Known to most as "Jo," visiting assistant professor Joanna Goplen of psychology directs the gender and women's studies program, researches stereotypes and prejudice, studies what motivates people to act sustainably -- and awaits the birth of her first child.

Where were you born and raised?

In Oviedo, a little suburb of Orlando. I lived in Florida my entire life before moving here.

How did you get interested in psychology?

My bachelor's degree is from University of South Florida. My undergraduate degree is in social science education. I was always passionate about teaching and really concerned about issues of justice and sustainability, and to work toward positive change in those areas. I realized that I could not only teach, but be a part of trying to understand the issues and learning about ways we can try to make the world a better place. I went toward social psychology, because it studies typical human behavior and I thought that would be a good area to get into. I became really interested in the research and the scientific aspect.

What else can you tell us about your higher education?

I got my Ph.D. from Florida State University in social psychology. My research focuses on -- I call it, very generally -- social problems. I do a lot of research on stereotypes and prejudice, especially religious prejudice. I also do sustainability psychology, looking at how to motivate people to get more involved in sustainable behavior. Some of my research has looked at gender and women's issues. I started teaching "Psychology of Women" as a graduate student and had a minor in women's studies as an undergrad.

What did your dissertation focus on?

I was looking at external vs. internal motivations to engage in pro-environmental behavior. If you're internally motivated, it's because you genuinely care about the issues. If you're externally motivated, you do it because other people want you to. There may be a reaction against external motivation, the social pressure, resulting in decreasingly responsible environmental behavior over time. The idea is it's better to inspire internal motivation rather than shaming people for not recycling or whatever. Getting people to appreciate the natural world takes time; it's not something that's going to happen in one sitting or intervention.

When did you start at SUNY Oswego?

I started here in fall 2014. That came about when my husband (Adam Fay) got a tenure track position in psychology here. I started teaching part time for psychology, then got involved with the gender and women's studies program, starting with Lisa Glidden, who referred me to Mary McCune (both former directors). I started going to advisory board meetings and helping out on committees. I was looking for more classes to teach, and Mary gave me a couple of classes. I applied when she was done with her time as director, so now I'm full time.

What courses have you taught? 

I've taught many! "Social Psychology," "Environmental Psychology," "Health Psychology," "Psychology of Women," "Intro to Gender and Women's Studies," "Gender in the Workplace," "Gender and Sustainability," "Cognition" … I may have left one or two out. (Laughs.)

Your job is highly interdisciplinary; how do you get along with your colleagues?

I very much enjoy all of my fellow professors at SUNY Oswego. It's been a great experience here. That's part of why my husband and I want to make our home here -- we've worked with so many good people. In general, as far as working with an interdisciplinary program and trying to get different departments to contribute, it can be difficult when they are trying to meet their departments' needs, but there are departments -- too many to list -- that really do a lot for the program and have faculty who serve on the advisory board, which is amazing because we all have committee work and that is kind of extra service.

What do you think about students at SUNY Oswego?

I've been very impressed, especially in working with the gender and women's studies majors. They tend to be exceptional students, just very good critical thinkers, good writers, very passionate about their career goals and having a meaningful career. A graduate last year went to a master's in public policy program, and I just heard she moved over to a Ph.D. program. A number of our graduates this year are applying to grad schools; one was just accepted into a master's in public health program in California.

What other kinds of careers might attract gender and women's studies majors?

Not just in our program, but nationally, gender and women's studies majors tend to really succeed in the workforce. Some go on to work for nonprofits or NGOs -- Planned Parenthood or the UN's women's organization come to mind -- but also in public policy, perhaps focusing on LGBTQ rights; health; human resources, dealing with gender in workplace. I urge students to double-major; some choose psychology or human development.

What else do you do on campus? 

We do a lot of collaboration with the Feinberg Fund (speakers series). Gender and women's studies contributes a lot to organizing those events. For example, this year we did a screening of a documentary that covered laws that closed a lot of abortion clinics in Texas and that region. My department is about to start a salary negotiation workshop for women, working with Career Services. One contributor to the gender pay gap is that women have been found to be less likely to negotiate pay raises, less likely to negotiate starting salary. The first event is April 11.  We are getting several facilitators trained, and we hope to offer it several times a year. I'm also faculty advisor for a new student organization, He for She, which is a UN initiative to get all people involved in the fight for gender equality, especially to get men caring about the issues. I've been working with the Math (Bridge) Camp together with some colleagues in psychology to present some materials, especially, on women in STEM and try to make incoming STEM female students aware of some of the dynamics that can discourage them from STEM careers, and try to keep them engaged.

What do you like to do when you're not on the job?

I need more of that time! (Laughs.) I go for walks a lot with my two beagle puppies. I really enjoy the outdoors -- hiking, watching the sunsets on the lake, I have a paddleboard. In wintertime, my husband and I cross-country ski and do a little downhill skiing. I like to sit and watch the birds.

What else can you tell us about your family?

We're expecting our first child in July! My husband is also a social psychologist. We met in graduate school. We collaborate on some things, but we also have some different research interests. We bought our first home two years ago. The Oswego Renaissance Association is one of the things that got me excited about moving to Oswego -- there's all these beautiful old homes -- and getting involved in this momentum of fixing them up. Another thing I do in my spare time is that kind of home improvement project. Last year and this year again, I'll be a block leader for the ORA, organizing my neighborhood in their applications and being kind of a point person.

What is something in your past that only close friends or family may know?

When we were growing up, we lived in a subdivision neighborhood. My dad would not allow us to have a dog, but somehow we were able to negotiate getting a pet goat. (Laughs.) I think Dad didn't want the dog because he was worried it would eventually come inside and take over. A goat, he felt, would be safe. So we got her a little collar and a leash and would take her for walks around the block. Her name was Shadow.