New faculty spotlight: Brenda Bassingthwaite, Ph.D.

January 03, 2020

Image with caption: Brenda Bassingthwaite, Ph.D.

Brenda Bassingthwaite, Ph.D.

Brenda Bassingthwaite, Ph.D., is a new faculty member at UNMC.

  • Name: Brenda Bassingthwaite, Ph.D.
  • Hometown: Watertown, S.D.
  • Title and department at UNMC: Associate professor, Munroe-Meyer Institute Department of Psychology
Research/professional interests:

  • Supporting school systems to provide evidence-based practices for the promotion of positive well-being for all;
  • Conducting functional behavior assessments and developing behavior intervention for students with challenging behaviors (e.g., aggression, destruction, self-injurious, noncompliance); and
  • Training school-based professionals in methods of behavior assessment and the application of results to behavior intervention plans.
How I fell in love with applied behavior analysis: I fell in love with applied behavior analysis when I needed a method for figuring out why students were engaging in behaviors that were unsafe and problematic. Early in my career as a school psychologist, I'd observe student behaviors that did not make sense to me. Why would a kindergarten student "randomly" pull the hair of the adults and children in their classroom? Why would a child not talk at all in school, but they talked fine at home? Why did a student eat rocks at recess?

I wanted to find real answers to these questions and stop the use of the "default" answer that the behavior was due to the student's disability. Fortunately, I was introduced to applied behavior analysis, and after completing a week-long workshop one summer, I was hooked. Finding a method of systematically evaluating the context in which a behavior occurs altered my career path, and, hopefully, my gaining skills in the area has led to better lives and outcomes for the individuals I've worked with in clinic and school settings.


  • Ph.D., University of Iowa, 2007
  • Specialist, Iowa State University, 1999
  • M.S., Iowa State University, 1998
  • B.S., psychology, North Dakota State University, 1995
  • B.A., English literature, North Dakota State University, 1995

  • National Association of School Psychologists
  • Association for Behavior Analysis International
  • Association of Professionals Behavior Analysts
Three things people may not know about me:

  • I enjoy digital photography as a hobby. I especially enjoy nature photography and nighttime photography (e.g., working with light).
  • I've recently been developing my skills with international travel (taking four international trips in six years).
  • Some may find this meaningful . . . I was genetically blessed with the ability to roll my tongue and to enjoy cilantro.


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Robin Taylor
January 03, 2020 at 7:45 AM

Dr. Bassingthwaite, welcome to UNMC and best wishes on your career here. Just an FYI - I'm also genetically blessed.