Superstar: Gary L. Wells, Ph.D., Iowa State University

Molly Petersen
Iowa State University

Author's Note:

Gary L. Wells is Professor of Psychology as Iowa State University and holds the title of Distinguished Professor. Wells is also Director of Social Science for the American Judicature Society's Institute of Forensic Science and Public Policy. He is an internationally recognized scholar in scientific psychology and his studies of eyewitness memory are widely known and cited. Wells has authored over 170 articles an chapter and two books. His conclusions about eyewitness identification have received national media attention in such places at Time magazine, the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, and the New York Times. He has made appearances on CBS's 48 Hours, the NBC Nightly News, Court TV, NBC's Today Show, 60 Minutes, and Oprah, among others. For more information, see Wells' web page at:

APSSC: Where do you work and what is your position?

Dr. Wells: Iowa State University - Distinguished Professor of Psychology

APSSC: How did you become interested in psychology?

Dr. Wells: I noticed that most of the people in the index of my intro psych text were still alive. It made me realize that the field was still young and it was possible to have an impact on the discipline.

APSSC: What is your area of expertise?

Dr. Wells: The interface of psychology and law – especially the reliability of eyewitnesses.

APSSC: What kind of project are you currently working on?

Dr. Wells: Additional studies looking at eyewitness reliability.

APSSC: What is the next step in your career?

Dr. Wells: Developing an overall theory of eyewitness identification.

APSSC: In your opinion, what is the most important thing about psychology?

Dr. Wells: That is based on empirical studies rather than mere reflection or thought.

APSSC: What do you like to do in your spare time?

Dr. Wells: Gold, pool.

APSSC: What is one thing about you others might not know?

Dr. Wells: I have been happily married to the same woman for 40 years.

APSSC: Do you have any advice for students?

Dr. Wells: Do what you have a passion for as a career rather than what you think will make you money or what others want you to do.