Dr. Megan Blossom joined the Castleton Psychology Department in the Fall of 2014. Her area of expertise is the interdisciplinary field of child language which brings together perspectives from cognitive psychology, linguistics, and communication disorders to understand human language development and language processing. Her teaching interests are in the areas of cognitive psychology, psycholinguistics, cognitive development, and language development. Prior to joining the faculty at Castleton, she was a lecturer in the Department of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences & Disorders at the University of Kansas.
Dr. Blossom has conducted psycholinguistic research with infants, toddlers, school-age children with and without language impairments, as well as adults. She welcomes the opportunity to mentor undergraduates in their research interests, whether that is in the areas of language development or cognitive psychology or a related field. “
Shannon Newell is a Castleton alum and former student of the Southern Vermont TRIO/Upward Bound program. She began teaching part-time in the psychology department in the fall of 2005 and joined as a full-time faculty member in 2013. With a degree in school psychology from Northern Arizona University, she has worked in schools in Louisiana, New York, and Vermont and continues to provide consultative services including school-based trainings on evaluation methods, school crisis prevention and intervention, and conducting special education evaluations.
She chairs the professional development committee of the Vermont Association of School Psychologists and was the Vermont delegate to the National Association of School Psychologists from 2016-2022. She is actively involved in the program accreditation board for the National Association of School Psychologists and spearheaded the development of the School Psychology EdS program at Vermont State University – Castleton Campus in 2016.
Dr. Greg Engel has taught at the VTSU Castleton campus since 2016. His specialty is behavioral genetics, and his scholarly work has used fruit flies to study genes that impact the behavioral response to alcohol.
In the classroom he tries to bridge the gap that is sometimes mistakenly perceived between psychology and biology, by placing mental and behavioral phenomena in the context of the brain.
A knack for listening and problem solving, a love of children, and a desire to teach led Dr. Werdenschlag to the field of developmental psychology and Vermont State University where she has been teaching for more than 30 years. Growing up, Dr. Werdenschlag thought she wanted to be either an elementary school teacher or a child psychologist. It was during her junior year of college, however, that her career goals changed thanks to an academic advisor who introduced her to a field she never knew existed-developmental psychology. It combined everything she liked to do in a way she had never before considered, which included teaching at the university level. What Dr. Werdenschlag loves the most about Vermont State University are the students and the authentic connection to the community. She appreciates the small classes where she has the opportunity to get to know each and every one of her students individually and personally. She finds it rewarding to be able to not only follow her students’ success at Vermont State University, but to be able to stay connected with them after graduation and watch them flourish in their own professional careers.
Dr. Werdenschlag’s academic interests and specialties within developmental psychology include cognitive development, family relationships, and cross-cultural issues. Her early research focused on metacognition, parent influences on children’s school performance, and parent-adolescent relationships. Dr. Werdenschlag’s current interest in cross-cultural psychology stems from her high school experience as an exchange student in Istanbul, Turkey, her second undergraduate major in anthropology, and her love of travel. She enjoys leading travel trips with students.
Dr. Werdenschlag received her Ph.D. and M.S. in Developmental Psychology from Tulane University in New Orleans, LA, and she received in B.A. in Psychology and Anthropology from Emory University in Atlanta, GA.
Dr. Emily Scott is an Assistant Professor of Psychological Science and Director of the Nature and Cognition Lab at Vermont State University. Emily received her Masters and PhD in Psychology with a concentration in Cognition and Neural Sciences at the University of Utah. Emily studies changes in brain activity, mood, and physiological stress during exposure to natural environments. She uses neurophysiological, peripheral physiological, behavioral, and self-report methods in her research to better understand the human-nature relationship, with the hope of promoting care for our natural environment. She has published over 10 peer reviewed, scientific journal articles and presented at conferences on the topics of physiological stress, cognitive neuroscience, and environmental psychology. Emily enjoys teaching a wide variety of topics in psychology that draw on her interdisciplinary expertise, including introductory psychology, research methods, biopsychology and social psychology.
Cookie Steponaitis is a licensed Vermont educator with forty years of classroom experience. She joined the Vermont University Castleton Education Department staff in 2018 and serves as the Placement Coordinator for the Castleton Campus Education Department and as a student teaching supervisor.
Alicia is part-time faculty in Education and Psychology on the Lyndon and Randolph campuses. Outside of VTSU, Alicia is the Director of Licensing Programs for the Vermont Higher Education Collaborative, where she is responsible for the implementation of licensure/endorsement and certificate programs in special education, early childhood education, early childhood special education, health education, work-based learning, and neurodiversity and inclusion.
Prior to her work with VT-HEC, Alicia was a faculty member and department chair of Core Education at Landmark College in Putney and an evaluation specialist for North Country Supervisory Union. Before moving to Vermont, she worked for the UTeach Institute at The University of Texas at Austin, supporting more than 50 universities nationwide to implement high quality STEM educator preparation programs. In her time there, Alicia secured $2.6 million in National Science Foundation and private grant funds to establish the UTeach Computer Science program, which provides equitable access to computing education through a universally designed curriculum and strengths-focused professional learning program and community of practice. As part of that effort, she was invited by the White House to participate in a series of working groups in support of President Obama’s #CSforAll initiative.
Alicia earned a B.A. in psychology at Bard College and M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in educational psychology at The University of Texas at Austin. She began her career as a middle grades special educator and maintains a Vermont educator license in special education K-21, ELL PK-12, and elementary education K-6.
Russ views teaching as a privilege and is a student-centered instructor. He has taught and continues to teach various courses in both the Writing & Literature Department and Education (undergraduate- and graduate-level) Department on the Johnson campus and via Zoom. In addition, he has taught First Year Seminars (JSC and NVU) and is now teaching a Connections seminar at VTSU. He also has taught English Composition for CCV and Rhetorical Expression for the JSC External Degree Program. At various points during his two decades plus on the Johnson campus he has also worked as an academic advisor, fulfilled various roles within the Johnson Upward Bound program, coordinated the SERVE Office, and served as the faculty advisor to the student environmental club.
Russ served as an Environmental/Education Commentator for Vermont Public Radio, 2011-2018.