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Current Graduate Students

Kiri Stauch, MS

I am a doctoral student in the Experimental Psychology Program at Oklahoma State University. Prior to attending OSU, I earned a BA in Anthropology and Psychology from Illinois Wesleyan University and a MS from Central Washington University in Primatology. During my time at IWU, I was a member of the Canine Cognition and the Behavioral Neuroscience Laboratories. My thesis focused on the alcohol honey bee model, specifically with a focus a comparison between the feeding versus vapor alcohol methods. 

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Riley Wincheski

I am a doctoral student within the Oklahoma State University department of Psychology. I earned my bachelor’s degree in psychology from St. Mary’s University, in San Antonio, Texas. My primary research interests are the interactions between behavior, learning, and cross-species comparisons. I have experience working with animals as large as a beluga whale and as small as a tardigrade. At Oklahoma State University, I am currently performing research on different types of learning such as habituation, the CPR, and the effects of medical marijuana on short-term memory. Additionally, I am interested in actively working to promote cross-field scientific collaboration.  

Billy McCarthy IV, MS

I am a doctoral student in the Experimental Psychology Program at Oklahoma State University. Before OSU, I earned my MS in Psychology from Villanova University.  I also served as the president of Psi Chi here. Before Villanova, I earned my BA in psychology and my BA in philosophy from Salisbury University. Throughout my career, I have worked with archerfish, mice, rats, bumble bees, and honey bees. My primary research interest at OSU is the behavior of honey bees, and I am currently using a shuttle box to investigate aversive conditioning. I am excited by the prospect of working with novel species such as tardigrades (water bears), and I encourage any young scholar interested in comparative psychology to get involved with research as soon as they can.


Former Graduate Students

Amanda Somers, MS

Amanda Somers received her Masters from the Psychology Department in 2022.  She is interested in the mechanisms and evolution of avian intelligence, specifically in members of the Corvus genus. She has an undergraduate degree in English from the University of Kansas and studied biology at Kansas State University. Her research experience includes work in the Pickens lab in the K-State Psychology department using a rat model to study conditioned fear response and substance effects on learning and work in the Olson lab in the Division of Biology researching the evolution of multicellularity and optimizing the transformation of a non-model alga species. Her thesis was on learning in tardigrades.

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Timothy Black, PhD

I am a doctoral student within the Oklahoma State University department of Psychology. I have accepted a tenure track job as the Assistant Professor of Biological Psychology at Weber State University in Ogden, UT. I earned my bachelor’s degree in psychology from Drury University, in Springfield, Missouri, and have spent a number of additional years studying biochemistry. My primary research interests are the interactions between behavior, physiology, and molecular factors. I have experience working in social, chemical and microbiological sciences and am actively working to promote cross-field scientific collaboration.


Ana Chicas-Mosier, PhD

I graduated with my PhD in May 2020.  My dissertation focused on the ecotoxicology of honey bees following exposure to aluminum from ingesting contaminated water or food.  I am currently working as a post-doctoral fellow at Auburn University looking at parasitoid wasp behavior. For more information about my research please see my website or contact me

Emily Kieson, PhD

I was born and raised in New Jersey and earned my BS in Ecology and Evolution at Rutgers University and graduated from OSU with my PhD in December 2019. After college I joined the Peace Corps (Mauritania). Upon my return I began a career teaching horseback riding and training horses.  After years of studying the techniques of dozens of different instructors and trainers, my interest turned to Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP). I began training as an Equine Specialist in available models (Eagala, PATH, Natural Lifemanship).  It was then that I realized there was a lack of research to support equine behavioral psychology within this context and I returned to school to get my MSc in Equine Science through the University of Edinburgh. I am currently enrolled in the MS/PhD program in Comparative Psychology at Oklahoma State University.  I am currently working on a study to develop training co-robots for use in the construction industry with the goal of creating similar models for use in equitation.  Other study interests involve equine behavioral psychology in the context of the horse-human dyad, equine preference testing, equine behavioral patterning, and developing systems to help horse owners and EAP practitioners pattern horse and human behavior for better communication.

Chris Varnon, PhD

I received my PhD in 2017 from Oklahoma State University in the Comparative-Neurobiological Psychology program. Previously, I received a master's degree in behavior analysis from the University of North Texas, and bachelor's degrees in biology and psychology at Jacksonville State University. My interests are diverse and include apparatus design, basic learning in ectotherms and invertebrates, behavioral imprinting, captive behavior and breeding of zoo animals, and operant contingencies of social behavior and fear in animals. Although I enjoy working with a wide variety of species, I have always been particularly fond of amphibians and reptiles. Through my time working at various zoos I have also become more interested in birds, particularly larger birds such as cranes and storks. I also maintain my own website at I use this website primarily to share information about apparatus design, automation, and my free, open-source experiment controller software.

Chris Dinges, MS

I received my Masters from the Psychology Department: Comparative Neurobiology Program in 2016. As part of the Laboratory of Comparative Psychology and Behavioral Biology, I had opportunities to travel and perform research in Turkey, Greece, and Puerto Rico and collaborate with researchers from around the world. My research interests are focused primarily on the behavior and neurobiology of hymenoptera (bees, ants, and wasps). I have also worked with a variety of animals including: human infants and students, various reptiles, fish, and planarians. I also participate in a variety of STEM outreach programs targeted at students of all ages.

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