Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


42nd Annual Convention; Downtown Chicago, IL; 2016

Event Details

Previous Page


Invited Paper Session #326
CE Offered: PSY/BACB

Big Rats, Big Opportunities, and Big Challenges: HeroRATS and Me

Monday, May 30, 2016
5:00 PM–5:50 PM
Grand Ballroom AB, Hyatt Regency, Gold East
Area: AAB; Domain: Service Delivery
Instruction Level: Intermediate
CE Instructor: Alan D. Poling, Ph.D.
Chair: Christy A. Alligood (Disney's Animal Kingdom and Florida Institute of Technology)
ALAN D. POLING (Western Michigan University)
Dr. Alan Poling is Professor of Psychology at Western Michigan University. He received his B.A. from Alderson-Broaddus College, his M.A. from West Virginia University, and his Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota. A Fellow of Divisions 3, 25, and 28 of the American Psychological Association, Dr. Poling has published 12 books and roughly 350 articles and book chapters and served as the research advisor of 35 Ph.D. recipients. They, and he, have conducted research and done conceptual work in several areas, including behavioral pharmacology, clinical psychopharmacology (with special emphasis on the effects of psychotropic drugs in people with developmental disabilities), applied behavior analysis, gender issues, animal welfare, quantitative analysis, learning processes, and research methods. Dr. Poling was recognized as a Distinguished Faculty Scholar at Western Michigan University in 1996 and as a Distinguished Alumnus of West Virginia University in 1999. In 2003, he received the Western Michigan University College of Arts and Sciences Outstanding Achievement in Research and Creative Activity Award. In 2016, he will receive a Lifetime Achievement Award from the California Association of Behavior Analysis, a Translational Research Award from the Association for Behavior Analysis International, and an International Humanitarian Award from the American Psychological Association.

For more than a decade, APOPO, a Belgian NGO headquartered in Tanzania, has used scent-detecting giant African pouched rats (Cricetomys) to detect landmines and other explosive remnants of war and to detect human tuberculosis. APOPO has also explored other potential humanitarian applications of the rats. For several years, my students and I have worked with other APOPO personnel to ascertain how well the rats perform in detecting landmines and in finding tuberculosis, to devise strategies to increase the rats' effectiveness and efficiency, and to extend the range of valuable services they can provide. This presentation summarizes what we have learned.

Target Audience:

Licensed Psychologists, certified behavior analysts, graduate students.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, the participant will be able to: (1) specify how pouched rats are trained and used operationally to detect target scents, such as though associated with landmines and human tuberculosis; (2) specify how the rats are currently used for humanitarian purposes, their value in these applications, and potential future uses of the rats; (3) specify challenges associated with conducting high quality scent detection research in general and in conducting such research under the auspices of a humanitarian organization that works under difficult conditions in resource poor areas.



Back to Top
Modifed by Eddie Soh