Christian A. Meissner, Ph.D.
Christian Meissner is Professor of Psychology at Iowa State University. He holds a Ph.D. in Cognitive & Behavioral Science from Florida State University (2001) and conducts empirical studies in applied cognition, including the role of memory, attention, perception, and decision processes in real world tasks. He has published more than 100 peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters, and has received more than $18 million in grant funding from such agencies as the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Departments of Defense, Justice, and Homeland Security, and the U.S. Intelligence Community. From 2010 – 2012, he served as Program Director of Law & Social Sciences at the National Science Foundation. Dr. Meissner is currently Past-President of the Society for Applied Research in Memory & Cognition, and is a Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science, the American Psychological Association, and the Psychonomic Society.
Amelia Mindthoff, Ph.D.
Amelia Mindthoff received her Ph.D. in Legal Psychology from Florida International University (2020) and is currently a post-doctoral scholar in the Applied Cognition Laboratory. Dr. Mindthoff’s research primarily focuses on examining the efficacy of evidence-based investigative interviewing methods. She also studies juror perceptions and decision making regarding various topics (e.g., interrogations, forensic evidence). Dr. Mindthoff’s research has been funded by the National Science Foundation and the American Psychology-Law Society.
Ariana Daneshbodi, B.S.
Ariana Daneshbodi received her B.S. in psychology from the University of Illinois, where she conducted research with Dr. Lili Sahakyan. Ms. Daneshbodi joined the Applied Cognition Laboratory and the Cognitive Psychology doctoral program at Iowa State University in 2020.
Jesse Rothweiler, M.S.
Jesse Rothweiler received her B.A. in Psychology from Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania (2015). Her undergraduate research focused on attention depletion and restoration. She received her M.A. in Experimental Psychology from Towson University (2017). Her graduate thesis examined how the presence of other individuals (social facilitation) might influence cross-race identifications from a lineup (Rothweiler, Goodwin, & Kukucka, 2020). Ms. Rothweiler joined the Applied Cognition Laboratory and the Cognitive Psychology doctoral program at Iowa State University in 2017. Her research is currently focused on the cross-race effect in face identification.
Steve Kleinman is a career intelligence officer with 30 years of operational and leadership experience in assignments worldwide. He is a recognized subject matter expert in human intelligence, strategic interrogation, intelligence support to special operations, and special survival training. He has the distinction of serving both as the Director of the Combat Interrogation Course and as the Department of Defense Senior Intelligence Officer for Resistance to Interrogation training. Col. Kleinman is a veteran of three major military campaigns (Operations Just Cause, Desert Shield/Storm, and Iraqi Freedom) where he served as an interrogator, case officer, chief of a joint and combined interrogation team, and as a senior advisor on interrogation operations to a special operations task force. He has been cited as one of the most prolific interrogators during the first Gulf War. He has testified on interrogation and detainee policy before five Congressional intelligence, armed services, and judiciary committees, and served as the senior advisor to the Intelligence Science Board’s 2005-2008 study on strategic interrogation. Col. Kleinman is a founding member and Chair of the High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group Research Committee, and he contributes extensively to research conducted in the Applied Cognition Laboratory on interviewing, interrogation, and credibility assessment.
Erik Phillips is a former Army Special Operations interrogator and Arabic linguist. His operational experience spans three combat theaters, and his reporting has proven instrumental in guiding decision-making ranging from tactical-level operations to national-level policy. He is uniquely qualified in exploiting Islamic extremist networks and in countering extremist propaganda and recruitment efforts. Mr. Phillips earned both a B.A. in Psychology and an M.A. in Psychological Science from the University of Colorado at Colorado Spring, graduating with honors and focusing his research and studies on the science of interrogation and credibility assessment. Mr. Phillips serves as a member of the High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group Research Committee, and he works with the Applied Cognition Laboratory to validate and translate scientific research into meaningful best practices for current and next-generation practitioners.
Former Doctoral Students & Post-Doctoral Scholars:
Justin Albrechtsen, Ph.D.
National Security Psychologist
Justin Albrechtsen received his Ph.D. in Legal Psychology from the University of Texas at El Paso (2010). He was a graduate research assistant in the Applied Cognition Laboratory from 2005 – 2010. His research focused on improving human judgments of deception by orienting individuals to more accurate cues and by inducing intuitive (as opposed to deliberative) judgments.
Dominick Atkinson, Ph.D.
Post-Doctoral Scholar, University of Idaho
Dominick Atkinson received his Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology from Iowa State University (2019). He was a graduate research assistant in the Applied Cognition Laboratory from 2014 – 2019. His current research seeks to identify ethical and effective interviewing techniques that promote the disclosure of information from suspects, and investigates the ability of individuals to detect deception in forensic contexts. Dr. Atkinson is currently a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Idaho.
Laure Brimbal, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Texas State University
Laure Brimbal received her Ph.D. in Psychology from John Jay College of Criminal Justice and the Graduate Center, CUNY in 2016. She was a postdoctoral scholar in the Applied Cognition Laboratory from 2017 – 2020. Her research focuses on interrogation techniques, lie detection, and law enforcement decision making. Her research has evaluated the effectiveness of rapport and trust building techniques in intelligence interviews, developed a conceptual model of resistance and its mitigation, and examined the effectiveness of training approaches on real-world interviews. Dr. Brimbal is currently an Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice at Texas State University.
Rachel Dianiska, Ph.D.
Post-Doctoral Fellow, University of California at Irvine
Rachel Dianiska received her Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology from Iowa State University (2020), and completed B.S. in Psychology with honors from Louisiana State University where she conducted research with Dr. Sean Lane examining the relationship between deception and how well a lie is remembered. She was a graduate research assistant in the Applied Cognition Laboratory from 2014 – 2020. Dr. Dianiska’s research investigates the influence of various cognitive processes to issues such as interviewing and credibility assessment, the development of false memories, and the influence of lying on memory for the truth. Dr. Dianiska is currently a post-doctoral fellow at the University of California at Irvine.
Jacqueline R. Evans, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Florida International University
Jacki Evans received her Ph.D. in Legal Psychology from Florida International University (2008). She was a postdoctoral scholar in the Applied Cognition Laboratory from 2010 – 2013. Her research focuses on investigative interviewing in its many forms, to include interviewing cooperative witnesses, interrogating uncooperative suspects, and gathering intelligence from sources. In addition, her research addresses the ability (or lack thereof) to detect deception in a variety of contexts. Dr. Evans is currently Associate Professor of Psychology at Florida International University.
Allyson Horgan, Ph.D.
National Security Psychologist
Allyson Horgan received her Ph.D. in Legal Psychology from the University of Texas at El Paso (2011). She was a graduate research assistant in the Applied Cognition Laboratory from 2007 – 2011. Dr. Horgan’s research focused on interview and interrogation methods that facilitate more diagnostic confessions and improve human judgments of deception.
Kate Houston, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Texas A&M International University
Kate Houston received her Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology from the University of Aberdeen, U.K. (2011). She was a postdoctoral scholar in the Applied Cognition Laboratory from 2011 – 2014. Dr. Houston’s research focuses on the development of evidence-based information elicitation strategies within a wide array of interviewing contexts, such as witness interviews, suspect investigations, and human intelligence interrogations. Her research also considers factors of emotion and memory, social influence, rapport development, and the role of interpreters in the interrogative context. Dr. Houston is currently an Associate Professor of Criminal Justice at Texas A&M International University.
Julie LaBianca, Ph.D.
Senior Research Analyst, Iowa State University
Julie LaBianca received her Ph.D. in the Legal Psychology at the University of Texas at El Paso (2016). She was a graduate research assistant in the Applied Cognition Laboratory from 2010 – 2016. Her research focuses on the social perception of interviewing and interrogation practices, most notably exploring public support for torture and other coercive interrogation practices. She is currently a Senior Research Analyst in the Office of Institutional Research at Iowa State University.
Ryann (Haw) Leonard, Ph.D.
Division Chair & Faculty, Big Bend College
Ryann Leonard (née Haw) received her Ph.D. in Legal Psychology from Florida International University (2005). She was a graduate research assistant in the Applied Cognition Laboratory from 2002 – 2005. Her research focus was on eyewitness identification decision errors and facial processing errors. Dr. Leonard is currently the head of the Criminal Justice program at Big Bend Community College and works closely with local law enforcement on training and recruiting new officers.
Stephen Michael, Ph.D.
Lecturer, Whitman College
Stephen Michael received his Ph.D. in Legal Psychology from the University of Texas at El Paso. His research focuses on the psychological processes that influence deception detection and investigative interviewing techniques. Dr. Michael was a graduate research assistant in the Applied Cognition Laboratory from 2008 – 2013. He is currently a Lecturer in the Department of Psychology at Whitman College.
Tara L. Mitchell, Ph.D.
Professor, Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania
Tara Mitchell received her Ph.D. in Legal Psychology from Florida International University (2005). She was a graduate research assistant in the Applied Cognition Laboratory from 2002 – 2005. Dr. Mitchell’s research interests focus on understanding and reducing discrimination, as well as gender- and sexuality-based violence. She spends much of her free time working with a domestic violence and rape crisis center. Dr. Mitchell is currently Professor of Psychology and Coordinator of Women & Gender Studies at Lock Haven University.
Fadia Narchet, Ph.D.
Professor, University of New Haven
Fadia Narchet received her Ph.D. in Legal Psychology from Florida International University (2005). She was a graduate research assistant in the Applied Cognition Laboratory from 2002 – 2005. Dr. Narchet’s research interests focus on the investigative interviewing of cooperative and non-cooperative subjects. She is Professor of Criminal Justice at the University of New Haven.
Simon Oleszkiewicz, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, University of Twente (Netherlands)
Simon Oleszkiewicz received his Ph.D in Psychology from the University of Gothenburg (Sweden) in 2016. He was a postdoctoral fellow in the Applied Cognition Laboratory from 2016 – 2017. His research involves experimental evaluations of the efficacy of different interview techniques for intelligence gathering, with a focus on subtle elicitation tactics and trust-building strategies. Dr. Oleszkiewicz’s work places a premium on developing novel measures that captures important aspects of human intelligence gathering interactions. He is also involved in developing evidence-based training for police and military practitioners in the United States and Scandinavian countries. Dr. Oleszkiewicz is now an Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Twente in the Netherlands.
Melissa B. Russano, Ph.D.
Professor, Roger Williams University
Melissa Russano received her Ph.D. in Legal Psychology from Florida International University (2004). She was a graduate research assistant in the Applied Cognition Laboratory from 2002 – 2004. Her research addresses various psychological and criminological aspects of investigative interviewing, including the processes of interrogation and confession. She has published numerous peer-reviewed publications in scholarly outlets relevant to interrogations, including the publication of an influential, widely used paradigm for studying interrogations in the laboratory (Russano et al., 2005). Dr. Russano is currently Professor of Criminal Justice at Roger Williams University.
Maria (Krioukova) Shpurik, Ph.D.
Senior Lecturer, Florida International University
Maria Shpurik (née Krioukova) received her Ph.D. in Legal Psychology from Florida International University (2003). She completed her doctoral dissertation with Dr. Meissner and explored factors that influence how mock jurors process confession and alibi evidence. Dr. Shpurik is currently a full-time Senior Lecturer in the Psychology Department at Florida International University.
Kyle J. Susa, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, California State University, Bakersfield
Kyle Susa received his Ph.D. in Legal Psychology from the University of Texas at El Paso (2010). He was a graduate research assistant in the Applied Cognition Laboratory from 2005 – 2010, and subsequently a postdoctoral scholar in the laboratory (funded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security) from 2010 – 2015. His research focuses on the social and cognitive processes that can lead to memory errors in face identification, and how retrieval practice through testing can enhance memory accuracy in both legal and educational contexts. Dr. Susa is currently Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Psychology at California State University, Bakersfield.
Jessica K. Swanner, Ph.D.
Senior Researcher, Workiva
Jessica Swanner received her Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology from the University of Arkansas (2010). She was a postdoctoral scholar in the Applied Cognition Laboratory from 2013 – 2017. Her research investigates the various social and cognitive psychological processes that underlie investigative interviewing and the gathering of human intelligence, secondhand information, secrets, and criminal interrogations. She is currently a Senior Researcher conducting user experience research at Workiva in Ames, IA.
Skye Woestehoff, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Coastal Carolina University
Skye Woestehoff received her Ph.D. in the Legal Psychology program at the University of Texas at El Paso. She was a graduate research assistant in the Applied Cognition Laboratory from 2010 – 2016. Her research applies social psychological theories, such as the correspondence bias and belief perseverance, to understand the psychological processes that jurors engage in when evaluating a confession. Dr. Woestehoff received funding from the National Science Foundation to support her dissertation research, which compares interrogation techniques that are currently used in the field with a novel interrogation approach believed to promote more diagnostic outcomes. Dr. Woestehoff is currently Assistant Professor of Psychology at Coastal Carolina University.
Jessica L. (Marcon) Zabecki, Ph.D.
Research Psychologist, U.S. Army
Jess Marcon Zabecki received her Ph.D. in Legal Psychology from the University of Texas at El Paso (2009). She was a graduate research assistance in the Applied Cognition Laboratory from 2005 – 2009. Dr. Marcon Zabecki’s research focused on the underlying processes of the cross-race effect and the role of cognitive bias and perception in forensic fingerprint identification. She has worked in both academic and applied research environments since leaving UTEP, to include supporting efforts in intelligence interviewing, military behavioral health, and military sexual assault. Dr. Marcon Zabecki is currently a Research Psychologist at U.S. Army Headquarters.