Southeastern Psychological Association

SEPA Annual Meeting - Program Highlights

The SEPA Policy for Invitations (PDF)


Charles R. Figley Ph.D.
Dr. Figley is the Henry Kurzweg, MD Chair and Distinguished Professor and Director of the Traumatology Institute at Tulane University since 2008. He is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association, co-founder of Division 43 (Family Psychology) and Division 56 (Trauma Psychology) and he has won their top awards for his leadership in these fields. Figley’s 1978 book, Stress Disorders among Vietnam Veterans: Theory, Research, and Treatment led directly to the invention and wide use of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and then to research and treatment initiatives. His published works focus on mental health services research, conceptual, and methodological issues with minority populations, risk and protective factors as well as disparities in service delivery and the resulting social disparities. He is among the most cited psychologists and is influential in the fields of trauma and the topic of his presentation (secondary trauma). He is a prolific scholar with 27 books, 200 refereed journal articles, and 50 book chapters to his credit.

Dr. Figley spends a great deal of his time at Tulane University just down Canal Street from the Sheraton, the site of the SEPA Annual Meeting. He hangs out at both the Tulane University School of Social Work and the School of Public Health. His current research initiatives at Tulane involve studying Native Americans to design and deliver effective and sustainable mental health treatment programs (PI Burnette in Social Work). He is finishing a five year study of Hurricane Katrina that follows up on the survivors to determine risk and protective factors associated with mental health variables and how best to help them and prepare for the future (PI Vanlandingham in Public Health). He is also finishing a four-year study of Pennsylvania National Guard members and military veterans that included interviews, survey data, and complete medical records data to improve veterans mental health services, including preventing suicides and poor functioning (PI Boscarino at the Geisinger Institute).


Isabel Gauthier, Ph.D.
Dr. Gauthier received her doctoral degree from Yale in 1998, followed by concurrent post-doctoral fellowships at Yale and MIT, before taking a faculty position at Vanderbilt in 1999. She was named David K. Wilson Chair of Psychology in 2012, and is also Professor of Radiology and Radiological Sciences. 

Dr. Gauthier has received the Young Investigator Award, Cognitive Neuroscience Society in 2002, the APA Distinguished Scientific Award for Early Career Contribution to Psychology in the area of Behavioral/Cognitive Neuroscience in 2003 and the Troland research award from the National Academy of Sciences in 2008 “For seminal experiments on the role of visual expertise in the recognition of complex objects including faces and for exploration of brain areas activated by this recognition.” She was elected Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science in 2010 and Fellow of the Society of Experimental Psychologists in 2012. In 2000, she founded the Perceptual Expertise Network (PEN), which comprised over ten laboratories across North America and was active until 2017. 

Dr. Gauthier has researched many aspects of object and face recognition, with a focus on the role of perceptual expertise in category-specific effects in domains such as faces, letters or musical notation, with implications for disorders likes autism and congenital face blindness. She has published more than 140 peer-reviewed articles. Dr. Gauthier was an Associate Editor at JEP:HPP from 2005 to 2011, Editor of JEP:General from 2011 to 2017 and Editor of JEP:HPP since 2017.


Elliott Hammer, PhD (CEPO Invited Speaker)
Dr. Elliott received his BA in Psychology at the University of Kansas, where he began his study of social psychology. He then attended Tulane University, where he earned his MS and PhD in Experimental Social Psychology, with an emphasis on the social cognition of attribution theory and stereotyping and prejudice. His research interests include impression formation and the effects of stereotyping and prejudice upon both the holder and target of that prejudice; Scholarship of teaching. He is presently holds the John D. LaFarge Endowed Professorship in Social Justice at Xavier University. He has received the Visionary Leader Award (2005) and the Model Institutions of Excellence mentor award at Xavier University.


Jioni A. Lewis. Ph.D.
Dr. Lewis’s program of research is focused on the influence of discrimination on mental and physical health outcomes. Her research explores two interrelated areas: (1) the intersection of racism and sexism experienced by women of color and (2) the influence of subtle forms of racism experienced by racially diverse college students. Her primary area of research applies intersectionality theory to investigate the influence of racism and sexism on women of color. Within this line of research, Dr. Lewis developed the Gendered Racial Microaggressions Scale (Lewis & Neville, 2015), which is a self-report instrument to measure subtle gendered racism. In addition, she investigates the influence of gendered racism on mental health (depression, anxiety, traumatic stress) and physical health (self-reported physical health, salivary cortisol) for African American women. She also examines resiliency/protective factors that buffer individuals against the negative effects of gendered racism, such as coping strategies, racial identity, gender identity, etc.

Dr. Lewis’s current ongoing research projects include exploring the link between gendered racism, mental health, and physiological indicators of chronic stress, such as salivary cortisol. In another collaborative research project, she is conducting a longitudinal mixed methods study on the racial experiences of students of color. Her future research will focus on reducing racial health disparities by developing preventative interventions to help people of color protect themselves against the negative health effects of racism.

Dr. Lewis co-founded the Critical Race Collective Community of Scholars at the University of Tennessee, an interdisciplinary community of scholars who use critical race theory in their research, teaching, and service. She also serves on the Chancellor’s Council on Diversity and Interculturalism, which is focused on the recruitment and retention of underrepresented faculty, staff, and students. She is also incoming President (2020 – 2022) of the Society for the Psychology of Women (APA Division 35), Section 1 (Psychology of Black Women).


Elizabeth J. Marsh, Ph.D.
Dr. Marsh is a Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at Duke University. She is a cognitive psychologist whose work intersects with social and developmental psychology, as well as education. She has broad interests in learning and memory, and the processes that make memory accurate in some cases but erroneous in others. Specific research questions include understanding the benefits of writing-to-learn, learning from non-traditional sources, correcting student misconceptions, and promoting curiosity. She recently co-authored a review article entitled “The digital expansion of the mind: Implications of internet usage for memory and cognition” and her latest research examines the cognitive consequences of searching for information on the internet. Dr. Marsh’s work has been supported by the US Department of Education, Google, the National Institutes of Aging, and the James S. McDonnell Foundation.


Antonio E. Puente, Ph.D. (Psi Chi Invited Speaker)
Dr. Puente, Professor of Psychology at the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW), was the 2017 president of the 117,000-member American Psychological Association (founded in 1892).  Born in La Habana, Cuba and immigrated to the US in 1960. Puente received his General Education from Florida Junior College, undergraduate degree in psychology from the University of Florida and his master’s and doctorate degree from the University of Georgia in 1978. He has lectured in 20 foreign countries and holds appointments as a visiting professor at the Universidad de Granada (Spain) and the University of California Los Angeles.

Dr. Puente has taught at UNCW since 1981 and prior to that at St. George’s University School of Medicine (neuroanatomy). His primary teaching activities include Brain and Behavior, Clinical Neuropsychology and History of Psychology. Puente is founding director of UNCW’s Centro Hispano. He has taught over 9,000 undergraduates and supervised 36 theses and 10 postdoctoral fellows. His research focuses on the interface between culture and neuropsychology and he collaborates regularly with colleagues in Russia, Spain and Latin America. Puente founded and edited the journals Neuropsychology Review and Journal of Interprofessional Education & Practice as well as a book series (33 books) in neuropsychology. He is the author of 8 books, 80 book chapters and 110 journal articles (in English, Spanish, Russian, Arabic, and Italian).

Dr. Puente was a Fulbright Scholar in 1983 to Argentina. He received the APA’s Distinguished Professional Contributions to Independent Practice in 2011. He has been a member of the APA since 1978 and fellow of ten divisions. He has also served as president of the N.C. Psychological Association, N.C. Psychological Foundation, the Hispanic Neuropsychological Society, National Academy of Neuropsychology, and Society for Clinical Neuropsychology (Division 40 of APA). In 2019, Puente will begin serving on the Board of Directors of the American Psychological Foundation and on the Board of Trustees of Carlos Albizu University.