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.


49th Annual Convention; Denver, CO; 2023

Event Details

Previous Page


Special Event #411
CE Offered: BACB
Presidential Address: Behavior Science, Environmental Heath, and the Pleasures of Cross-Disciplinary Research
Monday, May 29, 2023
6:00 PM–6:50 PM
Convention Center Four Seasons Ballroom 1-4
Area: CSS
Instruction Level: Basic
Chair: RuthAnne Rehfeldt (Emergent Learning Center)
CE Instructor: RuthAnne Rehfeldt, Ph.D.
Presidential Address: Behavior Science, Environmental Heath, and the Pleasures of Cross-Disciplinary Research
Abstract: More than 80,000 chemicals populate the known chemical universe, and some have profound behavioral effects. Neurobiological investigations confer important insights into how they act but eventually we want to know how these chemicals affect the behaving individual. An appreciation of the contingencies of reinforcement and the methodological rigor conferred by behavior analytic thinking enhances our ability to characterize behavioral disruptions caused by exposure to environmental contaminants and drugs and the behavioral mechanisms by which they arise. A behavior analyst working in a different arena experiences huge dividends. Those working outside behavior analysis must often address questions posed by others but can do so through a behavior science lens. This forces us to appreciate what we do know and confront gaps in our understanding of basic principles. The former is exciting; the second is exhilarating. I will describe how involvement in behavior analysis and environmental health contributes to both areas. For example, the ability to model constructs that others employ, such as the executive functions, leads to better ways to talk about these functions and ideas to explore in the behavior laboratory. We have much to offer. We should bravely, and humbly, go out and offer it.
M. CHRISTOPHER NEWLAND (Auburn University)
Dr. Newland conducts research on the behavioral effects of drugs and environmental contaminants, including topics such as reinforcement processes, choice, the acquisition of new behavior and its persistence. A life-span development approach is threaded through his research, so he has examined early development, aging and, more recently, adolescence, all in experimental models. He draws from the experimental analysis of behavior, environmental health, psychopharmacology, and quantitative models of behavior, to explore how the neural consequences of drug and toxicant exposure are expressed behaviorally. He recently transitioned to modeling the impact of behavioral interventions in understudied human populations, including children in foster care and incarcerated juveniles. He is applying quantitative techniques to assess the impact of behavioral interventions on reducing the use of psychotropic medication. He teaches clinical psychopharmacology and behavior principles in the Auburn’s master’s program and basic neuroscience in the doctoral programs. His involvement with the applied behavior analysis program has given him an appreciation of how findings from the behavioral pharmacology laboratory might be applicable in the clinic. Dr. Newland earned his Ph.D. from Georgia Tech, did postdoctoral work in Environmental Health at the University of Rochester School of Medicine, and is now a Professor of Psychology at Auburn University. He sits on the editorial board of behavioral and environmental health journals and has been Editor-in-Chief of Perspectives on Behavior Science and an Associate Editor of Neurotoxicology. He has served on numerous panels reviewing environmental policy and was a regular member of the Neurotoxicology and Alcohol (NAL) Study Section for the NIH. He is a Fellow of the Association for Behavior Analysis International and currently is a member of the ABAI Council. Dr. Newland is honored to have been awarded the APA’s Division 25 award for Distinguished Contributions to Behavior Analysis and Auburn’s Creative Scholarship Award.



Back to Top
Modifed by Eddie Soh