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Professor Griffin Rooker Presents on Applied Behavior Analytic Research on Self-Injurious Behavior

Nicole Patterson

The School of Natural Science and Mathematics Dean’s Speaker Series presented “Applied Behavior Analytic Research on Self-Injurious Behavior” by Griffin Rooker, Ph.D., director of graduate studies in applied behavior analysis and assistant professor at the Mount. With more than two decades of experience working with individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), Rooker’s research focuses on self-injurious behavior (SIB) amongst individuals with IDD. Students, faculty and administrators gathered on Zoom to hear his presentation.

rooker-in-text.jpg“I asked Dr. Rooker to participate in the dean’s speaker series as a way to introduce him and the program to the larger community,” said Christine McCauslin, Ph.D., interim dean of the School of Natural Science and Mathematics. “He has worked to craft an excellent program and is passionate about sharing his experience as he works to train and mentor the next generation of applied behavior analysis professionals.”  

Applied behavior analysts assess and treat behavioral, communication, developmental and learning disorders and disabilities. They can work in various environments including homes, hospitals, schools, workplaces and clinics.

Before arriving at the Mount, Rooker was an assistant professor at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and a research scientist at the Kennedy Kreiger Institute. He is also an associate editor for the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, a peer-reviewed academic journal that publishes empirical research related to applied behavior analysis.

His presentation defined SIB and the scope of the problem, the environmental and neurobehavioral basis for SIB and the phenomenology of injuries related to SIB. He also briefly discussed the treatment of SIB from an applied behavior analytic perspective. Rooker noted that while the content was solely his, some of his research was funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD). According to the NICHD’s website, the institute’s mission is to lead research and training to understand human development, improve reproductive health, enhance the lives of children and adolescents and optimize abilities for all.

“Tonight I learned what self-injurious behavior is and why people do it,” said communication major Joanna Kreke, C’22. “It interested me professionally at first, but then personally.”

Rooker’s research and professional goals align. He works to better understand the nature of SIB and severe behavior disorders to improve the lives of those individuals. He also wants to share his research and experience to educate and mentor the next generation of researchers and clinicians.

The Mount’s new Master of Science in applied behavior analysis (MSABA) is an interdisciplinary degree between the School of Education and the Department of Psychology in the School of Natural Science and Mathematics. The Mount’s MSABA is unique because it offers highly desirable opportunities for students to learn from a range of professors with diverse experiences in applied behavior analysis—from translational researchers in behavioral science to educators who are experienced in classroom management—with the goal to improve communities and serve those in need.

“We are thrilled to welcome Dr. Rooker as the founding director of the new ABA program,” said Dean of the School of Education Barbara Marinak, Ph.D. “Under Dr. Rooker’s leadership we are confident the program advances both the university’s mission and our Catholic identity by preparing graduates to serve vulnerable children and young adults with dignity and professionalism.”

Learn more about the Mount’s Master of Science Degree and Certificate in Applied Behavior Analysis here or contact Rooker at

Nicole Patterson