Who We Are


Dr. Danielle Dick is the Director of COBE and a professor in the Psychology Department at VCU. She researches how genetic and environmental influences contribute to the development of patterns of substance use and related behaviors, such as childhood conduct problems and depression, and how people can use that information to inform prevention and intervention. Her work integrates developmental and clinical psychology, behavior genetics/twin studies, and statistical genetics/gene identification. To learn more about her research visit the EDGE (Examining Development, Genes, and Environment) lab website.


 Director of Undergraduate Research

Dr. Amy Adkins is the Director of Undergraduate Research with COBE and an assistant professor in the Psychology Department. Her primary research interests focus on understanding genetic and environmental risk factors underlying risky alcohol use and related problems. More globally, she is interested in the etiology of college behavioral and emotional health outcomes. Through her work with the College Behavioral and Emotional Health Institute, Dr. Adkins seeks to integrate research findings into prevention/intervention programming and university policy. She also has a deep passion for teaching and enjoys working with a team of undergraduate researchers each semester.


 Administrative Director

Marcie Walsh, MSW, is the Administrative Director of COBE and a fourth-year PhD student in the VCU School of Education. Marcie runs the COBE Connect lunch series, which brings together COBE researchers, students and other members of the university community to present research and promote interdisciplinary collaborations. She is the graduate teaching assistant/coordinator of the Science of Happiness course, as well as the coordinator of the living-learning community, THRIVE, and all other efforts developed by COBE faculty to translate their research into programming for students, the university community and the broader Richmond community.  Marcie studies Educational Psychology, with research interests in undergraduate students’ motivation and engagement. She is currently working on her dissertation work on undergraduate students’ writer identity in the transition from high school to college.

Director of Community Engagement

Patricia (Patsy) King, MSAP, is the Director of Community Engagement for COBE and a passionate advocate for advancing evidence-based prevention and early intervention solutions that address the increasing behavioral and emotional health needs of the adolescent/young adult population. COBE and Spit for Science represent a unique opportunity for VCU to excel in the development of research based activities that will directly impact both the undergraduate students on campus as well as the greater community of local middle school, high school and college students. Ms. King has extensively researched the role that formal mindfulness and yoga training can play in building resiliency and emotional regulation skills in students and hopes implement transformative strategies that enhance the academic, social and emotional learning environment at VCU and in greater Richmond schools.

Media Specialist

Craig Zirpolo is an award-winning photographer, videographer and journalist who joined COBE as a media specialist shortly after graduation from VCU’s Richard T. Robertson School of Media and Culture in 2015.

Craig produces and hosts the Why Science? podcast in collaboration with National Institute for Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and the ALT Lab at VCU as well as writing blog posts, promoting and documenting events, running the COBE social media accounts and supporting COBE in all other media-related tasks.


Project Coordinator

Tenesha Coates Lewis is the Project Coordinator for Dr. Danielle Dick’s laboratory within the Department of Psychology. She joined the EDGE Lab in 2016 and is responsible for its overall scientific management and administration.

Tenesha has dedicated over a decade toward establishing a career in fighting health disparities, particularly those affecting children and adolescents. While in her undergraduate studies, she volunteered for the Ronald McDonald House and also co-founded a non-profit organization aimed to assist the at-risk youth in her community. After graduation from Duke University, she began a NIH fellowship in the Social and Behavioral Research Branch, which studied the potential for implicit biases held by healthcare professionals as they decide courses of treatment for their patients. Tenesha is an advocate for the health and well-being of all persons, regardless of cultural background or socioeconomic status. She is currently pursuing a Masters in Public Health (MPH) and plans to continue on into a Ph.D. program in Developmental Psychology.