As an undergraduate student, working on my BA in psychology, I fell in love with the study of animal behaviour. This led me to pursue a PhD in experimental psychology, working in an animal lab that studied social learning. Social learning and animal behaviour, combined, really helped me to see how both biology and experience blend to produce behaviours, personalities, preferences, and even disordered behaviour. This interaction of nature and nurture is fundamental to understanding psychology, and thus to understanding human behaviour.
My research and teaching are focused on two main goals. First, I want my students (or my audience, for public talks) to walk away with a better understanding of how our biological predispositions interact with our experiences. Second, I want to be very clear that group differences (like between sexes) are not the same thing as individual differences (between two random people).
Within those two main goals, I conduct research and I lecture on a variety of topics. For example, I have published a number of papers looking at personality traits associated with social dominance, and also how traits of social dominance affect attraction and rivalry. I have also examined other aspects of attraction and mate choice, from both an evolutionary and a learning perspective.
I find that sex and gender, much like evolution and learning, are topics that are really misunderstood. They overlap, but they are not the same thing. If people understood, better, how to understand interactions between biology and experience, how to read graphs, and how to understand what statistics represent, then I think we would have fewer arguments about sex differences and gender identity.
Industry Expertise (1)
Areas of Expertise (9)
evolution and human behaviour
animal learning and conditioning theory
teaching of psychology
sex versus gender
Biological Bases of Behaviour
Sex and Gender Differences
Sex Differences in the Brain and Behaviour
ACIFA Innovation in Teaching Award (professional)
In 2013, I was awarded this recognition by the Alberta Colleges and Institutes Faculties Association, for my work on providing students with opportunities to develop collaborative skills and improve their writing and critical thinking through peer review and editing.
McMaster University: PhD, Experimental Psychology 2003
My dissertation, entitled "Social learning of alcohol consumption in adolescent rats", focused on the interaction between learning and biological predispositions for addictive and social behaviours.
Algoma University: BA, Psychology 1997
- Consultant, Holos Productivity
- English (fluent)
- French (secondary)
Event Appearances (4)
Highly-evolved errors (or why humans are sometimes too smart for their own good!)
Certified Financial Accountants (CFA) Society Luncheon Edmonton, AB
Sex, Stereotypes, and Statistics
Alberta Secular Conference Edmonton, AB
Use and Misuse of Statistics
Alberta Secular Conference Red Deer, AB
Dealing with Denialism
LogiCON Edmonton, AB