Contact Information


Department of Psychology
University of Virginia
Charlottesville, VA 22904?4400
(Tel) 434-924?0660
(Fax) 434-982-4766

Research Area

Quantitative Methods, Developmental Research Methodology, Multivariate Analysis, Measurement of Change


Ph.D. (University of Illinois, 1967)


Over the past decades, I have dabbled in a number of activities with no particularly memorable results.  I continue to struggle with golf, hoping to someday shoot my age, but as the target score creeps upward, my scores keep rising even faster and I fear the two gradients will not intersect in my lifetime.  I spent three years in the United States Marine Corps right out of high school, built a 16-foot, fiber glass, sloop-rigged sailboat, rebuilt a player piano, and played 5-string banjo in a bluegrass band. On a more positive note, I have been married to the same marvelous gal—Carolyn S. (Boyles) Nesselroade—for 53 years, raised two wonderful daughters—Cindy Morrisroe and Jen McNeil—and have managed to refrain from “advising” on the raising of two fine grandsons—Jon and Colin McNeil, now 16 and 13, respectively.  I did once best my son-in-law, John McNeil, on the Birdwood golf course but, in fairness, he was playing the blue tees and I was playing the white ones.  Currently, I drive a 2007 Corvette convertible.  Here are photos to prove some of the above claims.


Above: (c) Dan Grogan, 2011

Above: (c) Julie Mahoney Edwards, 2009


I also enjoy writing poetry but, alas, have confined my efforts to poetry that rhymes, relegating me forever to the class of (very) minor poets.  Even with my limitations, I nevertheless have produced a few poems of which I am fond and which you can find below.


Breeding True

So beautiful, this mother new,
With flaxen hair and eyes of blue,
Her teeth arranged in rows so straight,
And formed from pearly distillate,
Her nose so narrow and so thin,
A finely sculpted jaw and chin,
That figure, which made many yearn,
Would in a few short weeks return.

The father, too, was most urbane,
His coal black hair a heavy mane,
His chin was cleft, his teeth were bright,
No lenses to correct his sight,
His nose was fine, his jaw the same,
No paunch to mar his courtly frame,
And standing there at six feet three,
He looked as solid as a tree.

Both elegant; of perfect stripe,
A mating based on phenotype,
For neither knew the other had
Achieved their looks with help from dad,
That laser, braces, and the knife,
Had lent them both this priv'leged life;
Quite unaware that such machines
Could change their looks, but not their genes.

Despite their Hippocratic oath,
Attendants found that they were loath,
To visit on this perfect pair,
A lot of tenderness and care.
And when the child was given birth,
The team could not conceal its mirth,
The verdict, rendered cold and raw:
``Ugliest child we ever saw!''

John R. Nesselroade


An Equine Enigma

One measure of fauna that speckle this earth
Seems consistent from border to border.
The ratios relating the parts to the wholes
Elicit a strong sense of order.
Take bovines, for instance, and tally the legs
'Though that number your limits might battle.
Dividing that measurement into by four,
Results in the number of cattle.
Or, think of the porcines that grunt as they root
And wallow where nature allows.
Halving the count of those soft, hairy ears,
Will census the boars and the sows.
Does some rule hold exactly for all other beasts?
Few cases would off er resistance.
And the mapping of numbers of parts onto wholes,
Ought to comfort us in its persistence.
But there's an exception that voids a full law;
One that rankles as every day passes.
The number of equines is smaller by far
Than the number of horse's asses.


John R. Nesselroade


The Hammer

This is a tale of scholarship, of science versus art,
Of paradigms that shape our deeds, as they our courses chart.
Our tale starts with a brilliant man whose intellect was prized,
Whose work was judged beyond reproach and grandly subsidized.
One morning, working at his "dig" some vessels he laid bare,
Then marveled at the beauty of their shapes and colors rare.
What forces came together to make artifacts so fine?
How did some ancient artisan develop such a line?

He figured the construction steps were more or less discrete,
But puzzled o'er the processes that made the pots complete.
His inner scientist spoke up, asserting, "To not lose,
Reductionistic theory is the path that one should choose."
So, trusting that the nature of the pieces of a pot
Could tell him how it had been made, he took one from the lot.
He rapped it with a mallet head, then when it broke in two,
Prepared a thoughtful paper on duality and glue.

A colleague at another lab then scoffingly opined
Two weren't elemental yet. He'd smaller pieces find.
He took a hammer to a pot. It broke in pieces three.
He, with some careful arguments, affirmed the trinity.
A senior scientist spoke up: "Herein a contest lies."
"The one who finds the smallest bit will win a Nobel prize!"
New fires do spring up quickly and if principals are "names",
A gush of research funding soon accelerates the flames.

A desperation race was on as each lab, in retort,
Would first a bigger hammer make then smaller chunks report.
Though pots were broken right and left no one evinced much care,
Concern was focused on the shards and not the pots so rare.
The catalogue of pieces grew, their names a list to see,
As Greek and Latin mingled there in verbal ecstasy.
Small matter that each time a name was added to the list
It signifed that one more pot forever would be missed.

At last the government stepped in to make the warring cease,
To build the biggest hammer yet, and find the smallest piece.
Of course, it took some time to say what placement would be right,
For many issues will be raised ere settling on a site.
But all was finally resolved. The Hammer was in place.
A pot was taken to the lab and settled on its base.
The Hammer's switch was thrown to ON; all stood there by the side,
Anticipating how this blow THE ANSWER would provide.

At first The Hammer slowly moved, then it began to fly.
The pot was steadied for the clash that knowledge would bring nigh.
Soon as the dust had settled down, the elders came to see-
To "piece" together how the vessels really came to be.
The data were examined as the beards and heads were scratched,
The Chair's grin was triumphant as the celebration hatched.
The echo of that final bang a theory now allots.
But how much does it matter now? They've shattered all the pots!

John R. Nesselroade
October 2011



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