The Psychology Department is pleased to acknowledge seven alumni who have made noteworthy contributions to the field. The 5 Under 10 group all graduated since 2012 and each honoree has continued to learn, grow and use their degree to advance the field and their communities in significant ways. We look forward to learning about the remarkable things these talented young scholars will accomplish in the future.
Our NC Distinguished Alum award recognizes an alum who has made a notable contribution to North Carolina. While we have many alumni who give back to NC in meaningful ways, we are especially proud of the work that Dr. Kelly Graves has done through her establishment of the Kellin Foundation.
Our first Distinguished Alum award recognizes the 25-year career contributions of Dr. Michael de Arellano whose research and clinical work has successfully addressed health disparities in underserved communities and made significant contributions to trauma- informed care for youth.
We are pleased to present our second annual list of extraordinary alumni and look forward to honoring more alumni next year!
5 Under 10
Keita Christophe (PhD 2021)
Dr. Keita Christophe graduated from UNCG in 2021 with a PhD in developmental psychology. Since graduation, he has served as an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology at Wake Forest University (21’-22’) and has since moved to McGill University in the same role (22-present). Since 2019, he has published 24 peer-reviewed manuscripts and 2 edited book chapters, all focused on the impact of risk factors such as racism and discrimination, as well as cultural resilience factors such as ethnic-racial identity, socialization, and youth activism on the mental health of racially and ethnically minoritized youth and families.
Ariana Hoet (PhD 2017)
Executive Clinical Director
Ariana Hoet is the executive clinical director of On Our Sleeves. She is the driving force behind its mission of providing educational resources that break stigmas, increase mental health literacy, and promote children’s mental health. Dr. Hoet also works in pediatric primary care at Nationwide Children’s Hospital where she serves primarily Latine and Somali families. The work of On Our Sleeves and Dr. Hoet helped draw the U.S. Surgeon General to Nationwide Children’s to discuss the pediatric mental health crisis. Dr. Hoet has become a go-to national expert for outlets including USA Today, CNN, Good Morning America, and Newsweek.
Beatrice Kuhlmann (PhD 2013)
Beatrice G. Kuhlmann received her PhD in Experimental Psychology under the mentorship of Dayna R. Touron. Afterwards, she returned to her home country Germany where she became Professor of Cognitive Psychology and Cognitive Aging at the University of Mannheim. Her research examines aging-related changes in episodic memory and how these can be mitigated through metacognitive strategies. During the Covid-19 pandemic, she co-initiated the One World Cognitive Psychology Seminar series to connect cognitive psychologists worldwide; this series was now adapted permanently by the Psychonomic Society. As her faculty’s equal opportunity officer, she strives to promote gender equality in the social sciences.
Alishia McCullough (BA 2016)
Alishia McCullough (she/her) is a Licensed Clinical Mental HealthTherapist, Somatic Healer, Writer, and Culture Shifter supporting BIPOC folks to holistically heal their relationship with their bodies. She specializes in somatic therapy, trauma healing, and eating disorder treatment with a focus on increasing embodied awareness and liberation. She is the owner of BlackandEmbodied™ Counseling and Consulting PLLC, outside of her clinical work. She is a Co-Founder of the global AmplifyMelanatedVoices Movement 2020, and has worked as a mental health influencer in META’s “wellbeing collective.” Her work has been featured by Forbes, Target, Bustle, Times OC, and BlackGirlNerds. To learn more about her work, check out blackandembodied.com and her Instagram account @blackandembodied.
Juan Prandoni (PhD 2018)
Clinical Psychologist and Training Director
Juan received his PhD in clinical psychology from UNCG. His research and practice focus throughout his career have centered around helping Latine families navigate the process of acculturation. He currently works as the Training Director at El Futuro with the La Mesita department of El Futuro which focuses on improving the capacity of providers across NC to deliver best practices in mental health to the Latine community as well as addressing professional pipeline and research-to-practice gaps in Latine mental health. La Mesita attempts to address these goals by offering a variety of free or low-cost professional training opportunities focused on bringing cutting edge knowledge and best practices in Latine mental health to students and professionals in NC and beyond. Juan is also a therapist at El Futuro providing direct bilingual therapy to Latine clients where he does his best to practice what he preaches by applying the concepts covered across La Mesita’s programming.
The Nc Distinguished Alum
Pam Laughon (BA 1979)
Dr. Pam Laughon graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from UNC-Greensboro in 1979. She earned a M.S. and Ph.D. in psychology at Florida State University, returning to North Carolina in 1989 as an Assistant Professor of Psychology at UNC-Asheville. She has taught college for over 40 years and was Chair of Psychology from 2007-2020. She worked for a decade as a volunteer Guardian ad litem in the 28th Judicial District, and she continues to serve as a Mitigation Specialist for Indigent Defense Services of North Carolina since 1996.
Russell Shilling (PhD 1992)
Russell “Rusty” Shilling earned his Ph.D. under the guidance of David Soderquist and has since dedicated his career to public service, innovation, and social impact. He joined the Navy as an Aerospace Experimental Psychologist and was an associate professor at the U.S. Air Force Academy and Naval Postgraduate School. As a program officer at the Office of Naval Research (ONR) and Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), he created innovative research and development (R&D) programs in education and psychological health. Many of his programs used games, virtual reality, AI, and chatbots, including the first military-sponsored programs on virtual reality therapy to treat PTSD. “Rusty” also collaborated with Sesame Workshop to develop award-winning initiatives that supported military children and families coping with grief, uncertainty, and injured parents.
After 22 years, he left the Navy as a Captain. His expertise earned him an appointment by the Obama administration to lead STEM education initiatives at the U.S. Department of Education. He supported White House initiatives and helped craft national policy to improve equity and access to high-quality STEM opportunities for all children.
Shilling continued pushing for education and research policy reforms as the American Psychological Association (APA) Chief Science Officer. Today, he advises major philanthropies, nonprofits, and startups on incorporating innovative rapid-cycle research and development strategies into new evidence-based technologies that support education and psychological health.