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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.





Graduate Special Education

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

Professor-Special Education
  • 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



Anthropology/Archaeology Department

rjolieRuth Burgett Jolie, Ph.D.
Assistant 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 of Anthropology/Archaeology

  • Erie County's Historic Cemeteries and Gravestones
  • Attitudes toward Death and Funerary Practices
  • Prehistoric Religion and Ritual
  • Neolithic and Bronze Age Societies of the British Isles


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
  • Grant Writing
  • MFA credentials


C. Noelle Partusch, MFA
Associate Professor of Dance

  • Liturgical/Sacred Dance
  • Selecting a Dance School for your Child
  • Dance in Higher Education



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.
Dean, Professor of English

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


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

  • Nature Writing, Writing about the Environment, and Ecocriticism (includes science writing and popularizations of science)
  • Gender, Race, Class, and Sexuality in American Literature, Film, and Culture
  • Literature and Culture in 1930s America
  • Critical Thinking and Writing for College Students (includes study skills and introduction to college life)



History Department

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

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



Randall Howarth, Ph.D. howarth
Professor of History
  • Biblical Studies
  • Creation of the Bible and its History of Interpretation




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


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

  • Colonial Pennsylvania/Colonial America
  • Early Native America
  • Seven Years War
  • Atlantic British Empire



D'Angelo Department of Music

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

  • Piano Performance
  • Chamber Music
  • Collaborative Piano
  • Piano Pedagogy/Class Piano


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



Philosophy Department

Kevin Sullivan, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Philosophy; Co-Director, Evelyn Lincoln Institute for Ethics & Society

  • 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
Poet Laureate of Erie County, 2010-2012

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


Robert H. von Thaden, Jr., Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Religious Studies

  • Biblical Studies
  • Creation of the Bible and its History of Interpretation
  • Christian History (esp. Antiquity)
  • Apocalyptic Groups (i.e., Groups Fixated on the End of the World)



World Languages and Culture Department

boudreauDouglas Boudreau, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of French

  • 16th Century French Literature
  • French-Canadian Literature and Culture
  • Francophone Literature of North Africa



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.)





Graduate Applied Intelligence


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

  • Online Learning: When Working Professionals are Students
  • GOnline Learning: Issues with Instructors
  • 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



Graduate Data Science

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

  • Computing Education





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 Instructor

  • Broadcast Journalism
  • Political Communication
  • Martial Arts and Hong Kong Cinema
  • Film, Television and Old-Time Radio



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.
Assistant Professor of Intelligence Studies

  • International and Domestic Terrorism
  • Ethnic Conflict
  • National Security and American Foreign Policy
  • Military Interventions
  • African Politics
Charles F. Kuntz
IT Director, Ridge College of Intelligence Studies and Applied Sciences
Twenty-three years of Information Technology experience, network support, CompTia A+
  • Information Technology
  • Network Support
  • Cyber Security



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



Brian Ripley, Ph.D.
Professor of Political Science, Director, MCAP Public Affairs Forum

  • Current Foreign Policy Issues
  • History of the Cold War
  • Civic Engagement and Democracy
  • The 2012 Presidential Campaign




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 Attitudes, Persuasion and Behavior
  • Consumer Biases in Information Processing and Memory
  • The Impact of the Self-Concept on Consumer Behavior
  • Social Media Marketing
  • Marketing Research and Analytics


Kimberly Zacherl, M.B.A.
Assistant Professor of Business
  • Genealogy: Manual recordkeeping or Internet Research




Interior Architecture and Design

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

  • Interior Design
  • Feng Shui






Biology Department

Michael Elnitsky, Ph.D.
Dean, Zurn College of Natural and Health Sciences
Associate Professor, Biology
  • Physiology
  • Entomology
  • Climate change
  • Polar Exploration


Tim Johnson, MA, M.A.T.
Lab Manager
Instructor of Biology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cancer Biology
  • Education


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
  • Autism and Mood Disorders
  • Community Mental Health & the Incarcerated



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

  • General Astronomy
  • Chemical Sensors
  • Nanoscience




Geology Department

Nick Lang, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Geology

  • Planetary Science
  • Volcanology
  • Natural Disasters



mckenzieScott McKenzie
Curator, Sincak Collection of Natural History/Assistant Professor of Geology

  • Prehistoric Animals (Dinosaurs, Mammals)
  • 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


Criminal Justice

Stephen Szwejbka, M.S.
Director, Associate Criminal Justice Program

  • Community Policing
  • The Role of Police in Society
  • Alternatives to Incarceration




Hospitality Management

Chef Jessica Law, AS, Pastry Chef certification

  • Pastry Chef
  • Wedding Cakes




Chef Dennis Dunne

  • Classic Culinary Practices





Beth Ann Sheldon, AS, BS, M.Ed.

  • Assistant Professor of Hospitality Management
    • 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





    Arthur Amann, Ed.D.
    Director, Mercyhurst Public Safety Institute

    • Regional Police Academy
    • Regional Corrections Academy
    • Driving Under the Influence and Drug/Alcohol Abuse
    • Probation/Parole/Prison


    Greg Baker, M.A.
    Director of Campus Ministry

    • Youth & Young Adult Ministry
    • Technology & Religious Faith
    • Ecumenism
    • Spirituality


    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