Immediately after completing my psychology degree from a small state school in Texas, I moved across the country to Indiana. Licensed as a minister and commissioned as a missionary, I began working as a Christian campus minister at a large, public university. I thoroughly enjoyed campus life and working with the vibrant, intellectual, and strategically positioned college population. I developed wonderful relationships with a few, devoted students and had opportunity to debrief their learning in terms of a biblical, theistic worldview. I quickly realized, however, that these few students were already interested in pressing into a Christian perspective and were not representative of the broader university population. I began to see that in my role as a Christian campus minister I would be part of but always ancillary to the university community. This revelation motivated me to pursue a Ph.D. with the goal of joining a university faculty.
I now am a Christian scholar working at a large, research-intensive, public university. To clarify, I am not a Christian scholar because I study Christianity, Christian groups, religion, or any other social form related to Christ. I am a Christian scholar because my identity is fundamentally that of a Christian, a follower of the Way, a disciple of the Rabbi Jesus of Nazareth. I do not believe there is any way to separate my identity as a person from my occupation as a scholar. As literary scholar C. S. Lewis (1962) once wrote, “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen not only because I see it but because by it I see everything else.” This underpinning philosophy expresses itself in aspects of my identify within the pluralistic university environment.
My worst subject in school
I earned a Ph.D. from Penn State in 2011 and have developed an active research program in prevention science, the study of how to promote health and prevent problem behaviors. My work collaborates across disciplines and methodologies to promote adolescent development. I have lead research that includes developing culturally appropriate intervention materials, studying intervention delivery, and analyzing intervention health outcomes. Funding for my work comes from NIH and a Department of State funded project to reduces substance use and violence among youth in Nicaragua, Central America. A particular area of expertise is implementation science which studies how programs are communicated to their audiences. I have published a book with Peter Lang on how social support is communicated between stepfathers and adolescent stepsons as well as a number of research articles that appear in the Journal of Adolescent Research, the American Journal of Community Psychology, Health Education and Prevention Science
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