Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


40th Annual Convention; Chicago, IL; 2014

Event Details

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Invited Symposium #235
CE Offered: BACB
Pursuing a Career in Behavioral Science? You Need Funding!
Sunday, May 25, 2014
2:00 PM–3:50 PM
W178a (McCormick Place Convention Center)
Area: SCI; Domain: Basic Research
Chair: Paul L. Soto (Texas Tech University)
Discussant: Suzanne H. Mitchell (Oregon Health & Science University)
CE Instructor: Paul L. Soto, Ph.D.

Obtaining research funding is a critical part of most research careers. A number of funding avenues are available to basic and applied behavior analysts. The speakers in this symposium are individuals with successful records of obtaining funding from a variety of sources such as the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the Federal Aviation Administration, and other sources and individuals who serve as program officers at the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation. Each speaker will provide their perspective on strategies for success in obtaining funding.

Instruction Level: Basic
Keyword(s): grants, NIH, NSF, research funding
Target Audience:

Basic and applied behavior analysts interested in obtaining federal funding for research.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants should be able to (1) Identify potential funding sources; (2) Understand how to research opportunities and announcements; and (3) Identify strategies for developing successful applications.

Funding Research for Behavioral Solutions

STEVEN R. HURSH (Institutes for Behavior Resources, Inc.)

Funding behavior analysis research through the National Institutes of Health can be difficult. The challenge is not just about the shrinking available dollars. The more important difficulty is the NIH emphasis on clinically relevant research and the need to demonstrate that behavioral research will translate into improved treatment for a clinical disorder. Much important behavior research has little to do with clinical disorders but is about understanding the behavior of average people: how they make decisions that affect the economy, the environment, the safety of transportation and industry, and the functioning of communities. Solving behavioral problems in these domains are every bit as important as contributing to health care, so how does such research get funded? In this talk, Dr. Hursh will illustrate several strategies for successful research funding, using his experience as a case study. In particular, nearly all his research has been funded from sources other than NIH. Alternative funding requires a shift from being a behavior analyst to being a problem analyst, applying behavioral solutions.

Dr. Steven Hursh is president and chairman of the Institutes for Behavior Resources, where he directs research and application efforts on human performance and fatigue, behavioral economics, drug abuse, and cooperative team performance. He is also an adjunct professor of behavioral biology in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Dr. Hursh is the world leader in theory and modeling in the behavioral economics subfield of psychology as defined by the application of economic concepts and metrics to individual and group behavior. In addition, Dr. Hursh is also the technical leader of an effort to model the relationship between sleep deprivation and performance. His patented biomathematical model, the Sleep, Activity, Fatigue, and Task Effectiveness, or SAFTE model, and the Fatigue Avoidance Scheduling Tool has been accepted by the U.S. Department of Defense as the standard warfighter fatigue model, has been validated and calibrated by the Department of Transportation as a fatigue risk management tool, and is currently used by the Federal Railroad Administration, the Federal Aviation Administration, and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, and major corporations to assess fatigue in transportation and other industries to assess and manage fatigue in operational settings. Dr. Hursh earned his B.A. in psychology from Wake Forest University and a Ph.D. in experimental psychology from the University of California, San Diego. During his 35 years in research, Dr. Hursh has authored or co-authored more than 80 published articles, book chapters, and technical reports, and served as associate editor of the Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior. Dr. Hursh has obtained grants and contracts from numerous sources including the National Space Biomedical Research Institute, NASA, Federal Railroad Administration, Federal Aviation Administration, Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration, Transport Canada, Army, and Air Force, plus private industry consulting.

Preparing Quality Grant Applications: Understanding the Process and the Context

WILLIAM J. MCILVANE (University of Massachusetts Medical School)

This presentation will convey perspectives on the process of preparing competitive grant applications for peer review. For more than 30 years, Dr. McIlvane has been writing applications to various federal funding agencies, most of which have been successful. He also has served on dozens of advisory panels that have reviewed grant applications or made recommendations about funding priorities and procedures. In his current position, he serves as principal investigator on five active National Institutes of Health grants. He also mentors colleagues in the process of preparing competitive grant applications. Through his combined experiences, he has come to understand quite a bit about the variables that determine whether or not grant applications are successful. Because he serves in multiple roles (i.e., principal investigator, reviewer, mentor, and research administrator), he will convey multiple perspectives that may help behavior analysts understand the overall context within which grant applications are successful (or not). Also, he will discuss strategies and tactics for operating research programs within tight budgetary constraints such as those faced currently by researchers nationwide.

Dr. William McIlvane directs a broad research program that addresses a variety of scientific problems relevant to understanding and perhaps correcting behavior deficits of people with neurodevelopmental disabilities. One area of deficit, for example, is in symbolic behaviors involved in communication (speaking, listening, reading, writing, etc.). One focus of his program is development of methods to encourage progressively more rapid learning of symbolic behaviors. Another is to adapt behavioral neuroscience methods--including animal modeling--to further understanding of brain processes involved in symbolic behavior. A second focus of Dr. McIlvane's program is to develop valid nonverbal neuropsychological testing methods for use with individuals and populations that do not understand verbal instructions. Methods developed in this aspect of his research have been adapted to further understanding of the behavioral profiles associated with disorders such as autism, depression, and neurotoxicant exposure. In addition, Dr. McIlvane's program has a strong research-to-practice emphasis. For example, methods emerging from laboratory research are being used to teach practical skills in regular and special education classrooms in both the United States and in Brazil. Dr. McIlvane has obtained funding from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, the National Institute on Environmental Health Services, the National Institute of Mental Health, the National Center for Research Resources, the Health Resources and Services Administration, and the National Science Foundation. He has been continuously funded since 1985.

NIH Funding Opportunities in Behavioral Research

SUSAN VOLMAN (National Institute on Drug Abuse)

Behavioral research is critically important to NIH’s mission not only at the NIH institutes that have responsibility for behavioral disorders, but also because behavior has a pervasive effect on most health outcomes. Topics that will be covered in this talk include an overview of NIH-wide initiatives in behavioral research, such as the Science of Behavioral Change (SOBC) and the Basic Behavioral and Social Science Opportunity Network (OppNet), and the funding priorities in behavioral research of the National Institute on Drug Abuse and other NIH Institutes. Strategies for finding the best home for your research at NIH also will be presented.

Dr. Susan Volman oversees a program at the National Institute on Drug Abuse that emphasizes a systems neurobiology approach in animal models, including electrophysiological recording of neural activity during drug-related activities; studies of learning and memory systems to elucidate how normal processes of neuronal plasticity contribute to drug addiction; and computational approaches to understanding the effects of drug-induced alterations on neural circuits. Dr. Volman obtained her Ph.D. in neurobiology and behavior from Cornell University in 1985 and was a postdoctoral fellow at the California Institute of Technology. She was a faculty member in the Department of Zoology and a member of the Neuroscience Graduate Studies Program and the Center for Cognitive Science at The Ohio State University and then served as director of developmental neuroscience at the National Science Foundation before coming to NIDA in 1998. Dr. Volman has carried out NIH-funded research in a variety of neuroethological model systems with a common theme of neural circuit re-organization underlying behavioral change in response to injury, natural selection, and during ontogeny. Her most recent research had been on song learning in birds. She has served on the editorial board of Brain, Behavior, and Evolution and on the review panel for the behavioral and computational neuroscience programs at the NSF.

Funding Opportunities at the National Science Foundation

DONALD A. HANTULA (Temple University)

The National Science Foundation funds basic and applied research in many areas of interest to behavior analysts. In general, funded research advances theory and has substantial broader impacts beyond the results of the research itself. This presentation reviews the proposal and review process including the criteria of intellectual merit and broader impact, highlights opportunities in Decision, Risk & Management Sciences, and describesthree funding mechanisms that may be of special interest: dissertation improvement grants for doctoral students; CAREER grants for early-career behavioral scientists; and research in undergraduate institutions (RUI) grants for faculty at undergraduate colleges and universities.

Donald Hantula is a visiting scientist and program director for decision, risk, and management sciences at the National Science Foundation, an associate professor of psychology and director of the Decision Laboratory at Temple University, and associate editor of the Journal of Organizational Behavior Management. His research includes behavior analysis, behavioral economics, human decision making in dynamic environments, and technological applications. He has previously held positions in occupational health promotion (The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine), human resource management (King's College), and management information systems (St. Joseph's University), and as a visiting scholar at the University of Nevada, Reno. His research has appeared in American Psychologist, IEEE Transactions, the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, the Journal of Organizational Behavior Management, the Journal of Analytical Psychology, and Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes. His most recent book is Consumer Behavior Analysis: (A)Rational Approach to Consumer Choice with Victoria Wells.



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