The Applied Psychology Research Institute (APRI) is established to perform funded research associated with the Wichita State University Department of Psychology. The mission of the Research Institute is to advance the applied research and educational objectives of WSU faculty by encouraging, promoting, and supporting research. It supports the pursuit and management of externally funded projects while also connecting researchers with potential sponsors from various funding agencies. The Research Institute also connects graduate students with researchers to provide them with an applied learning experience built to develop knowledge, skills, and values beyond traditional classroom lectures.

APRI researchers have a diverse array of sponsored research from various funding agencies. All human subjects research conducted at the Research Institute is reviewed by WSU’s Institutional Review Board (IRB) to assure the rights and welfare of subjects are protected and that the University is in compliance with federal requirements (Title 45 Code of Federal Regulations, Part 46). Current areas of emphasis include:

  • Transportation
  • Training and Performance
  • User Experience (UX)
  • Aerospace/Military
  • Community Research, Intervention, and Action


The Visual Perception Cognition (VPC) Lab, led by Dr. Rui Ni, investigates the visual perception of depth and shape in stereopsis, distance perception of 3-D objects in the real world, driving performance and visual information processing, and age-related diifferences in perception and cognition. The VPC lab is particularly interested in improving older individuals’ visual performance through training (e.g., perceptual learning).

User Experience (UX)

Optimize, led by Dr. Traci Hart, is a user-centric research group that conducts research to improve customer products and advance best practices in human-computer interaction (HCI). In addition to research, the lab provides usability evaluation services and interface design services to the software development community. Optimize is a collaborative research team made up of research scientists, professors, consultants, and most importantly graduate students. The main function is to provide real-world experience to the students and develop new HF/UX practitioners. Current research focuses on how persons learn to use a product to achieve their goals and have a satisfying experience. Many companies have been served across the life cycle of their products including: Microsoft, Dell, Motorola, Coca-Cola, Textron, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Coleman, and Benchmark Brands (contracts via Software Usability Research Lab).


The Aviation Psychology and Human Factors Lab, led by Dr. Traci Hart, provides practical psychology to meet the needs of aviation and defense industries, government authorities (i.e., FAA and NTSB), the U.S. military, and a great variety of other institutions. The lab’s applied and theoretical research projects are designed to meet the immediate needs of their clients with regard to Human Information Processing, Human Computer Interaction, Automation, and Human Ergonomics. Current projects include the design of a ground control stations for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and interfaces for Automated Takeoff and Land systems.

Community Research, Intervention, and Action

The Behavioral Community Research and Action Team, led by Dr. Rhonda Lewis, is focused on conducting community-based research that promotes the health of adolescents and reducing health disparities among Racial and Ethnic groups. The Behavioral Community Research and Action Team currently is focused examining the health behaviors of college students, educational aspirations and expectations of youth in foster care and role racial identity plays on the health behaviors of emerging adults. The research team also has a partnership with Gordon Parks Academy, Mental Health Association of South Central Kansas, Grant Chapel AME Church, Center for Health and Wellness and the Boys and Girls Clubs of South Central Kansas to implement a program to encourage physical activity, increase academic performance, and promote careers among elementary and middle school students.


Traci Hart, Director of APRI  Dr. Traci Hart

  McKinley Hall, Suite 102 or call the main desk at 316.978.3807