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RESEARCHERS

Dena Abbott, PhD

Assistant Professor

Department of Educational Psychology
University of Nebraska–Lincoln

Dena M. Abbott is a tenure-track Assistant Professor of Counseling Psychology at University of Lincoln-Nebraska.  She completed her doctoral training in Texas Woman’s University’s APA-Accredited doctoral program in Counseling Psychology and her predoctoral internship at the University of Utah’s University Counseling Center.  Dr. Abbott’s primary research explores experiences of atheists using a concealable stigmatized identity framework and in the context of minority stress.  Her scholarly work has been published in journals including The Counseling Psychologist and Sexuality and Culture.

Email: dabbott5@unl.edu

Robin Allen, PhD, MSW

Associate Professor
School of Social Work
Boise State University

Robin W. Allen is an Associate Professor in the School of Social Work at Boise State University.  She has done research in the areas of school social work, domestic violence, children with disabilities, family-centered social work practice.  Her current research is focused on the understanding of the lived experiences of religious nones, with the goal of developing social work theories and models for effective social work practice with this group.  When not working, she is going to the movies, traveling, or reading a mystery novel.

Email:  rallen@boisestate.edu  

Melanie Brewster, PhD

Associate Professor
Psychology and Education
Columbia University

Melanie Brewster, Associate Professor of Psychology and Education at Columbia University, earned her Ph.D from the University of Florida. Her research focuses on marginalized groups and examines how experiences of discrimination and stigma may shape the mental health of minority group members (e.g., LGBTQ individuals, non-believing groups, people of color). Dr. Brewster also examines potential resilience factors, such as bicultural self-efficacy and cognitive flexibility, that may promote the mental health of minority individuals. Her first book, Atheists in America, was published in 2014.

Email:  brewster@tc.columbia.edu

Corey Cook, PhD

Assistant Professor
Department of Psychology
Pacific Lutheran University

Corey L. Cook is an experimental social psychologist and currently Assistant Professor at Pacific Lutheran University. He earned his Ph.D. from University of Florida and his research primarily focuses on the effects of threat perception on social cognition and behavior, especially as they apply to stereotyping and prejudice. He is particularly interested in the evolution of morality and its effects on social cognition. He has published research suggesting that 1) prejudice toward atheists stems, in part, from the perception that non-believers are incapable of morality, and thus pose threats to morals and values, and 2) atheism threatens cherished worldview beliefs (e.g., belief in the afterlife), therefore increasing existential concern and resulting in increased prejudice toward non-believers.

Email:  clcook@plu.edu

Thomas J. Coleman III, PhD

Postdoc

Thomas J. Coleman III is a psychology postdoc at Coventry University, as part of the Brain, Belief and Behaviour research group. He is an assistant editor for the journal Secularism & Nonreligion, Graduate Student Co-Representative for the American Psychological Association Society for the Psychology of Religion and Spirituality Division 36, and a managing editor for The Religious Studies Project. His interests span research in the cognitive sciences, psychological anthropology, and philosophy of science, focusing on theory of mind and folk psychology in nonreligious populations. Coleman recently co-edited a special issue of the journal Science, Religion & Culture titled “Atheism, Secularity, and Science” with John R. Shook and Ralph W. Hood Jr.. His doctoral research focuses on the imagination engagements of atheists and theists.

Email: colema56@uni.coventry.ac.uk

Ryan T. Cragun, PhD

Professor
Department of History, Sociology, Geography and Legal Studies
The University of Tampa

Dr. Ryan T. Cragun is a partner, parent, and sociologist of religion (in order of importance). Originally from Utah, he now lives in Florida and works at The University of Tampa. His research and writing focuses on religion, with an emphasis on Mormonism and the nonreligious. His research has been published in a variety of academic journals, including: Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, Sociology of Religion, Journal of Sex Research, Journal of Religion and Health, and Journal of Contemporary Religion. He’s the author of several books, including, How to Defeat Religion in 10 Easy Steps, What You Don’t Know About Religion (but Should), and Could I Vote for a Mormon for President?.  For more about his work and copies of his peer-reviewed articles you can visit his website: www.ryantcragun.com. When he’s not working, he’s spending time with his partner and child, cooking, watching science fiction, hiking, playing soccer, or tinkering with computers.

Email:  rcragun@ut.edu

Joseph Hammer, PhD

Associate Professor and Director of Training
Department of Educational, School, and Counseling Psychology
University of Kentucky

Joseph H. Hammer, PhD is an Associate Professor of counseling psychology in the Department of Educational, School, and Counseling Psychology at the University of Kentucky.  Born and raised in the Chicago suburbs, Joe went on to complete his Bachelor’s of Science in Psychology at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Master’s of Education in Counseling Psychology at the University of Missouri, and PhD in Counseling Psychology at Iowa State University.  Prior to starting his faculty position at the University of Kentucky, he completed an APA-Accredited Predoctoral Psychology Internship at the University of Maryland Counseling Center.  Among other things, he has conducted empirical research on how to measure psychological constructs in a culturally-responsive manner, including how to validly measure the "spirituality" of atheists.  He provides research mentorship to counseling psychology PhD and MS students at University of Kentucky. 

Email:  joe.hammer@uky.edu

Karen Hwang, EdD

Independent Researcher

Karen Hwang, EdD, recently completed a postdoctoral fellowship in rehabilitation outcomes at Kessler Research Foundation, and is Adjunct Assistant Professor of Medical Rehabilitation at University of Medicine & Dentistry of New Jersey. Her prior research experience has focused on quality of life issues in persons with traumatic disabilities, including stroke, brain injuries and spinal cord injuries. Her current interest is in the medical and psychological correlates of religion and atheism in the U.S. population, and the consequences of anti-atheist discrimination.

Joseph Langston, MA, BS, BA

PhD Student
Psychology Department
Ohio University

Joseph Langston, BS, BA, MA, is a PhD student in the Psychology Department at Ohio University.  His general research interests are in the psychology and sociology of religion and atheism, with special interest in the cognitive science of religion.  His research examines (a) how religious beliefs and practices are transmitted (or not) across generations, and what makes this process more or less effective; (b) how or why people become more "religious" or less "religious" over the human lifespan in different cultures; and (c) how the cultural and cognitive factors involved in such changes can be statistically modeled.

Email:  jl687619@ohio.edu

Kevin McCaffree, PhD

Assistant Professor
University of North Texas

Kevin McCaffree is an assistant professor of sociology at the University of North Texas. He publishes widely in sociological theory (especially of religion and morality) and criminology. He is the author of three books, over a dozen peer-reviewed articles or handbook chapters and is currently series co-editor (with Jonathan Turner) of Evolutionary Analysis in the Social Sciences. Upcoming projects include a sociological theory of threat and group formation (When Groups Come Apart: Fission-Fusion Dynamics in Human Societies. New York, NY: Routledge) and continued work documenting how changes in routine activities are reducing the American crime rate.

Email:  kevin.mccaffree@unt.edu

Andreea Nica, PhD

Assistant Professor
Department of Social Sciences and Cultural Studies
Western New Mexico University

Andreea Nica is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Western New Mexico University and affiliated faculty associate at Arizona State University. She teaches various online sociology courses and has researched religious exiters of Christian fundamentalism and well-being. Dr. Nica's research has been published in the Journal of Religion and Health, Mental Health, Religion & Culture, and the International Journal of Qualitative Methods. She is currently working on a sociological memoir, Freeligious, focused on exits, transitions, and arrivals.

Email:  andreea.nica@wnmu.edu

Jacob Sawyer, PhD

Assistant Professor
Penn State Mont Alto

Jacob S. Sawyer, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at Penn State Mont Alto. He earned his Ph.D. in counseling psychology from Columbia University, where his dissertation compared mental health outcomes between atheists and believers during bereavement. He has published in the areas of atheist discrimination and atheist identity, and is interested in the continued exploration of atheist/secular grief and bereavement.

Email: jss708@psu.edu

Caleb Schaffner, PhD

Visiting Assistant Professor
North Central College

Caleb Schaffner is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Sociology at North Central College. He recently defended his dissertation at the University of Illinois at Chicago, entitled “Paths Out of Religion: A Cartography of Atheism.” He generally conducts mixed-methods research concerning heterogeneity among atheists, on topics including reasons and strategies for leaving religion, stances on how to engage with religion in the public sphere, and definitions of atheism. While not conducting research (or teaching), he enjoys reading dystopian fiction and playing board games.

Email: cschaffner@noctrl.edu

Jesse Smith, PhD

Associate Professor
Department of Sociology
Western Michigan University

David Speed, PhD

Assistant Professor
University of New Brunswick, St. John

David Speed earned a Master’s degree in applied research and a PhD in social/health psychology from Memorial University of Newfoundland. David is currently an assistant professor at the University of New Brunswick in Saint John, where he teaches program evaluation and statistics. David’s research focuses on the health of the irreligious, and whether they benefit from traditionally religious/spiritual activities (e.g., church attendance, religiosity). When David isn’t living this aforementioned rock-n-roll lifestyle, he enjoys spending time with his wife Betsy and his daughters Aliya, Charley, and Eden.

Email: dspeed@unb.ca