Despite Pandemic, ABAI Hosts Successful Convention


Normally, this article would be filled with images of passionate speakers, lively poster sessions, well-deserving award winners, and a shot or two of our gorgeous host city. Clearly, such photos were not possible this year.

We all know why, for even as the shops begin to cautiously re-open their doors and the restrictions are slowly being lifted, the effects of the coronavirus pandemic are still being felt throughout the world. ABAI is not immune to those effects, and as such needed to drastically overhaul its convention to accommodate the changing landscape. And so, just a few months before the convention was scheduled to take place, we decided to do something never done by a behavior analysis organization before: A completely virtual convention with over 1,300 presenters that attendees could access entirely online from the safety of their homes. Despite the challenges and new format, we were still able to offer the same familiar, high-quality session tracks, include invited presentations and the B. F. Skinner Lecture Series.

Snap shot: 46th Annual Convention Invited Panel Series on Trauma

Marla R. Brassard and Jeannie A. Golden, “Effects of Trauma on Risk and Protective Factors”

Raymond G. Miltenberger and Ron Van Houten, “Prevention of Traumatic Events: Use of Antecedent and Generalization Strategies”

Chrish Kresge and Miranda Morris, “Flexibility After Trauma: Exploring Vitality Through ACT and Feldenkrais Method”

Even with the change in format, we are pleased that we were still offer this year’s special track on Trauma. Featuring presentations by Marla R. Brassard, Jeannie A. Golden, Raymond G. Miltenberger, Ron Van Houten, Chrish Kresge, and Miranda Morris, this track explored the causes of and treatments for the phenomenon of trauma from a behavioral science perspective.

Snap shot: 46th Annual Convention Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Track

Pre-convention workshop
William L. Holcomb, “Cultural Concerns in the Development of Professional Ethics for Behavior Analysts”

Invited Presentations
Sarah Bloom, Michael Perone, and Jomella Watson-Thompson, “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: Strategies and Challenges in Recruitment”

Shahla Ala’i, “Cultural Responsiveness, Social Justice, and Behavior Analysis”

Ramona A. Houmanfar, “Management of Well-Being in Organizations and Beyond”

Malika Pritchett and Natalia Baires, “On the Frontiers of Social Justice in Applied Behavior Analysis: Emerging Discourses”

Elizabeth Hughes Fong, Jacqueline Ramirez, Robyn M. Catagnus, and Zoey Isabella Ulrey, “Beyond Politically Correct: Practical Steps Toward a More Equitable and Culturally Diverse Behavior Analysis”

Shawn Capell, “The Current Status of African Americans Within the Field of Applied Behavior Analysis”

Lindsay Fleece Rentschler, “Racial and Gender Reporting in Single Subject Experimental Design Research on Autism”

Fumi Horner, Maggi Cardenas, and Mari Uramoto; chaired by
Oswaldo Ochoa, “Challenges and Solutions in Delivering ABA Services to Underserved Communities Across Various Cultural and Socioeconomic Backgrounds”

Mawule A. Sevon, Kimberly Edwards, and Shaneeria K. Persaud, “Evaluating the Effects of Cultural Awareness and Sensitivity Within the BCBA/RBT Supervision Model”

Denisha Gingles, Shawn Capell, and Kristen Csizmadia, “Examining Racial and Implicit Bias Within the Field of Applied Behavior Analysis”

Paper sessions
Shariffah Azzaam, “Guidelines for Providing Residential and In-Home Services for Muslim Clients”

Jovonne Tabb, “Overlooked and Forgotten: Using an Intersectional Lens to Address Disparities for Black Girls With Autism”

Parsla Vintere, “Green Spaces and Healthy Aging”

Business meeting
Elizabeth Fong (chair), “Culture and Diversity SIG Meeting”

Of course, we are very much aware of other events in the world that were briefly overshadowed by the pandemic. There is a great need for change in our society and our world and we feel it is important to start with home—our collective home of ABAI. We are proud to have offered many talks and poster presentations on how to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in various settings. These topics are growing in visibility in our field and becoming part of our structural fabric.

Snap shot: 46th Annual Convention Sessions Focusing on Sustainability

Invited Presentations
Dennis Embry, “The First Carbon-Based Valley to Create Community, Social and Sustainability: Using Behavior Sciences for Population Level Change”

Julia H. Fiebig, “Of Immediate Consequence: A Strategic Plan for Expanding Behavioral Science Research on Climate Change and Multi-Level Community Action”

Anthony Biglan, Holly Seniuk, and Andrew Bonner, “Growing the Behavioral Biome: Putting a Strategic Plan Into Action”

Anthony Biglan, Lisa Coyne, and Jessica Ghai, “Coordinating Interdisciplinary Sustainability Research: What We’ve Learned About Community Intervention Research”

Holly Seniuk, Julia Fiebig, Tiffany Dubuc, and Andrew Bonner, “Behavior Analysis and Sustainability: Designing Community Interventions, Collaboration and Outreach, and Obtaining Funding”

B. F. Skinner Lecture Series
Elke Weber, “Climate Change Demands Behavioral Change: Giving the Future a Chance”

Shariffah Azzaam, “Guidelines for Providing Residential and In-Home Services for Muslim Clients”

Presidential Address
Erin B. Rasmussen, “Compassionate Behaviorism”

Vanshika Gupta, Yi Yang, and Celeste Unnerstall, “Behavioral Economics and Verbal Behavior Mash-Up: Investigations of Broader Behavior Analytically-Rooted Societal Impacts”

Brett Gelino, Mark P. Alavosius, Shahla Susan Ala’i, and Sarah M. Richling, “We ARE Acting to Save the World: Behavior Analysis Addresses Systems-Level Problems”

Richard F. Rakos, “Behaviorists for Social Responsibility”

Business meetings
Julia H. Fiebig (chair), “Behavior Analysis for Sustainable Societies Business Meeting”

Sarah M. Richling (chair), “Behaviorists for Social Responsibility Business Meeting”

Additionally, this year we also worked hard to increase our commitment to promoting and improving sustainable behaviors and societies. Our sustainability track featured several talks on research, strategies, and actions undertaken by the behavior analysis community to save our environment.

Snap shot: 46th Annual Convention Invited Presentation and Tutorial Speakers

Applied Animal Behavior
Erica Feuerbacher, “A Dog’s Life: Using Behavior Analysis to Investigate the Human-Dog Relationship and Address Behavioral Issues”

Doreen Granpeesheh, “An Interdisciplinary Approach to the Treatment of Autism”

Behavioral Development
Jennifer Weber, “Designing Instruction for All Learners: How Verbal Development Informs Curriculum”

Behavioral Pharmacology and Neuroscience
August Holtyn, “Operant Conditioning to Address Poverty and Substance Use Disorders”

Clinical/Family/Behavioral Medicine
Yvonne Barnes-Holmes, “Recent Advances in Relational Frame Theory: Implications for Education and Clinical Behavior Analysis”

Community, Social, and Sustainability Issues
Dennis D. Embry, “The First Carbon Based Valley to Create Community, Social and Sustainability: Using Behavior Sciences for Population Level Change”

Nora Rangel, “Building Effective Teams: An Interdisciplinary Task”

Developmental Disabilities
Katerina Dounavi, “Evidence-Based Supervision and the Use of Technology as an Effective Tool for Training Values-Driven Professionals Across Cultures”

Shepard Barbash, Janet Twyman, Jean Stockard, and Timothy Slocum, “Siegfried Engelmann’s Direct Instruction: Faultless Communication, Measurably Superior Learning, and the Quest for Widespread Adoption”

Organizational Behavior Management
Donald Hantula, “Countering Countability Culture: A Behavioral Systems Perspective on the Replication Crisis”

Fabio Tosolin, “Behavior-Based Safety Driving: Improve Your Driving With the B-BS Protocol”

Philosophical, Conceptual, and Historical Issues
Per Holth, “Multiple Exemplar Training: Illustrations, Limitations, and Preliminary Guidelines”

Henry Schlinger, “A Behavior Analytic Theory of Complex Behavior”

Sigrid Glenn, “Gains and Losses on the Balance Sheet: ABA 1964–2020” (Don Baer Lecture)

Bridget Taylor, “Training and Treating Wholeheartedly: Identifying a Role for Compassion Practices in the Profession of Behavior Analysis”

Claudia Drossel, “Introduction to a Behavioral Analysis of Cognitive Loss and Functional Decline”

Anthony Biglan, “The Nurture Consilience: Evolving Societies That Work for Everyone”

Teaching Behavior Analysis
Weihe Huang, “Current Dimensions of Applied Behavior Analysis in China: A Reflection of Twenty Years of Dissemination and Progress”

Daniel M. Fienup
“Skill Acquisition Learning Arrangements: How the Little Things Can Make a Big Difference”

Julie Kornack, Derek D. Reed, and Fabio Tosolin, “Beyond the Daily Numbers and Headlines: COVID-19 and Behavior Analysts’ Call to Action”

Bryan Roche, “Relational Skills Training for Enhancing Intelligence: The Science of Destabilizing Stable Traits”

Indeed, the 46th Annual Convention was one of our most important to date—not just for the circumstances that led to its unique delivery, but also for the highly relevant and timely content that was presented. If, while reviewing the titles and speakers described in this article, you feel as though you have missed out, have no fear: ABAI is making 2-week access to the on-demand recordings of the entire convention available for purchase on our website. Visit for more information.

Snap shot: B. F. Skinner Lecture Series Presenters

Applied Animal Behavior
Georgia Mason, “Why Do Captive Animals Perform Abnormal Repetitive Behaviours?”

Gabriela Rosenblau, “Neurobehavioral Biomarkers of Autism Spectrum Disorder”

Behavioral Pharmacology and Neuroscience
Wolfram Schultz, “About Reward”

Clinical/Family/Behavioral Medicine
Sonja V. Batten, “Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Post-Traumatic Problems in Living”

Community, Social, and Sustainability Issues
Jonathan Bricker, “Scaling Up Behavioral Therapy for Public Health: The Case of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Stopping Cigarette Smoking”

Developmental Disabilities
Rebecca P. Ang, “Bullying Among Youth in the Digital Era”

Stacy Overstreet, “Using Implementation Science to Open the Black Box of Trauma-Informed Schools”

Experimental Analysis of Behavior
Paula Fitzpatrick, “The Influence of Social Synchrony and Social and Motor Context on Social Communication, Social Interaction, and Restricted and Repetitive Behaviors in Autism”

Sherry Pagoto, “Leveraging Technology for Health Behavior Change”

Elke Weber, “Climate Change Demands Behavioral Change: Giving the Future a Chance”

Teaching Behavior Analysis
Ann E. Boehm, “Keys to School Success: Bridging the Outcomes of the Boehm Test of Basic Concepts-3 (BTBC-3) to Language Development”

Verbal Behavior
Elena Nicoladis, “How Children Learn Early Communicative Gestures”

The safety of our members, event attendees and presenters, and staff are of upmost importance to us. As the nation continues to work toward “flattening the curve,” we have been encouraged by the success of our virtual convention. As such, we have made the decision to move our upcoming “Culturo-Behavior Science for a Better World” conference to a virtual format as well. Taking place on October 7-9, this online event will focus on behavior science solutions to the major cultural and societal issues of our time, from climate change to racism to poverty and much more.

Snap shot: 46th Annual Convention Program Committee

Program Board Coordinator: Federico Sanabria

Program Committee Chair: Jonathan Tarbox

Program and Convention Management and CE Coordination for APA: Maria E. Malott

CE Coordination for BACB and QABA: Richard W. Malott

CE Coordination for NASP: Laurice Joseph

Area Coordinators
Applied Animal Behavior (AAB):
Valeri Farmer-Dougan (Illinois State University) and Nathan Hall (Texas Tech University)

Autism (AUT): Thomas Higbee (Utah State University), Corina Jimenez-Gomez (Auburn University), and Tiffany Kodak (Marquette University)

Behavioral Development (DEV): Jo Ann Pereira Delgado (Teachers College, Columbia University) and Jessica Singer-Dudek (Teachers College, Columbia University)

Behavioral Pharmacology and Neuroscience (BPN): Sally Huskinson (University of Mississippi Medical Center) and Carla Lagorio (University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire)

Clinical, Family, Behavioral Medicine (CBM): Amy Murrell (University of North Texas) and Michele Traub (St. Cloud State University)

Community, Social, and Sustainability Issues (CSS): Sarah Richling (Auburn University) and Tom Szabo (Florida Institute of Technology)

Developmental Disabilities (DDA): Yaniz Padilla Dalmau (Seattle Children’s Hospital) and Kelly Schieltz (University of Iowa)

Education (EDC): Robin Codding (Northeastern University) and Renee Hawkins (University of Cincinnati)

Experimental Analysis of Behavior (EAB): Erik Arntzen (Oslo Metropolitan University) and Karen Lionello-DeNolf (Assumption College)

Organizational Behavior Management (OBM): Nicole Gravina (University of Florida) and Byron Wine (The Faison Center)

Philosophical, Conceptual, and Historical Issues (PCH): Michael Hixson (Central Michigan University) and David Palmer (Smith College)

Practice (PRA): Mark Shriver (Munroe-Meyer Institute, University of Nebraska Medical Center)

Science (SCI): Derek Reed (University of Kansas)

Teaching Behavior Analysis (TBA): Lin Du (Teachers College, Columbia University) and Gabrielle Lee (Western University)

Verbal Behavior (VRB): Sarah Lechago (University of Houston-Clear Lake) and Einar T. Ingvarsson (Virginia Institute of Autism)

Plans are already underway to return to an in-person, on-site convention for next year. We are very excited to be bringing the 47th Annual Convention to San Francisco, California. We hope this will be a refreshing return to normalcy for the behavior analysis community at a time when we hope to be emerging from these challenging times. Please be sure to check the ABAI website as details about this event continue to emerge. Until then, stay safe and we look forward to seeing you all soon.

Thank You ABAI Staff

ABAI staff worked tirelessly behind the scenes leading up to and during the convention. Thanks to Aaron Barsy, Emilee Bucci, Adrianna D’Arms, Lin Davis, William Dolak, Marquin Evans, Sarah Granlund, Mindy Ketels, Holly Lee, Katie Mahaffy, Mandy McNaughton, Shilpi Mittal, Hadley Moore, Jenna Mrljak, Dale Power, Stephen Rafferty, Raiza Robles, Joseph Romeo, Paul Shafer, Majda Seuss, Eddie Soh, Laura Stephenson, Viviana Vidal, and Andrew York.

About Author