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Dr. Smith to Lead Academic/Scientific Committee

Dr. T. Scott Smith from University of Louisiana Lafayette, is heading up the Academic & Scientific Committee for LPA and is coordinating the Science Café feature at the May 2018 Convention. 

Dr. Smith is Assistant Professor in the Psychology Department and leads research in his lab, The Louisiana Applied and Developmental Psychological Sciences Laboratory, where he is interested in how cell phone distraction affects the learning process, not only in the classroom, but also how applicable distractions may affect driving behaviors and eyewitness memory. Smith has authored Cell Phone Distraction, Human Factors, and Litigation, published by Judges and Lawyers Publishing and which is becoming a popular resource for legal professionals. 

Dr. Smith’s committee will be focused on ways to advance psychology through the activities of psychological scientists and academic psychologists around the state, coordinating and engaging those in the association and helping to engage others in the universities. 

Dr. Smith helped design the first LPA Science Café, which was held in November 2017 at the LPA Fall Conference in New Orleans. The Café hosted psychological scientists from laboratories around the state who shared their work, included researchers from the University of New Orleans, Pennington Biomedical and the University of Louisiana Lafayette.

Dr. Elliot Beaton, Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of New Orleans and the director of the Stress, Cognition, and Affective Neuroscience Laboratory, discussed how stress affects brain development. He was joined by researchers Ashley Sanders, MS, and David Stephenson, MS.

Dr. Christopher Harshaw, Assistant Professor, who directs the Mechanisms Underlying Sociality Laboratory at U. of New Orleans presented his work on understanding the role played by somatic factors in cognition and behavior.

Dr. Robert Newton, Jr., Associate Professor and director of the Physical Activity & Ethnic Minority Health Lab at Pennington Biomedical, discussed the effect of physical activity on African American’s health through the Aerobic Plus Resistance Training to Increase Insulin Sensitivity in African American Men study.

Dr. Valanne MacGyvers, Assistant Professor at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, described her work on issues of mindset in achieving excellence, examining the role of mindset in the prediction of academic excellence and in the understanding of psychological problems in adolescents, including depression, anxiety and eating disorders.  

Dr. Smith discussed cell phone distraction and how cell phone distraction affects the learning process, not only in the classroom, but also how applicable distractions may affect driving behaviors and eyewitness memory. Dr. Smith also discussed his work on the effects of video game play on aggressive behaviors for children, adolescents, and adults.

Dr. Charles Taylor, Assistant Professor of mechanical engineering, founder of the Cajun Artificial Heart Laboratory, a biomedical research lab with high-end computing and visualization systems as well as a mock circulatory loop for the purpose of testing artificial heart valves, discussed the theories and principles of artificial organ creation and his on-going projects. 

Dr. Smith also directs the Forensic Cognition Laboratory at the University. “I primarily concentrate on how cognition applies to the courts,” said Smith, “such as eyewitness testimony, judicial decision-making, memory, and other aspects. I also focus on reasons why students with disabilities fail or are successful with education. Lastly, I am completing research with a graduate student on head injury protocols for athletes, with emphasis on high school athletes.


Election Results for Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychologists


Tulane’s Dr. Cunningham Nominated as Diversity Delegate

LPA has nominated Dr. Michael Cunningham, Tulane Professor, for the state’s Diversity Delegate to the American Psychological Association for 2018.

“Dr. Cunningham is an outstanding leader in our community in the area of diversity, an African American, a psychologist, educator and scientist who epitomizes excellence and service to his community,” wrote current President, Dr. Julie Nelson.

Dr. Cunningham is Professor of Psychology at Tulane University, and holds a Joint Appointment as Provost in the African and African Diaspora Studies Program at Tulane. His research focuses on resilience and vulnerability in adolescent populations and context specific phenomena associated with mental health and academic outcomes among African Americans. 

“Dr. Cunningham is a gracious and generous colleague willing to aid others with his knowledge. In fact, he was just recently named for his mentoring of young people to leadership roles in STEM sciences, by Insight into Diversity Magazine," Nelson said. “Dr. Cunningham has led a personal and professional life at the intersection of the science of psychology and issues of diversity, especially of racial issues of African Americans, a topic of great importance to the state of Louisiana, where children still exist in third generation poverty in some areas.”

"He is uniquely qualified to help LPA with it goals in diversity and also, at our stage of planning, to give credibility and voice to our recruiting of African American psychologists, individuals of color, and other underrepresented individuals," said Nelson.

Dr. Cunningham has published papers that focus on gender and context specific phenomena associated with mental health and academic outcomes among African Americans. His research examines numerous themes, such as precursors to bravado attitudes in African American males, parental monitoring and social support as buffers to stressful situations, and the relation of racial identity to academic and mental health outcomes. His research is supported by local and regional collaborative relationships with schools and community organizations.

He was honored in 2013 with the Distinguished Contributions Award from the prestigious Society for Research in Child Development, among others. He is Editor for Research in Human Development (2018-2024), Associate Editor for Child Development (2007 – present), and on the Editorial Board Member Journal of Negro Education (2011 – 2017), among many other scholarly activities where his expertise in the psychology of racially diverse individuals is utilized.

He serves in many ways, such as on his university’s President’s Commission of Race and Tulane Values, as Co-Chair for Black Caucus of the Society for Research in Child Development and as the Task Force to Study the role of racial/ethnic caucus relationships to the Society.

His work is supported by numerous sources such as the BOR/SREB Graduate Fellowships to Promote Diversity Program, National Center for the Urban Community at Tulane & Xavier Universities, and the Center for Public Service, as examples. He is a member of LPA and has presented at the association's conventions and served on committees. 


Membership Renewal



2017 LPA Fall Workshop