I joined the faculty of St. Lawrence in the fall of 1996. I started on the path that led me to St. Lawrence at another small liberal arts college, Hamilton College. At Hamilton, I developed my love of learning as well as my interests in two fields—psychology and law—which I bring together in my teaching and research. I continued my education at the University of Maryland School of Law in the fall of 1984. While my law school colleagues were studying for the bar during the summer of 1987, I was preparing to move to Charlottesville, Virginia, to begin graduate studies in psychology. I earned my doctoral degree in Community Psychology from the University of Virginia in 1994, then taught at two of my alma maters—UVa and Hamilton—in visiting positions for the next three years.
Given my diverse educational background, my primary areas of scholarship and research are diverse as well. Recently, I have been involved in projects related to study abroad and academic achievement, higher education and well-being, crisis hotlines, judicial decision-making, and the prevention of high-risk alcohol use by college students. I have focused for the last few years on a collaborative project with my colleague Dr. Mark Oakes in which explore ways to improve jurors' comprehension of the instructions they are given by a judge during a trial.
One of my primary teaching responsibilities in the Psychology Department is the Community Psychology Seminar, for which students complete an 8-hour per week internship. Although internship sites vary from year to year based on the interests of the students, students typically intern with Head Start (a preschool for underprivileged children), in-patient addiction treatment facilities, a local crisis hotline (Reach Out), and agencies involved with older populations and populations with intellectual and developmental disorders. My other primary teaching responsibility is Psychology and Law, an introduction to my sub-specialty in the field. Topics in that course include eyewitnesses, the insanity defense, criminality, and the death penalty. Students also play the role of jurors in a live trial simulation.
In addition to my responsibilities within the Psychology Department, I taught within the First-Year Program at St. Lawrence from 1998 to 2011. I also had the honor of leading the program as the Associate Dean of the First Year from 2007-2011. All first-year students participate in the FYP, which involves an interdisciplinary course (often team-taught) and is the context for the development of first-year students’ college-level communication skills and academic advising; also, all of the students in a particular FYP live together in the residence hall. The program continues in the spring with a research seminar on a specific topic, which enrolls students from several different FYPs. In the FYP, I have taught about families, marriage, law, science, libraries, constitutional law, and some psychology, too. The FYP is one of the reasons I chose SLU as my academic home.
In the summer, you are likely to find me back in my various flower gardens, because I am an avid gardener. All year round, I love to cook and sing. For over 20 years, I sang with the University Chorus, one of our music ensembles comprised of St. Lawrence students, staff and faculty and community members from Canton and the surrounding area. I recently transitioned to a smaller ensemble, The Any Music Singers, in which I sing with my daughter, Aoife. Aoife graduated from a small, local private school, Little River Community School, in 2019. She is now a Laurentian herself as a member of the class of 2024! At SLU, she is a member of the new varsity E-Sport Overwatch team.