Saluki Pride: Ryan Redner studies human behavior, teaches students how to help people with disabilities

Ryan Redner is fascinated by people and what they do, and he’s devoted his life to studying human behavior and teaching students to help others. Redner is an associate professor and the program director for the on-campus behavior analysis and therapy program. It encompasses the master’s program that is one of just 22 programs in the world accredited by the Association for Behavior Analysis International. The behavior analysis and therapy program also incorporates the acclaimed Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders and various other centers and programs where Redner and his colleagues and their students help people from the community as the students enhance their learning and research takes place.

Get to know RYAN REDNER

Name: Ryan Redner

Department/title: School of Psychological and Behavioral Sciences/associate professor and behavior analysis and therapy program director.

Years at SIU Carbondale: 8

Give us the elevator pitch for your job. 

My two primary roles at SIU are teacher and researcher, and I am also the program director for the on-campus behavior analysis and therapy programs.

As a teacher, I help train master’s students to work with people who have disabilities. In the program and during their careers, these students will train people with disabilities in the skills so they can gainfully interact whether in their educations or jobs. This often means training individuals to response differently to situations get what they want and need. In most cases, our students will become board-certified behavior analysts and work with children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.

Broadly speaking, regarding my research, I study the intersection of behavior and health. Certain behaviors such as cigarette smoking, inactivity or overeating led to adverse health outcomes. These are better categorized and treated as behavior, rather than medical problems. In one current line of research, we are evaluating methods to help individuals with disabilities become physically active by taking more steps because doing so is valuable to their health and well-being. The study participants compete against one another to take more steps, with the winning team earning a prize. The results show that participants are taking many more steps than they usually would.

What is the favorite part of your job? 

I love having time to research in areas that I am passionate about, as well as teaching behaviorism, which is the philosophy of the field of behavior analysis, as outlined by B.F. Skinner.

I recently had the opportunity to obtain leadership training with Chancellor Austin Lane in the SIU Lead, Empower, Advocate and Develop (L.E.A.D.) program. This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me to understand the university infrastructure and meet some of the leaders that make SIU run. We learned about everything from the university budget and infrastructure to recruitment and retention and even leadership character. I really appreciated the opportunity and training to help me grow as a leader.

Why did you choose SIU? 

SIU has a major research focus as an institution, and historically has had one of the top programs in behavior analysis. Many prominent researchers in my field, including Nathan Azrin, taught at SIU. Go Dawgs!

I’m happiest when I am…  

On summer break! I love summer break. Summer break gives me the tremendous freedom to spend more time with my wife, Kathryn, and two little ones, as well as to work on my research program. I also become more involved in church activities and the hobbies that I enjoy.

My favorite meal is…

Mexican food, especially a supreme burrito. I grew up in California, and there was absolutely amazing Mexican food all around. My parents tell me stories of when I was a toddler eating Mexican food, so the joy surrounding Mexican food began when I was very young.

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