Psychology Alumni Participant Bios
Read about the 2018 alumni participants’ biographies and work histories.
Anthony (A.J.) Barnold '09
A.J. transitioned directly from his career on the Muhlenberg soccer field to a role on the sideline. His eight seasons as a college soccer coach include stints at Arcadia, Muhlenberg, and Lafayette, leading up to his current role as Performance Analyst at the University of Virginia. He oversees all aspects of analytics for the men’s soccer program – video analysis, opposition scouting, and analysis/visualization of data from match events and physical player tracking (GPS, heart rate, etc.). This includes pre-match scouting reports, live video coding during matches, post-match reports on key performance indicators, and longitudinal studies on team and player trends. During his first two years as a coach, A.J. earned a master’s degree in exercise and sport psychology from Temple University. His work in performance analysis serves as a great combination of his background in statistics and research with his coaching experience. Examples of A.J.’s work have appeared on sites such as American Soccer Analysis and Top Drawer Soccer, as well as his own blog, Coming In Stats Up.
Amy Brunell '00
Amy Brunell graduated from Muhlenberg in 2000. She majored in Psychology and Spanish. She then went to the College of William & Mary to get her M.A. in General Psychology and to the University of Georgia for her Ph.D. in Psychology (specializing in Social Psychology). She is now an Associate Professor at Ohio State University. Her research primarily focuses on the role of narcissism in interpersonal situations.
Kristoffer Denboske '08
Kris graduated Muhlenberg in 2008 with a Psychology major and Fine Arts minor. He then attended the John Jay College of Criminal Justice and graduated in 2010 with a duel focus in Investigative Techniques and Criminology and Deviance. Kris has been a New Jersey State Trooper since August 2014.
Jay Deppeler '95
Jay Deppeler, M.Ed. has been working in the forensic mental health field for the past 20 years. After receiving a Master’s Degree in Counseling and Human Services from Lehigh University, Mr. Deppeler began his career treating adult and juvenile sex offenders in the Bucks County region. In 2000, he was asked to complete forensic screenings for adolescents as they came through the Juvenile Justice system in an effort to make recommendations to appropriately respond to the presenting concerns. Mr. Deppeler went on to serve on the Board of Directors for VITA, an agency that promotes literacy, the Executive Council of the Doylestown Business and Community Alliance, and the Bucks County Bar Foundation. In 2007, Mr. Deppeler completed the Advanced Threat Assessment Academy run by Gavin DeBecker Associates in Los Angeles, CA. In 2012 and 2014, Mr. Deppeler completed a competitive and intensive week-long program at the Harvard Kennedy School of Executive Education entitled ‘Using Evidence to Improve Social Program Effectiveness’. This experience followed shortly after his appointment as President/CEO of Edison Court, Inc. in March of 2012. Mr. Deppeler continues to provide direct care to clients and conducts Violence Risk and Threat Assessments on a regular basis while honing his executive and administrative skills in an effort to advance the mission of ECI – to provide responsive and innovative care to individuals and families facing behavioral and mental health challenges.
Caitlin Dombkowski '11
Caitlin believes that her liberal arts degree from Muhlenberg has taken her farther and wider than she ever imagined – especially for someone who was constantly questioning “WHAT WILL I BE WHEN I GROW UP??” Psychologist? Teacher? Behaviorist? Market Researcher? PhD? Photographer? Speech-language Pathologist? Funny enough, graduation didn’t answer that question for her as quickly as she hoped it would. Since tossing her cap, Caitlin has worked in special education (children with Autism) and regular education (K-8). On the opposite end of the scale, she tried her hand in the “business world” as a market research analyst conducting nation-wide and international quantitative studies for companies like PepsiCo, S.C. Johnson, Unilever, and Hasbro. All the while, she was feeding her creativity by turning a photography hobby into a small side-business using the power of ‘word-of-mouth.’ When all of the above proved not to suit her, Caitlin reached out to Muhlenberg’s Career Center and asked them of any graduates working as healthcare professionals in rehabilitative health (PT, OT, or SLP) who would have advice for her or possible shadowing opportunities. This is where she found her passion – Speech-Language Pathology (SLP), and what began her graduate study in the field. As ‘misguided’ as she sometimes felt, every step of the way gave her a foundation for her future, even if that meant crossing some options off her list (cubicle life was not for her!). For instance, Caitlin never would have had my experience organizing international research with hundreds of participants had she not had such a strong background of research from her days running studies in Moyer. Lesson learned – Its O.K. not to know what to do with the rest of your life, because the things that interest you now and speak to you each day are going to shape you and lead to where you are meant to be.
Miriam Eisenberg '07
Ever since taking abnormal psychology with Dr. Sciutto during her sophomore year at Muhlenberg College, Miriam knew that she wanted to do psychology research focused on eating behaviors, physical activity, and weight management. To help pursue these goals, she took advantage of opportunities to get additional research experience here at Muhlenberg, working with Dr. Sciutto on his ADHD research and Dr. Harring on her own senior research thesis. After graduating from Muhlenberg, Miriam worked for two years as a research assistant at the Center for Weight and Eating Disorders at the University of Pennsylvania. Then, she moved to Washington, DC to pursue her Ph.D. in Applied Social Psychology focusing on psychosocial predictors of healthy eating, healthy body image, and physical activity. Currently, Miriam is working as a postdoctoral fellow at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Here, she’s had amazing opportunities to do cutting-edge research on eating, exercise, and obesity! Recently, she was offered a new position at the Food and Drug Administration. Miriam will be continuing her research on eating behaviors with the goal of better understanding predictors of people’s eating decisions and how they think about and understand nutrition labels and front of package labeling (such as the terms, “healthy” or “natural”).
Kaitlyn Ferris '10
Kaitlyn (Katie) Ferris received a B.A. with honors in Psychology from Muhlenberg College after participating in the Senior Thesis Research Program. After graduating from Muhlenberg, Katie went on to earn her M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Life Span Developmental Psychology from West Virginia University. Her research focuses on (1) program evaluation of positive youth development outcomes in out-of-school time contexts, particularly those positive outcomes youth receive through participation in sports and Boy/Girl Scouts, (2) health-related outcomes, (3) under-served populations, including rural youth, and (4) mixed-methods and longitudinal research methods and statistical analyses. After WVU, Katie completed a Post-doctoral Fellowship and Research Assistant Professorship under the direction of Dr. Richard Lerner at the Institute for Applied Research in Youth Development at Tufts University. At Tufts, Katie had the opportunity to serve as Co-Principal Investigator and project director for several privately-funded grant projects examining character development among youth and adults participating in out-of-school time activities. Katie recently began a Research Specialist position at Outlier Research and Evaluation – UChicago STEM Education in the Physical Sciences Division at the University of Chicago (March 1, 2017). At Outlier, Katie is able to share her research design and analytical expertise to inform the development, implementation, and evaluation of research programs assessing the role of STEM Education and Computer Science programs targeting youth and adolescents. Katie attributes much of her success in graduate school and as an early career scholar to experiences as a student-athlete at Muhlenberg College. Although university-level teaching is no longer part of her job description, Katie is grateful to the great faculty at Muhlenberg who helped mentor her as a student and young researcher, and she hopes she can have the same impact in the future. She is also grateful for the academic and athletic demands because that helped her learn the time management skills one needs to be successful in academia. In her spare time, Katie enjoys rocking out to country music, cheering on the WVU Mountaineers and Lady Mules, skiing, playing kickball, and reading non-fiction.
Gina Forchelli '06
Dr. Forchelli specializes in pediatric neuropsychological and psychological assessment of children and adolescents with learning, emotional, and behavioral concerns. She has completed training across multiple settings including an outpatient trauma-based clinic, residential therapeutic school, and public school setting. She has developed proficiency in individual and group-based treatment of children and adolescents experiencing difficulties with anxiety, depression, self-harm/suicidal ideation, sexual/physical trauma, oppositional/conduct behaviors, and attention/hyperactivity and impulsivity. During her training as a school psychologist in the public schools, she also gained experience in school-based assessment and intervention to support the learning and emotional needs of children. Her training included school-based counseling of children and adolescents, teacher consultation, school-based observations and assessments, as well as leading IEP meetings. Dr. Forchelli has particular interest in evaluation and intervention with adolescents with executive function difficulties that co-occur with a myriad of cognitive and emotional regulatory difficulties. Skill development aimed to enhance transition to young adulthood and post-secondary pursuits are also an area of interest. Her research, professional, and clinical interests aim to facilitate understanding across providers on the management and appropriate intervention needed for children/adolescents with highly complex cognitive, academic, and social-emotional needs. Dr. Forchelli’s work has presented at meetings for the American Psychological Association and National Association of School Psychologists.
Tara George '96
Tara earned her Bachelor’s Degree from Muhlenberg with a double major of Psychology and English in 1996. She then attended Boston University and received her Master’s in Psychology in 1998. Tara has spent the majority of her professional career working for non-profit agencies. She worked at Crime Victims Council of the Lehigh Valley for fifteen years where she performed numerous job duties in her span there including providing individual and group support counseling, supervising the counseling department and serving as Assistant Director. Tara is currently the Program Director at Turning Point of Lehigh Valley and a psychotherapist for Pinebrook Family Answers.
Carey Heller '07
Dr. Carey Heller is a licensed psychologist and partner with The Heller Psychology Group in Bethesda, Maryland. He provides formal testing, psychotherapy, and coaching services. Dr. Heller specializes in the evaluation and treatment of ADHD/executive functioning issues. Dr. Heller loved his experience at Muhlenberg College. He completed Psych research on Autism during his junior year under Dr. Sciutto. Dr. Heller then completed his honors thesis under Dr. Tjeltveit. He researched clinicians’ diagnostic practices in differentiating Asperger’s Disorder from High Functioning Autism. Outside of formal coursework, Dr. Heller participated in and later helped also run the Impact Project’s mentoring program on campus for juveniles involved in the legal system as well as played on the Men’s Club Volleyball team. Additionally, he was involved in Alpha Phi Omega, a community service fraternity, and served as president. After graduation from Muhlenberg, Dr. Heller enrolled in a doctoral program in clinical psychology at The George Washington University. During his time there, he completed an externship at D.C. Superior Court’s Child Guidance Clinic. Dr. Heller completed his predoctoral internship at Jewish Family Services in Richmond, Virginia. He graduated from The George Washington University in 2011. In addition to his work with the practice, Dr. Heller is an assistant clinical professor of clinical psychology at The George Washington University, providing assessment supervision to graduate students. He also serves as a board member for the Montgomery County chapter of Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD) and Washington Independent Services For Educational Resources (WISER). Additionally, Dr. Heller is a national topic expert contributor on ADHD for goodtherapy.org. Furthermore, he publishes a local blog on parenting for Montgomery Community Media.
Christa Lewis '11
Christa is forever grateful for the psychology department at Muhlenberg College! She finds it hard to believe it was a just 5 years ago. The faculty has always been so supportive and encouraging. She firmly believes she couldn’t be where she is today without their mentorship! After graduation, Christa won a post-bacc IRTA and worked in the lab of Neuropsychology at the NIH. After her fellowship ended, she enrolled in the Clinical Psychology Master’s program at Towson University (TU) where she researched problematic substance use. Since graduating, she got licensed to practice therapy and has been working at a substance use treatment facility is Baltimore, MD. Christa is a research coordinator for an R01 funded study and also provides group and individual therapy sessions. She has been fortunate to have had many opportunities to write manuscripts and present posters both nationally and internationally. This past fall semester, she was also an adjunct professor for an abnormal psychology at TU – a class which she enjoyed greatly! Christa decided she wanted to go back to get her PhD in clinical psychology. She is happy to say she was successful in her applications and has recently accepted an offer at University of Maryland (Baltimore County)!
Michael Schlossberg '05
After graduating Muhlenberg, Mike earned a MA in Political Science from Lehigh. He spent a few years working for the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce, but after working half a dozen political campaigns, he made the jump to candidate himself. Mike was elected to Allentown City Council in 2009, and then State Representative for the 132nd District (which includes Muhlenberg!) in 2012. In the House, he’s had success in three areas: Education, mental health and victim protection. He’s helped bring home money to the struggling Allentown School District and pass legislation dealing with rape victims, domestic abuse victims and children who ride in car seats. He has a special interest in mental health and the stigma that surrounds it. Not only is this an important issue to his constituents, but it affects him personally: He has been diagnosed with a major depressive & generalized anxiety disorder since 2001 and has been in therapy/on medication ever since. Mike began to discuss his own experiences two years ago in an effort to break the stigma which surrounds mental illness.
Ben Solomon '05
Benjamin Solomon, Ph.D. (’05) graduated Muhlenberg with majors in Psychology and English and later earned his doctorate at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Currently, he is a faculty member in the accredited CAS and Psy.D. programs of SUNY Albany’s Division of School Psychology. Previously, he was a faculty member at Oklahoma State University. He serves on the Technical Review Committee of the National Center for Intensive Interventions, the editorial boards of The Journal of Educational Psychology and School Psychology Review, and is an independent consultant for schools implementing Response-to-Intervention service delivery models. Dr. Solomon is an active researcher in the areas of instructional decision-making and academic intervention, primarily with elementary-age students. He is married to Emily Solomon (’05) and is the father of two mini-mules, Maisie and Libbie.
Brianna Vinci '15
Brianna majored in Psychology and Spanish at Muhlenberg. She knew from freshman year that she wanted to go to law school, and loved the freedom that gave her in choosing areas of study that she really enjoyed. Brianna loved the close knit, personal experience she had at Muhlenberg. She’s been lucky enough to have a similar experience at Temple Law. She is in her second year there, and is planning on practicing civil litigation when she graduates. The firms she interviews with love that she speaks Spanish, and so many lawyers she’s met were psychology majors during undergrad.