I am a veteran of the U. S. Marine Corps and proud member of the American Legion. I serve on the Board of Directors for our local YMCA, and as an advisory board member for the YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program. I also serve on the Board of Directors for the Center for Women in Healthcare and Life Sciences (WIHLS): a global, non-profit, non-partisan research institute to advance opportunities for women in healthcare and life science industries. My research is often featured in major media outlets such as the Wall Street Journal and popular magazines, such as Men’s health. I speak nationally on best practices in teaching and attend national conferences with my students each year. My wife and I live in Olean with our son, Aiden, and daughter, Grace.
Major Academic Awards and Honors (select list)
Authored Ancillary Publications
Publications in Refereed Journals (select list)
My approach to teaching recognizes first that each student should to be aware of their learning style, and second, that these learning styles need to be incorporated into the classroom. I believe that setting the stage for learning is a key challenge for faculty in the college setting. Therefore, I like to help my students think explicitly about their own learning styles; about the types of skills and strategies that continually surface in scientific coursework and research; and about the specific patterns of thought, logic, and informed choice that lead to the solution of a scientific problem. To accomplish this (in part), I begin all classes by thoroughly outlining my expectations for learning outcomes, as well as how I plan to support my students in reaching the outcomes expected. The goal is to set the stage for learning, by making students aware of what is expected, then providing classroom instruction that meets the learning needs of each student.
I want my students to view psychological science not as a set of isolated facts to be memorized but as a process of decision-making and thinking that has relevance to their own lives. In my teaching, I build activities into my courses that specifically encourage students to explore the broader implications of what they learn and to help them incorporate new information into a larger cognitive framework. In my courses, students have the opportunities to cooperate with, teach, and learn from their peers; to explore course topics outside the classroom; to respond to what they have heard in a lecture; and to draw connections between course material and their own experience. These active learning strategies are used with more traditional homework or laboratory assignments to assess problem-solving and critical thinking skills that are important for all students. In addition, they engage multiple student learning styles, relate course materials to topics of interest, and make learning fun and interactive for students.
I have often found that putting science into a larger context can also help students develop an appreciation of the scientific method as a remarkably successful direction for discovery, understanding, and consensus-building. For example, in addition to scientific peer-reviewed articles, my students read popular science and magazine articles and discuss them in class. These exercises familiarize them with recent scientific advancements, and demonstrate how applicable such concepts are. This also helps encourage discussion and debate about controversial scientific and popular issues. In addition, I also allow students to experience science in a collaborative setting and to become “experts” in a particular area of interest. I do this by assigning team projects for researching course-related topics of their choice and having the groups present their findings to the class. I encourage students to use these projects to explore the intersections between science and other domains such as methodology, behavior, ethics, manipulation, and general topics in psychology. Such activities lead to greater student enthusiasm and engagement in discussion, than does the simple question-and-answer review formats.
Providing students with scientific thinking has implications beyond the psychology classroom: whether or not they become research scientists, students can use these lessons throughout their careers. In all, I feel that effectively communicating with my students requires this student-centered teaching philosophy by making the classroom “interesting” to the student, and fostering respect, caring, trust, and understanding among students and faculty. I have found that incorporating student awareness, active learning strategies, and more traditional assessment tools in the classroom can create an effective atmosphere for student learning, which would otherwise be difficult to establish. Whether students are preparing to go into industry, or to higher education, they should feel confident and prepared for this next step. I believe that a student-centered teaching philosophy will be most effective in serving the needs of a diverse student population by meeting the academic goals of each individual student.
My commitment to individual student success inside and outside of the classroom requires personalized guidance. Personalized guidance is more than just giving students attention; it’s empowering students with direction. I have found that students will often seek the guidance of faculty for which they have grown to trust and respect. I believe that we as faculty should be prepared to take an active role in offering students guidance. We should be open to responding and/or offering references to students with concerns outside the scope of coursework. In this way, I make every effort to embrace students motivated to build direction from education. Providing students with the personal guidance and direction necessary to facilitate academic and professional success in and out of the classroom is my vision of a student-centered teaching philosophy.
My research agenda fits best into the category of clinical health psychology. My program of research is largely rooted in the behavioral-cognitive mechanisms of obesity, and in my shared interests with collaborators in mental health settings. My research agenda is generally aimed at addressing the following four questions:
An advantage of the type of research that I do is that the research questions are broad enough to fit a diverse set of backgrounds and skill sets. At the same time my research agenda can be specifically identified as focusing on strategies to improve health literacy and behavior, as well as understand how food and exercise can improve health and wellbeing.
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