Mid-American ABA

By Julie A. Ackerlund Brandt

The Mid-American Association for Behavior Analysis (MABA) is a regional affiliate of the Association for Behavior Analysis International. MABA is a membership organization devoted to promoting scholarly interchange in behavior analysis through its annual convention. The annual convention also allows for dissemination of the science of behavior analysis to the public and to professional behavior analysts residing in the Midwestern United States.

After taking a year off due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we were able to hold the 20th annual Mid-American Association for Behavior Analysis convention October 29-30 in Detroit, MI at the Fort Pontchartrain a Wyndham Hotel. On Thursday afternoon, we had our inaugural ethics workshop, “A Behavioral Systems Approach to Ethics Training and Supervision” presented by Dr. Matthew Brodhead (Michigan State University) for which we were able to offer 3 ethics specific CEUs. We are so grateful to Dr. Brodhead for agreeing to help us begin this annual workshop tradition.

The 2020–21 MABA president, Amanda Karsten (Grand Valley State University), began the conference welcoming attendees and introducing our first Keynote speaker, Dr. Bridget Taylor. Dr. Taylor (Alpine Learning) presented “Training and Treating Wholeheartedly: Identifying a Role for Compassion Practices in the Profession of Behavior Analysis.” Our first symposium of invited speakers included Dr. Claudia Drossel (Eastern Michigan University) speaking on “Introduction to Behavior Therapies and Dual Diagnoses,” and Dr. John Austin (Reaching Results) presenting “Leadership: Creating the Right Environment for Success” to end the morning sessions.

Following our lunch break, our second symposium of invited speakers began with our 2020 Forrest J. Files Applied Award Winner, Dr. Alec Bernstein (Marcus Autism Center) who presented “Response Blocking to Identify Skill and Motivation Deficits for Inappropriate Self-Feeding,” followed by Dr. Sacha Pence (Western Michigan University) whose talk was entitled, “Teaching Life Skills to Preschool Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder,” and our 2020 Forrest J. Files Basic Award Winner, Ms. Fernanda Oda (University of Kansas) who spoke on “An Experimental Analysis of Gender-biased Verbal Behavior and Self-editing Using an Online Analog.” Our final symposium on Friday included Dr. Jonathan Miller (University of Colorado, Denver) speaking on “The Weight of Our Choices: Understanding Obesity through Behavioral Economics” and Dr. Sarah Lechago (University of Houston, Clear Lake) speaking on “A Short Story About Cultural Competence in Practice.”

Our Friday afternoon events were followed by a memorial for Dr. Jack Michael, who was also our 2021 Recipient of the Distinguished Contributions to Behavioral Science Award. The memorial included many touching stories about the various ways that Dr. Michael enhanced student’s educations, comradery in the department, and showing us all up on the dance floor at ABAI socials. It was a truly touching ceremony for many of us in the Midwest who will greatly miss this wonderful man.

Saturday morning, Amanda Karsten (Grand Vallet State University), opened the conference by welcoming attendees back for the second day by announcing and and congratulating our 2020 Recipient of the Distinguished Contributions to Behavioral Science Award, Dr. Alyce Dickinson. Then, she introduced our second Keynote speaker, Dr. Cynthia Pietras (Western Michigan University) who presented “Rule-governed Behavior and the Climate Crisis: Why do Climate Warnings Fail to Motivate Sufficient Action?” Followed by a symposium of invited speakerDr. Jonathan Pinkston presenting “Working Hard for Nothing: Effects of Response Effort on Resistance to Extinction,” and our 2021 Forrest J. Files Student Applied Award winner Andrea Peterson (Eastern Michigan University) presenting her paper, “Teaching Young Adults With Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities to Recognize and Respond to Coworker Victimization” to round out our morning.

After lunch, Dr. Jeff Stein (Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at Virginia Tech Carilion) presented Behavioral Economic Demand and Substitution in the Study of Health Behavior: Recent Advancements and the Road Ahead followed by Dr. Karen Toussaint (University of North Texas) who spoke on, “A Comparative Evaluation of Functional Analytic Methods.” Our final symposium included Dr. Matthew Locey (University of Nevada, Reno) presenting “Discounting: Behavior or Behavioral Process?” and Dr. Steven Payne (California State University, Fresno) speaking on “Applying Behavior Analysis to the Animal Shelter.”

To finish the conference, our 2022 president, Dr. Stephen Walker announced the upcoming 2022 convention, will be held October 21–22 in St. Louis, MO at Live! By Loews. The conference will again include addresses on both basic and applied behavior-analytic research and theory. Students and faculty are encouraged to present posters on their research or theoretical efforts, and we encourage students and recent graduates to submit papers for the Forrest J. Files student researcher award. More information about MABA 2022 including lodging accommodations, calls for awards, posters, and membership/registration information will be coming shortly! Make sure to visit our website (www.mid-aba.com) and join our email list or contacting the Operations Coordinator: Dr. Julie A. Ackerlund Brandt (The Chicago School of Professional Psychology) at jbrandt@thechicagoschool.edu. We look forward to seeing you all in St. Louis!