Psychology professor leaves drug research in order to teach


Callah Kraus

Dr. Liguori once conducted a study on alcohol’s effect.

Amanda Smith , Staff Reporter

Anthony Liguori, associate professor of psychology, brings 17 years of experience in research to the evolving psychology program at Lakeland.

“Liguori is a great asset to the psychology program at Lakeland. He brings a wealth of knowledge from his previous career at Wake Forest School of Medicine,” said Brittany Bohm, senior business management and psychology major.

Liguori has a bachelor of science in psychology from Georgetown University in Washington DC. He went on to get his master of arts in psychology and PhD in psychology from Boston University.

After postdoctoral fellowships at Harvard Medical School and the University of Vermont, he spent 17 years at Wake Forest School of Medicine in North Carolina doing research and teaching. While there, he also did a study on the effects of alcohol and marijuana on simulated driving.

His mentors were interested in studying drug effects on behavior, which got him interested in the subject. Since school, he has spent the majority of his career studying how drugs affect mood, balance, sleep and simulated driving.

While doing research, he and a graduate student discovered that you can train someone to identify their breath alcohol concentration (BrAC) and have them be within 0.01 of the actual number. Using an ABA style of research, which is when the first and last steps are testing and the middle step is training, he was able to come up with some surprising results.

“I wanted to see how it affected their drinking when they went back out into the real world,” said Liguori.

The first step of his experiment was to have them make an uneducated guess of what they thought their levels were when they were drinking.

The second time, the participants were educated on what alcohol does to the body, how BrAC works and what BrAC means. As their levels changed, they were informed of their BrAC level and told to pay attention to how their muscles, emotions, and behaviors were changing.

The last time, they would guess what their levels were, but this time they were able to make guesses that were more accurate since they knew how their body acts at certain BrAC levels.

To his surprise, the people who participated in the study did not change their drinking habits afterwards. According to Liguori, they still went out and drank as they normally did. He still does not know why that is, and the fact surprises him.

While he enjoyed research, he wanted to come back to teaching. When the opportunity came at Lakeland, he applied.

“I think psychology is the most interesting subject you can teach or study. It helps us understand why people do what they do. There are so many aspects to it that are relevant to everyone’s everyday life,” said Liguori.

Since he has experience with drug research, he will be able to add some new classes for students to take. He will also be teaching general psychology because he enjoys it.

“To me, that’s the opportunity to show students what first brought me to the field. It’s like handing down the excitement that I felt,” said Liguori.

According to Elizabeth Stroot, associate professor of psychology, Liguori brings many strengths to the psychology program at Lakeland, which includes his passion and desire to teach.

His students also enjoy his classes.

“I like how interesting he makes the classes and the good discussions we have. He is a funny teacher and does a great job keeping all of the students interested in what he is teaching,” said Taylor Levitt, freshman psychology major.

“He teaches in a way that helps you understand the material and tries to provide useful ways for the students to remember large amounts of information. He is always willing to go back and clarify something in class if you need him too,” said Kaylee Ninnemann, senior psychology major.

Besides being interested in psychology, Liguori also enjoys sports and acting. He hopes to eventually get involved in a theatrical production. He also participates in fantasy football— according to him, everything he knows about statistics comes from it.

“I’m excited to continue learning about Lakeland students because this is my first time in the Midwest. I am looking forward to learning more about the interests [of students] and what makes [them] enthusiastic [at this particular school],” said Liguori.