Multi-million-dollar bequest creates new Behavior Analysis research program at UNT

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

DENTON (UNT), Texas -- The University of North Texas announced plans today to establish a new research program in the Department of Behavior Analysis with a multi-million-dollar bequest from the Beatrice H. Barrett Endowment for Research in Neuro-Operant Relations.The exact amount of the bequest cannot be determined until the Barrett estate is settled.Making the announcement, UNT President Norval Pohl said, “This recognition from the Beatrice H. Barrett Endowment is one more measure of the rising stature of research at the University of North Texas. This significant gift will allow an expansion of the research agenda for Behavior Analysis — one of the university’s pioneer programs that is recognized throughout the nation for the quality of its faculty and graduates.“As one of the largest endowments UNT has received, this gift is especially important to our current planning effort because it will be directed toward the enhancement of research capabilities at the university,” Pohl said.According to Dr. Sigrid Glenn, UNT Regents Professor of Behavior Analysis and founding chair of the department, the endowment will support research on precise moment-to-moment measures of human actions as they relate to precise measures of the brain activities associated with those actions. She noted that, “It will also support digital archiving of much of the 35,000 hours of behavioral data in Dr. Barrett’s paper archives. The digital archiving will allow scholars at UNT and elsewhere to make use of earlier findings in designing current research.”UNT’s first step will bring the Barrett archives to Chilton Hall, where the archival data will be organized and the digitization will be planned in collaboration with the Texas Center for Digital Knowledge. Since the funding provides for a full-time researcher, Dr. Glenn says a search will begin as soon as possible to locate the right researcher for the project. The research program also will involve the expertise of several members of the behavior analysis faculty. “In the future, we expect to attract post-doctoral fellows interested in careers in neuro-operant research, who will advance the research agenda they begin at UNT to universities throughout the world,” Glenn explained.For many years, Dr. Barrett, who died last Thursday (Sept. 4), and Dr. Glenn had discussed their mutual vision for a research agenda that combined precise measurement of behavior as it changes with precise measurement of a concurrently changing brain. Dr. Barrett defined “the Operant” as a unifying concept to focus neurological science with Behavior sciences. In following the path she outlined in establishing the Beatrice H. Barrett Endowment for Research in Neuro-Operant Relations, the new UNT research program will seek to expand understanding of the relationship between observable behavior and brain activity.

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