dsc_00082Charisse Nixon, Ph.D.
Director of CORE and Professor of Psychology
Phone: (814) 898-6041
Email: [email protected]

As a full professor, Dr. Charisse Nixon is active in the academic and applied spheres at Penn State Behrend. Much of her research focuses on preventing peer aggression and promoting resiliency among youth.  Her background in developmental psychology and quantitative research is an especially positive contribution to CORE, as she helps lead many research initiatives that focus on promoting positive youth development for Erie youth.


Nicoldscn6835e L. Rosen, Ph.D.
Project Director
Phone: (814) 898-6515
Email: [email protected]

Dr. Nicole “Nick” Rosen earned her Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Akron, with specializations in gender and criminology. Her dissertation examined gendered differences in how middle school youth experience bullying. As a qualitative researcher, Nicole is most interested in learning about people’s lived experiences. As a sociologist, she is determined to promote social equality by considering micro and macro levels of influence on individuals. Her research interests include cross-cultural comparisons of gender inequalities and sociology of work.

Mary A. Baird, M.S.img_0967
Mentor Coordinator
Phone: (814) 898-6514
Email: [email protected]

Mary Baird serves as CORE’s Mentor Coordinator since July 2016. She has years of experience in mentoring both with high school students as well as college students. Formerly, she served as the CEO of The Ophelia Project based in Erie, PA.  During her tenure, she traveled throughout the nation working with students at all levels in mentoring capacities. She has co-authored mentoring and anti-bullying curriculum and video materials that appear on CORE’s site as part of The Ophelia Project works.  Her true passion lies in working towards building connected relationships between college students, community mentors and the middle school aged children they strive to serve.

jamesJames Hodge, Ph.D. Candidate

Director of Evaluation & PYD Coordinator
Phone: (814) 898-6297
Email: [email protected]

James Hodge is a proud Penn State Behrend graduate with an undergraduate degree in psychology, and is currently finishing his Doctoral training in Social Psychology from the University of Vermont. He recently rejoined the team at CORE, having previously worked at CORE as an undergraduate research assistant in 2008, and research associate from 2009-2010. James brings to CORE extensive training in quantitative research coupled with a passion for understanding and promoting positive social change for youth.

Abbe Biebel, B.S.abbe
PYD Coordinator
Phone: (814) 898-6297
Email: [email protected]

Abbe Biebel earned her a Business Liberal Arts and Science Bachelor degree from Penn State. Having worked at CORE for many years, Abbe is a well recognized face in Erie County. Her knowledge of the community and passion to promote positive youth development are a great asset to CORE. Abbe leads several asset training sessions for the community as well.



Nate Magee, M.S.screen-shot-2016-10-14-at-1-54-23-pm
Research Technologist
Phone: (814) 898-7563
Email: [email protected]

Nate Magee began as an intern at CORE in 2009 while he was earning his undergraduate degree in developmental psychology from Edinboro University. He stayed on part-time while completing his Master’s degree in Special Education at Mercyhurst University. Nate is passionate about the strength-based approach that CORE and Positive Youth Development employ to help youth achieve better outcomes. As a member of the American Evaluation Association, he is actively involved in many of the evaluation projects at CORE.

25ec3faJonathan Kinnear, B.A.
Research Assistant
Phone: (814) 898-6297
Email: [email protected]

Jonathan Kinnear earned his psychology degree from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania and has been working at CORE for over five years. As a research assistant at CORE, Jonathan brings great ideas and support to the team. His participation in PYD task forces, attention to detail, and research experience are great assets. The integrity and success of many PYD initiatives are thanks to Jonathan’s hard work and his ‘behind the scenes’ help.


melMelanie Hetzel-Riggin, Ph.D.
Faculty Affiliate
Phone: (814) 898-6949
Email: [email protected]

Dr. Melanie D. Hetzel-Riggin received her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology in August of 2005 from Northern Illinois University. She is an Associate Professor and Chair of Psychology at Penn State Behrend and is a licensed clinical psychologist. Her dissertation investigated the role of dissociation on physiological reactivity to reminders of rape experiences. Her current research focuses on the effectiveness of bystander intervention to reduce sexual violence and peer mistreatment, as well as the relationship among interpersonal trauma, coping style, and mental health outcomes. Her teaching interests include abnormal psychology, clinical psychology, trauma and resiliency, career counseling, crisis intervention, ethics, and research methods.

Kimberly Corson, Ph. D., CFLE
Faculty Affiliate

Phone: (814) 898 6973

Email: [email protected]

Dr. Kimberly Corson received her Ph.D. in Human Development and Family Studies, in December 2011 from Texas Tech University. At present, she is an assistant professor of psychology at Penn State Behrend. Kimberly is an experienced educator with a variety of classroom experience, ranging from early childhood to higher ed.  She has an extensive leadership background managing a variety of teams in the education, nonprofit, and public media industries and has served on a number of advisory boards, including the Houston Center for Literacy. Her research interests focus on children’s sense of space, both physical space and social or “lived space.”  Most recently, she is working on a project examining math anxiety and mindset and another looking at how music education affects children’s socio-emotional development.