they drop their own contracts it's above and beyond what the faculty do. Um, so it's, it's extra work for them, but because they're committed to their students' professional development, many faculty will offer that. Um, but it usually takes years to acquire. It is not a, an expedited experience with an intensive, um, opportunity for students.

Shauna Costello (25:10):

Yeah, we're on that getting those 250 hours every single semester. So you're done by the time you graduate type of thing.

Dr. Florence DiGennaro Reed (25:19):

It's hard for people who come in with a master's degree to get all the hours. I have students who, one student who is in his fifth year, starting his fifth year, he's still chipping away at his hours in part because the work that my team does, not everything counts. So it just takes awhile and other labs, you might be able to get through it quicker, but the practica are on top of other experiences they're having. And there's only so many hours in a day, so they might not be able to get 30 hours a week. They might get 10 hours a week. Um, but it's, it's there. It's just not baked into our program. Our online program, we do offer group supervision in the practicum arrangement. Um, that's new, that's just getting off the ground. Um, but we have a faculty member who's hired, who's prepared and ready to do that. Well, they don't do individual supervision. Um, um, in the online program, it's just harder to arrange.

Shauna Costello (26:15):

Well, and I think some people might look at this and they might say like, oh, are my practicums not built in, how am I going to do this? How am I going to get, I don't see this as a detriment at all. Actually. Um, this is one thing I try and do with my practicum students, uh, because I supervise students and it is a course built into their program, but I try to make their experience as real world experience as they're going to get. And some of it fits in some of it doesn't, but it's that same thing. So I don't see, I like, I actually like hearing that because you're fitting in how to make behavior analysis real world. And, you know, that's what I heard into what they're actually going to be doing and making it relevant to their experiences and you know, what they're going to continue to do after they're done as well.

Dr. Florence DiGennaro Reed (27:12):

I like that. I think that, that, I think that's right. Um, particularly in our online program, we have individuals who, um, are dogs, certified dog trainers that want to get their BCBA. We can't really arrange those experiences. And even though faculty might support research in that area, they're not experts in that area. So they need to find someone who is, we help them find practicum opportunities. We give them information about what they should be asking to find out, you know, practicum opportunities. They're just not left to, you know, hung out to dry. Um, but it's harder for us to arrange that particularly. I know that places do arrange the online supervision. Um, we're just, you know, we're a newer online program when we're not that evolved yet and we may get there. Certainly we're just not there yet.

Shauna Costello (27:59):

Yeah. And no, I like that because not only it's, you're not just being handed it either like, okay here, and you're not kind of, I don't like to say this, but kind of like volun-forced into a practicum site that you might not necessarily have any interest in just to get your experience hours.

Dr. Florence DiGennaro Reed (28:19):


Shauna Costello (28:20):

So I liked that a lot. I mean, one of my students right now actually is a certified dog trainer, but that's not necessarily where he wants to go. So he's getting different experience because he's worked professionally in that, but now he's back in his PhD program and he's like, no, I want to get this type of experience that relates more to the task list, and that kind of stuff. Um, so I like, I, I liked hearing that a lot because like, okay, you need to go work at this practicum site to get your hours. The students get to tailor their experience, like the experiences they're getting. And they, it seems like they're really going to be able to get what they want out of the program and the types of experiences that they want as well. Because then, I mean, personally, my interests change pretty regularly. So, and I mean, that's one of the, one of the requirements is you're getting supervision in different areas as well. So yeah, they really get to tailor it.

Dr. Florence DiGennaro Reed (29:27):

Well, I hope that that's what students perceive and that's the experience that they have. I'm thinking of someone like a Claudia Dozier or Pam Neidert. They are faculty supervisors in the child development center. There's as I mentioned, an autism program, there is a toddler program, a preschool program. Pam also does work at the North star Academy, which, um, provide services to young children with autism in an inclusive environment, children with problem behavior. Um, and then Claudia is working with adults with disabilities. So someone in their lab and on their team can go across these different experiences, which really it's fantastic if they're able to do that. And I have students who have a funding line, um, or I have a funding line in the child development center that they've given me. So even though I tend to recruit people who are more interested in OBM and sometimes they're like, oh, I don't really know what to do with a little kid. There's a lot of staff training and systems stuff that goes on there. So, you know, I say, let's try to make the most of this experience. They always leave that experience saying I learned so much, I don't ever want to do that type of work, but from a staff training and systems perspective, I learned a lot. And there's some students who have said, I just don't want to do that. And if it takes me longer to get my hours, I'll take, it'll take me five years. And so I try to be flexible as flexible as I can with folks. So hopefully that's their experience. That's what we're trying to create.

Shauna Costello (31:01):

Well, it sounds like that to me. So I am also, you know, outside, but it sounds, it sounds like that to me and I like that a lot. Um, so let's see, we have covered an overview. We've covered the history, covered some we've covered the faculty members, um, some of the research that's going on, um, practicum opportunities. Um, how about the application process?

Dr. Florence DiGennaro Reed (31:28):


Shauna Costello (31:28):

What does that look like? And I know that the undergrad is probably just a standard undergrad. Um, but so yeah.

Dr. Florence DiGennaro Reed (31:38):

Yeah, no, let's talk about the grad application process. Um, there are some programs where you apply to the program and then a committee will decide if you meet minimum threshold and then faculty look at your application. That is not the way it works for us. Applicants apply to work with a particular faculty member and they can list as many as they want. They could say one, they could say everybody. Um, and then only those people will consider the application unless they listed people who are not bringing in students that year. And everyone they listed as not bringing in a student. Then we have a committee that will still look at the application to make sure it's not getting overlooked and we'll still consider it more broadly, but only those people will consider the application.

Dr. Florence DiGennaro Reed (32:25):

And then if one or more of those individuals are interested, then we invite students out for an interview. And it's, um, an all day interview. Usually people fly in on Thursday afternoon, it'll start Thursday, um, for some labs and then they leave on Saturday and there are daytime activities. The days are filled there's evening activities you are on for almost 48 hours at least, um, um, 36 hours. Um, and you only interview with the teams that, or the labs that you applied to work with and who invited you for the interview. So if someone applied to work with five faculty and two said, Hey, I'm interested come out and interview. Then that applicant would only interview with those two labs. There are some programs that it was my, my doc program was this way you interviewed with all of the faculty, no matter who was considering your application or all the faculty and the program, there were only four at the time.

Dr. Florence DiGennaro Reed (33:24):

So it's not like it took up a ton of time, but we have 22 faculty that wouldn't be possible. Right. Um, and then pretty quickly we usually make a decision and the individual faculty member will decide whether or not they want to extend an offer for this is all for our campus program. It's a little bit different for online program. For a campus program, by and large, the past 10 years, faculty will only extend an offer if they have a funding line to offer the student. And when I say funding line, what I mean is that they can be hired as a graduate teaching assistant to GTA or a graduate research assistant, a GRA. And that comes with a stipend and with a tuition waiver, the stipend is about $20,000 annually tuition, depending on if someone is in state or out state, but let's assume out of state, it's about 25,000 a year.

Dr. Florence DiGennaro Reed (34:17):

So we're looking at about a $45,000 a year in, in some, um, offer. Um, and it used to be practice in the department that faculty wouldn't have funding. And they would say to applicants, who they wanted to come work in their lab come, but I don't have funding for you. You might want to live in Kansas for a year because you'll establish residency and then you'll get in state tuition. And then you'll probably need to find a job and you'll be taking out loans or paying for tuition. And it sometimes took people a really long time to get through the grad program because of that. That's not really the practice anymore. Um, most campus faculty for our campus program will only extend invitations if there is a funding line to offer. So not every faculty member brings in students every year. It depends on if they get a grant or, um, approved to teach a different class, or if someone graduates it's a bit hit or bit hit or miss.

Dr. Florence DiGennaro Reed (35:12):

The online program is similar. Um, they do interviews for anyone that they would consider. Um, but they're online interviews and they tend to consider applications across the year. Whereas the campus program, the deadline is December 15th and then the activities flow from that deadline. So we tend to interview, um, late January, early February, and then make some decisions by mid February, the online program considers applications. They do have a cutoff, um, but, um, the online world is a little bit different and students seeking that experience. It's a little bit different. So we extend those deadlines. So although the online program takes applications and we'll conduct interviews, they don't offer funding positions like the campus program does most students in the online program are scattered across the country and have full time jobs or part time jobs elsewhere and aren't funded as GTAs or GRAs. Um, so the tuition for that depends on where you live, whether you're living within Kansas or outside of Kansas or the Kansas city Metro area, that program is through the Edwards campus located in Kansas city, even though it's part of our department, their website details, tuition for their graduate programs. And it ranges from about $400 to a thousand dollars per credit.

Shauna Costello (36:34):

And, um, this is just something I want to note as well from some of the previous schools that we have talked to. Um, Kansas is right up there with, if you've listened to Western or to West Virginia, this is another one of those schools and this is another one of those universities that is working with those other names to make sure that their interview weekends are not necessarily overlapping. We do that. We have an email that goes out every year, one year we overlapped with West Virginia and Claire St. Peter and I tend to interview the same students. So that was really tough. I'm like, we're never going to do this again.

Shauna Costello (37:16):


Dr. Florence DiGennaro Reed (37:17):

We do coordinate our calendars.

Shauna Costello (37:19):

And this is something I just want to mention as well, that some people who may be listening, may be really interested in working with a faculty member. Um, one thing that I always like to suggest is that if you're not at Kansas and you're not familiar in person with the faculty members to make sure you're reaching out to them, um, because like you said, sometimes they're not accepting students. And so you may get through the whole application process, pay the fees, get your transcripts sent letters of recommendations, this and that, to find out that the faculty member you want, isn't even taking anybody that year. So I like to push to have people make sure you're reaching out to these faculty members, make sure you're, they know who you are before you're applying.

Dr. Florence DiGennaro Reed (38:06):

Can I make a recommendation?

Shauna Costello (38:08):


Dr. Florence DiGennaro Reed (38:08):

Because chairperson and before that I was a co director of graduate studies. I deal with a lot of these inquiries and there are some things you should do and things that you shouldn't do. So before I share those, let me just say, I agree totally with you. So if I'm not bringing in a student, I will be honest with applicants and all of our faculty will be honest. Um, the challenge is one year. I didn't think I would have funding. So all fall, I kept saying, I'm not bringing in a student. I'm sorry. So people weren't applying to work with me. And then a funding line opened up, come early January. And I was just like, oh, I don't really have anyone to pick from. And so then I sent out an email to people and said, hey, we could extend the deadline, if you have any undergraduate students or masters students who are interested. So you are taking, there is a little bit of a risk if you decide not to apply, because sometimes things open up as a faculty member didn't even realize that that would happen. Um, but it is good to reach out to the faculty. What I caution against doing is sending an email that, um, seems as though it was written speech to text and isn't a more formal email. Um, I've gotten emails that said, Hey, don't even acknowledge who they're being sent to, there was no punctuation. I probably would avoid that. Um, just because it's a sort of a formal professional interaction. Um, and I would refrain from asking questions that are easily answered, if you go to the website. I don't love the layout of our website. We have a template that the university uses, so we have to adopt that, but it doesn't take too much effort to get to, hey, here are some frequently asked questions on graduate admissions. And when people send an email and it's the first question on our facts page, my heart always sinks a little bit like, oh, you didn't even explore. I'm making an assumption. Maybe they did and couldn't find it, but that doesn't leave a great first impression. And you don't want to do that. You want to leave a good first impression. Um, so inquiring about whether or not they're bringing in a student, the next fall is good.

Dr. Florence DiGennaro Reed (40:22):

You can check out someone's publication history and read their lab website, but that doesn't really tell you much about what projects are happening now or what they're planning for the future. And I know that I kind of steer off and go off in different directions every now and then that's the fun part of academia. When you get a little bit bored with something, you can move in a different direction. So that's a great question to ask. What research do you see yourself doing in the next two to five years? That's different or an extension of the research that you've already published and I'm particularly interested in these areas. So it shows that you've done a little bit of history, you know, a little bit about that person in their lab, but you're, you're forward thinking. Um, that always makes a good impression and letting them know how you came to discover their work, um, is always interesting for a faculty member.

Dr. Florence DiGennaro Reed (41:09):

Um, we definitely have some undergraduate feeder programs that come to KU. So university of Florida is a big one. We often have a couple of grad students from the university of Florida. So if someone says they're from UF, we kind of know like, oh yeah, you've, you're familiar with our work. Um, but other schools we've had great graduate students that, and their universities I'm not familiar with. And it's kinda helpful to know, oh, how, how you hear about us, you know? Um, how did you know about us? So you don't have a behavior analysis, undergraduate program somehow you discovered us. Um, let me think if there's any other suggestions I would have. Um, if you, um, I would probably recommend that if you have more than three questions, you probably start with just a couple. Um, you don't want to have a litany where someone's writing an essay. It's just easier to have a phone conversation at that point. And also if you're pretty certain you want to apply, and you're very interested in that program, there's nothing like having a phone conversation with that faculty member to make a good impression. So that they'll remember your application when it comes time to, um, review applications, uh, emails. There's so many that come in at any given day, you know, we just, as a society, we're just inundated with them. It's a little harder to remember those details, even if everything was right in the email exchange.

Shauna Costello (42:29):

Yeah, and I thank you so much because this is stuff that even some of the students I supervise have questions about and I'll tell them, I'll be like, you know, this is, I mean, if you want me to ever review an email, please send it to me. I would be happy to review an email that you're sending to, you know, a professional in the field. Um, and just this also kind of expands on what you said about like the number of questions you're asking, make it as easy as possible for them to get back to you. The easier you make it for people, the lower response effort, the better, the better probability you're going to have to get a response.

Dr. Florence DiGennaro Reed (43:13):

You know, it's interesting, you mentioned that because I work with my students a lot, both undergrad and grad about professional correspondence and I don't know of any great behavior analytic research or any research in general about the features of electronic mail that increase the likelihood that you'll get a response, but I train them on things like reduce the response efforts and, you know, how to still to be professional without being overwhelming, use bold and bullets sparingly, but strategically, but all of that is just stuff I've kind of made up or it just learned through shaping right through my own exchanges. Someone needs to do research in this area. So I'm tossing out a research idea if anyone needs a master's thesis.

Shauna Costello (43:53):

That's yeah. That's actually, that's actually a really good idea. I'm gonna, I'm gonna write that down too, because I have practicum students who are always into, we typically get the OBM students and it's a lot of more business. It's more of the business side. And I mean, this is even potentially something they could do.

Dr. Florence DiGennaro Reed (44:13):

Without a doubt.

Shauna Costello (44:13):

For a capstone project or one of their thesis, you know, through their program or this or that. So I'm also gonna write that down.

Dr. Florence DiGennaro Reed (44:20):

Write it down.

Shauna Costello (44:21):

Yes. Um, well, wonderful. Thank you. And I think the biggest thing left to talk about is Lawrence and Kansas in general. Um, I will say I have been to Kansas. I've been to Wichita though. It's completely different. I know that.

Dr. Florence DiGennaro Reed (44:43):

So I grew up in the Northeast and was a little nervous about moving out to the Midwest because people are as a Dr. Steven Fawcett, put it to me aggressively friendly and they are, but it's authentic. It's not the syrupy sweet fakeness and I've actually come to really love it and pretty quickly, um, and embraced it. Um, Lawrence, as I mentioned, is this really cool quirky city. I'm going to share some things we've been ranked on some indicators we've been ranked on. Cause I think it's kind of fun. It's been rated as one of the best places to live in America that you can actually afford. So the cost of living in Lawrence is relatively low, particularly given that it has the amenities of a city and Kansas city is less than an hour away. So the dollar goes pretty far here getting a $20,000 a year stipend as a GTA is very different here than getting the same stipend in another part of the country that has a higher cost of living.

Dr. Florence DiGennaro Reed (45:47):

Lawrence is ranked number four as one of the best college towns, which is based on quality of life, local economy and diversity. That was by It's been rated as having one of America's top rated burger joints. So a shout out to the Casbah and also having one of America's top rated coffee shops, so a shout out to the bourgeois pig. Um, I just learned this preparing for this podcast. I didn't know this. It's also one of the 10 best place for singles. So if you come here and you're single, uh, that could be good for you. Um, Lawrence is a really special place. People who come here often don't want to leave and they stay has a cool arts and music scene, college sports, particularly basketball, where, um, you know, NCAA big 12 champions and we've won tournaments and championships and whatnot. And so there's a lot of fun energy around college sports, particularly basketball.

Dr. Florence DiGennaro Reed (46:45):

We have Kansas city chiefs and the Kansas city Royals. If you're into pro sports, great theater, both here and Kansas city really cool activities outside. So we have a bike and running and walking trail that goes all around the city. It's paved and takes you through really cool parks. Believe it or not, the hiking isn't bad either. We have some state parks in the Flint Hills where the hiking's pretty good. So it's just fantastic place, dog friendly. You can bring dogs to quite a few outdoor restaurants, a lot of the shops, downtown leave bowls of water out for dogs and my husband and I now have a two year old. So I've come to appreciate in the past two years that it's such a kid friendly place as well. Before that I just never experienced that or came into contact with that. So if you're a graduate student and you have children, it's a really great place to raise kids as well. I can't say enough good things about it. And moving here from Boston, I was struck by how similar the downtown felt to different regions of Boston. And then when I got to know the history of Lawrence a little bit better, I learned that it was people who would start in Massachusetts, started Boston, lived back in the 1800s, came here and started Lawrence. Um, so it's not surprising, a lot of the towns are named after towns in Massachusetts. And the feel of downtown feels very much like a neighborhood in Boston.

Shauna Costello (48:13):

That's really interesting cause yeah, I mean, that's not something that I ever would have probably put together unless I looked into the history of an actual town. And I like that because I know that I, even though I'm currently living in a small Midwestern town, surrounded by farm fields right now. Um, I know that probably one of my favorite places I've lived is downtown Detroit. And I know that people have negative connotations. Um, but you really don't know a place until you experience it firsthand. And I'm probably pretty similar to you as well with like the kind of more of like the city downtown areas. I love that stuff. So hearing that Lawrence has that, is and all the uniqueness surrounding it. It sounds like you can really get a little bit, there's a little bit of everything. So no matter what you're interested in or what you want to try and do, it sounds like it's there.

Dr. Florence DiGennaro Reed (49:18):

You're right. I would agree. You have KC Metro. And we have some graduate students who live in the KC Metro area, and some faculty. we have the college town, small city of Lawrence. And then we have, um, faculty and students and staff who live in the country and it, you know, you can go not even a mile outside of the city and it feels pretty country. Like it's almost like the city walls, you know, the border ends and boom you're in country with dirt roads and gravel roads and things like that. So yeah, you kind of have it all. Um, you can, no matter what you're interested in, you can experience it.

Shauna Costello (49:52):

Yeah, and that's really nice. Um, I know, I appreciate that. I like to immerse myself in a lot of different things. So, um, that's really, really good to hear. Oh yeah. Actually my dance teacher from high school, um, her daughter is actually down at university of Kansas, they're a big Jayhawks family. So, um, yeah, her oldest actually went off to Kansas. So they're down there all of the time.

Dr. Florence DiGennaro Reed (50:23):

That's fun. It's amazing to me, how many of our students undergraduate even are from all over the country. You know, we're the flagship state institution for the state. So I'm not surprised when people within the state, but I've had students from all over the place internationally, but all over the United States. And I always ask you're from Connecticut. Why are you here? Like I don't get it. Um, and it's often because they knew someone or somehow they and their family are Jayhawks and, um, they're into it and yeah, yeah, yeah. Great education for a good price.

Shauna Costello (50:55):

Right. And I mean, that just speaks to the networking as well. Not only with, in the behavioral analytic community of, you know, the reputation of going to Kansas and things like that, but also with just being a student and an alumnus of the university of Kansas, you're going to be able to find Jayhawks probably wherever you are in the world.

Dr. Florence DiGennaro Reed (51:18):

Oh, without a doubt. If we are wearing KU gear, wherever we go outide of Kansas, we were at, um, Orlando at Walt Disney and I was wearing a T shirt and someone said rock chalk. And it was really the first time, like we weren't even here yet, but we had gotten the offers and I remember being like, Oh, wait, I'm in Florida. And someone is recognizing the Jayhawk, so you're right. Yeah. They have great networking.

Shauna Costello (51:44):

And that's really, really exciting just to it's, it's something that I know that I've recognized that with, um, my friends who have gone to like Michigan state or U of M or something like that. Um, so it's, it's just neat to see the types of networks that you people will recognize you from, just because you just because you went to Kansas,

Dr. Florence DiGennaro Reed (52:07):

You're part of a broader community.

Shauna Costello (52:10):

Right, much. Um, and so we've covered a lot. Is there anything else that we didn't cover or that you want to make sure to say again about either the program or Lawrence or just KU in general?

Dr. Florence DiGennaro Reed (52:25):

Yeah. I'd like to just wrap up with a little bit of bragging about our department, if that's okay.

Shauna Costello (52:32):

Please do that's what this is for.

Dr. Florence DiGennaro Reed (52:32):

But, um, I just want to, um, highlight a few things from recent years, you know, folks know the early history, you know, you, you mentioned Don Baer, Todd Risley, and people know, you know, um, they're not here anymore. We have the next generation of behavior analysts who are contributing and doing good work. Um, in 2000 the department received the award for outstanding programmatic contributions from the society for the advancement of behavior analysis in 2004 KU itself, ranked fifth nationally and in its number of applied behavior science publications. In 2015, we were recognized in research publications for two things. We are identified as one of the top 10 behavior analytic graduate programs based on research rankings and then second, most research productive and applied behavior analysis.

Dr. Florence DiGennaro Reed (53:26):

And then I just want to also point out that our faculty have received all sorts of awards. I'm going to mention two of them just because they're within behavior analysis, but we've received other awards outside of behavior analysis, three of our faculty who were assistant professors at the time. So relatively new post PhD received the BF Skinner new researcher award from division 25. That's the behavior analysis division of the American psychological association. Several of our faculty have received the outstanding mentor award from the association for behavior analysis international. So I think that those speak to the quality and quantity of experiences and the quality of the mentoring that students can expect to receive at KU.

Shauna Costello (54:11):

Yeah. And that's really, that's really exciting. Well, I mean, thank you so much for sitting down with me and talking to me about Kansas, just like you said, people know the history and what like, you know, back in the day, but it's still this phenomenal well-rounded program that has all of these different types of specialties in it that no matter what you're really interested in, in behavior analysis, Kansas can probably give it to you. So that's really exciting. And like you said, the website is a specific template and I'm going to repeat it again. You can only learn so much from a website, so thank you again. And, um, one thing I always ask is, is it okay if I share your email on the podcast, if anybody wants to reach out and ask questions?

Dr. Florence DiGennaro Reed (55:04):

Absolutely. Um, it's uh

Shauna Costello (55:08):

Perfect. Well, thank you again.

Dr. Florence DiGennaro Reed (55:12):

Thank you. I really appreciate the invitation. This was my first one that I've done and, uh, it was fun. Thank you.

Shauna Costello (55:18):

Thank you for listening to this week's episode of the university series. And as always, if you have questions, comments, feedback, or suggestions, please feel free to reach out to us at


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