Faculty Profile: Ben Wagner, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Pscyhology

“Our students are wonderful, kind and here to learn. They care. They’re fun.”

Dr. Ben Wagner grew up in a small town in northeastern Ohio and knew he wanted to attend a small college. He enrolled in Ohio’s Denison University, where he took a psychology course as a freshman. Psychology turned out to be one of his lifelong passions.

He says psychology was an exciting pursuit for him because the career paths were endless. At first, he says, he thought about studying clinical psychology and establishing his own practice. But, after an intensive independent study with one of his professors, he developed an interest in politics and voter behavior.

So Dr. Wagner entered the social psychology Ph.D. program at The Ohio State University, where he studied and taught for eight years.

“At the time, I was really interested in the research aspect of psychology and thought I’d eventually work at a research institution,” Dr. Wagner says. “Once I started teaching, though, I thought, ‘Wow. This is so much more rewarding than doing research in a lab by myself and not talking to anybody.’ I realized I had promise as a teacher.”

Dr. Wagner still has a soft spot in his heart for research and says he is most proud of his independent research collaborations with students on topics including the prediction of teacher evaluations based on student personality, and the link between narcissism and social media behavior. He has even taken students to present at national psychology conferences.  

As much as he likes research at the college level, Dr. Wagner says he is happy to be working at a college where teaching is the primary focus.

“I interviewed at three other colleges, and I could have talked myself into working at any of them, but none of them were an exact fit,” Dr. Wagner says. “When I interviewed at STAC, I knew right away that I would fit in. I’ve been here four years, and it’s only gotten better.”

In addition to teaching a full slate of courses – from intro to psychology and experimental psychology to psychology and the law and personality – Dr. Wagner co-advises the college’s Psychology Club and the Gender and Sexuality Alliance.

In his free time, Dr. Wagner enjoys cooking vegetarian and vegan food, playing the piano (he’s classically trained), and spending time with his food-aggressive Jack Russell terrier, Pig.