Department of Psychology and Sociology

Staff and Faculty

Kelli Thompson

Assistant Professor of Psychology

Educational History:

Ph.D., University of New Orleans, 2016

Experience: (AKA before TAMUK)

Dr. Thompson began her academic journey just up the road from her hometown of Montgomery, AL at Auburn University in 2005. Here she earned an undergraduate degree in human development and family studies. After college, she worked in the non-profit industry organizing volunteer service experiences for youth development programs. This post-baccalaureate gap year provided her with an opportunity to travel some before continuing educational pursuits. This included living and working on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota and rural towns like Benton Harbor, MI. These experiences helped her understand and see the real-life consequences of generational trauma and economic strain which often follow individuals caught in the US Justice System. In 2009, she received a master’s degree from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, CA where she developed an interest in creating healthy sex education curricula for underserved populations. She completed her doctoral studies on aggression in incarcerated youth from the University of New Orleans in 2016. Her post-doctoral fellowship was with the Alabama Department of Youth Services working with youth adjudicated for illegal sexual behavior. She continued working with the Accountability-Based Sex Offense Prevention Program as the Director of the Juvenile Delinquency Lab when she returned to her alma mater as an Assistant Research Professor in 2018. She joined the TAMUK Psychology Department in Fall 2023 where she is happy to continue building a strong reputation of undergraduate research mentoring.

Scholarship: (publications)

Has published articles in:
• Youth Violence & Juvenile Justice
• Sexuality Research & Policy
• Journal of Aggression Maltreatment & Trauma
• Sexual Abuse: Official Research Journal of the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers (ATSA)
• Children & Youth Services Review

Students have published in Undergraduate Research Journals at the University of California, Berkeley and Auburn University’s Journal of Undergraduate Scholarship, as well as upcoming editions of the Psi Chi Journal of Psychological Research.

Research Interests: (listed topics)

• Juvenile delinquency
• School-to-prison pipelines
• Juvenile justice reform
• Development and treatment of deviant sexual behavior
• Healthy sexual development
• Long-term trends in masculinity

Courses taught at TAMUK:

- Psychology of Human Sexuality
- Group Therapy
- Lifespan Development

Honors & Community Service:

Dr. Thompson has developed a strong reputation for undergraduate research mentoring, including honors and recognition from regional and national conferences. She served as a faculty sponsor for the Scholars Transforming through Research program with the National Council for Undergraduate Research. She often encourages students to seek out ways to incorporate science and civic engagement. As such, her students have presented original research to current and former US Members of Congress, AL State House Representatives, and other important state agencies.

In 2019, she was recognized for outstanding community service from the Auburn University Office of Diversity and Inclusion for her efforts as one of the founding board members of the Auburn Area PFLAG Chapter. PFLAG is a national advocacy and support network for LGBTQ+ youth and their friends and family.

Fun Facts:

Kelli ran a competitive race for Opelika City Council in 2020 in which she forced a run-off among the remaining candidates. She also started and maintained a more than 3-year-long daily demonstration for racial and social justice called the Toomer’s Corner Sit-In. This unique social experiment started during the so-called summer of George Floyd as a solo-effort and grew into a community-driven safe space for discussing a wide range of social issues which continues to this day.
Kelli Thompson