Alison Miller, PhD, Dissertation Coach, Owner and Founder of “The Dissertation Coach”
Since 2000, Alison Miller, PhD has been coaching graduate students to finish doctoral dissertations and master’s theses. She developed the strategic, structured approach that all of our coaches use to motivate and guide students to the finish line. Alison is the author of Finish Your Dissertation Once and For All: How to Overcome Psychological Barriers, Get Results, and Move On with Your Life, published in 2009 by the American Psychological Association. She frequently leads dissertation and thesis workshops and has extensive experience as a dissertation coach. She has worked with thousands of graduate students individually, in groups, and workshops over the last decade. Alison has a PhD in clinical psychology from the University of Illinois at Chicago and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Cornell University. She is also the owner of Life Essentials, a company that offers life coaching and corporate seminars and workshops and Tiara: Exceptional Women’s Coaching. For more information, visit: www.lifeessentialscoaching.com and www.tiaracoaching.com. Alison is a frequent contributor to Fox News in the Morning in Chicago and her work has been featured in many publications including Crain’s Business, The Chicago Tribune, WGN radio, and Time Out Magazine. Alison is passionate about coaching graduate students. Her clients benefit from her direct yet gentle approach that helps increase awareness of beliefs, emotions, and behaviors that interfere with their dissertation or thesis progress and learn ways to successfully move forward. Alison strives to create collaborative coaching relationships of safety and openness that help her clients overcome barriers and learn tangible skills that will benefit them beyond the experience of earning their graduate degree.
Ray Meek, Owner and CFO
Ray Meek, has a Bachelor of Architecture degree from the University of Tennessee. He practiced for 25 years working with internationally recognized award winning architectural firms domestically and abroad. His focus throughout his career was on the technical performance and project management aspect of his firm’s specialty of mixed-use commercial high-rise projects. In 2008, Ray joined The Dissertation Coach full time as the CFO to oversee the development and management of the company’s contractual and financial operations. Ray brings his skills in project management and oversight to The Dissertation Coach and is responsible for the well-developed financial system the company uses to run a sound business. Ray is highly committed to sound financial management of The Dissertation Coach organization so that our coaching and consulting team can focus their energy on serving our clients and helping them succeed.
Christopher Bradley, PhD – Dissertation Consultant and Statistician
Christopher began his career in higher education at Northern Arizona University where he earned a bachelors degree in sociology and a minor in social work. From there he went on to Bowling Green State University where he earned a masters degree and a PhD in sociology. At the doctoral level, Christopher specialized in social psychology and also obtained formal minors in statistics and both qualitative and quantitative research methodologies. Christopher is now a professor at Troy University. To date Christopher has published nine peer-reviewed articles in scholarly journals, authored eighteen applied research reports, accrued a quarter of a million dollars in research grant funding and coauthored a book on the connections between western social psychology and eastern Zen Buddhism. His current research interests are grounded in the social psychological domains of emotion, motivation, the self, religion and intimate relationship violence. He has expertise in qualitative and quantitative research methodologies. As a statistician, Christopher is an expert in both parametric and non-parametric statistical techniques, including all univariate descriptive statistical techniques, and a wide range of bivariate and multivariate statistical techniques. At The Dissertation Coach Christopher is deeply committed to providing excellent service to all of his clients as he assists them with any aspect of the dissertation from topic selection to the final defense. Christopher’s warm and personable approach to helping clients is complemented by his rigorous attention to detail and his ability to provide logical and concise feedback in a timely fashion. Christopher enjoys helping his clients with all aspects of the dissertation process. He feels that it is his responsibility to provide clients with the tools, guidance and knowledge they need to successfully complete their dissertation.
Jennifer Gonzalez, PhD – Dissertation Consultant and Statistician
Jennifer Gonzalez earned her doctoral degree in epidemiology from the University of Florida College of Medicine in 2011. She has a strong background in biostatistics and has conducted the statistical analyses for the majority of her 90 peer-reviewed, published research studies (18% of these were published with a graduate student) in prominent public health and medical journals. Currently, Jennifer works collaboratively with doctoral students, MD/MPH students, medical students, and physicians to identify and conduct the appropriate statistical analyses necessary for their research. The National Institutes of Health, SAMHSA and the National Institute of Justice currently fund her research agenda, and she also serves as the program evaluator for several large, grant-funded prevention programs. She has also published a research methods textbook that uses a story-telling (and reviewer-proclaimed, “humorous”) approach to teaching topics like secondary data analysis, the integration of theory and research, and evaluation design to undergraduate students across the U.S. In her own research, Jennifer has direct experience using Stata and SPSS to conduct a variety of descriptive and inferential statistical methodologies, ranging from t-tests and correlations to psychometric testing, sensitivity and specificity analyses, survival analyses, clinical trial evaluations, and latent transition analysis. Jennifer enjoys working with students and takes a lighthearted and friendly approach to create an enjoyable learning environment, and she realizes that learning and applying statistics is often one of the most challenging tasks for students and medical professionals alike.
Kevin Hylton, PhD – Dissertation Consultant
Kevin Hylton has a PhD in Sociology from Howard University, a MA in Higher Education Administration and over two decades of experience serving as a research scientist, evaluator, technical advisor and policy advisor to Federal, State and local governments and non-profit organizations. Most of his research has focused on understanding and improving health disparities and educational inequities among underserved, minority populations. Currently, he serves as program evaluator to small research companies and non-profit organizations. In addition, he is an adjunct professor at colleges and universities in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area where he teaches behavioral and social science courses. Having co-authored peer-reviewed journal articles, book chapters, technical reports, he has also presented papers at professional meetings and conferences. Kevin is well-versed in conducting small and large-scale mix-method studies and also has provided support and advising on both qualitative and quantitative studies. His content expertise includes substance abuse, HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections, issues in healthcare, diversity and race/ethnic relations, domestic violence and educational outcomes. Kevin is passionate about helping graduate students navigate the challenges and obstacles of pursuing a graduate degree and writing their dissertation. He firmly believes that there is solution to every challenge and obstacle that a student encounters in their pursuit of their graduate degree.
Kristine L. Jones, M.P.H., PhD Dissertation Consultant
Kristine Jones is an experienced qualitative field researcher and has written numerous technical reports, grant proposals, and articles in her academic discipline. As a faculty member at several universities, both in the U.S. and in Latin America, she directed numerous theses and dissertations with graduate students in history, public health, and the social sciences. She holds a PhD in Latin American and Native American History from the University of Chicago and a Master’s in Public Health from the University of Illinois at Chicago, has received NEH, SSRC and Fulbright grants for archival and ethnographic research in Argentina and Chile, and was a Fulbright Professor in History in Chile. As a consultant, she enjoys helping students narrow and clarify their research problem, structure arguments, identify optimal methodological approaches, prepare proposals for IRB approval, interpret and synthesize research findings, respond to committee concerns, and produce polished final drafts. She understands the importance of having a non-judgmental sounding board to help work through problems and analyze qualitative research results in the fundamentally creative process of completing an original research project.
Valentina Kloosterman, PhD – Dissertation Coach and Consultant
Valentina holds a PhD in Educational Psychology from the University of Connecticut and a MA degree in Psychology from University of Belgrano in Argentina. She is a private Educational Psychologist currently conducting program evaluations and teaching undergraduate and graduate courses in psychology at the University of Phoenix, where she also serves as a Dissertation Chair and Methodologist for doctoral students. Over the past twenty years, Valentina has been teaching and researching in education with a particular emphasis on issues of child development, intelligence, and cultural diversity. Valentina has expertise in qualitative research and program evaluation and for the past decade, she has co-directed the design and implementation of research-evaluation projects, as well as provided guidance and mentoring to undergraduate and graduate students both in the United States and Latin America. In addition, Valentina has served as editorial reviewer and managing editor, advisor, presenter, and committee leader for national and international associations, and has written extensively in English and Spanish in her areas of expertise. One of Valentina’s most gratifying professional experiences is working one-on-one with students in the process of research, including literature review, data collection and analysis, and guiding her clients through the process of writing up findings and implications. To assist in her students’ ongoing professional development, she also encourages and guides them in the submission of conference proposals, academic presentations, and writing of publications. She is the editor of the book Latino Students in American Schools: Historical and Contemporary Views; and her research has been recognized with the international Hollingworth Research Award.
Michal Lemberger, PhD – Dissertation Coach and Consultant
Michal Lemberger holds a PhD in English from University of California, Los Angeles. She has taught at various local colleges and universities in Los Angeles in subjects ranging from composition to American and British Poetry and Bible as Literature and has acted as thesis advisor for students, guiding them though the process of formulating a topic, conducting appropriate research, setting goals, and producing a written product. As an editor, she has worked with graduate students and academics at various stages of their careers, providing feedback and assistance on everything from thesis proposals to articles or dissertation chapters to entire book manuscripts. She has experience working with scholars in the fields of literature, history, education, sociology, theology, philosophy, fine arts and art history, and law. Michal has developed a specialty in working with scholars for whom English is not a primary language. She can help guide students through the entire process of conceptualizing, writing, and editing a dissertation. Michal has a love of language and a thirst for knowledge. Compassionate and attentive, she relishes the opportunity to support students as they find their authentic voices and progress to completion in a timely manner.
Elline Lipkin, PhD – Dissertation Coach
Elline Lipkin received her PhD in Creative Writing/Literature from the University of Houston, her MFA in Poetry from Columbia University, and her BA in English from Wesleyan University. She was a Postdoc with the Beatrice Bain Research Group on Gender at UC Berkeley for two years and is currently a Research Scholar with UCLA’s Center for the Study of Women. She was a Visiting Assistant Professor in English at Prairie View A & M University and has taught Comparative Literature, Gender Studies and Composition at UC Berkeley. Her academic research has focused on creative writing, contemporary literature, and gender studies and her two books, The Errant Thread and Girls’ Studies, reflect these interests. Prior to her life in academe, Elline worked as a copyeditor for a variety of newspapers and magazines and in traditional book publishing in New York. She specializes in helping reluctant writers break through their blocks and find passion for their subjects. Elline enjoys creating positive relationships with her coaching clients so that they can effectively move towards their goals and earn their graduate degrees.
Darnise Martin, PhD – Dissertation Coach
Darnise Martin holds a PhD in Cultural and Historical Studies of Religion from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley. Darnise is currently a Clinical Assistant Professor at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, where she teaches courses in Religion and History. Since 2005, she has taught and mentored hundreds of students, and worked specifically with students on special research projects. Darnise has several publications including her dissertation, a co-edited volume and various articles in anthologies and encyclopedias. Darnise enjoys helping students feel excited about their work, and empowered to complete their research and writing goals. She is inspired to support doctoral students through the critically and uniquely important dissertation process. She is committed to assisting students overcome blocks and general resistance that otherwise hinder their progress
Jim McGinley, PhD – Dissertation Consultant and Statistician
Jim McGinley, PhD earned his PhD in Quantitative Psychology with a minor in Biostatistics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-CH). He has obtained funding from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and authored numerous peer-reviewed publications and conference presentations. His research has been published in varied journals focused on psychology, substance use, and statistics. He is dedicated to effectively disseminating knowledge to wide-ranging audiences and his efforts in these areas (e.g., research presentations and teaching) have earned multiple awards. Jim takes great pride in his ability to bridge the gap between quantitative methods and applied research. In doing so, he helps his clients identify and implement the best analytical solutions for rigorously evaluating research hypotheses. Most importantly, Jim’s core objective is to help each student reach their academic goals in a timely manner while minimizing stress, frustration, and anxiety. He has also been known to do the impossible – make statistics fun!
Harold K. “Harry” McGinnis, PhD- Dissertation Consultant
Dr. McGinnis earned his PhD from Florida State University, in Public Administration and Research Methods in 1982, and a Master’s degree, in Applied Statistics with a minor in Oceanography, and undergraduate degree, in Applied Mathematics and Economics, both earned from Florida Institute of Technology. Dr. McGinnis taught applied mathematics at Florida Tech, mathematics and science at Tallahassee Community College, graduate public administration, research, and business management science at Florida State, and graduate math education at Nova Southeastern University. For 13 years, he held the position of Associate Professor and Founding Director of the Burruss Institute, a public service research “think tank” at Kennesaw State University in Atlanta. Recently, he served as a Full Professor at Argosy University-Atlanta teaching content courses in higher education and research and quantitative methods, including SPSS. At Argosy University, he served as the Vice-Chair of the IRB and a member of the Campus Research Board. He is a charter member of the American Evaluation Association, serves on the Board for the International Journal of Higher Ed Teaching and Learning and peer reviews for the International Journal of Education Policy and Leadership and the Journal of Public Affairs Education.
Ani C. Moughamian, PhD – Dissertation Consultant
Ani received her PhD in Educational Psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles. Her dissertation focused on the relationship between oral narrative ability, language skills, and literacy outcomes in Armenian American English learner students in fourth through sixth grade. She is currently an Adjunct Associate Professor in the Graduate School of Education at Saint Mary’s College of California where she teaches research methods courses to students pursuing their master’s and doctoral degrees in a variety of programs including TESOL, special education, counseling, school psychology, early childhood, and educational/teacher leadership. In this capacity, Ani provides students with structured guidance through the research process, including developing research questions, writing a literature review, developing research methodology, conducting data analysis (both quantitative and qualitative), and writing up results and conclusions. Ani also works closely with students as they work on applications for the Institutional Review Board and also serves as a thesis/dissertation chair. She has significant research experiences in the field of education and has worked on a number of projects focused primarily on English learner students’ language and literacy development. Ani truly enjoys working with graduate students and finds great satisfaction in supporting students through the research process. She is compassionate, straightforward, optimistic and passionate about helping individuals succeed in all they wish to accomplish.
Cassady Pitt, PhD – Dissertation Consultant and Statistician
Cassady earned her PhD in Sociology specializing in criminology and a minor in family from Bowling Green State University in 2015, a masters degree in criminal justice administration from Boston University (2003), and a bachelors degree from Central Michigan University in sociology and psychology in 2001. Cassady’s research interests are grounded in juvenile delinquency, race/ethnicity, criminological theory, and the effects of religiosity as a condition to crime/delinquency. She is a published author in Sociology and continues to write articles for publication. Cassady also teaches online part-time for a small university in the mid-west. Her clients appreciate her compassion and understanding of the specific struggles students experience in graduate school. Cassady is an experienced and knowledgeable statistician who simplifies statistics so that her clients can understand, interpret and write up their findings with confidence. She has experience working with students in a wide range of academic fields and is well trained in both SPSS and STATA. Cassady also enjoys providing methodological and editing support to her clients. She appreciates the opportunity to help students achieve their goals.
Laura E. Plybon, PhD – Dissertation Consultant and Statistician
Laura Plybon, PhD entered the field of research as an arts major, becoming fascinated with studies on children’s art while an undergraduate and later, when obtaining her MA in child development from Sarah Lawrence College. She went on to receive an MS and PhD in experimental developmental psychology from Virginia Commonwealth University, where her interest in childhood disabilities led to a certification in developmental disabilities from the Medical College of Virginia. Laura has spent the majority of the past 15 years in academia, where she has held the positions of tenure-track assistant professor of psychology, a visiting assistant professor of research, and most recently, director of assessment. Her unique approach to understanding statistics as a language and a visual art led to a love of statistics and resulted in an extensive knowledge of advanced statistical analyses (i.e., ANOVA/MANOVA, logistic regression, exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses, SEM), complimented by her qualitative research skill set, especially regarding the various types of phenomenological research methods. Her research interests are diverse and span the disciplines of psychology, counseling, public health, epidemiology, nursing, education, and business. She holds a special interest in the behavioral health and health promotion of ethnic minority populations; socioeconomic, ethnic, and gender disparities as they relate to education, health, and mental health; and autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) across the lifespan. She currently works as a full time consultant for The Dissertation Coach, a position that allows her to assist clients at all stages of their dissertation with compassion, humor, patience, and understanding.
Rowena A. Robles, PhD – Dissertation Consultant
Rowena has Bachelor’s degrees in Sociology and Economics; a Master’s of Education in Education Policy, Organization, and Management; and a PhD in Ethnic Studies—all awarded from the University of California, Berkeley. She has taught at the university level for over a decade and has worked with thousands of students on research papers with topics ranging from race- and class-based analyses of academic achievement; education policy implementation; urban politics; to immigrant political integration. Rowena is a published author and an expert in sociological theoretical frameworks that focus on race, class, and gender; education; immigration; and politics; and has extensive experience in quantitative and qualitative research design and data collection. Her doctoral degree is inter-disciplinary so she is also able to pull from and utilize various disciplines to assist and advise clients in their research and writing. She enjoys and derives great satisfaction from working with students to develop strong hypotheses, construct research and fieldwork methodologies and plans, and assist in the overall organization of theses and dissertations. Rowena is committed to assisting students get over blocks and barriers to their research and writing processes and is most happy and feels most successful when her clients feel confident and are close to completion of their projects.
Deirdre Rogers, PhD – Dissertation Consultant
Deirdre Rogers, PhD, received her Associates Degree in Psychology and a minor in Native America studies from De Anza College, her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from San Jose State University, in Psychology and Sociology, and her Ph.D. from Bowling Green State University, in Sociology with a concentration in Criminology and minors in Women’s Studies and Social Psychology. She is currently an associate professor and department chair of Sociology and Criminal Justice. Her areas of interest include criminal justice, social inequalities, environmental justice, and social construction of difference, but she is also a generalist who can do everything from Introduction to Sociology classes to Serial Killers to Cultural Geography. She has taught research methods, theory, as well as graduate classes in activism and social justice. She is well versed in both qualitative and quantitative techniques, having published research using both types of methodologies. She has worked as a grant evaluator and author on large, community and direct services grants from the Department of Health and Human Services. She has worked with under-graduate and graduate students for over 10 years. She has mentored honors thesis and graduate thesis in a wide variety of topics, helping students to complete their projects in a timely manner. Dr. Rogers understands the ups and downs of academic writing and research and knows that students can overcome obstacles and successfully complete their graduate degrees with the right support and guidance.
Kathryn Peterson, PhD – Dissertation Coach and Consultant
Kathryn Peterson holds an M.A. in playwriting from the University of Cincinnati, and an MFA and PhD in creative writing and literature from the University of Houston. Dr. Peterson has worked with arts, humanities, and social science students for the past 16 years, teaching everything from developmental writing and reading to graduate level seminars in research. She currently teaches at the University of Houston-Clear Lake, where she advises theses and mentors both undergraduate and graduate literature students. Her students have won local, state and national prizes and have published in a wide variety of journals. She has written plays, short fiction, and literary criticism, with research emphases in managing writing anxiety and in the application of mythic structures to the composition of lengthy projects. As a coach, she enjoys helping students at various stages of the writing process, particularly those who are stuck in the phases of idea development and generation. She helps students identify their writing blocks and figure out strategies to overcome them and manage the physiological aspects of writing anxiety.
Rebecca Schuman, PhD – Dissertation Coach
Rebecca received her PhD in German from the University of California-Irvine in 2010, and spent four years as a visiting professor at the University of Missouri-St. Louis and Ohio State University before leaving to become a coach and journalist. In her coaching practice, she has helped dozens of clients achieve their goals and feel empowered and in control of their lives. Rebecca’s sharp, incisive coverage of the American higher education landscape in Slate, the Atlantic, the Chronicle of Higher Education and other outlets has, since her debut in 2013, been a leading voice in the conversation about academic labor, challenges to PhD completion, and other pressing issues in the field. She is the author of two books, Kafka and Wittgenstein (Northwestern University Press, 2015), based on her doctoral dissertation, and Schadenfreude, A Love Story (Flatiron/Macmillan, 2017), a comic memoir that details her misadventures with German literature and academia. As an experienced “committee whisperer,” Rebecca specializes in helping graduate students who have challenging relationships with the academy, whether that be adviser issues or general anxiety, and enjoys providing an array of dynamic support services with her coaching clients, including creating empowering work plans that really work, and navigating “tough-conversation” emails with mentors. She is particularly interested in working with humanities and social science dissertations, and those that specialize in women’s and gender studies and LGBTQ issues.
Rebecca Schwartz-Bishir, PhD – Dissertation Coach
Rebecca Schwartz-Bishir has an MA and a PhD in Historical Musicology from the University of Michigan. A specialist in the relationships of music and dance, over the past fourteen years she has taught classes in musicology, dance history, and ballet. In addition to working for five years at MUSA, the publishing branch of the American Musicological Society, she has been employed as a free-lance editor of music and scholarly texts. As a professional academic writing coach, Dr. Schwartz-Bishir has worked with more than 1000 graduate students and professors in the humanities, arts, social sciences, and sciences. By providing her clients with methods to get unstuck and become more productive in their writing and research, she has guided them to successful outcomes in their endeavors. Her coaching involves time and project management, overcoming perfectionism and other internal negative dialogues that slow down the writing process, and motivating people to work with realistic expectations and behaviors. She considers academic writing an enriching process from which people can grow as thinkers and as individuals.
Michael Sikes, PhD – Dissertation Consultant
Michael began his educational research career at the University of South Florida, where his graduate training led to a full-time position at a campus research institute. He went on to earn his PhD in education and a Certificate in Program Evaluation at Florida State University. After a decade of supervising and conducting research in a variety of government agencies, nonprofits, and academia, Michael launched a successful independent consulting practice, with a concentration in program evaluation. He has taught and supervised graduate student research at Antioch University, taught evaluation at Florida State, and designed and delivered hundreds of workshops on research design, evaluation, assessment, survey development, data analysis, and reporting. A devoted writer whose bachelors degree was in English, Michael has authored or co-authored three published books and numerous articles. Michael believes that the thesis or dissertation can be one of the most fulfilling and extraordinary journeys a person can take. He understands that for each individual, the journey will progress along its own path and often at its own pace. He is dedicated to helping each student find his or her own way toward completion of the journey.
Kathy Stansbury, PhD – Dissertation Consultant and Statisitican
Kathy Stansbury holds a PhD in Developmental Psychology, with special training in quantitative and statistical methodology and child psychopathology from UCLA. Kathy has worked as college professor for more than 20 years, and has published more than 15 peer-reviewed research papers. As a professor, Dr. Stansbury mentored many honors, masters, and doctoral students through the completion of their research projects, and worked with fellow professors and advanced students to publish research articles. Dr. Stansbury’s specialties include research methods and statistical analysis, and in explaining the strengths and limitations of the range of research designs, and is passionate about teaching clients how to design good tests of their hypotheses, and supporting them in doing so. Choosing the correct statistical test to answer a research question is often a key concern for doctoral students, and this is something that is important to Dr. Stansbury. Based on the needs of each client, she can provide statistical analysis services and tutorials in SPSS, and will provide annotations of output, explanations of results, and support in developing the presentation of the results in a thesis format so that the client can produce high quality methodology, results, and discussion sections. Dr. Stansbury has assisted students in many research fields including psychology, education, business, kinesiology, counseling, family studies, biology, and child development. She also finds it gratifying to assist students in sharpening their writing and critical thinking skills, in constructing strong hypotheses, and in structuring literature reviews. She likes to think of herself as a committed part of the client’s team, and believes that strong communication and a positive working relationship between client and consultant is the basis for steady progress and high quality outcomes.
Melinda Valente, EdD – Dissertation Coach
Melinda earned her EdD in Organizational Leadership from Pepperdine University. She also holds an M.A. and a B.A. from Emerson College, where she gained experience in the areas of mass communication, media management, and television production. After working in the entertainment industry for a few years she decided to return to her true passion, academia. Melinda has spent the majority of her career in higher education administration, working in admissions and student services for over 14 years. The bulk of that time (a little over a decade) was spent at Pepperdine University School of Law in Malibu, CA. She recently accepted an admissions position at Marymount High School – a private, independent, Catholic, all-girls high school in Los Angeles, CA – where she is able to apply her skills and knowledge, while learning about the specifics of the high school admissions process. Melinda has a great deal of compassion for the ups and downs on the doctoral journey and is committed to helping students more effectively manage the dissertation process and overcome the internal and external challenges they face. She truly enjoys helping students accomplish this significant milestone in their academic careers.