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Experts Guide

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Please be advised, this page is under construction, but experts can still be reached through the Office of Public Relations, 814-824-2552. Thank you for your patience.)


The Mercyhurst University Experts Guide includes faculty and administrators with a broad range of expertise who are available for media interviews as well as to speak to community and professional organizations on subjects spanning business ethics, forensic anthropology, strength training and fitness, spirituality and cross-cultural parenting to name a few.

To talk to an expert or to arrange a speaking engagement, please contact the Mercyhurst University Office of Public Relations, 814-824-2552, and ask for Debbie Morton; or e-mail her at

Requests from media seeking to interview one of our experts will be handled immediately. For speaking engagements, we ask that you allow three to four weeks advance notice and have several choices in case your preferred speaker is unavailable. Your request should specify the name of your organization, a contact person and a phone number, as well as the date, time and location of your meeting, along with the approximate size of your audience.

501 E. 38th St.
Erie, PA 16546; 814-824-2000

Mercyhurst University is a fully accredited, four-year, Catholic comprehensive institution, founded in Erie, Pa., by the Sisters of Mercy in 1926. The Erie campus, located on a picturesque hillside crowning the city, offers more than 100 fields of undergraduate study as well as unique adult programs and nine graduate programs. In addition, it maintains its one- and two-year programs at a campus in scenic North East, just 20 minutes from Erie. Also Mercyhurst maintains a satellite campus in Corry and one at the Booker T. Washington Center in Erie.

A Mercyhurst education combines a rich sense of tradition with a progressive approach to the complexities of modern life. Alumni of Mercyhurst are found in every major profession and in every state in the nation. Current enrollment is approximately 4,000 on its four campuses.

Mercyhurst emphasizes the role of the liberal arts, which provides a basis for sound career preparation and for many other life objectives. With this balance, the university supports a wide range of programs, from dance and art to geology and computer management systems, and also prides itself on its service to students. To this end, it strives constantly to become distinctive in the choice of it academic offerings.





Anthropology/Archaeology Department


Edward Jolie, ABD
Assistant Professor Anthropology 

Director of the Perishable Artifact Lab

  • Ethnicity, Race, Multiculturalism and Cultural Diversity
  • Native Americans & The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act of 1990 (NAGPRA)
  • Antiquities and Looting
  • Fiber Arts (Baskets, Textiles, etc.)

rjolieRuth Burgett Jolie, Ph.D. 
Associate Professor of Anthropology/Archaeology

  • Class, Status & Gender
  • Changing Trends in Family Life
  • Ethnographic Field Methods
  • Wool Textiles (e.g., Navajo, Medieval Scandinavian)


owocMary Ann Owoc, Ph.D.
Associate Professor and Chair of Anthropology/Archaeology

  • American Historic Cemeteries, Gravestones and Burial Practices
  • European Archaeology
  • Ancient Ritual Monuments (e.g., Stonehenge, mound sites, etc.)
  • Prehistoric Ritual and Religion


Art Department

cardotGary Cardot, MFA
Assistant Professor of Art

  • Photography & Its Role in the Media
  • Architecture & Preservation of Local Interest
  • History of Photography



Jodi Staniunas Hopper, M.F.A.
Chair, Art Department. 
Assistant Professor, Graphic Design

  • Branding & Publication Design
  • Graphic Design History
  • Semiotics in Design


Dance Department

hunterTauna Hunter
Chair, Mercyhurst Dance Department

  • Dance/Emphasis on Ballet
  • Arts Administration
  • MFA credentials



C. Noelle Partusch, MFA
Associate Professor of Dance

  • Liturgical Dance (in a worship setting)
  • Sacred Dance in Performance (outside of a worship setting)
  • Labanotation (a tool for recording dance and refining dance technique)


D'Angelo Department of Music

Nathan Hess, D.M.A
Assistant Professor of Music and Chair, D'Angelo Department of Music 

  • Music
  • Piano
  • Performing, Concerts and Events
  • Roche Guest Artist Series, Faculty Recital Series


Jonathan R. Moser
Orchestra Director, D'Angelo Department of Music

  • Music
  • Orchestra and Chamber Literature
  • Strings Pedagogy
  • Musician Injury Prevention


roessnerCraig Alan Stevens MA, MT-BC, NMT
Director of Music Therapy

  • Music Therapy
  • Music Therapy in Neurological Rehabilitation
  • Music Therapy in Hospital Settings
  • Music Therapy for Hospice, End of Life Care


Education Department

Sarah K. Howorth, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Special Education

  • Special Education & Digital Technology for Instruction
  • Teacher Education and Virtual Simulation
  • Autism Spectrum/ Asperger's Syndrome
  • Applied Behavior Analysis
  • Literacy and Students with Disabilities


johnsonSusan Johnson, M.S. Ed.
Instructor of Special Education; Director, Mercyhurst Honors Program

  • Autism Spectrum Disorders
  • Special Education Law
  • Inclusion of Students with Disabilities
  • Emotional/Behavioral Disorders of Children & Youth


English Department

Christy Rieger, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of English

  • Victorian Literature & Culture
  • Gothic Literature & Contemporary Horror Novels/Film
  • Literatures of the Middle East (focus on representations of terrorism)
  • Academic Reading and Writing in a Digital Age


roessnerJeffrey Roessner, Ph.D.
Professor of English

  • Contemporary Literature
  • Film Studies
  • Popular Music & Culture
  • Creative Writing


msullivanMarnie M. Sullivan, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of English

  • Women’s Issues and Feminism
  • Rachel Carson
  • Redistricting and Gerrymandering


    Graduate Special Education

    belfiorePhillip Belfiore, Ph.D.
    Director, Graduate Special Education and Applied Disability Studies

    • Applied Behavior Analysis
    • Urban Education and Teacher Preparation
    • Vocational Training and Intellectual Disabilities


    kitchenThomas Kitchen, MS, BCBA
    Director, Applied Behavior Analysis Program

    • Autism & Evidence-Based Practice
    • Behavioral & Educational Challenges for Children with Autism
    • General Behavioral Programming in Schools


    History Department

    Averill Earls, Ph.D.
    Visiting Assistant Professor of History

    • Gender and Sexuality Studies
    • Digital Humanities
    • Modern European History
    • Podcasts


    Chris Magoc, Ph.D. magoc
    Professor of History 

    • 20th Century American History
    • U.S. Foreign Policy History
    • U.S. Environmental History, Environmental Sustainability and Environmentalism
    • American Memory and Public History


    John OlszowkaOlszowka, Ph.D.
    Chair, History Department. 
    Associate Professor of History
    • Labor History & Labor Relations
    • Civil Rights Movement
    • Immigration and Ethnic History
    • The Great Depression
    • History of Sports in America


    Benjamin G. Scharff, Ph.D.
    Assistant Professor of History

    • Colonial America
    • Revolutionary America
    • Early Republican America
    • Native America
    • British Empire


    Philosophy Department

    Kevin Sullivan, Ph.D.
    Associate Professor of Philosophy

    • General Issues in Ethics with Special Focus on Bioethics, Medical Ethics and the Ethics of Public Officials
    • Issues in Aesthetics and the Arts




    Psychology Department

    Rob Hoff, M.A.
    Professor of Psychology

    • The Psychology of Gratitude




    weaverMatthew T. Weaver, Ph.D.
    Associate Professor of Psychology

    • Legal and Illegal Drug Abuse and Addiction
    • Risky and Impulsive Behavior
    • Neurobiological and Behavioral Issues and Theory



    Religious Studies Department 

    ForsthoefelThomas Forsthoefel, Ph.D.
    Professor of Religious Studies

    • Hinduism/Buddhism/Mysticism/Islam
    • Spirituality
    • Poetry of the Sacred


    Robert H. von Thaden, Jr., Ph.D.
    Associate Professor and Chair, Religious Studies Department

    • Bible and Its History
    • Christian History (esp. Antiquity)
    • Sex, Marriage, Family and Children in Christianity (esp. Antiquity)
    • Apocalyptic Groups (i.e., Groups Fixated on the End of the World)



    World Languages and Cultures Department

    boudreauDouglas Boudreau, Ph.D.
    Associate Professor of French and Chair, World Languages and Cultures Department

    • French literature, especially 16th-century, and Literature in French from Canada and North Africa
    • Contemporary French Culture
    • Contemporary Québécois Culture
    • Ecocriticism


    edwardsAlice Edwards, Ph.D.
    Professor of Spanish

    • Language Education in a Changing World
    • Latin American Literature in the 20th and 21st Centuries
    • Childbirth and Women's Empowerment
    • Women and Leadership in Higher Education


    kwilliamsKaren C. Williams, Ph.D.
    Professor of Spanish

    • Spanish Phonetics & Pronunciation, Spanish Dialects
    • Sociolinguistics – specifically that which relates to how various social factors affect our use of language (English dialects, language change, slang, prescriptivism vs. descriptivism, language and ethnicity, language and gender, etc.)





    Applied Forensic Sciences Department


    dirkmaatDennis Dirkmaat, Ph.D., D-ABFA
    Chair, Department of Applied Forensic Sciences

    Board Certified Forensic Anthropologist (#50) | Fellow of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences

    • Forensic Archaeology and Forensic Anthropology
    • Forensic Taphonomy
    • Mass Disaster Scene Recovery
    • Human Evolution and Charles Darwin

    Communication Department


    Brian Sheridan, M.A. sheridan
    Chair; Communication Lecturer

    • Broadcast Journalism
    • Social Media
    • Martial Arts and Hong Kong Cinema
    • Film, Television and Old-Time Radio
    • Mindfulness & Meditation


    Graduate Applied Intelligence


    Linda Bremmer, M.Ed.
    Director of Online and Offsite Graduate Programs/Intelligence Studies

    • Online Learning: When Working Professionals are Students
    • Developing Online Courses
    • Online Learning: Working with Traditional Campus Services



    Kristan Wheaton, M.A., J.D wheaton
    Associate Professor of Intelligence Studies

    • International Affairs and International Criminal Law
    • Intelligence Analysis and Operations
    • Military Analysis and Operations
    • Games, Game Design & Game-Based Learning
    • Entrepreneurship & Crowdfunding



    Graduate Data Science

    Charles Redmond, Ph.D. redmond
    Professor of Mathematics and Computer Systems

    • Computing Education




    Kinnane Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice


    Tina Fryling M.S., J.D. fryling
    Associate Professor of Criminal Justice

    • Sexual Harassment and the Court System
    • Criminal Law



    EmmaLeigh E. Kirchner, Ph.D.
    Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice

    • Juvenile Delinquency
    • Parenting and Delinquency
    • Gender Differences in Offending
    • Deviant Behavior



    Intelligence Studies Department

    Orlandrew E. Danzell, Ph.D.
    Chair, Department of Intelligence Studies

    • International and Domestic Terrorism
    • Ethnic Conflict
    • National Security and American Foreign Policy
    • Military Interventions
    • African Politics


    Benjamin Baughman, Ph.D.
    Assistant Professor of Intelligence Studies​

    • Crime Analysis & Reduction
    • General Policing Tactics
    • Suspect Interviewing and Detecting Deception
    • Hostage / Crisis Negotiations 
    • Rape and Sexual Assault Related Investigations 
    • Crisis Intervention and Critical Incident Management


    Shelly Peet Freyn, DBA
    Assistant Professor of Business & Intelligence
    Program Director of Business & Competitive Intelligence Studies

    • Competitive/Market Intelligence
    • Business Strategy and Intelligence Methods
    • Market Research – Surveys and Focus Groups
    • International Marketing 


    Chad Griffin
    Chair of Cyber Programs

    • Cybersecurity and Technical Analysis
    • Forecasting and Trend Analysis
    • Situational Awareness



    Michael Lamm
    Assistant Professor, Intelligence Studies

    • Automated Text Analysis
    • Opinion Diffusion
    • Machine Learning 
    • Predictive Modeling
    • Cultural Intelligence
    • US-Korea Relations


    Duncan E. McGill, Ph.D.
    Dean, Ridge College of Intelligence Studies and Applied Sciences​

    • Weapons of Mass Destruction
    • Implementing Elements of National Power
    • Emerging and Disruptive Technologies
    • Cyber
    • National Policy Development and Resource Allocation 
    • National Intelligence and Strategy
    • Geostrategic Resources and the Environment


    M. Afzal Upal, Ph.D.
    Chair of Information Sciences Department

    • Social Media Mining
    • Machine Learning
    • Data Science
    • Cognitive Science of Religion
    • Countering Violent Extremism through Narratives



    Math and Computer Sciences


    Angela Berardinelli, Ph.D.
    Assistant Professor of Math
    • Database Design - Relational and NoSQL
    • Data Science and Analytics, including machine learning
    • Algorithmic Problem Solving
    • Combinatorics
    • Pure mathematics research involving reflection groups, representation theory, invariant theory


    Political Science Department


    Joseph Morris, D.A. morris
    Director, Mercyhurst Center for Applied Politics (MCAP)/Associate Professor of Political Science

    • Elections
    • Voter Behavior
    • Recent MCAP Public Opinion Polls


     Victoria Anne Rickard, J.D., Ph.D.
    Visiting Assistant Professor

    • U.S. Congress
    • Judiciary & Legal Systems
    • International Law
    • Politics and Gender


    Applied Sociology and Social Work Department

    Bora Pajo, Ph.D. pajo
    Assistant Professor of Applied Sociology

    • ADHD in Children & Supporting Medication for their Behaviors
    • Medicating Children with Psychiatric Needs
    • Rationale on how Society Decides what is Normal and Abnormal






    Business Department


    Robert D. Cullen, MBA, CFP
    Program Director, Assistant Professor of Finance

    • Investing
    • Personal Financial Planning



    Adrienne E. Foos, Ph.D.
    Program Director, Assistant Professor of Marketing
    • Consumer Behavior
    • Social Media Marketing



    Kimberly Zacherl, M.B.A.
    Program Director, Human Resource Management
    • Social Media Usage in Recruitment and Selection Process 
    • Human Resource Management
    • Gig Economy
    • Employee Training and Development
    • Advertising and Branding/Marketing Plans




    Interior Architecture and Design

    WeidenboernerKathy Weidenboerner, M.Ed.
    Chairperson, Assistant Professor of Interior Architecture and Design 

    • Interior Design
    • Feng Shui


    Keyman Asefi, IDEC, ASID
    Instructor, Interior Architecture and Design

    • Innovative Interior Architecture​
    • Emotional Architecture
    • Playful Architecture
    • Sustainable Architecture 








    Biology Department

    Michael Elnitsky, Ph.D.
    Dean, Zurn College of Natural and Health Sciences
    • Physiology
    • Entomology
    • Polar Exploration


    Darlene Melchitzky, M.S.
    Research Associate/Laboratory Director, Biology 

    • Neuroscience and Neurological Research
    • Neurobiology of Psychiatric and Neurological Disorders




    Chemistry Department

    danowitzAmy Danowitz, Ph.D.
    Assistant Professor of Chemistry

    • Advancements in New Applications of Chemistry




    jonesClint Jones, Ph.D.
    Chair, Associate Professor of Chemistry

    • Types of Teas & Their Health Benefits
    • General Astronomy
    • Nanoscience
    • Chemical Sensors
    • Polymers


    Geology Department

    Nick Lang, Ph.D.
    Assistant Professor of Geology

    • Planetary Science
    • Volcanology
    • Natural Disasters & Environmental Issues
    • Science Education



    mckenzieScott McKenzie
    Paleontology Director/Assistant Professor of Geology

    • Prehistoric Life & Fossils (including local)
    • Fossils
    • Meteorites




    Public Health Department

    Thomas B. Cook, M.P.H., Ph.D. cook
    Assistant Professor of Public Health

    • Psychiatric Disorders, Suicide and Interpersonal Violence
    • Neurological Disorders and Dementia
    • Environmental Health (Biological and Chemical Exposures)
    • Unintentional Injury Prevention (Falls, Drug Overdose, Accidents)



    Sports Medicine Department

    jacobsonBradley Jacobson, M.A., A.T.C.
    Chair, Sportsmedicine 

    • Sportsmedicine
    • Health and Nutrition
    • Strength Training and Fitness








    Kari Dundore Shrout, M.Ed.
    Biology Director, North East Campus
    Assistant Professor of Biology
    • Anatomy and Physiology
    • Microbiology
    • Pathophysiology






    Hospitality Management

    Chef Jessica Law, AS, Pastry Chef certification
    Instructor of Culinary

    • Pastry Chef
    • Wedding Cakes




    Chef Dennis Dunne
    Instructor of Hospitality Management

    • Classic Culinary Practices





    Beth Ann Sheldon, AS, BS, M.Ed.
    Hospitality Management Program Director, Division Chair, Assistant Professor

      • Nutrition and Food Science
      • Changing One's Diet
      • Food Allergies
      • Menu Consulting



      Marion E. Monahan, RN, MAEd
      Director, Practical Nursing Program

      • Nursing




      Occupational Therapy Assistant

      Mary Gavacs, M.Ed., ORT/L
      Director, Occupational Therapy Assistant Program

      • Occupational Therapy
      • Pediatrics in Rehabilitation & OT
      • Physical Rehabilitation & OT with Traumatic Brain Injury, Spinal Cord Injury





      Colin Hurley, M.S.
      Director of Community Engagement


      • Volunteerism, Service-Learning (K-12, college/adult)
      • Team-Building, Facilitating Group Reflection/Debriefing


      Bradley McGarry, M.A. mcgarry
      Director, Autism / Asperger Initiative at Mercyhurst (AIM) and Foundations Program

      • Autism in Higher Education
      • Program Development
      • Autism and Family Advocacy 


      Michael T. Victor, J.D., LL.D.
      Mercyhurst University President

      • Trends in Higher Education
      • Value of Liberal Arts Education





      Rick Gotkin
      Head Coach, Men's Hockey

      • Leadership: Building a Winning Culture
      • The Value of Role Models in Our Society



      Marty Schaetzle
      Head Coach, Football

      • Teamwork, Goal Setting, and Determination



      Mike Sisti
      Head Coach, Women's Hockey

      • Motivation and Time Management in Athletics
      • How to Market Your High School Athlete in Pursuit of the Right College
      • Having a Winning Attitude