Students are encouraged to become engaged in one of these research programs early in the process of their education.

Laboratory and field research programs are conducted by the I-O faculty on such diverse topics as selection systems, training systems, development and implementation of performance appraisal systems, team performance and assessment, work-family interface, workplace diversity and inclusion, organizational change, occupational safety and health, innovation management, telework, virtual teams, and international I-O issues.

Research is supported by a variety of agencies such as the National Science Foundation; National Institutes of Health; National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health; the NASA/Langley Research Center; the Virginia Modeling, Analysis and Simulation Center; and the military services. We recommend students get involved with one of these research programs early in their program.

Leadership and Employee Assessment and Development Lab (L.E.A.D.)

We are a hard-working team comprised of individuals each with their own unique research interests under the umbrella of occupational health psychology. Not only do we work together formally on projects, we also freely bounce ideas off each other and regularly see each other outside of school.

- Benjamin Bass, Recent Alum

The mission of our L.E.A.D. research team is to promote safer, healthier, and more fulfilling lives at and outside of work. We collaborate with industry partners to investigate how individual and organizational characteristics impact employee performance, training, engagement, and well-being. Specific topics of interest include:

  • organizational leadership climate
  • employee motivation, engagement, job satisfaction, calling, and well-being
  • employee training and development
  • work stress, burnout, and safety

Leadership Experienced through Appraisal & Feedback (LEAF Lab)

In the LEAF lab, we emphasize producing scientifically rigorous work while maintaining balanced lives and growing our professional networks.


- Caroline Jordan, Current Student

Dr. Katz's research focuses on the provision of feedback within organizations and how feedback contributes to leader-follower relationship dynamics. In addition to feedback research, as a member of the LEAF Lab, you can expect to:

  • Use meta-analysis and secondary uses of meta-analytic data to build and test theory
  • Develop and use non-survey methods (e.g., experimental paradigms) to answer research questions
  • Pursue research questions in related areas of I-O Psychology including job & career attitudes and proactive work behaviors

Career Development Laboratory (CDLab)

Working in the CDLab, I've formed lasting relationships with students and alumni and have been given countless opportunities to lead and get involved in meaningful research projects, present at national and international conferences, publish in peer-reviewed journals, and gain practical applied experiences working with collaborators in academia and industry, setting me up for a successful and fulfilling career in I-O.

- Seterra Burleson, Current Student

What does it mean to have a satisfying and successful career? What are the barriers to reaching career goals and, more importantly, how can they be overcome? These are the core questions driving research in the CDLab. Current projects investigate:

  • Professional Development - What makes some people proactively pursue development opportunities?
  • Managing Work and Family - How does effective leadership contribute to greater work-family balance?
  • Underrepresentation - Why are there so few women and ethnic minorities in the pipeline for STEM careers? What can be done to level the playing field?

We value collaboration and initiative in the CDLab. We work with members of other I/O labs, different departments on campus, and academic and industry partners. CDLab students are encouraged to stretch themselves and take on leadership roles.

Personnel Dynamics Lab

As a young lab, we are currently setting the foundation for future students. Our strong sense of direction guides us on exciting projects while our exploration of more groundbreaking topics within personnel dynamics welcomes novel ideas. These characteristics in conjunction with people who genuinely care about one another, has formed what I consider, a nurturing academic family.

- Mikey Savage, Current Student

Dr. Olenick's lab examines the dynamic processes underlying individual and team learning and development through formal theory building and testing. Current research topics include:

  • The importance of social support to maintain the integrity of crews for deep space exploration
  • The decision processes underlying whether employees actually use trained skills back on the job
  • The degree to which trainers affect learning and transfer
  • The role of selection processes in overcoming, or reinforcing, social disparities such as socio-economic status between majority and minority groups

The Personnel Dynamics Lab believes strongly in the scientist-practitioner model where we not only work to advance organizational science as a discipline, but to affect real world outcomes through critical research and knowledge dissemination via community connections and applied experience.