Colleen M. Schaffner, Ph.D.
Psychology Professor/Department Chair
Teaching: During Fall 2018 I will be teaching Brain and Behavior and Drugs, Society and Human Behavior. My goal with every student is to treat you as an individual, with different life experiences and strengths. I work with you to foster the development of critical thinking skills, provide the opportunity to apply new knowledge, and develop clear and well-organized scientific writing skills. Whenever possible I like to engage you actively in classroom experiences, whether it is in small group work, drawing brains or learning the dance of the honeybee by doing it! I am looking forward to having more of you engage in your own individual research projects as a capstone experience in your final year.
Jeff Elison, Ph.D.
Professor of Psychology
Notable Accomplishments: In 2007, Dr. Elison was selected to give Southern Utah University’s Grace A. Tanner Distinguished Faculty Lecture. In 2009, he received the Rocky Mountain Psychological Association’s Early Career Award. In 2014, he co-authored the book Vertical Mind, in which he applied principles of sports psychology to rock climbing. As of 2020, his Compass of Shame Scale (CoSS), a self-report measure of shame-focused coping styles, had been translated to 15 languages and used in over 100 studies, including theses and dissertations. Jeff is a passionate advocate for undergraduate research. Along with student co-authors, he has presented over two dozen papers and posters at regional and national conferences. He also currently serves as an editorial board member for Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences and is a frequent ad-hoc reviewer for other journals.
Rena Kirkland, Ph.D.
Teaching: I teach Introduction to Psychology, Child Development, Adolescent and Adult Development, Introduction to Statistics, Research Methods, and Cognitive Psychology. My teaching philosophy is that each student has a unique background and worldview from which we can all learn. I work to provide an accepting environment where diversity is celebrated while also challenging you to new ways of thinking and states of cognitive dissonance. While teaching I place a strong emphasis on critical analysis and use in-class discussions, Socratic questioning, and movement-integrated learning activities. A cornerstone to my teaching is to empower you to solve problems, become community leaders, and encourage future generations to reap the benefits of citizenship, education, and psychological science.
Michael Liebhaber, Ph.D.
Visiting Professor of Psychology
Teaching: My teaching duties at Adams State include courses in Social, Personality, Adult and Lifespan Development, and Multicultural Psychology.
I received my doctorate in Child Language from the University of Kansas and was a MacArthur Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow in Psychology at the University of California, San Diego. I have conducted research on a variety of topics, including computational models of language complexity in children, individual and team decision-making, and interface design. I lived and travelled abroad for eight years, which included teaching in Germany. In addition to teaching and research, I have been a volunteer peer-reviewer for the California Council for Private Postsecondary and Vocational Education, a liaison to the California Board of Psychology, and an elected member of faculty senate.
Research: Topics that interest me include self-schemas and their relationship to identity, understanding how culture, the self, and lived experiences interact to influence personal choices and the trajectory of aging, and disseminating child development information to the community.
Gina Mitchell, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Psychology
Dr. Mitchell received a doctorate in Developmental and Biological Sciences from Virginia Tech in 2006. She has been teaching at Adams State ever since! She teaches a variety of courses including Introduction to Psychology, Brain and Behavior, Psychology of Mental Health, Drugs, Society, and Human Behavior, and Biological Psychology. Dr. Mitchell is passionate about the brain and its role in behavior. Her goal as a teacher is to help you discover the mysteries of the brain and understand how you can use psychology to help you solve problems and reach goals in your life. Over the years, her research has focused on understanding the role of negative emotions in pain processing. Additionally, she has conducted a variety of studies that examine how hostility impacts health and brain function. Recently, she has become interested in the role of the brain in teaching and learning. In 2014, she published a text on the neuroscience of learning with Judy Willis. When Dr. Mitchell is not teaching, you can find her enjoying the outdoors with her family or reading.