MBU Welcomes 12 New Faculty Members This Fall

Learn more about the newest faculty members at the university, and how they are part of the long line of scholars and teachers who reflect the magic and the mission of MBU. 

Megan Ady

Assistant Professor of Physician Assistant Studies

A dedicated champion of community healthcare, Megan Ady brings eight years of clinical experience to the Physician Assistant (PA) Program at MBU’s Murphy Deming College of Health Sciences. Also certified as an American Heart Association instructor, Ady is passionate about promoting health education and providing access to quality healthcare in rural areas. 

Ady most recently served in full-time practice as the lead PA at an urgent care center in Covington. After several years of clinical experience, Ady started mentoring students as a preceptor, sparking her interest in teaching and helping students pursue their PA education. She recently co-authored an article on sexual health screening and prevention that is due out in January.

Residing in Bath County, she enjoys spending time with her family, vacationing, working in the garden, and going to concerts. She also owns an online and mobile clothing boutique named Lady Ady’s. 

Dr. Casie Brim

Program Director and Assistant Professor

Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Program

Dr. Casie Brim has extensive experience managing trauma patients in emergency, intensive care, and clinical settings, and has written many policies, protocols, and formal educational resources to improve the care of these patients. Her clinical experience also covers providing telemedicine for rural hospitals fulfilling nocturnal hospitalist coverage.  

After graduating in 2004 from the University of Oklahoma with a bachelor of science in nursing, Brim began her nursing career at St. John Medical Center in the surgical intensive care unit (ICU). With four years of nursing experience under her belt, she was appointed as educator for a new neuro-trauma-surgical ICU when it opened in 2008. In this role, she was in charge of hiring employees and training them for their roles in the unit, including a formal clinical orientation for nurses that lasted 16–20 weeks.  

Brim then earned a master of science with an emphasis in nursing education from the University of Oklahoma in 2009, and the next year completed a post-master’s certificate as an acute care nurse practitioner from the University of South Alabama (USA). She completed her doctor of nursing practice at USA in 2017, and her faculty experience includes serving as an adjunct faculty member there, as well as as a faculty member at the University of Tulsa’s program.

In her free time, Brim enjoys camping, hiking, biking, and fishing with her three daughters and husband, as well as taking care of their dogs, cat, chickens, and rabbits.

Matthew Holman

Assistant Professor of Health Sciences/Exercise Science

Matthew Holman’s current area of research involves finding new ways to effectively employ vibrotactile devices in rehabilitation. He explores the motor behaviors that people exhibit while being provided with vibrotactile cues from small vibrating motors, like the ones in cell phones. While they are relatively inexpensive and discrete compared to some more traditional audio/visual tools utilized in physical rehabilitation, they can still effectively promote motor control and learning. 

Holman earned a BS in athletic training from Appalachian State University, a MS in health and movement sciences from Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), and is completing a PhD in rehabilitation and movement science at VCU. He also has a wide range of clinical experience in secondary, post-secondary, and professional athletics programs as well as in performing arts and outpatient settings. 

In his free time, Holman enjoys the outdoors, especially hiking.

Dr. Brianna Kurtz

Assistant Professor of Teacher Education

Pursuing her passion in global and international issues within STEM education, Dr. Brianna Kurtz conducted a research project to ease the effects of displacement due to natural disaster. After Hurricane Maria, students were evacuated from Puerto Rico and placed into Florida schools. There, Kurtz studied the benefits of pairing them with bilingual peer mathematics mentors to work on a culturally relevant mathematical intervention in probability skills and knowledge. The students formed a very special cohort, and she presented this work at the Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators conference and at the UNESCO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.

Prior to the completion of her doctoral studies at the University of Central Florida, Kurtz was a mathematics and statistics instructor for over a decade at Daytona State College and also taught high school. She holds an MS in mathematics focused on applied mathematics and statistics from the University of Nevada, Reno, and a BS in engineering sciences from Vanderbilt University.

When she’s taking a break from teaching and scholarly work, she loves participating in triathlons, running, and distance inline skating, and playing the trumpet and piano.

Dr. Jennifer McPherson

Founding Assistant Program Director and Assistant Professor of Nurse Anesthesiology 

Dr. Jennifer D. McPherson is a practicing certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA) and retired U.S. Navy commander. Coming to MBU to help build the nurse anesthesiology program, she also hopes to pursue opportunities to add more anesthesia providers to the local community and rural areas throughout Virginia.

McPherson most recently served as an assistant professor and clinical site director with the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences School of Nursing in San Diego, where she was responsible for the didactic and clinical teaching of phase II student registered nurse anesthetists. Her areas of expertise include pain management, critical care, ultrasound guided regional anesthesia, and simulation.  

In her free time, McPherson enjoys backpacking trips: she’s hiked through all of Virginia on the Appalachian Trail and completed the John Muir trail through Yosemite National Park. She’s also a fan of obstacle course racing, and has completed a Spartan Race trifecta. She and her wife have three boys between the ages of 8 and 12.

Dr. Natalie Murphy

Director of the School of Nursing

Founding Program Director and Associate Professor
Family Nurse Practitioner Program

Dr. Natalie Murphy brings 17 years of experience educating undergraduate and graduate nursing students to MBU, with a special focus on caring for vulnerable populations. While serving at the University of Missouri, St. Louis, she led a research project focused on teaching undergraduate students about the unique needs of the LGBTQ+ population through a multi-part training module. The outcomes of the project revealed a statistically significant improvement of student attitudes and knowledge regarding care of this population.

Murphy is also active in a partnership with a non-governmental organization in Guatemala and hopes to give nursing and nurse practitioner students at MBU the opportunity for medical immersion trips, including providing primary care and cervical cancer screening and treatments to members of the indigenous Maya. Projects connected to these activities show that students not only improve their practice skills on these trips, but also improve their cultural competence.

She holds a BSN from Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, and an MSN with a family nurse practitioner concentration and a PhD in nursing from Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton. Her practice settings included the emergency room and ICU as a registered nurse, and then family medicine and adult cardiology as a nurse practitioner. Her clinical area of expertise is helping treat women with ischemic heart disease.

In her spare time, Murphy has a passion for refinishing furniture, and turning something old and discarded into a beautiful new piece.

Dr. Johanna Newman

Founding Program Director and Associate Professor

Nurse Anesthesiology Program

Dr. Johanna Newman brings to MBU 17 years of experience practicing anesthesia in a variety of clinical settings and 13 years of involvement in educating nurse anesthesia students. Her clinical area of expertise is in providing anesthesia to pediatric patients, and her research interests include mental health and wellness; diversity and inclusion in healthcare; and  implementation of Quality Matters in online courses. 

She most recently served as the assistant program director of the Nurse Anesthesiology Program at Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers, and has held various leadership roles on the local, state, and national level. Her work has been published in nationally recognized scientific journals, and she has delivered poster and podium presentations at the state, national, and international level. 

She earned her bachelor of science in nursing from William Paterson University in Wayne, NJ; her master of science with a concentration in nurse anesthesia from Georgetown University; and her doctor of nurse anesthetist practice from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond.

In her free time, Newman enjoys cooking, reading, and traveling with her husband and two children. 

Dr. Thomas Newman

Assistant Professor of Biology/Health Sciences

Dr. Thomas Newman holds the first-ever joint appointment in two MBU colleges (Arts and Sciences and Murphy Deming College of Health Sciences), teaching classes in the biology department as well as advising health sciences majors and supervising their senior project research. 

A previous research project of interest for him was working on the effects of prophylactic ankle bracing in military populations, determining if ankle bracing reduced the risk of injury for service members. For his research, he tracked a variety of functional performance measures while military populations wore ankle braces in military combat boots. He has also published numerous articles on bracing and appropriate treatment of ankle injuries across the board.

Newman earned his PhD in athletic training and sports medicine from Penn State and has most recently served as a clinical research coordinator trainee at the University of Virginia. When he’s away from work he enjoys traveling and hiking with his family around Central Virginia.

Caitlin Powers

Assistant Professor of Physician Assistant Studies

Caitlin Powers has been working locally as an emergency medicine physician assistant in the Augusta Health Emergency Department for the past four years, while also most recently serving as an adjunct faculty member for James Madison University’s (JMU) biology department and health sciences department.

While earning her master of science in molecular biology at East Carolina University, she studied the role of microRNA in gene expression and regulation as part of an ongoing research project. She worked in a collaborative developmental genetics laboratory performing PCR, DNA/RNA isolation, tissue preparation and analysis, gene cloning, in situ hybridization, microscopy, and imaging. 

Powers earned her master’s in physician assistant studies from JMU, and holds two bachelor of science degrees in biological sciences and animal science and technology from the University of Rhode Island. In her free time, she enjoys horseback riding with her horse, Louis, and spending time with her husband and their two rescue dogs. 

Dr. Andrew Raridon

Assistant Professor of Sociology


Dr. Andrew Raridon studies inequality and activism in the food system, exploring what is problematic about how people grow, buy, eat, and dispose of food and the different solutions being proposed to address those problems. He’s interested in the tensions that arise when activist-entrepreneurs try to accomplish social change in the marketplace, and studying the possibilities and limitations of buying and selling products to change the food system.

One of his recent projects was working with students to interview women farmers, farmers of color, and queer farmers about their experiences in agriculture, and how their identities influence the way others view their work, as well as how they view themselves as farmers. He looks forward to continuing this work here in the Shenandoah Valley, and connecting MBU students to local food system advocates in the region.

Raridon most recently served as assistant professor of sociology at Valparaiso University in Indiana, and his work on agriculture, local food movements, social inequity, and activism has been featured in many publications. His study of food also extends into his free time, and he enjoys exploring different places through cuisine with his partner, Sarah, and their three kids. 

Dr. Elizabeth Richardson

Associate Professor of Occupational Therapy 

During her tenure in higher education, Dr. Elizabeth Richardson has engaged in a wide range of teaching, scholarship, and service activities related to occupational therapy (OT). She has served as co-director and clinical instructor of a camp and clinic for children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder where she advocates for the unique role and distinct value of occupational therapy in intervention approaches. Her other research and clinical practice interests include exploring nature as a therapeutic modality; eco-sustainable OT practice; and complementary and integrative health approaches in OT.

After earning her bachelor of science with a concentration in occupational therapy from James Madison University, Elizabeth Richardson transitioned to a full-time position as a faculty member and academic fieldwork coordinator in an OT program while completing her master’s degree in health sciences. While in this role, she helped establish an on-campus pediatric OT clinic where she provided OT services to local families and engaged in clinical supervision of students. She earned her post-professional doctoral degree in occupational therapy at the University of St. Augustine.

As a mother of four children and grandmother, she values time with her family and also loves to spend as much time as possible in the mountains or on the water for outdoor adventures.

Dr. Ryan Sain

Assistant Professor of Applied Behavior Analysis

After earning his PhD from Washington State University, Dr. Ryan Sain worked internationally doing university development all over Africa and Afghanistan. His initial work in Africa involved developing a telecommunications, regulation, and authority master’s degree that was taught asynchronously using 21 different universities across 11 different countries and two languages.

In Afghanistan, Sain supported developing the country’s university systems in terms of academic components at the undergraduate and graduate level. He worked with 19 universities across the country in programs ranging from teacher education to physics, engineering and computer science to graphic design. On those campuses, he helped create learning centers for students to access high speed internet and English language learning programs.

He also served as an assistant professor at Eastern Washington University for several years before moving into the private sector. When time allows, Sain enjoys woodworking and restoring cars, including his 1978 El Camino, as well as outdoor activities with his family.