Faculty and Staff


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Michelle Brasfield, Ed.D., Assistant Professor, University of Memphis (2015). Burnout and vicarious traumatization, wellness intervention, college and career readiness, and creative counseling for youth. Dr. Brasfield is Coordinator of the School Counseling Program.

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Brenna Breshears, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Michigan State University (2021).

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Melanie Burgess, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Old Dominion University (2019). School counselor preparation and clinical supervision, evidence-based practices in PK-12 settings, and assessment. Dr. Burgess is Co-coordinator of the Ph.D. program in Counselor Education and Supervision.


Pamela A. Cogdal, Ph.D., Clinical Professor, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale (1989). Career and work-life balance, practice outcomes, assessment, suicide prevention and couples/relationship issues. Dr. Cogdal is the Counseling Division Director, and Coordinator of Internship and Practicum for all Counseling programs.

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Frances Ellmo, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, University of Memphis (2020). Addiction and co-occurring disorders, criminal justice populations, stigma and harm reduction practices, counselor preparation, and animal-assisted therapy. Dr. Ellmo is Coordinator of the Addiction Counseling Program. 


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Taneshia Greenidge, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, University of Florida (2019).  African American/Black college women and adolescent girls in the counseling field geared towards dispelling mental health stigma,  African American Adolescent girls and present and absent fathers, self-esteem and African American/Black college women, African American families and bullying, the Deaf Community and counseling services, couples/relationship issues amongst African American community, elite college athletes and mental health services as well as risky behavior, school counselors concerning telemental health and managing the COVID-19 pandemic.  

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Chi Li,  Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Old Dominion University (2019). Primary research interest is counselor education and supervision, especially around supervisee disclosure in supervision. Additional research interests include measurement development in counseling and supervision and integrated behavioral healthcare. Dr. Li is Co-coordinator of the Ph.D. program in Counselor Education and Supervision.


Patrick D. Murphy, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Auburn University (2018). Counselor training and supervision, especially around multicultural competencies with a focus on intersections of identities. Additional research interests include engaging with veterans/military personnel with counseling and crisis intervention. Previous publications and presentations have also included research on suicide prevention and models of supervision.


Eraina Schauss, Ph.D., Associate Professor, George Washington University (2011). Child cognitive, behavioral, emotional and neurodevelopment, family systems therapy, career development and coaching. Dr. Schauss is Coordinator of the Clinical Mental Health Program. 



Steven L. West, Ph.D., Professor, Texas Tech University (2000). Access to care, substance misuse and addiction, military and veteran health, moral injuries, and disability science. Dr. West is the Coordinator of the Clinical Rehabilitation Counseling, Marriage, Couple and Family Counseling, and Vocational Rehabilitation Counseling programs, and Coordinator of the Disability Support Services certificate program.


Stephen Zanskas, Ph.D., Associate Dean and Professor, Michigan State University (2007). Development of consultation skills in graduate rehabilitation counseling education programs, the psychosocial aspects of disability, and professional issues.

 Counseling Psychology

 Ashley Batastini

Ashley Batastini, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Texas Tech University (2015). Dr. Batastini's program of research primarily focuses on developing and exploring innovative intervention strategies for criminal justice-involved populations that aim to improve mental health, behavioral, and systemic factors associated with continued antisocial conduct. In addition to correctional mental health treatment, Dr. Batastini and her team conduct research related to the use of administrative segregation, community re-entry barriers, violence risk communication, and applications of technology in psychology-law contexts.


Sara K. Bridges, Ph.D., Associate Professor, University of Memphis (1999). Interests include counselor training, couples and family therapy, human sexuality, and constructivist theory. Dr. Bridges is Co-Training Director of the Counseling Psychology program.


Suzanne H. Lease, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale (1989). Current interests are: career counseling with underserved populations, masculine ideologies and relationships, and health promotion/integrated care. Click for more information on the Masculinity Research Team. Dr. Lease is Co-Training Director of the Counseling Psychology program.

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Richard Lightsey, Ph.D., Professor, University of Maryland (1992). Interests: resilience, the relationship between stress and depression, stress and coping strategies.


Rosie Phillips Davis, Ph.D., Professor, Ohio State University (1977). Interests include multicultural career counseling, ethics, health and health disparities, and university and college administration


Chrisann Schiro-Geist, Ph.D. CRC, Professor, Northwestern University (1974). Interests include: international, vocational, and disability-related issues in counseling and psychology. Current research projects are in the areas of vocational psychology, as it relates to return-to-work for incarcerated persons, transitions to work for students with disabilities and examining the role of animal- assisted therapy.  She is the Director of the University of Memphis Institute on Disability, which houses the TigerLIFE program whose focus is on working with young adults attending the University of Memphis in a post-secondary transition program. Dr. Schiro-Geist is also Coordinator of the Disability Studies certificate program.

Educational Psychology & Research

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Alison A. Happel-Parkins, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Georgia State University (2011). Alison Happel-Parkins' research is focused on social and environmental justice. In the past, both her theoretical and empirical work has explored issues related to race, class, gender, and sexuality in K-12 spaces. In her theoretical work, she continues to focus on environmental justice, specifically the ways in which ecofeminist and ecocritical frameworks can help K-12 educators expand their curriculum in order to help students recognize their interconnections with other humans and the more-than-human world. Her most recent empirical research focuses on how women's experiences of sexuality and health are influenced by various institutions, such as the medical system, religion, education, etc.


Leigh M. Harrell-Williams, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (2009). Statistics and quantitative research methods; instrument development; Rasch, IRT and SEM applications with educational and psychological data; K-12 math teacher efficacy to teach statistics (Self Efficacy to Teach Statistics [SETS]); assessment of behavioral and emotional risk in K-12 students.

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Yeh Hsueh, Ed.D., Professor, Harvard University (1997). Development of young children; Cross-cultural early childhood education; Development of developmental psychology in the United States; Children and media.

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Eli Jones, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Brigham Young University (2016). Educational inquiry, measurement and evaluation; psychometric properties and use of rater-mediated assessments in education (specifically, evaluation of teachers and principals, student evaluation of teachers, and evaluation of teacher candidates); application of Rasch and IRT to educational settings. Additional research interests include validation of educational assessments and measures, structural equation modeling, quasi-experimental research designs, and response to intervention and reading interventions in elementary school.


Karen Kitchens, Ph.D., Visiting Assistant Professor, University of Memphis (2016). Mixed methods research; program evaluation and analysis; research interest includes successful retention and completion of first generation college students.

 Chris Mueller

Christian E. Mueller, Ph.D., Professor, University of Kentucky (2006). Developmental trajectories of intrapersonal, interpersonal and environmental factors influencing achievement motivation in at-risk students (e.g., adolescents, gifted, minority); Measurement issues (e.g., Rasch modeling) in education and psychology.

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Susan Nordstrom, Ph.D., Associate Professor, University of Georgia (2011). Poststructural and post humanist theories, onto-epistemology, Deleuze, feminist new materialism, qualitative research methodology. Dr. Nordstrom is Co-coordinator of the graduate certificate in Qualitative Research.

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Karen Weddle-West, Ph.D., Vice President of Student Success and Professor, University of Tennessee, Knoxville (1982). Cultural diversity; Minority teachers; Child psychology; Infant development; Adolescent pregnancy; At-risk children.

**Please note that Dr. Weddle-West is not accepting new students at this time

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Crystal White, Ph.D., Visiting Assistant Professor, University of Memphis (2020).


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Denise L. Winsor, Ph.D., Associate Professor, University of Nevada, Las Vegas (2008). Child development; Development in context; Early epistemological thinking; Technology in preschool-age children. Teacher beliefs and the use of strategies for high-order thinking.


Yonghong Jade Xu, Ph.D., Professor, University of Arizona (2003). Multivariate statistics and quantitative research methods; Gender disparities in STEM disciplines; Structural equation modeling; Big data analysis with statistical and data mining approaches.

Main Office Staff

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Jennifer Mueller, Budget Officer. Ms. Mueller handles departmental billing, travel, procurement, and all HR processes for the department.


Melynda Whitwell, M.S., Director of Admissions and Records. Ms. Whitwell handles all program applications, course permits, registration and enrollment, and room bookings.


Susan Kasperbauer Mascari, MAT, Reception and Outreach.

University of Memphis Institute on Disability


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Cindy Cassell, Assistant Director of Transition Programs


Patrick J. Krolik, MBA, Manager, Project FIRST

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Vivian Poole, UMID Coordinator of Records
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Brian Smith, Ed.D., BCBA, Behavioral Intervention & Analysis

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Kandice Tankson, On-Campus Coordinator


Maurice Williams, MA, MS, CNP, Senior Associate Director

Emeritus Faculty


Doug Strohmer, Ph.D., CRC