“I’ve always liked figuring out how things work,” says Owen Floody, professor emeritus of psychology. “I thought it would be even more interesting to explore our own operating system.” Floody describes his work as straddling the line between psychology and biology, exploring the brain, biochemical influence and behavior. “I would have been a neuroscientist if the field had been developed when I was in school. As it is, I created my own blend of what I’ve wanted to work on."
Since arriving at Bucknell in 1974, Floody has worked closely with his students, drawing on the mentoring he received from his professors as an undergrad at Yale. “One thing I learned from my professors was, you don’t really understand something completely until you can explain it to someone else. They were not only expected to know their topic and study it, but also to be able to transmit that information successfully. They balanced teaching and research. I considered my teaching a real success when my work with the students not only expanded their knowledge, it expanded mine.”
Floody deepened his students’ knowledge base and sharpened their critical thinking skills by having them explain their work not just by providing academically rigorous study analysis, but by detailing their findings in their own papers. “Their perspective allowed me to think of things in ways I wouldn’t have without them,” he says.
This has parlayed into an unexpected benefit of working at a liberal arts institution. Working with an “intellectually gifted and curious” student body, Floody says he had the opportunity to serve as a mentor to students of all different majors. “I’ve worked with students from animal behavior, biology, chemistry, neuroscience and psychology. This interdisciplinary approach has allowed students to see that there are plenty of gray areas open for cooperation and exploration, plenty of questions about the brain, about what makes us tick, that have yet to be answered.”
Retirement won’t cause Floody to slow down. In the next year he will accompany his wife, fellow Bucknell Professor of Psychology Andrea Halpern, to London for her sabbatical. An avid fan of traveling for pleasure, he intends to use their flat in London as a launch pad for trips to Nepal — a highly anticipated new destination — and Mont Blanc and Tanzania, to which he is eager to return. As for his latest study, which focuses on the influence of neurotransmitters on mating behavior, Floody says, “Although my research is done, I’ve still got a few years of analysis and article writing left for scientific publication. I may be out of the classroom, but I’m not done working. Not yet.”
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