top of page

Our Guests

Jamie Goldenberg_USF (2).png
Pelin Kesebir - photo.jpeg
Dan Liechty_ECU.jpg
Jerry_CU (2).png
HJR photo.jpg

Jamie Arndt, PhD is Professor and Chair of the Department of Psychological Sciences at University of Missouri. He has authored or co-authored over 100 scholarly works pertaining to the self, existential motivation, psychological defense, and health decision making, among other topics. .Dr. Arndt is also on the editorial board of Health Psychology and is a member of an NCI sponsored working group (Cognitive, Affective, and Social Processes in Health; CASPHR) as well as a founding member of the Social Personality and Health Network.

Miriam Piven Cotler, Ph.D., is a clinical ethicist at several hospitals and has served as a Visiting Professor at the UCLA School of Public Health. She has served as an Associate Professor in the UCLA School of Medicine, the Distinguished Scholar in the Bioethics Institute graduate program at Loyola Marymount University, and is Professor Emeritus at California State University, Northridge.  In addition to her teaching and clinical consultations, Dr. Cotler has served as a consultant to the California Medical Association Council on Ethical Affairs.  She is also a member of the Bioethics Steering Committee for UNESCO and serves on several editorial boards. She has co-chaired the Los Angeles County Bar Bioethics Committee, and for several years chaired two regional Institutional Review Boards. Dr. Cotler has over 75 peer reviewed publications. She is currently writing “It All Depends: A Guideline for Making Tough Medical Decisions.”


Kirby Farrell, PhD is a professor of English at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He is the author of Post-Traumatic Culture and other books of literary and cultural criticism, including Berserk Style in America and The Psychology of Abandon, as well as several novels. He was a regular contributor to Psychology Today online. He is also a jazz pianist and composer.


Jamie Lynn Goldenberg, PhD is Professor of Psychology at The University of South Florida. She has published articles in academic journals on the impact of the awareness of death on human motivation and on examining people's attitudes toward their physical (mortal) bodies, women's bodies in particular.  She recently published a novel Finding Jolie.  She is also an artist.

Prior to retiring, Bruce Hirshfield had a 30-year career in the financial services industry as an expert in Life Insurance. With professional designations including Chartered Life Underwriter and Accredited Estate Planner, his focus was on Ultra-High Net Worth Planning, Philanthropic Planning, Business Succession Planning, Deferred Compensation and Qualified Retirement programs.  He has an Economics degree from Rutgers University and a degree in Project Management from the University of New Haven.

Pelin Kesebir, Ph.D. is an honorary fellow at the Center for Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  She is a social psychologist interested in the study of happiness and virtue, and has a deep interest in existential psychology, particularly in how the human awareness of mortality affects various psychological dynamics. She is the co-author of over three dozen scholarly publications including Humility: The soil in which happiness grows.


Dan Liechty, PhD, Doctor of Ministry is a Professor of Social Work at Illinois State University where he teaches human behavior.  He is trained in academic religious studies, mental health work, and pastoral counseling, and is a licensed clinical social worker. He is the world’s foremost authority on the work of Ernest Becker and is the author or editor of nine books including: The Ernest Becker Reader, Transference and Transcendence, Death and Denial, and Reflecting on Faith in a Post-Christian Time.  He is also an avid amateur folk singer.

Jack Moscou is a co-founder of The Writers Collective in New York. He has an extensive background in management training, strategic planning, and political consulting.  His commentary on political events was previously posted in and Dispatches from Utopia.  He is the author of Why Not Utopia: A Political Platform in Search of a Party.  And writes bi-weekly untrammeled and entertaining blogs Nobody Asked Me But I’ll Tell You Anyhow, and Dispatches for the Planet Utopia.   


Merlyn Mowrey, PhD is retired Associate Professor of Social Ethics, Department of Philosophy and Religion at Central Michigan University.  She is author of Death Anxiety and Religious Mystification in the Thought of Ernest Becker: A Feminist Reconsideration, a chapter of Death and Denial: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on the Legacy of Ernest Becker. 

Jerry Piven, PhD teaches in the Department of Philosophy at Rutgers University.  Three of his most notable books are Slaughtering Death: On the Psychoanalysis of Terror, Religion, and Violence. The Psychology of Death in Fantasy and History, and Death and Delusion: A Freudian Analysis of Mortal Terror.  He has published over fifty papers in the past decade. He is currently working on a book to be titled, Pious Massacre: Literary Violence from Dostoevsky to Mishima and an edited collection called Death, Religion, and Evil.

Henry Richards, PHD is a licensed clinical psychologist with over two decades of experience in the evaluation, assessment, and treatment of individuals in forensic and correctional contexts. He has managed large forensic and correctional programs and provided training and organizational consultation to states, counties, hospitals, as well as residential and outpatient programs. He has specialized experience and training in addictions, sex offender issues, and methodologies of personal and organizational transformation and change.  He also is a novelist.

Tomi-Ann Roberts, PhD is professor of psychology and chair of the department at Colorado College. She is a social and personality psychologist, and her work centers on the sexual objectification of girls and women, self-objectification, and their consequences. Objectification Theory is the most cited article in the history of the journal Psychology of Women Quarterly. She has authored over 40 journal articles and chapters, and co-authored several books. She leverages psychological science as a consultant for reproductive health related product brands, and as an expert witness and consultant in legal cases involving objectification and sexualization as forms of sexism and gender discrimination.

Lyla Rothschild is the Program Director of the Ernest Becker Foundation.  She received a B.A. in psychology with a minor in French from Kalamazoo College. She worked as a research assistant in cognitive and social psychology labs, completing her senior thesis in Terror Management Theory (TMT).  After college, she lived in France for two years, which furthered her understanding of culture and culture-based conflict, while also allowing her to have a third-person perspective of America’s cultural worldview. Upon returning, she spent a year studying and researching TMT at the University of Arizona before joining the Becker Foundation.

Stephanie Shouldice is a Royal Roads University DSocSci candidate and Society, Environment and Emotions Lab member interested in emotions' role in environmental decision-making. She is currently exploring how to design outreach efforts that can overcome disgust reactions to water recycling practices. Stephanie also has more than 8 years experience helping municipalities encourage community members to adopt more sustainable decisions related to solid waste, water, and wastewater. 

Lauren Smith is a PhD candidate in the Society, Environment and Emotions Lab where she studies human responses to life-threatening environmental messaging. She is investigating how existential threats influence environmental attitudes and decision-making, and how these threats may influence intergroup biases. In the future, Lauren hopes to broaden Westernized ideas of deathcare and change our relationship with death.


Sheldon Solomon, PhD is a social psychologist at Skidmore College. He is best known for co-developing Terror Management Theory which is concerned with how humans deal with their own sense of mortality. He is the author or co-author of over a hundred articles and several books and has been featured in various films, television documentaries, and radio interviews.  He co-authored the book The Worm at the Core: On the role of Death in Life.  He most recently appeared in the documentaries Planet of the Humans and Unfit.

bottom of page