“I really hope that I can pay my experiences forward to students at Ball State,” says Dr. Alexandria Johnson about her new role in the Psychological Science Department in the College of Sciences and Humanities. “One thing about beginning new research projects at Ball State that I am especially looking forward to is being able to offer opportunities to undergraduate and graduate students who want to gain hands-on experience conducting research.”
Dr. Johnson describes her fascination with psychology beginning as an undergraduate, where she saw the real-word relevance of her studies and research in the classroom, noting the instrumental opportunity to present collaborative research findings at a national conference with her professor. “I had some really great psychology instructors whose enthusiasm for their subject transferred to me, and I want to be able convey to students how applicable psychological findings can be to their own lives, and help students appreciate and experience the importance of scientific research within the field of psychology.”
Dr. Johnson’s research focuses on better understanding the contributing factors to behaviors that are characterized by risk-taking and aggression. She notes, “One aim is to better understand the role that personality traits and biological factors play in this type of behavior. Better understanding the factors that contribute to this type of behavior is important for understanding certain disorders that involve high-levels of risk-taking and aggression, such as antisocial personality disorder and psychopathy.” She hopes this line of research will to offer more effective prevention and treatment efforts to individuals whose aggressive or risk-taking behavior causes harm to others or could potentially result in legal consequences. Dr. Johnson articulates the impact of her research as highly practical: “The more that is understood about the factors that contribute to this behavior, the greater the likelihood that effective supports can be created to help people who are incarcerated transition back into general society successfully.”
Dr. Alexandria Johnson has had many educational and clinical experiences that have particularly equipped her for success at Ball State. After completing undergraduate degrees in Psychology and Spanish at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, MN, she worked at the Minneapolis VA Health Care System as a research assistant in two research labs; one focused on studying trauma and the other focused on studying personality. She went on to earn her Ph.D. in clinical psychology at the University of Alabama, where her research focused on psychopathy, antisocial personality disorder, and disinhibited or aggressive behavior. Clinically, she has trained in a range of settings, including a psychiatric hospital, a college counseling center, and a forensic medical facility. Prior to earning her doctorate, she completed a pre-doctoral clinical internship at the John D. Dingell VA Medical Center in Detroit, MI. She also completed a postdoctoral clinical fellowship at the VA Palo Alto Health Care System, in California, where she focused on outpatient mental health and couple therapy. Following her fellowship, she stayed in California for an additional year where she became a licensed clinical psychologist and worked as a therapist in a group practice providing outpatient therapy to couples and individuals.
Dr. Johnson was drawn to the friendliness of the faculty, staff, and students when she interviewed at Ball State. She notes, “The friendliness and enthusiasm I encountered was really consistent among everyone I spoke with during my time here. It stood out to me as being very genuine and definitely contributed to my excitement about the possibility of joining the Ball State community.” She also likes the size of the campus because it strikes the perfect balance of being an active, vibrant community with many opportunities to offer while still being intimate enough to form strong connections.
In her spare time, Dr. Johnson likes to get outside and be active as much as possible by going for runs, bike rides, or taking her dog for walks. She also plays tennis and likes hiking, camping, and exploring state parks. She enjoys cooking at home and trying new restaurants– “basically just eating in general is great,” she quips. She also appreciates reading fiction as a nice break from academic journal articles.
Welcome to Ball State, Dr. Johnson!