What is your educational background?
1997 ACU: BBA in Marketing, Minor in Bible
2003 ACU: MS in Psychology
2008 Indiana University: Joint PhD in Cognitive Psychology and Cognitive Science
What is your work background?
After finishing my undergraduate degree I designed websites for several companies while also serving as a salesman in training for LL Sams, Inc., in Cameron, Texas, a church furniture manufacturer. I later became their regional sales manager in Atlanta, Georgia. My dad called me a “pew peddler.” After finishing my PhD, I became a research scientist at Trinity College Dublin in Dublin, Ireland, followed by the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena, California. In both locations I used functional neuroimaging (fMRI) and mathematical modeling to understand human neural activity as it engaged in decision making and learning.
What do you teach at ACU?
I teach Marketing Research, Consumer Behavior, and Data Mining, as well as occasional courses, including a graduate course on analytics and honors courses on topics such as cognitive science or Christian apologetics.
What committees/other duties do you have at ACU aside from teaching?
I serve on the faculty senate, the COBA AACSB continuing improvement working group, the undergraduate research council, the undergraduate research festival planning committee, and as the chair of the COBA research team and the faculty representative on the ACIMCO board.
What drew you to teaching? Why did you want to work with students?
Undergraduates are special. They are bursting with potential, sort of like those little toy cars that you pull back to wind up – when you let go you never know where they’ll end up. Just like those toy cars, undergrads need to be carefully “aimed” so that they fulfill their potential while still maintaining integrity. It is our job to help aim the students, a responsibility I do not take lightly. It can be challenging and humbling because I make my share of mistakes, often causing me to ask “who am I to ‘aim’ these students when I am so filled with error?”
Outside of teaching, what passions and hobbies do you have?
I very much love my family and getting to spend time with them. It has been a tiring joy to build a family with my beloved wife and watch our kids grow.
Also, I enjoy playing soccer. I have been blessed to play it everywhere I’ve lived. Since returning to ACU, I joined with a few other faculty to start a faculty/staff and grad student intramural soccer team named “Sunflowers of Death.” For a bunch of old dudes we have been surprisingly competitive, finishing second in four out of our last six seasons.
I also love gardening and have peach trees, blackberry vines, and a blueberry shrub, along with a variety of flowering shrubs. And, I also enjoy a wide variety of music, from Sinatra to Sibelius and from Miles Davis to Willie and Merle.
What is a good, early story about your teaching?
The first semester I taught Data Mining I introduced “cheese day” – a day on which I bring fancy cheeses (brie, smoked applewood Cheddar, Wensleydale with raspberries, etc.), crackers, and sparkling grape juice to class. It was a rainy day and not long after class began the fire alarm went off. So, we decided that we would bring all of our fancy cheeses and grape juice outside with us. It was quite memorable to look at all the students in other classes standing out in the drizzle while we sat under a covered area, enjoying our fancy snacks. Because we had a French student, Chloe Susset, with us, I also brought in some American Flavored Cheez Whiz. With sufficient coaxing she reluctantly gave it a taste. She wasn’t converted to Cheez Whiz, but I think many of the other students were converted to the wonders of fancy cheese.
Tell me about a project or accomplishment that you consider to be the most significant in your career.
When I was a grad student at Indiana I had a paper published in the journal Psychological Science. Even though I have had articles accepted in higher impact journals, to this day it is still my favorite article I’ve ever written.
Do you do any charity or non-profit work?
I coach kids’ soccer, serve on the missions committee at church, and am a member of Hillcrest Singers.
Who is your role model, and why?
Well, this requires a multi-dimensional response. My dad, Wade Jessup, has been an excellent role model for me. He modeled how to be a hard worker in your job, how to raise a family, and be a faithful Christian servant. Since coming to ACU, I have tried to mimic and learn from Don Pope. His incredible humility and willingness to do what no one else seems to do is so foreign to me. I hope when I get as old as him to be half as far as him in my ability to “in humility, consider others better than myself.” Good thing I still have a lot more years before I get to that stage (also, Don is pretty good at taking a joke).
If you could have a superpower, what would it be and why?
Is synesthesia a superpower? I’ve often wanted to experience it.
What is something that students might be surprised to find out about you?
I was kicked off my hall (Mabee 3rd West) as a freshman. The reasons are a bit hazy, but it may have had something to do with the fact that we enjoyed watching sunsets out an open window at the end of the hall… or that we threw water balloons out of it at unsuspecting joggers… or perhaps because we glued the window open after the dorm director (Sherwin Abraham) had it glued shut.