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CEHS Faculty and Staff Win Multiple Utah State University Awards


Gregory Madden portraitD. Wynne Thorne Career Research Award: Dr. Gregory Madden

Named after USU’s first vice president for research, the D. Wynne Thorne Career Research Award is given to an individual on the USU campus who has completed outstanding research in his or her career.

Gregory Madden’s research in behavioral economics has investigated methods for reducing impulsivity, promoting resiliency, and using game-design principles to improve health decision-making. These research lines have been supported by over $4.5 million in grants from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the National Institute for Child Health and Development, and the US Department of Agriculture.

Dr. Madden has published more than 100 peer-reviewed papers and book chapters, which have been cited more than 8,000 times. From 2011 until 2015, he served as the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior and he is a regular grant reviewer for the National Institutes of Health. He has published a handful of edited books, including the two-volume APA Handbook of Behavior Analysis, and is nearing completion of a textbook titled An Introduction to Behavior Analysis.


Melanie Domenech Rodriguez Portrait

Diversity Faculty Award and Robin's Award for Outstanding Graduate Mentor of the Year: Dr. Melanie Domenech Rodríguez

The Diversity Faculty Award recognizes a faculty member for furthering the principles and values of affirmative action, equal opportunity, and diversity. The University Outstanding Graduate Mentor Award recognizes faculty excellence in the complex process of mentoring graduate students to prepare them for productive careers. 

Dr. Domenech Rodríguez’s research focuses on family processes in Spanish-speaking Latinx families and, more broadly, on multicultural issues in psychology. She believes in the importance of mentoring and service to advancing the field of psychology. She is past president of the National Latinx Psychological Association and of Psi Chi, the International Honor Society in Psychology. At USU, she serves as the Chair of the Institutional Review Board. She is a proud "Ally on Campus" and participates actively to advance diversity and inclusion at USU.


Sonia Manuel-Dupont PortraitRobin's Award for Faculty University Service: Dr. Sonia Manuel-Dupont

This award goes to a faculty member who has demonstrated leadership, high involvement in service activities, and mentoring of others to assume significant responsibilities in faculty university service.

Sonia Manuel-Dupont joined the USU faculty in 1985 with a triple appointment in English, Communicative Disorders and Deaf Education, and Civil and Environmental Engineering. She was USU’s first Honors professor, first President’s Diversity Professor, CEHS Teacher of the year, and USU Carnegie Professor.

On campus, Dr. Manuel-Dupont has been an active member of the Women and Gender Center, the Honor’s program, Service Learning, the Val R. Christensen Center, Engineers without Borders, and Latinas First. She received her PhD in American Indian Linguistics from the University of Kansas and has worked with the Northern Ute Community as well as 10 other Native American communities in Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Arizona.


Raquel Friddle PortraitRobin's Award for Professional Advisor of the Year: Raquel Friddle

This award goes to an academic advisor who has displayed personal interest in students and demonstrated ability to provide superior academic advisement.

Raquel Friddle is the lead academic advisor in the department of Kinesiology and Health Science. She has been an academic advisor for four years, and worked as a financial aid counselor for seven years previous to her advising position. She first discovered her passion for helping college students while working as a Resident Assistant during her undergraduate degree at Weber State University. Since then, she has dedicated her career to helping college students achieve their goals.

Raquel believes in the value of education. She thrives in working with students one-on-one and utilizes her personal strengths in her advising role. Her personal interests include reading, art, and hiking.


Jennifer Krafft portraitRobin's Award for Doctoral Researcher of the Year: Jeniffer Krafft

This award goes to a doctoral student researcher who has shown superior research capability and academic excellence.

Jennifer Krafft is a doctoral student in the Combined Clinical/Counseling Psychology Ph.D. program in the USU Department of Psychology. Jennifer is a fifth-year graduate student in the Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) Research Group led by Drs. Michael Levin and Michael Twohig. Her research focuses on identifying the “active ingredients” of change in acceptance and mindfulness-based psychotherapy, testing how these treatments can be applied to anxiety, OCD, and hoarding, and improving access to treatment through innovative use of technology.

She has published 14 journal articles and 3 book chapters, and is an editor of an upcoming book on psychotherapy innovations. Her thesis and dissertation are focused on understanding the role of acceptance and mindfulness in hoarding problems. In addition to her research, Jennifer has worked with numerous individuals as a student therapist at several sites both within and beyond the USU community. 

Promotion and Tenure: Emma Eccles Jones College of Education and Human Services

David Schramm portrait

Dr. David Schramm, HDFS

Promoted to Associate Professor with Tenure

Known as “Dr. Dave” on campus and across the country, Dave Schramm is an associate professor and family life extension specialist at Utah State University in the department of Human Development and Family Studies. After graduating with his Ph.D. from Auburn University, he worked as a professor at the University of Missouri for nine years. Since arriving at USU in 2016, he has been appointed by Governor Herbert to serve on Utah’s Commission on Marriage, he appears on television monthly on Fox 13’s “The Place,” and he shares tips and videos on social media to help individuals, parents, and couples thrive in their life journeys.

From British Columbia to Beijing, China, and from St. Louis to San Diego, Dr. Dave has given over 500 presentations, classes, and workshops to a variety of audiences, including the United Nations and a TEDx talk in Florida.

Jody Clarke-Midura portrait

Dr. Jody Clarke-Midura, ITLS

Promoted to Associate Professor with Tenure

Jody Clarke-Midura is a designer and researcher who studies how people learn with digital media, toys, and games in the context of Science, Technology, Engineering, Math, and Computer Science (STEM+C). Through her research, she tries to understand how we can broaden participation of underrepresented youth, girls in particular, in STEM+C. Her current research examines the classroom and district-level challenges in developing and adopting Computer Science resources, particularly in the area of early (K-5) computing education. 

Jody’s research has been supported by grants from the National Science Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Prior to USU, she was a researcher at the Education Arcade at MIT. She holds a BA in English and Women’s Studies from the University of Massachusetts, a Master’s in Technology in Education, and a Doctorate in Learning & Teaching, both from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Maya Miyairi Steel portrait

Dr. Maya Miyairi Steel, KHS

Promoted to Associate Professor with Tenure

Maya is an Assistant Professor of Health Promotion and Education in the Department of Kinesiology and Health Science at Utah State University’s Brigham City campus. She received her master’s degree in Exercise and Sport Science and her doctoral degree in Health Promotion and Education at the University of Utah. Since she started her faculty position at USU in 2013, she has taught undergraduate courses for community health and health science programs through interactive video conference (IVC) and online.

Her research interests include weight stigma and bias (such as weight-based bullying), innovative health promotion practices (such as Health at Every Size [HAES]®), and social justice issues (such as the Clery Act and aging).

Brennan Thompson portrait

Dr. Brennan Thompson, KHS

Promoted to Associate Professor with Tenure

Brennan Thompson is a professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Health Science (KHS). Brennan received his bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science from Weber State University and his master’s from the KHS department at USU in 2008. He completed his doctoral degree at Oklahoma State University in Applied Exercise Physiology in 2013. Prior to returning to USU, Dr. Thompson was a faculty at Texas Tech University. At USU, he established and directs the Neuromuscular Research Laboratory.

His research focuses on the physiological- and performance-based aspects of neuromuscular function, ranging from the study of fatigue to the physiological adaptations and health implications of resistance training. A particular area of his research application emphasizes occupational and aging populations with the intent to enhance understanding of impaired performances and improve and/or restore optimal functionality, health, and longevity. In his spare time, Brennan enjoys traveling, camping, horseback riding, sports, weightlifting, and spending time with family.

Rick Cruz portrait

Rick Cruz, PSY

Promoted to Associate Professor with Tenure

Rick A. Cruz received his PhD in Clinical Psychology from the University of Washington in 2014. His research focuses on understanding the developmental intersection of culture, family and individual influences on adolescent adjustment. In particular, this research focuses on the ways that cultural changes manifest in immigrant families and how those changes may influence family dynamics and risk for substance use and mental health problems. He has also published research on clinical assessment, and prevention and treatment programs for youth mental health issues.

Dr. Cruz’s research has been published in top tier journals in his area, including Child Development, Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, Developmental Psychology, Prevention Science, and Journal of Family Psychology. He serves as an editorial board member for several journals, and has engaged in community service efforts working with local agencies in Cache Valley and Salt Lake City.

Tyler Renshaw portrait

Tyler Renshaw, PSY

Promoted to Associate Professor with Tenure

Dr. Renshaw studies assessment and intervention methods for informing mental health services in schools. He’s especially interested in developing mindfulness-based interventions and in validating brief rating scales that can be used for screening and progress-monitoring purposes in schools. At USU, he directs the School Psychology EdS and PhD programs, teaches graduate courses related to school mental health, and supervises practicum students providing mental health services in local K–12 public schools.

Dr. Renshaw is a recipient of the Lightner Witmer Award (from Division 16 of the American Psychological Association) and is the current Editor-in-Chief of the journal Assessment for Effective Intervention. He is a Nationally Certified School Psychologist and a licensed school psychologist in Utah.

Kat Oertle portrait

Kat Oertle, SPERC

Promoted to Associate Professor with Tenure

Kathleen (Kat) Oertle was awarded a M.S. in Rehabilitation Counseling (1996), a PhD in Special Education (2009), completed a Post-Doctorate (2010), and was a visiting research scientist for the Graduate College (2011 –2013) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Dr. Oertle’s research topic is transition, which focuses on the progression of youth and students with disabilities from secondary education to postsecondary employment, education, and living.

Currently, Dr. Oertle and her research team are developing transition-relevant collaboration competencies for use among special educators and rehabilitation counselors. “Collaborate for Change(C2)” is one of five Field-Initiated Development Projects funded by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR).She has been a grant and article reviewer including guest editing a special issue on transition for the Journal of Forensic Vocational Analysis. Dr. Oertle serves on the Utah Special Education Advisory Panel (USEAP) and Utah Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor Licensure board.

Colby Tofel-Grehl portrait

Colby Tofel-Grehl, TEAL

Promoted to Associate Professor with Tenure

Dr. Colby Tofel-Grehl is an Assistant Professor of Science Education in the School of Teacher Education and Leadership and director of the CHAOS Learning Lab. Her research focuses on finding ways for teachers to bring new tech into classroom learning to ignite student interests and grow their preconceived identity notions in STEM subjects. Using crafting technologies, she engages students in activities focused on designing and building artifacts that are personally relevant and meaningful for youth.

Dr. Tofel-Grehl received her PhD in curriculum and instruction with a focus in science education from the University of Virginia in 2013. Her research focuses on designing professional development experiences for science teachers across the K-12 spectrum. She seeks to engage teachers in design-based thinking and model development through novel technologies. As Director of the Secondary Science Education program at Utah State University, she trains preservice science teachers for future careers across the intermountain west.

Beth MacDonald Portrait

Beth MacDonald, TEAL

Promoted to Associate Professor with Tenure

After working in elementary schools for 17 years, Dr. Beth MacDonald earned her Ph.D. with a focus in mathematics education at Virginia Tech. At Utah State University, her research foci included young children’s subitizing related to their number development, pre-service teachers’ pedagogical content development with fractions, and young children and in-service teachers’ reasoning with mathematics and STEM-oriented activities. Since 2010, she has authored more than 30 peer-reviewed manuscripts and shared more than 40 presentations.

Currently, Beth examines children’s subitizing development related to their number development, children’s atypical number development (to determine precursors for learning disabilities), and STEM related curricula impacts with teachers. She enjoys learning alongside mathematics students and educators, who surprise her continually with their unique perspectives.

Curt Radford portrait

Curt Radford, COMD

Promoted to Senior Lecturer

Dr. Curt Radford grew up in the beautiful state of Idaho. He played many sports, but excelled in football, track, and skiing. He was awarded a full ride football scholarship to Utah State University, where he studied physical education and history. He then received a graduate degree in Deaf Education from Utah State University and a doctorate degree in Deaf Studies/Deaf Education from Lamar University. He currently teaches American Sign Language (ASL), Deaf Culture, and academic use of ASL in the classroom.

Curt developed, coordinates, and supervises the online ASL program for Utah State University. In addition, he has been nationally recognized for his expertise in high quality online instruction and has given national presentations at the American Sign Language Teacher Association. Curt is an exceptional ASL teacher and is passionate about improving the lives of Deaf children through the use of ASL in their education.

Lauri Nelson portrait

Lauri Nelson, COMD

Promoted to Professor

Lauri Nelson is a faculty member in the Department of Communicative Disorders and Deaf Education in the Listening and Spoken Language (LSL) graduate training program. She was instrumental in developing the LSL program and was an early member of the Sound Beginnings Management Team. Dr. Nelson has a dual background as both a clinical audiologist and a LSL deaf educator. Her research interests include family-centered early intervention services for children with hearing loss, which provide the foundations for academic achievement and successful entry into the general education setting.

The most enjoyable aspect of her role at USU is the interaction she has with students as she watches their growth and achievements.

Christian Geiser portrait

Christian Geiser, PSY

Promoted to Professor

Christian Geiser received his Diploma in Psychology from the University of Magdeburg in Germany in 2003 and his PhD in Psychology from Freie Universität Berlin in Germany in 2008. His interests are in psychological measurement and statistics. In particular, in methods for determining the reliability and validity of social science measurements, for examining method effects, and for analyzing longitudinal (repeated-measures) data.

Kathryn Sperry portrait

Kathryn Sperry, PSY

Promoted to Senior Lecturer

Kathryn Sperry has taught in the USU psychology department since 2015. She teaches courses in Gender, Social Psychology, Research Methods, and Introductory Psychology. This spring, she also taught a special topics course in Psychology and Law. Her own research interests are focused on victim blame and perceptions of rape victims. She also mentors undergraduate research projects on a variety of topics.

Prior to her time at USU, she earned her Master’s and Ph.D. at Claremont Graduate University in Applied Cognitive Psychology and took her first teaching position in Forensic Psychology at Castleton University in Vermont. Outside of teaching and research, Kathryn loves to hike, trail run, and play pickleball.

Jennifer Grewe portrait

Jennifer Grewe, PSY

Promoted to Professional Practice Associate Professor

Dr. Jennifer Grewe was recently promoted to a Professional Practice Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology. Since earning her PhD in 2011, Dr. Grewe has taught thousands of undergraduate students via many psychology courses including Introduction to Psychology, Apprenticeship, Health Psychology, and Scientific Thinking and Methods in Psychology. In 2019, she was the recipient of the CEHS Teacher of the Year Award.

Dr. Grewe is the advisor for the local chapter of Psi Chi (Psychology Honors Society) and is an active participant of the psychology department’s Undergraduate Steering Committee. She is on the Connections Faculty Advisory Committee and will be Connections Director starting July 1. She is also an active member of the Society of Teaching Psychology (APA, Div.2). In her spare time, she enjoys skiing, traveling and spending time with her husband and three little girls. Dr. Grewe loves being an Aggie!

Steven Camicia portrait

Steven Camicia, TEAL

Promoted to Professor

Steven Camicia is an associate professor of social studies education in the School of Teacher Education and Leadership. His research focuses on curriculum and instruction in the areas of perspective consciousness and social justice as they relate to education for democracy. He was awarded an American Educational Studies Association 2017 Critics' Choice Book Award for his book, "Critical Democratic Education and LGBTQ-Inclusive Curriculum: Opportunities and Constraints." In his book, he examines how contexts in Utah and California might influence what can and cannot be said in classrooms about LGBTQ individuals and issues.

His research has been published in scholarly journals such as Theory and Research in Social Education, The Social Studies, Social Studies Research and Practice, and International Journal of Social Studies Research. He is a former associate editor of Theory and Research in Social Education. His research interests stemmed from his experiences as a former elementary school teacher.

Cindy Jones portrait

Cindy Jones, TEAL

Promoted to Professor

Cindy Jones works in the Department of Teacher Education and Leadership, where she teaches graduate and undergraduate courses on literacy instruction. She is also Director of the Literacy Clinic, a community outreach program that serves parents and schools in helping children develop literacy skills, provides teacher candidates mentored training, and supports reading specialists. Her work helped to garner the National Council of Teacher Quality honor of “Exemplary Undergraduate Reading Program” with an A+ rating. Only four of the 1200+programs nationwide received this distinction in NCTQ’s 2020 and 2016 reviews.

Dr. Jones’ research focuses on accelerated literacy development. Her method of Enhanced Alphabet Knowledge Instruction is recognized for “positively affecting the instruction for tens of thousands of students worldwide” and “has brought international recognition to the university.” She has published in major research and professional journals, including the Journal of Educational Research, Reading and Writing Quarterly, and Elementary School Journal.