Jonathan Kelly named chair of the Department of Psychology

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Jonathan Kelly

Jonathan Kelly, professor of psychology and human computer interaction, and director of graduate education, has been appointed chair of the Department of Psychology in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Iowa State University.

Kelly will begin his five-year term beginning July 1. He succeeds Professor Susan Cross, who has served as department chair since 2018.

“I am pleased to appoint Jonathan Kelly to chair of the Department of Psychology,” said Beate Schmittmann, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. “Jonathan’s leadership as both a researcher and teacher position him well to advance the psychology department’s future goals and opportunities. I look forward to working with him and the entire department in those efforts.”

Kelly earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles, in 1998, followed by a master’s degree in psychology in 2004 and a Ph.D. in psychology in 2006, both from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Kelly joined Iowa State in 2009 as an assistant professor. He became an associate professor in 2015 and was promoted to professor in 2020.

Kelly’s research focuses on spatial memory, navigation, virtual reality, space perception, and visual control of action. He is an Association for Psychological Science Fellow and a Psychonomic Society Fellow. He has received significant grants from the National Science Foundation and the Army Research Lab Simulation and Training Technology Center for his study of virtual reality and training systems.

In 2020, Kelly received the Nickerson Award for Best Paper in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied. His numerous university awards include the LAS Excellence in Mid-Career Research Award, Department of Psychology Excellence in Graduate Student Mentorship Award, Department of Psychology Excellence in Teaching Award, and HCI Faculty Member of the Year Award.

One of Kelly’s ambitions as chair is to offer a paid summer research program for undergraduate psychology students.

“We already do an excellent job of training students in our research labs during the academic year,” Kelly said. “A grant-funded summer program would leverage our expertise in research training while giving students an opportunity to focus completely on developing important research skills. This would be especially beneficial for students who want to pursue research careers.”

Kelly is also looking forward to working with the psychology faculty to continue to develop classes and programs that serve the needs of both undergraduate and graduate students.

The Department of Psychology offers both a bachelor of science and a bachelor of arts degree in psychology as well as doctoral programs in cognitive psychology, counseling psychology, and social psychology. Graduate students may also receive a Certificate in Quantitative Methods.