Get to Know WOU Professors: Dr. Ethan McMahan

WOU is home to many phenomenal professors and faculty members. We had the opportunity to learn more about Dr. Ethan McMahan, chair of the Behavioral Sciences division. Check out his answers below! 

What is your research/area of focus? What classes are you currently teaching?

My research area concerns how contact with natural environments, versus built or urban environments, impacts psychological well-being. In short, I examine whether and how exposure to nature impacts people’s emotions and levels of happiness. Concerning my classes, right now, I am part-time administration, the Division Chair of Behavioral Sciences, so I don’t teach much. But, because I have a relatively strong background in research methods and statistics, most of the courses that I do teach are related to these topics.  

What has been your favorite class to teach? 

My favorite class to teach is Advanced Research Methods, PSY 468. This class has a reputation for being challenging, and students tend to be quite anxious when starting it. By the end, however, they have accomplished so much, and you can see how proud they are of themselves. I am proud of them!

How long have you been at WOU?

I’m in my tenth year…been here for a decade!

Why did you choose to work at WOU?

My initial impression was that this is a place where one can pursue their occupational passions. I am happy to say that that impression was correct.

What is your educational background? Where else have you worked?

I have degrees from the University of Colorado and the University of Wyoming (go pokes!). My Ph.D. is in experimental psychology. And, actually, WOU is my first (and hopefully last) academic gig. I have not held a faculty position at any other institution. However, I did work my way through school by waiting tables…if you want to hear about that…

Do you have a favorite anecdote from your time at WOU? 

I have had too many good times here. No one event stands out from what has been my most rewarding occupational/academic experience.

Favorite place to grab lunch or coffee?

My favorite place to grab lunch is my office. I am a bit of a foodie and spend a lot of my down time cooking. I typically cook up enough dinner to have leftovers for lunch. I then bring my leftovers in with me to enjoy at work for a second time! My favorite place to grab coffee is the Brew in Independence.

What’s an average day at work for you like?

It varies tremendously. That is one of the things I like about my work, something new everyday. So, I don’t really have an average day of work.

Has your work been published? If so, where? 

My work has been published in several outlets, including professional journals, handbooks, and magazines. Concerning journals, I have published in the Journal of Positive Psychology, Journal of Happiness Studies, and Ecopsychology, among others. I recently completed a chapter on bringing nature into the workplace that can be found in The Routledge Research Encyclopedia of Psychology in the Real World. I also write a regular column for Eye on Psi Chi. Finally, I just published an invited editorial on the role of psychological research in addressing the environmental crisis, found in the Psi Chi Journal of Psychological Research.

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