Hilary Jo Karp Memoriam

2013 TxABA Award - Career Contributions to Behavior Analysis in Texas

birth - 2009

Dr. Hilary Karp, Division Chair and Associate Professor of Psychology at University of Houston-Clear Lake (UHCL), passed away unexpectedly on July 30 folHilary Karplowing a sudden, brief illness. Dr. Karp served on the TxABA Executive Council from 1990-1992 and frequently presented her work at the annual convention of the Association for Behavior Analysis-International.

Dr. Karp received a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology Magna Cum Laude from the University of California-Los Angeles in 1967, a Master's degree in experimental psychology from Brandeis University in 1970, and a doctoral degree in clinical psychology from The University of Chicago in 1975, where she worked with Israel Goldiamond. While completing her dissertation entitled, "A Signal Detection Analysis of the Perception of Stuttering," Dr. Karp taught at Western Michigan University for one year as a visiting assistant professor.

Dr. Karp joined the faculty at UHCL in 1975, just one year after the university opened its doors. A beloved and highly respected member of the UHCL faculty, Dr. Karp was named Division Chair in 1995. She also served as the Psychology Program Convenor from 1993 to 1997. Across the 34 years of her academic career, Dr. Karp taught courses in behavior analysis, behavior therapy, women's studies, psychotherapy, and other topics in clinical psychology. She was especially committed to providing students in her graduate learning class with hands-on experience shaping animal behavior in a laboratory setting. To that end, Dr. Karp, and a colleague in biopsychology, established a rat lab and animal care facility. The rat lab has continued to operate for 31 years, giving hundreds of students the opportunity to learn the fundamentals of operant conditioning by working directly with rats. Dr. Karp published an engaging paper about the rat lab in The Behavior Analyst. (See Rat Lab for Fun and Profit in volume 18, pp. 147-154).

An extremely diverse scholar, Dr. Karp's primary area of interest was the application of Signal Detection Theory and behavior analysis to a broad range of social concerns, including concept acquisition, psychiatric diagnosis, stuttering and fluency, social behavior, and behavioral assessment. Her creativity and passion for teaching and learning extended to areas that are typically outside the purview of behavior analysts, such as shamanistic healing and women's issues.

Dr. Karp was well known for her wit, intelligence, and congenial disposition. She was a world traveler and voracious reader. Dr. Karp had returned from a trip to the United Kingdom less than one week before her death. It was among the many places that she had visited in the past, including Turkey, Israel, China, Norway, France, and Italy. An extremely talented viola player, Dr. Karp helped establish the Clear Lake Symphony and played with them for 33 years. She was married to Charles South since 1987. Dr. Karp and her husband established the Hilary Jo Karp and Charles South Scholarship Endowment in Psychology at UHCL. Memorial donations can be sent to the endowment, Office of the President, University of Houston-Clear Lake, 2700 Bay Area Blvd., Houston, TX 77058.

Submitted by Dorothea Lerman